Post Content

Lani blog
Lani Telian, Department of Public Health



One night last summer, I scooted home to have dinner with my parents. My mother, as always, was cooking a delicious Armenian meal with lots of side dishes. I saw some greens simmering in a pot, and cried “what the heck IS that?” “Okra!” she said happily and continued on cooking.

Okra 3 

Also referred to as gumbo or lady’s fingers, okra pods are the hidden gem of summer vegetables. Okra is a powerhouse of nutrition – it’s a great source of vitamin C and low in calories. It grows in a long, lantern shape and is usually between 2-5 inches long. It’s a little fuzzy, green-colored and ribbed pod that, when cooked, takes on a gooey consistency that makes it a blast to eat.

You can buy okra pods either fresh or frozen. If buying fresh, choose pods that are medium-dark green with no blemishes. Wash and dry each pod, and if you want a gooier feel, slice the pods or chop off the caps. Here are two of my favorite ways to cook okra: 

Stewed Okra and Tomatoes, or “Bamia”

  • 1 ½ tsp olive oil
  • 2/3 cup sliced onion
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 large can crushed tomatoes (or, 1 ½ cups chopped fresh tomatoes)
  • Salt, to taste
  • Ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 ½ lbs of whole fresh or frozen okra pods
  • 1 cup water
  • Pinch of fresh or dried parsley

Heat oil over medium heat. Fry around the onions for about 30 seconds, then add garlic. Before the garlic starts to burn, add tomatoes, okra, water, salt and pepper. Let it come to a boil, then cover and cook over low-to-medium heat until the okra pods are soft (about 20-30 minutes). You can serve this as a side dish, or put it over brown rice for a delicious vegetarian meal.

Oven-fried Okra

  • Non-fat cooking spray
  • 1 20-ounce bag of frozen sliced okra, thawed
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 cups yellow corn meal (only about ½ cup sticks to the okra)

Preheat oven to 475°F, and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil sprayed with cooking spray. Spray the inside of a gallon-sized food storage bag with cooking spray. Add the okra, salt, and pepper. Close the bag and shake well. Then add cornmeal, close bag and shake until the okra is completely coated. Place the coated okra on the baking sheet. Spray again, and bake for 20 minutes. Turn okra pods over, spray them again, and cook for another 20 minutes. Each pod should be crispy when you remove them from the oven.

Okra can be intimidating if you’ve never prepared or cooked it, but these are easy ways for you to get started. Are you up for the challenge? 



Written By:

Recent Posts

Preventing Sharps Injuries among Healthcare Workers: 15 Years and Counting posted on Nov 23

Preventing Sharps Injuries among Healthcare Workers: 15 Years and Counting

“Since passage of the Massachusetts Act to Relative to Needlestick Injury Prevention, measurable progress has been made, but significant work remains in our efforts to eradicate preventable sharps injuries. Unfortunately, healthcare workers continue to bear the brunt of the burden of these potentially life-changing exposures.    …Continue Reading Preventing Sharps Injuries among Healthcare Workers: 15 Years and Counting

Eat Well by Eating Smart this Thanksgiving! posted on Nov 23

Eat Well by Eating Smart this Thanksgiving!

By Terri Mendoza and Gina Davin Thanksgiving is a time for food, thanks, love, family, friends, and more food. As wonderful as this time of year is, unfortunately it’s easy to get carried away with all of the holiday specialties and end up eating more   …Continue Reading Eat Well by Eating Smart this Thanksgiving!

Weekly Flu Report, November 20, 2015 posted on Nov 20

The latest weekly flu report indicates that rates of flu-like illness remain low in the Commonwealth. In the meantime, the holiday season is fast approaching – and what better way  to stay healthy all the way through than by getting your flu shot? There’s plenty   …Continue Reading Weekly Flu Report, November 20, 2015