This beautiful fruit smoothie has a green secret that adds important minerals and vitamins to it, as well as making a frothy texture – okra!
Okra is an unlikely contender for smoothies, yet here I am throwing it into my smoothies. It’s known for being a popular vegetable in many southern dishes, but certainly isn’t known as a typical smoothie addition. So why am I adding it to mine? Besides the fact that it’s an excellent source of whole food fiber, vitamin C and K, and folate, there are some interesting studies looking into possible benefits.
What is Okra?
First, what is okra? It’s a flowering plant from the mallow family. The mallow family boasts of the following well-known family members: cacao, cotton, hibiscus, okra, and durian. Okra is the edible fruit of a variety of hibiscus (so it’s not technically even a vegetable!). Did you notice that “mallow” sounds like “marshmallow”? That’s because the original marshmallow was developed from the gelatinous properties of marshmallow roots, from the mallow family. Okra also can produce a gelatinous texture.
Health Benefits and Studies on Okra
- Okra helps diabetic symptoms and lowers blood sugar (Source)
- A lectin from okra may help fight or prevent some cancers. (Source) (Also good information here on contradictions – make sure you check them out!)
- Could help protect the liver (Source)
- Okra could also help prevent stomach ulcers (Source)
- Plus,it could also be helpful for your gut health – both in promoting good gut bacteria and soothing inflammation. (Source)
Speaking from a culinary perspective, it adds a lot of creamy texture to the smoothie because of its gelatinous (otherwise known as mucilage) texture. I love the texture, and it only adds a mild taste to the smoothie. However, I will warn you that my children have all informed me that they are not a fan of the “weird green vegetable” I put into the smoothies. Although, I’ve heard reports of many children not even noticing it in their smoothies, mine have been too perceptive for me to add it without them noticing. I may try to sneak in very small amounts next time to see if they notice, but for now, I’ve been making my own personal smoothies stuffed full with it! UPDATE: Adding only a small amount was the key! My kids have now drunk several smoothies with small amounts of okra in it without knowing it was there.
A Notes on Ingredients and Blenders:
I use pre-steamed and pre-frozen sliced okra. It works well and is easy to use. Although technically you could use raw, this recipe suggests pre-steaming it to reduce a slimy texture.
Secondly, you should have a powerful blender to properly blend frozen vegetables. I use a Blendtec, but any brand that can pulverize ice well should work great.
Lastly, for extra nutrition, I’ve been adding two things lately. First gelatin. I like many brands, but lately I’ve been using Super Collagen . Supposedly it’s in in a smaller peptide form so that it is easier to digest. What I like about it is that it is so fine that there is no added grittiness from it. Sadly, it’s not from pastured animals. The other addition I’ve been adding is colostrum from this company – which is a wonderful immune booster. Although some in the family are sensitive to dairy, it appears that we all do fine with it!
Finally, take note that okra is high in oxalates. If you are sensitive to okra, be careful. I don’t seem to be sensitive, but with all things being done in moderation, I don’t eat okra, or other high oxalate foods every day.
Okra Fruit Smoothie
Makes 1 large or two small smoothies. This recipe can have so many variations! Have fun with it.
- ½ cup of frozen fruit (such as blueberries, raspberries, mango, or peach slices)
- ¼-½ cup of frozen and sliced okra
- ½ cup each of kombucha and coconut cream/milk (or 1 cup of desired liquid – kefir, milk, juice, coconut water, etc.), plus extra, as needed
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 small ripe banana (adds a lot of sweetness, but sometimes I leave out because they are a bit high in sugar for me)
Add all of the ingredients into a blender and blend on high until very smooth. Stop to scrape sides, if needed, and add more liquid as needed (I often use more).
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Okra is great! You failed to mention that it is one of the most chemically laden vegetables and unless organic okra is used, the health benefits are offset by the harmful chemicals.
I’m sure my readers would find that information of interest if you can share a link to accurate information on the topic. Thanks!
Excellent article. Thanks for sharing. I am now curious to try okra for the first time. Kimi, do you buy your okra fresh and then steam and freeze it, or do you buy a pkg of pre-steamed frozen okara?
I’ve been buying pre-blanched and pre-frozen okra. 🙂
Can I ask where you’ve found this pre-blanced and frozen okra? 🙂
New Seasons! It makes it so much easier to use when it’s already prepped and ready to use. 😉
So awesome! I’ve been eating the “Trim Healthy Mama” way for the 2 years and okra is a big player in a lot of their smoothie recipes. There’s also an okra brownie that is deliciously fudgey!
I guessed this must be a THM thing to do, because the recipe I linked to above was from a THM blogger. 🙂 The brownie sounds crazy! I’m intrigued!
I’m a bit surprised that okra would be a high pesticide/chemical crop. I’ve grown it for several years. I’ve seen some aphids this year but nothing troubling. Regardless, it’s so easy to grow I hate having to buy it 🙂 I might try some in smoothies if I have any left. My favorite way to eat it is to cook it in coconut oil with lots of curry powder. A little crispy and a lot curry, it’s fantastic!
So are you sure that just regular frozen okra from the grocery store isn’t blanched first before freezing?