A few weeks ago we confessed that we had never bought a Gerber Graduate Meal (or any other pre-packaged toddler meal for that matter). It seems that our fresh food philosophy resonated with a lot of you – – and many even tried our recipe for Lila’s favorite quick and easy edamame! The easy side dish packs three of parenting.com’s ten best power food for kids in one punch!

We promised to share more toddler friendly fast and fresh recipes with you, but decided to have a little fun in the process. Hence the Farmer’s Market Challenge.

What is the Farmer’s Market Challenge? From now until the end of market season (beginning of November), we’ll be selecting one fruit, veggie, cheese, or other market product to take into our test kitchen (which just happens to also double as our only kitchen!) and produce something our beta group will eat (a.k.a. our 13-month-old). The idea is to make something easy (we’re definitely not contenders for Top Chef no matter how we enjoy it) and toddler-friendly.

Because sharing is caring, we’re inviting all of you into the fun, too! Just blog about or post on facebook your favorite kid-friendly recipe that includes the market item of the week and add your URL to our linky!

I was psyched to start this new series on our trip to the 32nd Street Market this past weekend. Toward the end of the market, there was a stand selling only cantaloupe and okra. The farmer behind the table was very friendly, but when I asked him what his favorite thing to make with okra was, he responded: “I don’t cook it. I just grow it.”

Well, you know I love a challenge. So this week’s veggie is okra.

I’ve never cooked okra. I had never even seen okra without fried breading on the outside. I might have had it in some gumbo once – – but 110 degree heat really isn’t gumbo weather. Besides, wasn’t really feeling confident that spicy gumbo would pass our Lila Bug beta test.

So I scoured the internet for healthy fried okra (since that’s what I was familiar with!), and came across this toddler friendly Okra Nuggets recipe from weelicious. (I’m now subscribing to their daily recipe email, too. Fabulous find!).

Ingredients:

  • 2 Cups Okra, cut into 1 inch rounds
  • 
1 Tsp Salt

  • 1/4 Cup Flour

  • 1 Egg
  • 
1/2 Cup Cornmeal
  • 
1/4 Cup Parmesan Cheese

(I nixed the salt and added the following seasonings: fresh basil, celery salt and pepper. I didn’t have straight parmesan cheese on hand, so I used shredded Parmigiana-Regiano)

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grab a cookie sheet and put in the oven while it’s heating up.*
  • Get three small to medium bowls from your cabinet. Combine flour, celery salt and pepper in the first bowl. In a second bowl, whisk the egg.
 Combine cornmeal, cheese and basil in the third bowl.
  • Roll the okra in the flour and pat to remove excess flour.
 Dip the flour coated okra in egg and then roll in the cornmeal/parmesan mixture to coat.
  • Retrieve your cookie sheet from the oven. Carefully spray cookie sheet with non-stick cooking spray and place the okra on the sheet.
  • Bake for 15 minutes or until golden.

  • Serve.

(*a step I added based on LOTS of positive experience doing this with homemade baked sweet potato fries. Gives them a little extra crisp!)

The verdict?
Everyone in our house ate them! I did serve them with a bit of ranch dressing to dip (added excitement). The Bug seemed to prefer the non-dipped version. Personally, I liked the crunchy texture of the cornmeal. There was just enough of a spicy bite at the end of the nugget to keep things more flavorful than your run-of-the-mill simulated fried veggie. The okra was still moist, but not all mush. Perfect.

Since okra nuggets aren’t really a main course, we served ours with honey terayaki grilled pork tenderloin, tomato/fresh apricot salad tossed in homemade balsamic vinaigrette, and blueberries. The whole dinner went from cutting board to table in under 30 minutes.

So what’s your favorite kid-friendly okra recipe? Post about it and add it to our linky! Can’t wait to read them!

And let us know what you think next week’s market item should be by leaving a comment!