#HH30Days Week 3 Recap: Some New Favorites!

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How is everyone doing with the Real Food Challenge??  I hope you are enjoying it and feeling great!  I wanted to share some of my new favorites that have been helping me get through the challenge without feeling like it’s a challenge at all!  It’s really more of a reminder to make good choices and most importantly, to plan ahead.  When I plan ahead, great things happen for my food choices.  When I don’t, well…that’s another story, and it ends sort of sadly.

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Which is why I’m glad to share these ideas with you!  One of my favorite breakfasts, and one that has become my go-to this past week is an almond butter green smoothie.  I use almond milk, almond butter, a ton of spinach, a banana, and a little bit of yogurt for protein.  It’s great because it doesn’t need any added sweetener, plus it keeps me full until lunch.  Ok, let’s be honest, nothing keeps me full until lunch.  But it really does tide me over until snack time, which is still no small feat! 🙂

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Another thing that has helped me a ton is planning ahead and preparing my lunches.  I’m always on the run, so it’s helpful to have something I can just grab from my lunch bag and eat without having to find a microwave.  For that, I bring you…my favorite veggie rice bowls!  I have a mild obsession with peanut butter, so using veggies as a delivery vehicle is a great way to feel good about it.

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I started with some brown rice, then added in a ton of veggies, including cucumbers, bell peppers, radishes, and some leftover grilled asparagus.  I put a big dollop of peanut sauce on top of the rice, then added some cubes of tofu for protein, then added the veggies on top.  It was delicious!  I was actually surprised at how easy they turned out to be, plus how tasty they were!

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These were so easy to grab and go, plus they made me look forward to lunch everyday!

Comment below to let us know how you are doing with the Real Food Challenge!  We would love to see your photos of your meals!  Tag us on instagram!

 

#HH30Days Week 2 recap! Teaser: I love dessert.

Peach Sorbet and Chocolate “Ice Cream” Recipes!

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It’s the truth.  I love dessert.  Who doesn’t?  If you’re struggling with finding #HH30Days-friendly desserts, you will love this post!  Lots of cool, creamy treats for the warming weather to add flavor and sweetness to your life without a ton of calories or processed junk.

To start, I’ve mentioned before that I buy a ton of summer produce, then freeze it and enjoy it all year.  One of my absolute favorites is summer peaches.  They are juicy, sweet, and an absolute treat when they are in season every year.  One of the advantages to freezing them is that they can easily be transformed into a healthy, homemade sorbet.

I started by taking about one peach worth of peach chunks out of the freezer and putting them right into the blender. IMG_2083

I then added 1/3 cup of almond milk, a sprinkle of cinnamon, and that’s it!  No sugar added!  Woohoo!  Now whirl it up in your blender.  I’m not going to lie-it gets stuck a bit.  If you have a tamper stick to shove in there, get it ready!  If it gets really frozen and stuck, you can add a touch more almond milk to loosen it up.  Just don’t go too crazy or you will end up with a smoothie rather than a sorbet!

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Looks smooth and smells like cinnamon!  Time to dig in!
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Now, if you’re not into the sorbet idea, or if you aren’t a fruit hoarder like I am, you might want to go with something a little creamier, that uses ingredients you can get delivered in your bag right now: bananas!  This is too easy for words.  It takes a little time, but it’s worth it!

Start by slicing a rather ripe banana into 1/2 inch slices, then place in a single layer on a baking sheet.  I use wax paper so it doesn’t freeze to the baking sheet.

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Then place the whole sheet in the freezer for an hour:

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Take them out of the freezer and pop into a food processor:

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Now here is the fun part.  You can make this whatever flavor you like!  I added one tablespoon of cocoa powder and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla.  You could add in peanut butter or any flavor you like.  Share your ideas in the comments section!

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Whirl it up!

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So smooth!

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Now, in the interest of being honest and not pretending chocolate ice cream and bananas taste the same, I will admit that it’s not just like eating a bowl of chocolate ice cream, BUT, and this is an important point: the calorie difference is ridiculous.  A cup of chocolate ice cream (premium) contains around 530 calories and 34 grams of fat.  Compare that to this little gem, where there are about 100 calories and .4 grams of fat in the banana, then none in the cocoa powder and vanilla, and it’s no contest.  This is a great option for a healthy and sweet treat!

Share your ideas and experiences for #HH30Days treats below!

