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Ask the Expert Archive


Okra is synonymous with Southern cooking.  It is often fried or used in the popular Southern dish, gumbo.  What is so interesting about okra, is the fact it is actually a seed pod.  And, these seed pods are quite good for you–okra is an excellent source of vitamin C, a good source of magnesium and fiber, and it’s fat free, cholesterol free, and very low in sodium.  Plus, one serving of okra (7 pods) has only 25 calories!


Courtesy of Fruits & Veggies–More Matters


Now that you know how beneficial okra is, start adding it to your meals.  A popular dish is fried okra, but that will add unnecessary fat and calories to this healthy veggie.  So, I’ve collected some delicious recipes that you can feel good about.  Okra and Tomatoes is a popular Southern dish as these two veggies go together perfectly.  This recipe calls for you to cook a little bacon and then set the bacon aside.  In the drippings, cook onion and celery until soft.  Add stewed tomatoes, chicken broth, sliced okra, garlic salt, Tabasco sauce, and pepper.  Simmer for 25 minutes and crumble in bacon right before serving.  You can serve this dish as a side or over rice as a main entrée.


Courtesy of Spicy Southern Kitchen


Okra Pilaf, or otherwise known as “Limpin Susan” is Southern staple from South Carolina.  Bacon is fried and removed.  Then, onion and green bell pepper are cooked for a few minutes.  Add in sliced okra, white rice, salt, and cayenne pepper.  Stir fry for one minute and add in chicken broth, cover, and cook about 20 minutes until the rice is done.  Fluff the rice, add the bacon back in, and serve.


Courtesy of Simply Recipes


Crunchy Oven Fried Okra is a healthier version of the traditional favorite.  The coating is made with cornmeal, Panko breadcrumbs, salt, pepper, and Parmesan cheese.  Simply coat your sliced okra with beaten egg and then toss in the breadcrumb mixture.  You’ll place on a baking sheet that is coated lightly in oil and bake at 425 degrees for 15-20 minutes, stirring the okra halfway through.


oven fried okra
Life Love and Good Food


Check back next week for some delicious (and lighter) pasta salad recipes.


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Now that we’re in the middle of growing season, I like to use veggies in creative recipes.  I really enjoy being able to center a meal around vegetables and one way to do this is by stuffing them.  Stuffed peppers are a pretty standard and popular dish, but there are so many ways to use fresh summer vegetables and the ingredients you choose for your stuffing is only limited by your imagination.


Pesto Spinach Quinoa Stuffed Tomatoes are perfect this time of year to use those sweet, garden tomatoes.  This recipes is also vegan, dairy-free, and gluten-free.  You’ll make your own pesto by combining fresh basil, olive oil, pine nuts, and salt in a blender (you can substitute nutritional yeast for parmesan cheese to keep this dairy free).  Cored and seeded tomatoes are filled with a combination of pesto, cooked quinoa, sautéed onion and spinach, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper.  Place the top of the tomato back on and bake in a 400 degree oven for 30 minutes.


Courtesy of Stacey Homemaker


Traditional cabbage rolls are made with ground meat.  I love the healthier, lighter version of these Cabbage Rolls with Wild Rice and Mushroom Stuffing.  Finely chopped mushrooms are sautéed with herbs, garlic, and onion.  The cooked mushrooms are then combined with cooked rice and a little of the homemade tomato sauce you’ve prepared.  Roll the filling into cooked cabbage leaves and place them into a casserole dish, then cover with the remaining tomato sauce.  Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes.


cabbage rolls
Courtesy of Catching Seeds


Broccoli and Cheese Stuffed Spaghetti Squash is only 314 calories per serving!  And I promise you it will be a family favorite.  You can cook your spaghetti squash in the microwave (or roast them–it’s your choice, depending on how much time you have).  Sautee the broccoli with some red pepper flakes and garlic until tender.  In a bowl, mix the broccoli with the “flesh” of the spaghetti squash, Italian seasoning, Parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper.  Add the mixture back into the squash shell and sprinkle some shredded mozzarella cheese on top.  Broil for about 2-3 minutes until the cheese is browned and bubbly.


Courtesy of Domestic Superhero


Don’t forget about stuffing veggies like peppers, mushrooms, and zucchini as well!  I’m back next week with some delicious ways to incorporate okra into your meals.


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I love avocados.  Everything about them–their mellow flavor, creamy consistency, and I really love knowing they are so good for me.  Avocados are sodium free, cholesterol free, and packed with monounsaturated fat–the “heart healthy” fat.  This makes them an excellent substitute in recipes that call for butter or heavier spreads.  While we traditionally think of avocados used in in Mexican fare, they can be used in so many different ways.  I’ve collected a few recipes that highlight their delicate flavor.


Courtesy of Fruits & Veggies–More Matters


Cucumber Tomato Avocado Salad is a perfect summer side dish.  Consider using fresh cucumbers and tomatoes from your garden or farmer’s market in this dish.  In addition, you’ll include sliced red onion, diced avocados, chopped cilantro, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper.  Super easy and so good!


Courtesy of Natasha’s Kitchen


Avocado Dip is like a guacamole on steroids.  You’ll combine diced avocados with a can of corn, a can of black beans, and finely chopped red onion.  Then you’ll add in 1/3 cup of salsa verde and mix together.  You can serve immediately or chill in the refrigerator for a few hours.


avocado dip
Courtesy of Together As Family


Rethink your idea of tuna salad with this Avocado Tuna Salad recipe.  Diced avocado, sliced cucumber, sliced red onion, and chopped red onion add lots of crunch to this salad.  A dressing is made from lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper.


Courtesy of Natasha’s Kitchen


Need more ideas?  Fruits & Veggies–More Matters has their Top 10 Ways To Enjoy Avocados, which include slicing them on your sandwich and adding them to a stir-fry.  I’m back next week with some delicious stuff vegetable recipes.


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