Sunday, January 13, 2008

Okra - Slime and All!

When I was a teenager my Mother used to cook Okra for dinner, at least 2 to 4 times a week. Okra was a staple in our home - my favourite was Salt Fish, Rice & Peas and Okra.

Okra was known as our "super food" but to be honest with you I just couldn't get my mouth round with the nutrient rich mucilage (aka: slime) of Okra.

My Mom knew this and would fry the Okra especially for me.

The variations of Okra is endless but the most common are:

Green Okra *or*

Purple Okra of Africa

More childhood memories:

When we were kids, my elder brother would take the thick slime from overcooked Okra and flick it at me - the sting, when it landed on my skin, left an everlasting tingle that I still remember to this day.

If I knew then that it had topical hair loving benefits I would have asked him to flick the slime in my hair and then massage it into my scalp.

Here's a lovely picture of a gorgeous child at a restaurant in New York called Khartoum
Khartoum 1197 Fulton Street, Brooklyn, New York)

The heading underneath reads

Hager is one of many diners at Khartoum who enjoys sliming herself with okra.
photo: Jay Muhlin"
Village Voice

Anyway, back to Okra (inci: Abelmoschus esculentus *or* Hibiscus esculentus)

aka - Quimgombo, bhindi, Gombo, Okro, bindi, bamia, Lady’s Fingers, Ochro, Okoro, bamiya, and bamieh all from the annual, herbaceous shrub cultivated and originating from Africa.

Okra belongs to the Malvaceae (mallow) family of plants, the same group as Blue Malva, Hibiscus and Marshmallow.

History in the mixing:

"Okra was discovered around Ethiopia during the 12th century B.C. and was cultivated by the ancient Egyptians.

This vegetable soon flourished throughout North Africa and the Middle East where the seed pods were consumed cooked and the seeds toasted, ground, and served as a coffee substitute. With the advent of the slave trade, it eventually came to North America and is now commonly grown in the southern United States. You'll now see okra in African, Middle Eastern, Greek, Turkish, Indian, Caribbean, and South American cuisines."

Belly Bytes

Good for you on the inside:
Okra has the X-Factor but it doesn't need to sing and dance about it!

Okra is a powerhouse of valuable nutrients.

  • A great source of vitamin C.
  • Low in calories (20 calories per one-half cup cooked, sliced okra)
  • Fat-free
  • A good source of vitamin a, calcium, fiber and vitamin c

Okra Nutrition (roughly half a cup of cooked Okra contains)

* Calories = 15
* Dietary Fiber = 2 grams
* Protein = 1.5 grams

* Carbohydrates = 5.8 grams
* Vitamin A = 460 IU
* Vitamin C = 13 mg
* Folic acid = 36.5 micrograms
* Calcium = 50 mg
* Iron = 0.4 mg
* Potassium = 256 mg
* Magnesium = 46 mg

If only I could get my hands on some more Okra Oil:
I was provided with a small sample of Okra oil by one of my fair trade suppliers (who is one of the entrepreneurs that my company loans to via KIVA) located in the Caribbean.

This lovely oil has a greenish yellow colour, a pleasant odour and is high in unsaturated fatty acids such as linoleic and oleic. Unfortunately, my fair trade supplier informed me that Okra oil does not have a long shelf life and that it's hydrogenated so that the oil can be used as margarine. What a shame..because the Okra oil is truly lovely!

Yes, WAY!!!
Did you know that you can use Okra effectively as a setting lotion, final hair rinse, natural hair gel and to rid lice. (I was once utterly incensed by a BBC breakfast program on lice where they said that for naturally curly & Afro hair the lice should be hot pressed out of the hair - since then I worked with my chemist/toxicologist and we discovered that Okra can in fact rid your hair & scalp of lice)

Setting Lotion Recipe:

Get Mixing:

  1. Slice 2 to 4 Okra
  2. Add the Okra to 150ml of boiling water.
  3. Add 1 teaspoon of Organic Blue Malva or Organic Marshmallow herbs
  4. Let the mixture boil up really good
  5. Turn off the heat once boiled
  6. Leave it to cool until it forms a slimy and gelatinous liquid.
  7. Remove the boiled Okra & herbs from the liquid
  8. Smooth the nutrient rich slimy gel into a clean and sterilized jar
  9. Store in the fridge when you're not using it
  10. Use within 2 to 3 days or add a synthetic preservative to increase it's shelf life.
Add a little freshly squeezed lemon juice or your favourite essential oil to the mix

Other tid-bits I found whilst perusing the net:
Written by Rosy Vohra

"For adding bounce to your hair, boil horizontally sliced okra until the brew becomes maximally slimy.
Cool it and add a few drops of lemon and use this as the last rinse and see your hair spring back to youthfulness and jump. It also leaves hair very soft and moisturized for days!"

My next blog entry will be all about CHOCOLATE!!!

My favourite hair and skin care ingredient - like as if you didn't know - all you have to do is look at the home page of my website.

..but why CHOCOLATE!!!

February is the month of Valentines and March is the month of Easter.
I thought that it would be a perfect excuse to dribble a little choc-love around the World (wide-web).

Until next time Happy Mixing all!

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Come Gel or High Water!

Oooohhhh OK.... I just couldn't wait to start blogging again so here's my New Year's gift to you all.

