Texas Summer Vegetables - Okra and Tomatoes August 2, 2012

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Backyard gardeners are picking okra or tomatoes this week. Anyone can get fresh okra or tomatoes at the grocery store or the farmer's market this week. Okra is a tropical plant with origins in Ethiopia. This immature seed pod has a unique texture that lends it's most popular use in gumbo and stew as a thickener. Popular in Texas and throughout the Southern United States, this vegetable came to the New World in the 1700s. The roots were boiled to make the original marshmallow candy and in the 1800s roasted okra seed were ground and used as a coffee substitute. Only the immature seed pods are edible; as the seed pod matures it becomes tough and bitter.

Diabetes Prevention Seminar
August 8, 2012
6:30 to 8:00 pm
Cost: Free but registration required.
Call 512/324-1891 and enroll by phone
Online at goodhealth.com/pre-diabetes

Okra is a great source of fiber and can be a fun addition to your plate. Below is a recipe that calls for fresh produce. With the Dietary Guidelines for Healthy Americans challenging all of us to increase our vegetable intake, consider serving up a side of okra and tomatoes with a meal this week.

Tips for a great product:

  • Slicing the okra diagonally exposes more of the interior okra surface, allowing faster cooking with a less slimy final product.
  • Searing okra over high heat reduces the slimy texture in the finished product.

Fresh Okra and Tomatoes

Serves 4 people
Preparation Time: 20 minutes

5 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 celery rib, sliced thin
1/2 onion, sliced thin
1 jalapeño chile, (remove the seeds), sliced thin
3 garlic cloves, sliced thin
1 Tbsp tomato paste
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
1/2 to 3/4 pound fresh okra
5 plum tomatoes, diced
Salt and pepper

Heat three tablespoons of the vegetable oil in a large sauté pan, over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, sauté the onion, jalapeño and celery for two minutes, stirring once or twice. Add the garlic and sauté for another minute or two. While the vegetables are sautéing, mix the tomato paste, broth and vinegar until they are combined. Add to the pan with the vegetables and bring to a boil. Add the rosemary and a pinch of salt. Bring the sauce to a boil. Slice the okra on the bias to create diagonal pieces.

Heat another pan over high heat for a minute or two. Add the remaining oil and get it almost smoking hot, which should take one-to-two minutes. Add the sliced okra and spread out in a single layer in the pan. Let the okra brown for at least a minute before you move them. The goal is to cook the okra quickly at very high heat without moving it too much. Sear the okra for three-to-four minutes, stirring only two-to-three times.

As soon as the okra is done, add it to the boiling sauce. Add the diced tomatoes and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for five minutes, no longer. The tomatoes should still be a bit firm, and you don't want to cook the okra to the point it starts releasing slime. Turn off the heat, grind black pepper over everything and taste once more for salt. Serve over a small bed of steamed brown rice or over whole wheat toast points.

Vegetables are part of a healthy diet for the prevention of chronic disease. If you want to learn more about preventing diabetes, enroll in the free seminar offered by the Seton Diabetes Education

About the Author

Julie Paff is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator with Seton Education Center. She sees clients with diabetes, pre-diabetes, cardiovascular disease or other nutritional challenges by appointment.

For more information: If you are looking for better blood sugar control with diabetes, Seton Diabetes Education Center offers individual and group classes on diabetes management. Ask your doctor for a referral or call the Diabetes Education Center at 512-324-1891 for more information.

Seton Diabetes Education Center also offers free diabetes educational support activities to the community. The next seminar will be Eating Healthy with Diabetes on a Budget on March 21. While these events are free, seating is limited, so advanced registration is required-go to www.goodhealth.com/diabetes to register or call 512-324-1891 and select option two to schedule by phone.

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