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For a classic gumbo, you’d need the holy trinity of Cajun flavors (onion, celery, and bell pepper), 3 proteins (most common combo is shrimp, chicken, and sausage), and three thickeners (French roux is prepared with flour and bacon fat, okra, and sassafras leaves. It typically also includes rice, but with this version, I’m choosing to simplify it, making it quicker and easier to prepare, healthier for your heart, brain, and soul, and it will still be delicious. If you want to simplify even further, use shrimp or scallops, not both.

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Simmering Time: 20 minutes

Serves: 4 (makes great leftovers)


2 Tbsp avocado oil

1 medium white onion, diced

½ tsp sea salt

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp ground paprika

2 medium celery stalks, diced

1 large green bell pepper, diced into ½-inch pieces (seeds and membrane removed)

1 large red bell pepper, diced into ½-inch pieces (seeds and membrane removed)

4 cups okra, sliced into ¾-inch pieces (fresh or frozen)

15 ounces chopped tomatoes

¼-1/2 tsp ground cayenne pepper (adjust to your preference for spicy heat)

2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth or chicken stock

1-2 cups water (adjust to your preferred thickness)

1 pound bay scallops

1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined

15 ounces red or kidney beans cooked (if canned, rinsed and drained)

1 tsp gumbo filé powder (ground sassafras leaves—if you don’t have the filé, not to worry, the okra alone will help thicken nicely)


Heat a large pot over medium-high heat, add oil, onion, salt, oregano, and paprika, and sauté for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onion softens. Add celery, bell pepper, and okra and sauté another 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they start to soften.

Add stewed tomatoes, cayenne pepper, broth, water, and bring to a gentle boil, then simmer for 10 minutes. Add scallops, shrimp, and beans and simmer another 10 minutes, until shrimp turn pink and scallops are cooked. Remove from heat, stir in filé powder. Serve.


Steven Masley, MD