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It is unfortunate but there is a lot of confusion about pork. I will have often patients say to me "I'm not eating pork anymore." They consider this to be a healthier choice and I think there are a number of reasons for that. First is the association with bacon and sausage. When people think of these ingredients they associate them with pork and believe that it is the meat itself that is the problem.
We know now, however, that highly processed red meats are more of a problem for your health than fresh red meats and this applies to pork.
Pork is now bred to be much leaner. When compared to cuts of chicken some cuts of pork are as lean or leaner. Below is a table showing a skinless chicken thigh and breast for comparison (all are based on four ounces of meat).
|Nutrients||Calories||Fat (g)||Sodium (mg)||Sat. Fat (g)||Chol. (mg)||Mono Fat (g)||Poly Fat (g)|
|Pork top loin roast||160||6||51||2||62||2.7||0.7|
|Pork Sirloin chop||164||7.1||57||2.5||73||3.2||0.8|
|Boneless skinless chicken thigh||135||4.4||97||1.1||94||1.4||1.1|
|Boneless skinless chicken breast||125||1.4||74||0.4||66||0.3||0.3|
|Center rib loin chop||172||7.4||51||2.5||62||3.3||0.8|
None of these cuts is over 200 calories and the highest amount of fat is the center cut rib chop. This is still very acceptable and considered a lean meat. In addition to being linked in peoples minds with bacon and sausage, pork is often associated with the fattier cuts like ribs. While eating ribs every day is not be such a good idea, every now and then is OK. More importantly, there are a lot of great cuts of pork you can choose from.
Dollar for dollar pork tenderloin is one of the best cuts of meat going. It is lean and still flavorful. You can roast it, braise it, grill it, or cut it into medallions for small filets - almost anything. There will be a small amount of fat on pork tenderloin and I trim this carefully but you also need to trim the silverskin. This is a thin layer of fascia at the head of the tenderloin on one side. It has to be removed because it is tough and fibrous.
Lay the tenderloin on the cutting board with the silverskin side up. Press gently on the top to flatten the meat. Slip the point of your filet knife under the fascia and cut toward the end of the tenderloin. Keep the pressure slightly upward and the silverskin will easily cut away from the meat.
Pork roasts are fantastic. We don't often think of cooking them except at holidays but they can be both super simple or quite complex and elegant. The best part is that there will be leftovers for sandwiches. I choose a top loin roast at about 1 1/2 pounds for 6 servings. Some of my favorite holiday meals are stuffed pork loin recipes.
There are a number of pork chop recipes on the Dr. Gourmet Web site. I usually choose the boneless center cut since they are a little leaner. The single thickness chops come in right at 4 ounces and cook quickly. The are perfect for a weeknight meal because you can either put them on the grill or pan roast them in the oven. Quick, easy and clean up is a snap.
While more processed cuts like the ribs may not be as good for you, having them every now and then is part of eating healthy. I like to use bacon in recipes for great flavor. It doesn't take more than one half or one strip per serving and I generally cook the bacon first and use the rendered fat to cook the rest of the meal with so that there is no need for additional fat.
I like ham in recipes as well and will pick the leanest I can. Like the bacon it adds great flavor. While expensive by the pound, a single 1/2 ounce slice of prosciutto per serving will add so much rich flavor to your dishes. Sausage is another ingredient that people feel is not as healthy but the key is to look carefully at the package. There are some great leaner sausages with a reasonable amount of sodium that can add so much flavor to your dish.
While I don't believe that pork is "the other white meat," it is a good choice for your red meat recipes. Here are some recipes to get you started:
Lemon Pork with Lentils
Maple Mustard Pork Chops
Pan-Seared Pork Chops with Savory Peach Marmalade
Pistachio Crusted Pork with Meyer Lemon Sauce
All Healthy Pork Chop Recipes
Pork with Creamy Poblano Sauce
Pork with Georgian Cilantro Sauce
Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Caramelized Onion
Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Paprika Mayonnaise
All Healthy Pork Tenderloin Recipes
Penne with Spinach and Goat Cheese | Low Sodium Version
Pork Stew with Green Sauce
Red Beans and Rice
Risotto with Italian Sausage
All Healthy Pork Sausage or Bacon Recipes