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

Red Pepper and Nut Dip (A Version of Muammara)

This dip is based on a Syrian dish that is mostly served with additional ingredients like pomegranate juice. I like the nutty and tangy nature of this paste-consistency dish. Very easy to prepare, provided you have all the nuts on hand.

Red Pepper and Nut Dip

Ingredients

  • Olive Oil, 2 tablespoons
  • Pine Nuts, ¼  cup
  • Sliced Almonds, ¼ cup
  • Walnuts, ½ cup
  • Pistachios, unsalted roasted and shelled, ¼ cup
  • Cashews, roasted, ¼ cup
  • Red Bell Peppers, 1 lb, each cut into 2-3 pieces
  • Onion, 1 medium, coarsely chopped
  • Bread Crumbs, 1/3 cup
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Salt – OPTIONAL

In a small skillet, heat 1 tbsp of the oil and add the pine nuts and almonds and cook over moderately high heat, stirring, until golden for about 2 minutes. Transfer nuts to a plate. Add walnuts to the skillet and cook for 2-3 minutes.

Transfer to a food processor. Let cool completely.

Add the pistachios, cashews and the almonds and pulse until the nuts are finely chopped. Scrape into medium bowl.

Add the bell peppers, onion to the food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Transfer the mixture to a fine mesh sleeve and press to extract as much liquid as possible.

Add the mixture to the bowl with nuts. Stir in the pine nuts, bread crumbs and remaining oil. Season with cayenne pepper and salt, if using, and serve.

Makes 3 cups, serving 12. Serve with Mary’s Gone Crackers, gluten-free sesame crackers.

Here is the nutrition information on this recipe:

Chicken and Quinoa Stuffed Bell Peppers

This is a wholesome WeightWatchers recipe that provides a good carb and protein balance and a lot of tasty, filling food. Great for lunch or a light dinner. Some amazing foods in WeightWatchers recipe books by the way. In general. They mostly need a bit of tweaking to make them what they should be: tasty. However this one is special. It needed very little changing.

 

Chicken and Quinoa Stuffed Bell Peppers (20/20 compatible)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 4-5 large bell peppers, tops sliced off (remove green handle but keep the top), cleanedgo for various colors if you like pretty
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 1 lb. chicken breast, diced into tiny chunks
  • 1 cup chicken broth, preferably homemade or low-fat/low-sodium
  • 1 Tbsps Caraway seeds (or cumin seeds) – OPTIONAL
  • 2 Tbsps Dijon Mustard
  • 2 Tbsps slivered almonds
  • 2 Tbsps dried raisins, – OPTIONAL, DO NOT USE IF ON 20/20
  • Black pepper to taste
  • Red chili flakes to taste – OPTIONAL

In a 2-qt pan, mix 2 cups of water with the quinoa; bring to boil. Then simmer for 10-15 minutes until water is all sooaked and quinoa is cooked to taste.

Fill a 5-6 quart pan with water, bring to boil. Cook the bell peppers and the tops for 3 minutes. Immediately drain peppers and wash with cold water to stop cooking. This process loosen the peppers (but no so loose that they tear) so you can stuff more in them. The circular tops you cleaned and kept will serve as ‘hats.’

IMG_6587Preheat the oven to 375 Fahrenheit (350 if using convection). Spray a 4-5 quart pan with oil and set on medium heat. Saute onions until soft, about 3-4 minutes. Than add celery and cook for another 2. Then add the chicken. Break it down with a wooden spoon. Cook for 5-8 minutes until chicken starts browning.

Add 1/2 cup chicken broth to pan, along with the mustard and the caraway seeds if you are using them. Stir occasionally, until the juices become glaze-like. Add black pepper, salt (and red chili flakes) if using to taste.

Remove from heat. Mix in the quinoa and the almonds.

Stuff each pepper with the mixture. Use a spoon to press down so you can maximize the amount of stuffing each pepper gets. Place one of the tops on each pepper. Do this until you run out of peppers. If you are using small or medium peppers, you may need more than 4.

If you are using just 4 large peppers, then arrange the stuffed peppers in a 9×9 inch oven-safe glass dish. Fill the bottom of the dish with the remaining half of the chicken broth.

Bake for 30 minutes. If using a convection oven, I recommend you switch around the side facing the fan midway through the baking time.

NOTES:

  • You can use ground chicken breast in place of the chicken breast. You can use ground turkey or ground chicken as well but those tend to have more calories and fat.
  • Instead of quinoa, you can use barley, faro or any other grain.
  • The raisins are a nice touch, but they are also high on sugar so I do not use them.

Here is the nutritional information on this dish, courtesy of Spark People’s recipe calculator (http://recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipe-calculator.asp). This particular recipe  is based on using chicken breast, no raisins, homemade broth and 4 massive bell peppers (2 red, 1 yellow and 1 orange) from Costco:

Garbanzo Beans with Chicken (No Oil Version) Soup/Stew

One of my staples is the garbanzo beans (chickpeas) with chicken… It is an all-time favorite in my house. I got several of my friends totally hooked as well (yes, I mean you Carol). With abundant mint flavor, this is one of the healthiest yet most satisfying dishes I make.

Garbanzo Beans with Chicken

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. chicken breast, cubed
  • 2 cups chicken broth, preferably homemade or low-sodium
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 large red bell pepper, chopped
  • 2-4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2-3 plum tomatoes, chopped or 1 14-oz diced canned variety
  • 14-oz can garbanzo beans, or 2 cups cooked from dried
  • 3-4 Tbsps fresh mint or as many tsps if using dried, or to taste
  • 1-2 Tbsps red chili flakes, or to taste
  • Black pepper to taste

Heat 2 tablespoons of the chicken broth in a dutch oven or deep 5-6 qt pan on medium or medium high heat. Add chicken. Cook while mostly covered (to keep juices locked in), stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes.

Remove chicken from pan, let the juices remain in pan. If the pan is running low on juices, add few more tablespoons of broth and then stir in the garlic and the onions. Let onion soften, stirring occasionally, for about 4-5 minutes. Stir in celery and peppers. Cook for 3-4 minutes.

Add tomatoes and garbanzo beans to pan. Mix well and cook for 2 minutes. Then add the chicken back in the pan and then the remaining chicken broth. Add the spices. Bring to boil.

Simmer covered for 30 minutes. No need to stir during this time, other than maybe to check the spice levels at the end to adjust.

Makes 5 generous servings. Here are the nutrition facts:

NOTE: You can add some salt to taste and use some olive oil to cook the chicken or saute the onions. If you’d like to treat this more like a soup, you can adjust the broth levels as well.

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