The Beauty of Okra - Slime and All
When I was a teenager my Mother used to cook Okra for dinner, at least 2 to 4 times a week. Okra was a staple in our home - my favourite was Salt Fish, Rice & Peas and Okra.
It was known as back-home "super food" but to be honest with you I just couldn't get my mouth 'round the nutrient rich mucilage (aka: slime) of Okra. Mum knew this and would fry the Okra especially for me. The variations of Okra are endless but the most common are Green Okra and Purple Okra (albeit more on the pinky side of purple).
More childhood memories:
When we were kids, my elder brother would take the thick slime from overcooked Okra and flick it at me - the hot sting, when it landed on my skin, left an everlasting tingle that I still remember to this day. If I knew then that it had topical hair loving benefits I would have asked him to flick the slime in my hair and then massage it into my scalp.
Anyway, back to Okra (inci: Abelmoschus esculentus *or* Hibiscus esculentus)
aka - Quimgombo, bhindi, Gombo, Okro, bindi, bamia, Lady’s Fingers, Ochro, Okoro, bamiya, and bamieh all from the annual, herbaceous shrub cultivated and originating from Africa. Okra belongs to the Malvaceae (mallow) family of plants, the same group as Blue Malva, Hibiscus and Marshmallow.
History in the mixing:
"Okra was discovered around Ethiopia during the 12th century B.C. and was cultivated by the ancient Egyptians.
This vegetable soon flourished throughout North Africa and the Middle East where the seed pods were cooked, toasted, ground, and served as a coffee substitute. With the advent of the slave trade, it eventually came to North America and is now commonly grown in the southern United States. You'll now see okra in African, Middle Eastern, Greek, Turkish, Indian, Caribbean, and South American cuisines."
Did you know:
Aloe Vera gel is another colourless mucilage gel found within fresh Aloe Vera leaves. It’s similar to the mucilaginous gloop that flows through the okra pods. But the difference is that okra consists of sugars (exopolysacharrides) and proteins (glycoproteins). So when you apply heat to okra the viscosity increases and you get slime.
Good for you on the inside:
Okra has the X-Factor but it doesn't need to sing and dance about it!
Okra is a powerhouse of valuable nutrients.
A great source of vitamin C.
Low in calories (20 calories per one-half cup cooked, sliced okra)
A good source of vitamin A, calcium, and fibre.
Okra Nutrition (roughly half a cup of cooked Okra contains)
* Calories = 15
* Dietary Fiber = 2 grams
* Protein = 1.5 grams
* Carbohydrates = 5.8 grams
* Vitamin A = 460 IU
* Vitamin C = 13 mg
* Folic acid = 36.5 micrograms
* Calcium = 50 mg
* Iron = 0.4 mg
* Potassium = 256 mg
* Magnesium = 46 mg
If only I could get my hands on some Okra Oil!
I was provided with a small sample of Okra oil by one of my fair trade suppliers located in the Caribbean.
This lovely oil has a greenish yellow colour, a pleasant odour and is high in unsaturated fatty acids such as linoleic and oleic. Unfortunately, my fair trade supplier informed me that Okra oil does not have a long shelf life and that it's hydrogenated so that the oil can be used as margarine. What a shame..because the Okra oil is truly lovely!
Did you know that you can use Okra effectively as a setting lotion, final hair rinse, natural hair gel and to rid lice. I was once utterly incensed by a BBC breakfast program on lice where they said that for naturally curly & Afro hair the lice should be hot pressed out of the hair - since then my chemist/toxicologist and I discovered that Okra can in fact rid your hair and scalp of lice. Them big bad nits can’t hang onto anything that's slimy and has slip neither can the eggs they lay.
Setting Lotion Recipe:
Slice 2 to 4 Okra
Add the Okra to 150ml of boiling water.
Add 1 teaspoon of Organic Blue Malva or Organic Marshmallow herbs
Let the mixture boil up really good
Turn off the heat once boiled
Leave it to cool until it forms a slimy and gelatinous liquid.
Remove the boiled Okra & herbs from the liquid
Smooth the nutrient rich slimy gel into a clean and sterilised jar
Store in the fridge when you're not using it
Use within 2 to 3 days - no longer.
Add a little freshly squeezed lemon juice or your favourite essential oil to the mix.
Other tid-bits I found whilst perusing the net:
Written by Rosy Vohra
"For adding bounce to your hair, boil horizontally sliced okra until the brew becomes maximally slimy. Cool it and add a few drops of lemon and use this as the last rinse and see your hair spring back to youthfulness and jump. It also leaves hair very soft and moisturised for days!"
My next blog entry will be all about CHOCOLATE!!!
My favourite hair and skin care ingredient - like as if you didn't know - all you have to do is look at the home page of my website.
..but why CHOCOLATE!!!
December is the month of over indulgence and February’s Valentines, then there’s Easter… I thought that it would be a perfect excuse to dribble a little choc-love around the World (wide-web).
Until next time Happy Mixing all!