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Summertime has been a blast here at the Hippy home, as we have spent a TON of time adventuring outdoors, swimming to our hearts content, and of course consuming our summer favorites. Our CSA has been overflowing with summer veggies including a favorite of mine, okra! Who doesn't love fried okra all summer long? The only problem is, like many other health conscious people, I don't do fried food. I wasn't about to give up my love of fried okra, so I came up with this recipe last summer when I had okra practically coming out my ears.
Did you know you could make vegan buttermilk?
What is the secret ingredient to any good fried food? If you guessed buttermilk, you'd totally be correct, but how's someone who doesn't do dairy supposed to get that same awesomeness in their recipe? That's easy! Make it vegan! Vegan buttermilk is super easy to make, simply whisk together 1 cup non-dairy milk with 1 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. lemon juice. That's it! I like to use either homemade coconut or almond milk, but you could also try using rice milk, hemp milk, or soy milk too!
The secret to getting the fried crispy texture from the oven
We all know the best part of fried food is the crispy outer shell. That crispy texture can be lost when you bake them in the oven instead, so how to get that crisp texture? The secret is in creating a batter instead of dipping in the "buttermilk" and then the flour mixture like when you traditionally fry food. In an effort to make these deliciously crispy, oven-baked okra available to everyone, I not only made them vegan but also gluten-free! I wanted to try out chickpea flour, but didn't have any so I made this batch with tapioca starch instead, but you could try making these with different types of flour. I served these healthy bites to the Hippy Hubby and his best friend Micah but didn't tell them they were vegan and gluten-free. The guys both agreed that they were super delicious, and were shocked to learn how healthy I had made them! I love when I can turn something unhealthy into a tasty healthy version that can be enjoyed by everyone!
Crispy Oven "Fried" Okra - Vegan/Gluten-Free/Oil-Free
- 1 1/2 lbs. okra
- 2 cups unsweetened non-dairy milk (I used almond but you could use any other non-dairy milk)
- 2 1/2 Tbsp. lemon juice
- 1 cup cornmeal (I used Mas Harina)
- 1/2 cup tapioca flour (you can substitute this for chickpea flour, rice flour, or even wheat flour for a gluten-filled version)
- 1 Tbsp. garlic powder
- 1 1/2 tsp. onion powder
- 1 tsp. smoked paprika
- 1/2 tsp. cayenne powder
- 1 Tbsp. nutritional yeast
- 2 tsp. salt (or to taste)
- 1 tsp. pepper (or to taste)
- Wash okra and trim off stems and ends. Slice into 1/2 inch pieces.
- Line a baking pan with parchment paper and preheat oven to 450F.
- In a 2+ cup measuring cup, combine non-dairy milk and lemon juice to create non-dairy "buttermilk".
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk all the dry ingredients together and then whisk in non-dairy "buttermilk. The batter will be about pancake batter thickness. You can thin the batter a little further if needed, by whisking in a little more non-dairy "buttermilk" until desired thickness is created.
- Drop in 1/2 of the okra slices and stir them until completely covered in batter.
- Using a slotted spoon, (and your fingers if needed), remove okra slices from the batter and arrange them on the parchment paper covered baking sheet.
- Bake in the oven for 15 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and turn each one over, then return them to the oven to bake for another 15 minutes, or until completely browned but not burnt.