 

#HH30Days Week 1 Recap!

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Week one is in the books!  How did you do?  I have loved all of the healthy food I’m cooking up!  It’s a little more challenging to stick to only whole foods, but it is completely doable, especially when you have HH in your corner!

One of the my favorites has been the fresh, local asparagus.  It is the first sign of spring to me, and since the weather hasn’t gotten the memo yet that it’s spring, I am glad the asparagus crop did!  It has been my favorite side dish to basically every dinner this week.  It cooks up in a few minutes on a grill pan (see above re: weather not cooperating with outdoor grilling), and it turns an even brighter shade of green, which is just downright beautiful!  Top it with a little salt, and you are in business!

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I have been enjoying my snacks too, and I shared some ideas earlier in the week.  Comment below if you’ve come up with any particularly good ones you’d like to share!

I’ve noticed that I go to fruit as a snack more than normal, which has been great!  To avoid boredom, I try to spice it up a little bit.  For example, I packed a container of blackberries to take to work, and I added some chopped fresh mint to it.  It was lovely!

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HH’s seedless red grapes also make a great snack.  They’re cool, juicy, and refreshing, and they are easy to grab and go!

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Not necessarily (or even a little bit) a fruit, but my baked blue potato chips have also been a great treat this week.  They are crunchy and salty, but without the processed junk that you find in a bag of chips!  Have you tried them?  Did they disappear quickly in your house like they did in mine?

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Another spring favorite is pea shoots!  These delicious little greens have been giving new life to my salads!  I love them!  They are also delicious as a side dish, just sautéed in some olive oil with a touch of salt.  Let us know how you like to use them, and if you haven’t tried them yet, add them to your bag this week to give them a try!

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Those are some of my favorites this week, and I am beyond thrilled for the imminent arrival of strawberries!  Anyone else?  I’ll be posting some more #HH30Days posts as we eat our way through this month of delicious and healthy food, so stay tuned!

 

Baked Blue Potato Chips (#HH30Days-friendly!)

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Who doesn’t love potato chips?  Or at least like them?  I can’t think of anyone I know!   So if you are doing the #HH30Days Challenge, you might be missing that crunchy, salty snack…but no more!  We are making our own chips here!  And it’s so easy, you might want to do this permanently!

Start with those blue potatoes from your bag.  They are so pretty once sliced up!  I love the color, and I tell myself that it makes them taste better because they look better.  Reasonable.

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If you have a mandoline, slice the potatoes on there.  If not, just thinly slice them with a sharp knife.

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(Not pictured is the handy dandy protector thingy for the mandolin.  Always a bonus when you can use it and keep all five fingers in tact!)

Slice them thinly, then pile them up in a bowl!  Pause to admire that gorgeous color!

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Then toss them with 1-2Tbsp olive oil and about 1/2 tsp. salt.

Lay them on a baking sheet in a single layer, baking at 425 for 23-25 minutes.

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Mine needed a touch more salt when they finished baking.

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They came out crunchy, salty, and delicious!  Enjoy these as a healthier potato chip!

Tell us below what you do with your blue potatoes!

Baked Blue Potato Chips

4-5 small blue potatoes
1-2Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt

Instructions

  • Wash your potatoes, then thinly slice on a mandolin or with a sharp knife.
  • Toss with olive oil and salt.
  • Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet, making sure not to overlap potato slices–if you overlap, they won’t get crispy!
  • Bake at 425 degrees for 23-25 minutes.

#HH30Days Snacktime!

 

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So have you signed up for the #HH30Days challenge yet? I have! And I am determined to stick to it for 30 days!  How do I plan on doing that while also working full time and dealing with life in general? Good question!

Planning

So let’s think about this: if I want to eat healthy things, then I have to have healthy things available to me. That means I need to shop on HH’s site for delicious things that I want to eat, and it just so happens that one of my favorite things on the planet is tzatziki. To be even more specific, Cava Mezze’s tzatziki. I’ve googled online for the recipe more times than I care to admit, but now I don’t have to because I can just order it and have it ready-made and in my bag on my delivery morning. JACK. POT. I could eat it with a spoon, but I use celery instead:

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Another favorite is guacamole and chips, but I keep it healthy by substituting red peppers for chips.  Still delicious!