My version of what I consider to be the BEST (and most cost effective) peel off face mask and foot spa gelly bath EVER!

Super Cook

Make your own nourishing Peel Off Face Mask OR have a Spa gelly foot bath for under £1.60 GBP/$3.20 USD with VegeGel


You COULD buy
seaweed powder for £3.85GBP/$8.70USD BUT it's not easy to use that much I can assure you..

Vege-Gel is easy to use and even easier to get!
It's available at Tesco, Waitrose, Sainsbury, Asda a
nd most UK grocery shops.

Vege-gel is BRILLIANT!
Not just for cooking but for your skin.

Ingredients are as follows:
Carrageenan, Locust Bean Gum, Dextrose, Potassium, Calcium Acetate.

Carrageenan (seaweed)
"carrageenan interacts with human carotene to give soft skin and silky hair. In hand lotions and shampoos, carrageenan not only thickens the product but also promotes healthy skin and hair. In addition, carrageenan is a natural product and can be incorporated into formulations which rely on natural ingredients for their promotion."
See previous blog entry on Irish Moss

Locust bean gum

(ceratonia siliqua)

"Derived from the seed of the carob tree; humectant, moisturizer and smoothing. Locust bean gum: Locust bean gum is obtained from the seeds of the carob tree, an evergreen species indigenous to semi-arid areas of Spain, Italy, Greece, Cyprus, and Israel. It acts as a thickener and water-control agent in various foods. "


"Another name for glucose,
a simple sugar (monosaccharide) generally obtained by the hydrolysis of starch. Dextrose has water-binding properties for the skin and forms an important component of the cell's membranes and ceramides. Ceramides are naturally occurring skin lipids (fats) - major structural components of the skin's outer structure."
Journal of Investigative Dermatology, November 2001, pages 1126–1136

"Ceramides are necessary for the skin's water-retention capacity as well as cell regulation"
Skin Pharmacology and Applied Skin Physiology, September-October 2001, pages 261–271


A mineral found in many of the foods you eat.

Calcium Acetate
"E263 Calcium acetate [Preservative] [Acidity regulator]"

Occurs naturally


Recipe Time:

Peel-Off Face Mask
1 packet Vege-Gel gelatin (£1.60 per box of 4 x 25g sachets (prices may vary from Tesco))
150 ml of an cold water infusion (free from the tap)

Your choice of herbs to infuse in the hot water:

Organic Hibiscus

Rich in AHAs (Alpha Hydroxy Acids)
great for ageing or damaged skin.
Excellent for the restructure of the top layer of skin giving it a healthier appearance.

Organic Lavender Buds

Great for all skin types because it
balances sebum secretion, helps
to soothe and regenerate tissue cells. Used as an antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, cleanser, toner and detoxifier.

Organic Rose Buds

Rejuvenates tissue cells & cools the body leaving a lovely floral scent.

Organic Chamomile flowers & buds

Strengthens skin tissue. Reduces swelling & pain of the skin & mucous membranes. An effective herb for the treatment of eczema, skin rashes, acne, excessive acne, rosacea & allergic reactions.

Organic Nettle

An astringent used to soothe itchy, irritated skin. Also purported to increase circulation and deliver nutrients to skin cells.

Organic Burdock Root

A very effective treatment for the relief of acne, dry skin and eczema.

Method of the mixture:

For the herbal infusion
Add up to 10grams of herbs
Boil hot water
Pour over the herbs
Let cool in the fridge until extremely cold.
Strain the herbs from the liquid and discard/chuck the used herbs in the compost heap.
(Mother nature will love you for it)

For the Vege-gel
Add one (1) Vege-gel sachet to the cold liquid herbal infusion
Bring to the boil to thicken up - you can do this in the microwave in 10 second intervals or on the stove top for two to five minutes max.
Allow the Vege-Gel-Herbal-Infusion mixture to cool to a temperature that is suitable for your face and neck.
Apply to face and/or neck with clean hands.
Let dry completely, then peel off.

Rinse face with warm water
Apply a little Organic Andiroba Oil to face and neck to seal in moisture.

Organic Andiroba Oil (15ml sample - £3.25)
A very light but rich oil that contains a group of natural alpha hydroxy acids (a collagen booster and skin conditioner). Currently being used as a natural oil base for many anti-wrinkle creams like Aveda & Oil of Olay.

Other suggestions:
The Cleopatra Treatment
Variations of the Vege-Gel face mask
Instead of an herbal infusion you could add Organic Coconut Milk (less than £1.50 from Tesco or Waitrose)

The Essentials
In addition to the herbal infusion you can add your favourite Organic Essential Oils to the mixture.

Spa Gelly Foot Bath
4 packets of Vege-Gel gelatin (£1.60 per box of 4 x 25g sachets (prices may vary from Tesco))
750 ml of an cold water
Bring to the boil to thicken it up - you can do this in the microwave in 10 second intervals or on the stove top for two to five minutes max.
Allow the Vege-Gel mixture to cool to a temperature that is suitable for your tootsies
Apply your tootsies to the mixture and chill.. wait a minute.. wiggle those tootsies in the mixture..go on... you know you want to..

Next Entry - my favourite home made hair setting lotion for naturally curly hair.

Have a Happy Home-Made-Mixing New Year everybody!!!