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Recipe Rx: 3 Ways to Cook Pork

Festive and flavorful, nutrient-rich tenderloin is as lean as chicken breast. Try it in our three delicious recipes.
By Erin O'Donnell
WebMD Magazine - Feature

If the word "pork" brings to mind fatty indulgences like bacon and ham, think again. Pork tenderloin is a surprisingly healthy option. "The beauty of pork is that over the years farmers have bred it to be leaner and leaner," says Debra Krummel, PhD, RD, endowed professor of nutrition at the University of Cincinnati. "You can now find pork that is just as lean as chicken breast."

As the leanest part of the pig, pork tenderloin has very little saturated fat and therefore won't affect your blood cholesterol levels significantly, Krummel says. Pork is also one of the richest food sources of thiamin, a B vitamin that helps the body produce energy from food, and a good source of zinc, a mineral needed for immune system function. And it might help keep hunger at bay. A recent Australian study found that when people ate pork, their bodies produced more of an appetite-suppressing hormone known as PYY than when they ate chicken.

Pork tenderloin is versatile, equally at home at the center of an elegant dinner or at a tailgate party. But because it's so lean, prepare it with care. "I think some people get turned off because they overcook it, or they don't marinate, or they don't use a moist cooking method, and then it tastes like shoe leather," Krummel says. She recommends using an instant-read thermometer and cooking the meat just until the internal temperature reaches 160˚F, a surefire way to keep the tender in your tenderloin.

Healthy Recipes

Pork Piccata

This simple but elegant recipe takes pork tenderloin on a trip to Tuscany with the classic Italian flavors of olive oil, lemon, and capers.

Makes 4 servings



1 whole pork tenderloin, about 1 lb

3 tbsp flour

2 tsp lemon pepper

2 tsp olive oil

1/4 cup dry white wine

1/4 cup lemon juice

4 to 6 slices lemon, very thin

4 tbsp capers, drained



1. Slice tenderloin into 8 equal pieces. Place pieces between sheets of plastic wrap; pound each piece to 1/8-inch thickness with a meat mallet or rolling pin.

2.  Dust cutlets lightly with flour and sprinkle with lemon pepper.

3. Add olive oil to nonstick pan over medium-high heat. Quickly sauté cutlets, about 4 minutes per side, or until golden brown.

4. Add wine and lemon juice to skillet; shake pan gently and cook 2 minutes, until sauce is slightly thickened.

5. Garnish with lemon slices and capers and serve.

Per serving: 194 calories, 24 g protein, 6 g carbohydrate, 6 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 73 mg cholesterol, 311 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 29%.


Pork Tenderloin Mango Pitas

Pork in pita pockets is a natural for a lunchbox treat or simple weeknight dinner. Packed with healthy veggies, the exotic taste of mango, and a kick of salsa, they are filling on their own but are great with a salad or bowl of soup.

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