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Prep work

For me, and for many people I think, the most important part of the week is the part before it even starts. Basically, Sunday night. If I prepare and plan on Sunday night, then I have healthy options in the fridge that make it easy to grab and go. If I have to work late, then I have to take all of my meals with me, and that’s especially doable if I have a fridge full of healthy prepared meals. So I take all the yummy things I got in my bag and make them into something delicious. This week, it was a quinoa salad with corn, black beans, red peppers, mango, and…spring garlic! I am obsessed with it lately!

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PROTEIN (MY BFF)

So really, my sister is my BFF, but protein is a close second.   It helps me feel full on fewer calories, so that’s a win right there.

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Pairing protein and veggies or fruit is an excellent way to feel full on a smaller total amount of calories. For example, celery and tzatziki (can you tell I love that snack?), carrots and hummus, an apple and peanut butter, hard boiled eggs…it’s all a win, because they will keep you feeling satiated and not ravenous for longer than a bag of chips will.

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Share your favorite healthy snack below!

#HH30Days Kicks Off!

GET EXCITED!!

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It’s Hometown Harvest’s 30 Days Challenge! You get to focus on eating whole foods for 30 days, AND you can enter to win fun prizes along the way! DAILY giveaways!!  Who doesn’t love eating well and winning prizes? Clearly, I am pumped for this month!

Sign up here.

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Ok, so you’ve signed up…now what? Check out the rules here.

Then, start by cleaning out your fridge. Having a helpful environment to support your healthy eating endeavors is a big part of the equation. Go through and clean it out; get rid of junk food, throw out spoiled produce (or see if you can salvage it by checking out my posts on wrinkled peppers and wilted lettuce!).

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Specifically, think about these potential game changers:

  • Make the healthy options the first thing you see: what do you see first when you open your fridge? Is it something healthy or
    something that’s processed and not so much what you want to eat? Make the healthy choice the easy choice! How? Keep reading!
  • Prep makes it easy! Are the healthy options the easiest ones? More often than not, we choose the easiest, most accessible foods when we are tired and hungry and short on time. Making sure your produce is not only in your fridge, but prepped and ready to eat is a way to make sure that when you’re low on energy, you’re still making the best choices.
  • Make it fun! Stay tuned in to HH’s blog for Coach Sarah K’s tips and encouragement! Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for new ideas that will make healthy eating fun and delicious all at once. How about having a challenge with your coworkers? Share ideas, meals, snack ideas, etc.

Now what?

Time to shop! Check out the Just Arrived section of our website for our newly arrived produce, then start adding to your cart! Post your favorite meal ideas on our social media sites, and keep an eye out for our daily winners! 

 

Let’s Get Started!

Share your initial thoughts, ideas, excitement, below!

Real Food Approved!

HH30Days-logoAre you getting ready for the big challenge? We wanted to share some great resources for preparing your kitchen for a month of real food, including this list of 21 Essentials for Freezer, Pantry & Fridge from the folks at 100 Days of Real Food.

We also thought it would be handy to provide a list of Hometown Harvest products that are challenge-ready. In addition to ALL of our fruits & veggies, the following is a list of links to add foods directly to your bag, which should make planning easier! We will be updating this list as our new products continue to roll in.

Veggie & Fruit Bags All Items
Produce All Items
Proteins
Pastured Eggs
Whole Roasting Hens
Ground Turkey
Whole Roasting Hens
Grass-Fed Steaks
Grass-Fed Ground Beef
Free-Range Pork Chops
Free-Range Pork Tenderloin
Wild White Shrimp
Invasive Blue Catfish
Wild-Caught Salmon
Pasture-Raised Lamb
Organic Local Tofu
Bakery
Farm House Oatmeal
Sunflower Loaf
Seven-Grain Crunch Sliced Bread
Three-Seed Healthy Sliced Bread
Honey Whole Wheat Sliced Bread
Dairy
Milk
Half & Half
Unsweetened Plain Yogurt Smoothie
Plain Whole Yogurt
Honey Greek Yogurt
Fresh Mozzarella
Aged Feta
Smoked Cheddar
Cheddar
Colby
Pantry
Creole Spice Blend
Ranch Spice Blend
Taco Spice Blend
Tuscan Spice Blend
Nun’n But Nuts Nut Butter
Black Raspberry Spread
Strawberry Spread
Triple Crown Spread
Cranberry Orange Marmalade
Deception Salsa: Insanity
Vampire Slayer Hummous
Organic Whole Wheat Flour
Organic Whole Wheat Bread Flour
Organic Whole Spelt Flour
Tri-Color Quinoa
Organic Farro
Apple Butter
Applesauce (plain or cinnamon)
Raw Honey
Cinnamon Apple Chips
Fruit Bars
Cinnamon Toast Roasted Chickpeas
Spicy Cayenne Roasted Chickpeas
Rosemary & Olive Oil Roasted Chickpeas
Tomato Basil Roasted Chickpeas
Salted Virginia Peanuts
Old Bay Seasoned Virginia Peanuts
Roasted & Salted Almonds
Classic Kraut
Curry Kraut
Pure Maple Syrup
Beverages
Artisan Coffee
Mint Lime Kombucha
Ginger Kombucha
Strawberry Kombucha
Granny Smith Kombucha
Lemongrass White Peach Unsweetened Tea
Juicing & Stock
Kale & Pear Blend
Beet, Carrot, & Pear Blend
Chicken Stock
Vegetable Stock

