Fresh okra for baking or frying is one of the staples of summer we all know and love. However, we often overlook the health benefits of okra as well as some atypical ways to prepare it. Keep reading for nutritional information, recipes, and preservation techniques for this fun summer vegetable!
Okra, aside from being very low in calories, is full of healthy vitamins and minerals. It has very high Vitamins A, C and K contents and also provides a healthy dose of antioxidants such as beta-carotene, xanthin, and lutein. Okra is also very fiber-rich and contains essential minerals such as iron, calcium, manganese, and magnesium.
These vitamins and minerals translate into a number of health benefits. The vitamin A content in okra has been proven to help reduce the risk of lung and oral cancer. Vitamin C increases immune system function and can help reduce the likelihood of catching colds or flus. Vitamin K helps blood clotting and strengthens bones. Okra’s high fiber content and low calorie content make it an excellent choice for those trying to increase digestive health or lose weight as well.
Okra can be frozen a number of ways. AS with any vegetable, you should wash and dry your okra before hand and make sure you are only using the freshest okra to freeze. This will ensure that it holds up well in the freezer.
After blanching, you have several options for how to freeze your okra. Okra can be frozen whole, which is recommended to increase storage time and preserve vitamin content. Alternatively, okra can be cut in halves and frozen that way (please note that this decrease the time the okra will last in the freezer).
Another option for preserving okra is to fry okra and then freeze it. To do so, fry okra as you normally would, then spread on a baking sheet and freeze before placing into a plastic baggie for storage.
Toss together fried okra, coarsely chopped tomatoes, diced red onion, chopped fresh basil, and red wine vinaigrette. Serve immediately.
Smashed Fried Okra
1. Use a meat mallet to smash okra, starting at tip of pod and working toward stem end. Place buttermilk in a shallow dish, and place cornmeal in another shallow dish. Stir desired amount of salt and pepper into buttermilk and cornmeal. Dip okra in buttermilk; dredge in cornmeal, shaking off excess.
2. Pour oil to a depth of 2 inches into a large Dutch oven; heat to 350°. Fry okra, in batches, 2 to 3 minutes or until brown and crisp, turning once. Remove okra, using a slotted spoon; drain on paper towels. Add salt and pepper to taste; serve.
Cherry tomatoes have many of the same health benefits as the beefsteak tomato, which is the full-size tomato they are most closely related to. Cherry tomatoes are available in many shapes and colors, but are most commonly red or golden yellow. Other varieties include pink, ivory, purple, and even black cherry tomatoes.
Cherry tomatoes are particularly high in Vitamin B6, Vitamin A, and Vitamin C. They also contain substantial amounts of protein and have a high fiber content.
These nutritional values have a number of health benefits. Vitamin B6 helps improve blood flow and increases immune function, and Vitamin A benefits the eyes, heart, lungs, and kidneys. Some studies have also shown cherry tomatoes to prevent bone disease such as osteoporosis as well as skin damage.
Cherry tomatoes can be preserved by freezing, and it’s incredibly easy to do! Unlike most vegetables, they don’t have to be blanched before freezing. In fact, the only thing you need to do before popping them in the freezer is wash and dry them.
For more information on freezing cherry tomatoes and how to freeze roasted cherry tomatoes, click here.
Marinated Cherry Tomato Salad
Pasta with Roasted Garlic and Cherry Tomatoes
To me, there’s no fruit that’s quite as summery as a nice, juicy cantaloupe. Aside from being delicious and refreshing, though cantaloupes are also very healthy, versatile fruits as well. Keep reading for nutrition facts, methods of preparation, and more!
Cantaloupe is very high in vitamins A, C and Potassium. These nutrients have been proven to boost your immune system, prevent vision problems, maintain strong bones and skin, and supports good metabolic health.
Although typically eaten as a summer fruit, cantaloupe can be preserved if you have access to a flash freezer or a dehydrator. Check out some great methods for preserving cantaloupe using both of these methods here.
Cantaloupe is great on its own, but it can also be eaten with greek yogurt, cottage cheese, or in salads. Here are some more recipes for cantaloupe:
Chilled Cantaloupe Soup
1. Peel, seed, and cube the cantaloupe.
2. Place cantaloupe and 1/2 cup orange juice in a blender or food processor; cover, and process until smooth.
3. Transfer to large bowl. Stir in lime juice, cinnamon, and remaining orange juice.
4. Cover, and refrigerate for at least one hour. Garnish with mint if desired.
Mix cantaloupe, tomatoes, red onion, cilantro, yellow bell pepper, jalapeno peppers, lemon juice, lime juice, and garlic together in a bowl. Add enough olive oil to moisten the salsa; season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate until chilled and flavors have combined, 1 to 2 hours.
Easy Cantaloupe Smoothie
Place the fruit, juice, and honey into blender. Blend on high speed for 30 seconds. Add ice and blend until smooth.
The poblano pepper is a type of chili pepper derived from the state of Puebla, Mexico. They are mildly spicy, with a heat index between one and two thousand Scoville units. They are often used in Mexican cuisine, including soups, enchiladas, chiles rellenos, and more.
Poblano peppers have been shown to have a number of health benefits, including fairly significant quantities of Iron, Copper, and Vitamins A, B2, and B6. Vitamin B6 has been shown in some studies to assist in the proper development and function of the brain, and a lack of this vitamin has been proven to affect memory, cognitive impairment and the development of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Poblano peppers are also great for people who suffer from anemia due to their iron and Vitamin B2 content. Iron and B2 aid in red blood cell production, which in turn helps deliver more oxygen to the blood and allows blood to clot more efficiently.
Other studies have also show poblano peppers to be useful for prevent vision-related disease, decreasing chances of premature birth, and treating arthritis.
Poblanos can be stored either frozen or dried. See below for methods of doing both.
To freeze peppers, first char them. This gives peppers a smokier taste and makes them easier to cook with when defrosted. Here’s how:
In Mexico, dried Poblano peppers are known as Ancho chilies. This is also very easy to do and Anchos are also very versatile. Start with clean, dry peppers and the follow the directions below
Quinoa Stuffed Poblano Peppers
Avocado Cream Sauce:
Slice the avocado in half and remove the pit. Scoop the flesh into a food processor and add the yogurt, lime juice and a big pinch of salt and pepper. Blend until smooth.
Poblano Pepper and Mango Quesadillas