Pork Tenderloin with Pineapple, Cabbage and Teriyaki Glaze

This 475-calorie, 50+ grams of protein monster (I mean that in a good way) is hefty enough to satisfy your appetite and your eye (quantity), and it is sweet enough to satiate your cravings… It is fairly straightforward and easy as well. I usually make this when we have people coming over to watch something (when eating is not the front and center of the evening) and most of the time, they don’t even know they are eating what could be called ‘diet food.’ If this is diet food, then I know how America’s waistlines can shrink again. Trust me and try this.

Ingredients

  • 12 oz. pork tenderloin trimmed, cut into 1- to 2-inch thin strips
  • 1 Tbsp. baking soda
  • 2 cups of water
  • Generous pinch of Chinese Five Spice
  • 1 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced (less if you are so inclined)
  • 1 cup fresh pineapple, cubed
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp sweet rice wine
  • 1 Tbsp dry white wine or cooking wine
  • 2 tsp honey
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

 

In a medium bowl, soak the pork in the water with the baking soda for 15-20 minutes. This will make sure the pork stays moist and ridiculously tender. Longer you soak, the more tender the meat will get.

In the meantime, make the teriyaki glaze. In a 1-qt pan, heat the soy sauce, rice wine, dry white wine and the honey on low heat. Once boiling, let simmer for 10 minutes, uncovered and stirring occasionally. The mixture will reduce to about 1/8 or 1/6 cup. If you have off-the-shelf glaze, use one that is not too sweet. Just 2 Tbsp should do the trick per person. I seriously recommend that you consider making your own though. Who knows what goes into those glazes? It is probably loaded with copious amounts of sodium and not the good kind. If you don’t like the look or the idea of my teriyaki glaze recipe, find your own and use it. Either way, it takes only a few minutes to put it together and it practically cooks itself while you are working on other components of this dish.

I digress… Back to the recipe.

Rinse the pork, and pat dry. In a dry, small or medium bowl, toss the pork with the generous pinch of the Chinese five spice. Set aside.

While the pork is sitting in spice, spray a non-stick large frying pan (or wok) and on medium heat over a few minutes, let it get hot. Add peppers, onion, garlic and the pineapple and cook until the bell pepper slices start browning on the edges and the onions are all wilted (8-12 minutes). Place the cooked veggies in a large bowl. Set aside.

Return pan to the stove and spray more oil if you like. With heat still on medium, add the pork and cook, until it’s done to your liking: I usually cook a total of 4-5 minutes until all pork looses its pink.

Place the pork in the large bowl with the veggies. Toss everything together with 4 Tbsp of the glaze.

Return pan to stove and increase heat to high. Add the cabbage to the pan and cook for approximately 1-2 minutes, until cabbage wilts. You are not cooking them, you are just seasoning them with the leftover pork juices (I am sure I can articulate that better but pork juice sounded disgusting and I could not resist the wordplay) and taking away the harsh edge of cabbage, without losing its crunch.

On a dinner plate, lay down half of the cabbage, and then top it with the half of the pork, veggie and glaze mixture. Repeat. Done.

You will be pleasantly or unpleasantly surprised how much food 475 calories can offer. And how delicious.

Serves 2. Here are the nutritional facts, courtesy of SparkPeople:


Pork Stir Fry with Pineapples and Teriyaki Glaze

Chicken Apple Salad (Not as Dull as It Sounds)

Chicken Apple Salad… I am not scoring any winning points with that title, am I?

Hear me out: This is a delicious recipe that offers full satisfaction, great nutrition and pretty colors on the plate. What else do you want?

I consume about 1,700-2,000 calories daily (except on those days I drink wine) and this makes a phenomenal dinner or lunch. The dish tastes fresh and it fills up a plate. So, you get the satisfaction of good taste, volume and color.

Ingredients

  • 12 oz. boneless and skinless chicken breast, cut into 1- to 2-inch thin strips
  • 1 Tbsp. baking soda
  • 2 cups of water
  • 2 small apples (any kind… I use one granny smith and a sweeter kind for the other), sliced thin (no need to peel)
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 lime, juiced and zest
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil (reduce this to 1 Tbsp if you are watching fat grams)
  • 1 Tbsp. mixed nuts (OPTIONAL… The nutrition facts assume you are using them… hence the higher fat content. Skip if fat gram conscious)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

 

Soak the chicken in the water with the baking soda for 15-20 minutes. This will make the chicken ridiculously tender. Baking soda soak is the secret to the tender meats in Chinese restaurants. They soak their meats in soda (sounded dirty, didn’t it?) for at least an hour to achieve than silky yet crunchy taste. For the soak to work, the chicken has to be in small bite size chunks. So do not get lazy. If you have a full hour to soak, you can reduce the baking soda to 1 tsp instead.

Rinse the chicken well.  Pat dry.

Spray a non-stick pan with oil and heat until hot on medium heat. Cook the chicken until well done, approximately 8-10 minutes. While the chicken is cooking, mix the lime juice, zest, jalapeno, olive oil in a small bowl to make the dressing.

Combine the chicken, all other ingredients in a large bowl and then toss with dressing. Serves 2.