Ridiculously Easy Roasted Rutabaga Fries

Whenever I hear the word “rutabaga,” it reminds me of the mispronunciations of Daniel “Rudy” Ruetigger’s last name in the movie Rudy (totally worth taking the time to watch by the way – it’s really inspiring!).

Here are some cool things I’ve learned about this lesser known veggie!

  • It’s a cross between a turnip and cabbage and is known as a “swede” everywhere else in the world.
  • It’s from the brassica (AKA cruciferous) vegetable family, so it naturally contains lots of healthy nutrients and cancer-fighting compounds.
  • It takes on a sweet flavor when cooked – kind of like a turnip or parsnip.
  • It is less starchy than a potato but offers a similar texture when cooked or mashed, though it won’t get as crunchy as potatoes when roasted.
  • It’s pronounced ROO-da-bay-ga. 🙂

The only reason I had rutabagas in the first place was because they were part of my weekly produce delivery and I didn’t want them to go to waste!

Whenever I come across a food I’ve never cooked before, I do one of three things:

  1. Flip through the index of my favorite cookbooks.
  2. Search for recipes on Pinterest.
  3. Use what I learned from other recipes and apply those same methods to a new food. In other words, if I’ve roasted one root vegetable (potatoes, sweet potatoes, turnips, parsnips, etc.), then I can probably roast another root vegetable (rutabaga!), so that’s just what I did.

Ridiculously Easy Roasted Rutabaga Fries

Rutabaga fries roasting in the oven! YUM!

Rutabaga fries roasting in the oven!

Ingredients

  • 2 medium rutabagas, peeled
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, ghee (clarified butter), or grass-fed butter
  • 1/4 – 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme (or 1-2 teaspoons fresh)
  • 1/2 tsp dried rosemary (or 1-2 teaspoons fresh)
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Cut the ends off the rutabagas and peel the skin off with a vegetable peeler.
  3. Slice them into 1/4-inch round disks and then cut them into strips, as pictured above.
  4. Toss them together with the oil and herbs and spices.
  5. Spread them out on a baking sheet (make sure they don’t touch or get overcrowded, as that will cause them to get mushy rather than roast. Use 2 baking sheets if you have to!).
  6. Roast for about 20-25 minutes, flipping them halfway through, so they don’t burn. They’re done when you can easily pierce them with a fork.
Yummy herbed rutabaga fries!

Yummy herbed rutabaga fries!

Roasted Kabocha Squash & Cremini Mushrooms

Roasted Kabocha

I first tried kabocha (ka-BOTCH-a) squash last year when my husband and I were browsing through one of our favorite cookbooks – Clean Food. The recipe was for a stuffed kabocha squash, and it was heavenly!

I love squash that I don’t have to peel (since that can be a bit of a pain), and kabocha squash is one you can enjoy in its wholeness – skin and all!

Today’s post features another recipe from Terry Walters, author of the Clean Food cookbook and a fellow graduate of my health coaching training program. Her cookbooks focus on eating real, whole, seasonal food.

Kabocha Squash Collage

This recipe combines three of my favorite things – kabocha squash, mushrooms, and fresh fall herbs (especially sage!).

Kabocha squash, also known as a Japanese pumpkin, has an edible dark green skin covering a deep orange flesh and cooks up a bit sweeter than butternut squash. It’s one of my favorite squash, but it has a short season, so I try to take advantage of it while I can.

