October is National Pork Month and a great time to power up your plate with pork. The high quality of protein in pork may help you feel fuller longer, provide you with an excellent source of many B vitamins for energy and may even help you lose weight.
For a healthy and balanced diet, choose lean cuts of pork. To identify lean cuts of pork at the grocery store, look for the word "loin" on the label, such as pork tenderloin or loin chop. Pork tenderloin is just as lean as a skinless chicken breast. An analysis by the U.S. Department of Agriculture found there are six cuts of pork that are considered either extra lean or lean by labeling standards (less than 10g of fat, 4.5g saturated fat and 95 mg of cholesterol per serving). These include pork tenderloin, pork boneless top loin chop, pork top loin roast, pork center loin chop, pork sirloin roast and pork rib chop.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends that the safe end-point for cooking pork is now 145 degrees F (lowered from 160 degrees F). At 145 degrees F, the pork will be a little pink in color but is safe to eat. Since today's pork is leaner than ever, the lower cooking temperature results in a juicier, more flavorful meat. Always use a meat thermometer to ensure proper cooking temperature.
Pork is a versatile product that can easily be incorporated into all your meals. Try these simple ideas and remember to choose lean cuts of protein:
Make your own healthy breakfast sandwich at home. Start with a light whole wheat English muffin and top with an egg, Canadian bacon (more lean than regular bacon) and low-fat cheese.
Scramble eggs, Canadian bacon and veggies and place on a whole wheat tortilla. Serve with your favorite salsa.
Try Stick-With-You Sunrise Muffins (recipe below).
Substitute pork for chicken in your favorite homemade chicken noodle soup recipe, or substitute pork for beef in your traditional chili recipe
Top romaine lettuce, spinach or kale with thinly sliced pork tenderloin, black beans, pineapple and one of your favorite citrus fruits.
Fill a whole wheat wrap with lean pork, avocado, red onion and diced green chiles.
Stir-fry cubed pork loin with your favorite vegetables and serve with quinoa.
Consider lean pork as a pizza topping; use a whole wheat pizza crust and top with lots of vegetables and 2% shredded cheese.
Make stuffed peppers using 96%-lean ground pork.
Get your day started off with a powerful punch of protein from pork with these simple and delicious muffins:
Stick-With-You Sunrise Muffins
All you need:
olive oil spray
6 tablespoons minced green onion
9 tablespoons chopped red bell pepper
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
12 ounces baby spinach leaves
8 large eggs and 4 large egg whites
3/4 cup skim milk
24 slices Amana Canadian bacon
4 ounces grated reduced fat crumbled feta cheese
All you do:
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F and arrange rack in middle. Spray muffin pan with olive oil spray.
2. Spray olive oil in a large frying pan and heat to medium. Add onion and bell pepper; season well with freshly ground black pepper and cook until softened, about 1 minute. Add spinach and cook until spinach is well wilted, about 2 minutes
3. In a bowl, scramble eggs and egg whites and mix with skim milk.
4. Place two Canadian bacon slices in the bottom of each muffin cup to line it and top with vegetable mixture
5. Divide eggs into muffin cups and divide feta cheese evenly among the cups.
6. Put muffin tin on a baking sheet and bake for about 15 to 18 minutes.
Easy tip: Prepare multiple muffins and keep frozen. Muffins can be easily microwaved for 1-2 minutes to re-heat for an easy grab-and-go breakfast.
Serving size: 2 muffins
Adapted from the National Pork Board
The information is not intended as medical advice. Please consult a medical professional for individual advice.
Katie Koerner is a registered dietitian at the Marshall Hy-Vee Food Store.