Here are the nutrition facts, courtesy of the recipe calculator at SparkPeople:

 

Chicken Apple Salad nutrition facts

Green Beans with Nuts and Cranberries

A summer-fresh taste in minutes, really. Nutritionally, it is a bit on the high side fat content-wise, but you can justify it as a side dish with a nice grilled protein… fish or chicken would go well. By the way, I thought I did a pretty awesome job with the picture on this one. I am getting better and better. Who knew I had a knack for photography? I digress.

Green Beans with Nuts and Cranberries

Ingredients

  • 1.5 lbs. green beans, trimmed
  • 1/2 cup roasted nuts, unsalted mix (I prefer to roast it myself with what I have at home)
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • Salt and pepper

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add one tablespoon of salt and the green beans and cook until tender, 4-5 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl filled with ice water to stop the cooking.

If roasting the nuts you got, put the nuts in a non-stick pan over low heat. Roast, stirring occasionally while the beans are cooking, for about 4-5 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine the nuts, the olive oil and the cranberries.

Drain the green beans. Pat dry them with paper towes as you transfer them to the large bowl with the nut mixture. Toss to coat. Adjust taste with salt and pepper, and possibly some red pepper flakes. You can serve this warm or at room temperature. I wouldn’t recommend putting it in the fridge before serving. The flavors will get lost.

Makes 8 servings.

Here are the nutritional facts:

Brown Rice, With Onions and Dill

This dish came out of nowhere and knocked the socks out of me last weekend, when we hosted two of our closest friends and their two visiting relatives. Out of the four dishes we served, this one was the stand out. It is a more interesting side than just plain rice (which we hardly do anymore). I like brown rice, I like dill and I like onions. Never thought about putting them together though.

Brown Rice, With Onions and Dill

Ingredients

  • 3 cups brown rice (rice cooker cups, not real cups)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped
  • Salt, to taste
  • Black pepper, to taste
  • Red pepper flakes, to taste and/or for color

If you don’t have a rice cooker, go ahead and buy 2 or 3 6-ounce boxes of plain rice pilaf or just stop reading. Are you kidding me? Why wouldn’t you have a rice cooker? If you can make rice without a cooker, than do it. Set aside.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a skillet over medium. Add the onions and cook, stirring once in a while until soft, about 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in dill and add pepper (start small, like 1/2 teaspoon and go from there). Transfer the rice into a large bowl and then fold n the onion mixture.

Serves 8.

Here are the nutrition facts:

Red Lentil Balls (Turkish recipe, Mercimekli Kofte)

When I was growing up, my mom had a group friends with whom she would hold “silver” days: Everyone in the group would chip in money to buy the host something lavish in silver (or gold sometimes) and the host in return would host a lavish Saturday afternoon gathering, rich with food and drinks. For women only. And sometimes with kids in tow.

It was in one of those Saturday afternoons that my mom dragged me to a ‘silver’ day at one of her friend’s house that I was introduced to red lentil balls… Very simple yet so very delicious. I tried several recipes before I found a version that I can replicate what I liked so much about this lentil appetizer.

Each ball is about 50-60 calories so eat with caution. They are highly addictive. Also, beware of the ‘bloat’: Bulgur expands in your tummy. Have one or two and wait for 10-15 minutes before you eat something else… Great for 20/20 lifestyles if you can stick to 2-3 of these along with some really good fish or chicken.  If you are allowing yourself some wine, a crisp Sauvignon Blanc or dry Chenin Blanc would be awesome with it.

Red Lentil Balls (Turkish recipe, Mercimekli Kofte)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup red lentils
  • ¾ cup bulgur (cracked wheat)
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • ¾ cup coarsely chopped Italian parsley
  • 4-6 green onions, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon hot red pepper paste
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • Salt, pepper to taste

Rinse the lentils. In a 1-2 quart pan, cover the lentils with just enough water to soak in its entirety. On high heat, bring to boil and then let it simmer for 10 minutes. Make sure you keep an eye on the water level. While you don’t want too much water in the pan, you also want to avoid burning the lentils. You can add more water if necessary.

Once the lentils are soft and mushy, remove from heat and add the bulgur to the pan and cover. Let it sit for 20 minutes until the bulgur expands and softens. If you find the bulgur too crunchy at the end of the 20 minutes, add some hot water, stir and cover again to allow the bulgur soak up the moisture.

In the meantime, in a sauce pan, heat the olive oil on medium and sauté the onions until soft, approximately 8-10 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the lentil-bulgur mixture with the sautéed onions, the hot red pepper paste, the tomato paste and cumin. Knead it until well combined. Taste and add salt and pepper to taste. (I personally do not add salt since the hot pepper paste is usually quite salty. I do put some red chili flakes and black pepper though).

Add the green onions, the garlic and the parsley and knead to mix.

Take a small to medium size ball of the mixture (size of 2 walnuts, the shelled kid) and shape it into a football (American football, not soccer) with your palm and serve it at room temperature.

The individual portion should look be as tall as a roll of coins, but a little thicker, like 2-3 fingers together. You can serve it on a platter layered with lettuce, for looks if you’d like.

Here is the nutrition information I got by entering the ingredients on SparkPeople recipe calculator:

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