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!