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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Chickened Out? Perk Up Your Diet with Pork

Chickened Out? Perk Up Your Diet with Pork

By Senft, M.S. Christine
eDiets Contributor

By now you know it's the "other white meat," but pork, a healthy food? You heard right. While it may seem impossible that the animal that gives us bacon could offer a lean, rich-tasting meat that's diet-friendly, it's true!

Although pork was once higher in fat, the pork industry has taken steps in recent years to produce leaner cuts through improved breeding and feeding practices. The results? According to the National Pork Board, today's pork is lower in fat and lower in the notorious artery-clogging saturated fat than it was a few decades ago. Also, your grocery store's butcher may be responding to consumer demand for leaner meats by trimming more fat from various cuts.

Pork tenderloin is the leanest pork you can get: A 3-ounce cooked serving has about 4 grams of fat and 1.4 grams of saturated fat, as well as 140 calories. Compare that to the same amount of chicken breast, with 3.1 grams of fat, about 1 gram of saturated fat -- and the same number of calories; you can see that pork tenderloin stacks up nicely against the waistline-watcher's favorite.

You can often find it in the meat case, already shrink-wrapped and ready to go. Plus, serving up pork tenderloin from time to time can put an end to that age-old question, "Chicken again?"

The National Pork Board suggests cooking pork tenderloin at 425 degrees F for 20 to 30 minutes, or simply throwing it on the grill -- just in time for summer -- for 15 to 20 minutes. Since pork tenderloin is so lean, it benefits from a soak in your favorite marinade. But if you really want to sass things up, try a spice rub. Simply blend together various seasonings and rub on the outside of the pork tenderloin before roasting or grilling. Try our favorite rub recipes for achieving excellent ethnic flavors:

Mexican Spice Rub
1 1/2 tablespoons ground chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon salt

Italian Herb Rub
3 tablespoons dried parsley flakes
2 tablespoons grated fresh lemon zest
1 tablespoon dried rosemary, crumbled
1 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
1 teaspoon salt

Asian Spice Rub
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 1/2 teaspoons fennel seed, crushed
1 teaspoon salt

Or put together a fresh, satisfying dinner salad that's a welcome switch from that cobb or grilled chicken Caesar -- and with less fat and calories!

Grilled Pork Salad with Red Wine Vinaigrette

12-ounce pork tenderloin
4 cups mixed greens
1/2 cup sliced red onions
1/4 cup pearl onions
2 cups thinly sliced apples
1/2 cup fat-free red wine vinaigrette dressing

Grill or broil pork until browned and meat thermometer inserted in thickest portion reads 160 degrees; slice pork. Combine greens, onions, apples, and vinaigrette in a bowl; toss. Arrange tossed greens on four plates; top with pork slices and drizzle with dressing. Season with salt and black pepper.

Makes 4 servings. Nutritional values per serving: 200 calories, 4 grams fat, 23 grams carbohydrate, 19 grams protein, 3 grams fiber, and 360 milligrams sodium.

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