This dish also contains a couple of the best GBOMBS foods we can eat, including mushrooms and leeks. GBOMBS are the highest nutrient foods we can eat and are anti-cancer, anti-fat storage foods. Click here to read more about GBOMBS and how you can add more of them to your diet.

Roasted Kabocha

Ingredients

2 small or 1 large Kabocha squash
2 leeks*, sliced lengthwise and cut into 1/2-inch strips (cut off the dark green top!)
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons coconut oil, melted OR extra virgin olive oil (I use coconut oil for high heat recipes, since it’s more heat stable)
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
1 pound cremini mushrooms, wiped clean (leave the whole)
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, minced
1 tablespoon fresh sage, minced

This squash tastes even better the second day, heated up on the stovetop in a bit more coconut oil, some black pepper, and a touch more balsamic. You may also find that you want to toss it in a little extra oil and vinegar when you take it out of the oven the first time to restore some of the moisture.

*I found that the leeks burned when I put them in right away, as the recipe suggests, so I would recommend putting them in after the first 10 minutes instead of at the very beginning of cooking. You could also try lowering the oven temperature to 400F to see if that makes a difference.

For the full recipe click here.*

Here are a few more recipes that feature this sweet & delicious squash!

  1. Stuffed Kabocha Squash 
  2. Kabocha Squash Ice Cream with Maple Roasted Pecans
  3. Roasted Kabocha Squash Bowl with Autumn Vegetables

Crispy Baked Okra & Smokra Bites

Prior to this week, I had never bought or cooked with okra before.

But Kaitlyn presented me with a challenge…and I’m always up for a challenge!

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Prior to cooking okra for the first time this week, I knew two things about it:

1) It’s my dad’s least favorite vegetable.

2) Stone Mill Bakery uses it in their ridiculously awesome vegetable soup (which is worth the splurge if you’re looking for a delicious lunch in Baltimore).

After being given the challenge of coming up with simple, delicious and healthy okra recipes, I did some research to learn more about this lesser known veggie.

Generally, when I find out just how good a particular food is for my body, I tend to be a lot more eager to try it.

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Check out this blurb about all of the health benefits of okra from another blogger, Nourished & Grounded:

Okra is FULL of vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin C, A, K, Folate, Niacin, Thiamin, B6, magnesium, manganese, carotene, as well as lutein and zeazanthin [crucial for eye health].  It contains polysaccharides that improve blood circulation.  It contains numerous antioxidants such as epicatechin, catechin, rutin, procyanidin B1 and B2 and quercetin which help the body prevent damage from oxidative stress and environmental factors.  And what about that gooey liquid that gives it such a bad wrap?  Surprise, that’s the best part! The gel-like fiber (mucilage) soothes and coats the intestines, and a healthy gut is crucial for overall health.  This is the same stuff found in aloe vera and it’s SUPER healing.

So, now that we’re sold on WHY we should eat okra, let’s talk about how to cook it.

One of the key comments I kept finding online and in response to my Facebook post about the okra bites, was the tendency for okra to be “slimy.”

Unless you’re 5 years old, sliminess isn’t usually something you’re looking for in food.

The key to making okra “un-slimy”?

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Roasting it. 

My favorite way to make just about any other vegetable is to roast it, so that’s what I did with the okra. Prep time is under 5 minutes, and these little okra bites were ready in about 20 minutes!

Even after I tried them and approved of their crunchy texture, mild flavor, and pleasant “pop” from the edible seeds, I wasn’t 100% sure my husband would like them.

To my surprise (and satisfaction!) he did 🙂

That makes these crispy little bites wife-tested and hubby-approved. I bet your kids will like them, too!

Crispy Baked Okra Bites

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Basic Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound okra, chopped into 1/2 inch discs (about 18 pods) – cut off the top and bottom stems
  • 1-2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, or to taste

**You can use any combination of spices you like on these. They taste great with just salt and pepper if you want to keep it simple, or try one of my favorite variations below:

Garlic Version: Add 1 teaspoon garlic powder

Smokra Version: Add 1 teaspoon smoked paprika (also called “smoked sweet paprika” – This spice is AWESOME on everything from roasted veggies to soups to popcorn. Add it to your grocery list!).

 

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 450F.
  2. Toss okra with coconut oil and spices and spread out in a single layer on a foil-lined baking sheet.
  3. Roast for 20 minutes, stirring halfway through. Cook longer to crisp them up even more!
  4. Serve immediately.

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