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Best Healthy Okra in the South

Here in the South, supper is not ready until the okra is crisp, brown and hot. My mother-in-love has always held the crown for the best fried okra south of the Mason-Dixon line. My kids love it, I love it, everybody I know who has ever had the pleasure of dining at her beautiful Peck and Hills dining table loves it. I’ve watched, I’ve listened, I’ve tried to replicate. And it just isn’t the same.

Knowing that you just cannot call yourself a southern cook if you can’t fry okra, I gave up. Kind of thinking, if I just don’t ever serve it, nobody will know the difference. Well, I think I have now found the best “healthy” okra recipe that I would even serve to my mother-in-love. It is simple, crisp and delicious and there’s no flour.

Sautéd Okra

Okra is one of those vegetables that you either love or your hate. Some people have an aversion to the slimy texture while others don’t like the pesky seeds. I have loved okra since the first time I ate it and my sweet daddy was likely the cook who prepared it. I could eat it like popcorn. Daddy just doesn’t prepare it as often as we’d like.

Just as Julia Child instructed that perfectly sautéed mushrooms “must not be crowded in the pan,” so must okra not be “turned” too often or it will get soggy. Although this instruction was not included in the internet recipe I found, that one step in perfectly “fried” okra is one I have not forgotten. I used it to “sauté” my fresh okra and let’s just say that if that ole southern saying, “so good it’ll make yo tongue slap yo brains out” is true; I don’t have a brain left in my head and neither does Mr. Cozi!

The secret to this healthy version of our southern favorite is to prepare it fresh, with seasonings and add it to a hot skillet of coconut oil. Don’t turn it too often and sauté it until it’s lightly brown and crisp.

Best Healthy Okra in the South

Here is this delicious recipe that will now be a regular side dish at my house.

Sautéed Okra

Paleo Friendly


    • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
    • 1 pound okra, washed, and cut in half lengthwise
    • 1 to 2 teaspoons garlic powder (I used 1 teaspoon, but will try more next time)
    • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
    • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
    • salt and pepper to taste


    1. Preheat the skillet over medium heat. Add in the coconut oil once the pan is hot.
    2. Combine the garlic powder, cumin, and cayenne. Sprinkle evenly over the okra and mix with your hands to be sure okra is covered. Add salt and pepper to taste.
    3. Add okra to hot oil and sauté without turning, allowing okra to become somewhat browned for about 3-5 minutes. Turn okra and lower heat to medium-low. Sauté an additional 5 – 8 minutes to get to that crispy texture that is so delicious! 

 I served my old-favorite-in-a-new-way-vegetable with Orange-Glazed Pork Tenderloin and a side salad. NO carbs and I didn’t miss them with this meal!
Okra with Pork Tenderloin
 The pork tenderloin recipe was found at Cooking Light.

Orange-Glazed Pork Tenderloin 


1/3 cup orange marmalade (I used Smucker’s Low Sugar)
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon lower-sodium soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 tablespoon peanut oil
1 (1-pound) pork tenderloin $$


1. Preheat oven to 350°.

2. Combine first 4 ingredients in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk. Heat a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil; swirl to coat. Add pork; cook 6 minutes, turning to brown on all sides. Brush pork with half of marmalade mixture. Place pan in oven; bake at 350° for 18 minutes or until a thermometer registers 145°, turning and basting with remaining marmalade after 10 minutes. Place pork on a cutting board; reserve sauce in pan. Let pork rest 5 minutes; cut into 12 slices. Drizzle with sauce.

Mom-in Love, you will always hold the crown for fried okra, but perhaps I will now wear the one for “sautéed” okra.
It’s always a good sign when Mr. Cozi says, “Do we have enough for leftovers?” YES!!!

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