Savoring Okra in September: From Resistance to Relish


September brings okra. In the DMV area, the season for okra starts in late July and goes through the end of September. Okra’s green pods, often recognized for their distinctive ridges, mark the arrival of a unique culinary experience. But behind its charming appearance lies a history stretching across continents, a health secret hidden within its gooeyness, and a versatile ingredient that made its way into kitchens around the world.

When I first cooked okra just a couple of years ago, I was surprised by the slimy, gooey substance inside the pods. I have to admit, I wasn’t an instant fan of the vegetable. Acquiring a taste for a new food takes time, patience, and an open mind. As I tell my nutrition clients, developing a preference for a new food takes 10-15 tries. So, I have to practice what I preach. And with each experiment in the kitchen, I came to appreciate okra. In fact, as I was writing this blog, I remembered to go to the farmer’s market near me and get some fresh organic okra. It took me about ten minutes to cook it, and the recipe came out fantastic. I’m happy to share it with you below.

From Africa to Your Plate

The tale of okra is one of migration, survival, and fusion. The vegetable made its way to the American colonies in the 17th century, carried by the hands of enslaved African people. By the 19th century, it had become a staple in the American South, thanks to the skilled hands of enslaved cooks who transformed it into dishes that wove together flavors and traditions from both sides of the Atlantic.

When Sliminess Becomes a Health Asset

Okra’s gooey substance is known as mucilage, and it’s not just a culinary quirk; it’s a nutritional powerhouse. Mucilage might not sound appealing, but its benefits for digestion are nothing short of remarkable. This water-soluble fiber works as a natural lubricant for your digestive system. It soothes and nourishes the gut lining and helps with issues like constipation. So, while the sliminess might take some getting used to, this quality makes okra a champion of gut health.

Beyond its digestive benefits, okra has an impressive array of nutrients. It’s packed with vitamins K and C, a good source of B6 and folate, and is rich with essential minerals like manganese and calcium. 

It’s also low in calories and carbohydrates, making it a great choice for those looking to manage their weight or blood sugar levels.

Culinary Adventures with Okra

When buying okra, pick pods that are no longer than your fingers and are firm. Try briefly soaking the pods in water with vinegar or lemon to cut down on the goo. Frying, roasting, and sautéing are all techniques that can significantly reduce the mucilage, transforming okra into a delightful treat. 

Try okra in stews, curries, and gumbo, which adds a unique texture and infuses the dishes with its distinct flavor. 

My next culinary adventure with okra will be pickling it.


Pan-fried Okra with Sweet Onion


  • 1 pound okra
  • Small sweet onion
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper


  1. Peel and cut the onion in half, top to bottom. Each half slice into ridges, lengthwise.
  2. In a large frying pan, on high heat, warm up some 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil. Add onion and cook until golden, about 5 minutes.
  3. While the onion is cooking, cut the tops of okra pods and slice them in half lengthwise.
  4. Add okra to caramelized onions, add salt and freshly ground black pepper, and cook on high heat for 5-7 minutes. Stir frequently to avoid burning.
  5. Enjoy it with fish, chicken, or pork.
Recipes to break the fast

Freedom from hunger and cravings until lunch

Please tell me where I should send the recipe book.