Easy Baked Okra: seductive as baked potato chips but definitely healthier

     

    Easy Baked Okra

     

    Time:        prep. 10 mins
                      cook. 15 mins
    Difficulty: easy
    Yields:      2 portions
    Cost:         low

     

    In the article on How and why we should eat okra, I had explained in detail all the benefits of this superfood and highlighted several reasons to put it more often in our shopping bags.
    In the same article, I also mentioned its characteristic of becoming a little too slimy if certain precautions are not taken during preparation.
    That’s why this easy baked okra recipe will win over even those skeptics who refuse to deal with something ‘extremely slimy’: being roasted with a crispy and fragrant breading – without any liquid – it will not only convince all detractors, but also seriously challenge the undisputed hegemony of baked potatoes.
    However, at the risk of being repetitive, with the hope of prompting you to include it on summer menus more often, I feel the need to point out some incredible characteristics of okra:

    increases the sense of satiety, thus helping to reduce appetite;

    – facilitates intestinal transit and fights constipation;

    – the mucilage present (the recipe prevents its formation during cooking, don’t worry: but once it has passed through the mouth, it will equally be formed by the digestive fluids) slows down the digestive phase and helps reduce the absorption of sugars;

    – regulates the action of certain liver enzymes such as AST and ALP, which are very important for the proper functioning of the insulin system;

    reduces a good percentage of absorbed cholesterol;

    – light and at the same time nutritious: 100 grams of okra have only 30 kcal, but as much as 2 grams of protein with an excellent amino acid profile;

    – rich in Vitamin C, K, A and B9 and contains magnesium, calcium and zinc;

    – also rich in powerful antioxidants such as beta carotene, xanthine and lutein.

     

    Easy Baked okra versus baked chips

    We now come to the seemingly irreverent comparison.
    As you know I always strive to be truthful and objective, bearing in mind however that when I use an adjective like ‘better’ I am almost always not just referring to taste!
    From the point of view of CHE the comparative adjective should only be used if the food in question is healthier, or more sustainable, or even more nutrient dense than another.

    Easy baked okra is therefore definitely healthier than Chips, since, as pointed out in the article on hot air fryers, fried (or baked) chips potentially contain acrylamide.
    The starch present in potatoes, when exposed to high temperatures (just above 120°C), could cause the formation of this potentially carcinogenic chemical. The reaction occurs naturally, when in the environment, in addition to high temperature and starch, there is also fructose and asparagine, a non-essential amino acid; among the risky foods with the highest concentration of acrylamide we have bread, biscuits, pizza, coffee and chocolate, and the aforementioned potatoes; but not okra.
    Bizarre pods although they have an excellent essential and non-essential amino acid profile, comparable to soya no less [2], contain half as much asparagine than potatoes; same for fructose; the absence of starch, however, significantly reduces the risk of acrylamide formation.
    As you’ll notice below, among the ingredients for easy baked okra, the only source of starch is cornflour, itself one of the alternatives with less potential for acrylamide [3]: it follows that, if you don’t go overboard with the quantities, easy baked okra will always be healthier (and therefore better) than baked chips.

     

    Ingredients for easy baked okra

    300 grams of okra
    1 handful of grated hazelnuts (or other nuts available in your kitchen)
    1 generous tablespoon of wholemeal stone-ground maize flour (organic if possible)
    2 tablespoons of evo oil
    salt and black pepper to taste

    Directions

    In the same article on stewed okra, I mentioned the differences of okra dimensions that can be found on the market: the small (about 2 cm long) and tender ones to be used particularly in recipes like this one; the ripe, large and sometimes thorny ones to be used absolutely in recipes without liquids, like the easy baked okra in question.
    Should your supplier’s okra be a little too hairy, fear not: you can clean the surface by rubbing it with a kitchen cloth to remove the shaggy thorns (the use of kitchen gloves is advisable).
    Another essential tip is related to washing. Since the mucilage starts to swell in the presence of water, the pods should be washed quickly under running water and dried thoroughly immediately afterward; this should be done categorically before cutting them.
    I personally cut the tops off with an oblique, superficial cut; if you are in a hurry, cut them straight off; similarly, to reduce the cooking time, you can also make a longitudinal cut across the whole pod, or create round slices of about one centimeter high.
    When you have finished washing and then trimming the okra tops, turn on the oven and set it to approx. 230 degrees: don’t forget to use the energy to cook other dishes: e.g. Turkish imam bayildi aubergines, or sweet potatoes to prepare the healthiest and tastiest ice cream, or stuffed zucchini flowers with smoked ricotta.
    Then mix the cornflour with the grated hazelnuts and dust the surface of the okra, previously rubbed with evo oil, with this light breading; let it stick to the okra.
    Place the okra pods in an oiled or paper-lined baking tray and bake for about 15-20 minutes until they turn an amber color.
    Halfway through baking, it is advisable to turn them upside down for a more even crispness. For this purpose, I capsize the baking tray with the pods, inside another baking tray.
    When the easy baked okra is ready, season the pods with salt and pepper and, if you wish, season them with lemon juice or dip them in tarator sauce made from stale bread, yogurt, garlic, walnuts and beer; a real treat!

    Enjoy your easy baked okra and good revolution to you all

     

    Bibliography
    1) Ismaila, M. et al. (2018). Development of Okra-Based Antidiabetic Nutraceutical Formulation from Abelmoschus esculentus (L.) Moench (Ex-maradi Variety). Tropical Journal of Natural Product Research. 2. 80-86. 10.26538/tjnpr/v2i2.5
    2) Sami R, Lianzhou J, Yang L, Ma Y, Jing J. Evaluation of fatty acid and amino acid compositions in okra (Abelmoschus esculentus) grown in different geographical locations. Biomed Res Int. 2013;2013:574283. doi: 10.1155/2013/574283.
    3) Crawford LM, Kahlon TS, Chiu MM, Wang SC, Friedman M. Acrylamide Content of Experimental and Commercial Flatbreads. J Food Sci. 2019;84(3):659-666. doi:10.1111/1750-3841.14456

     

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