There has been a heightened increase with focusing on macronutrients in building a healthy eating pattern to meet your health and wellness goals. Macronutrients are the nutrients in food that provide calories, such as carbohydrates, protein, and fats. Most of our macronutrients should be from foods that have undergone the least amount of processing and contain the least amount of added sugars (preferably none) and sodium. Truly, the messaging of focusing on macronutrients is just another way of articulating the importance of high quality, nutrient dense foods. The best strategy to assure that the large majority of the foods you consume are of high nutrient quality is to aim to cook most of your meals at home.
Recently, one macronutrient, protein, has been getting additional attention. Although most Americans consume adequate amounts of protein, some studies suggest that increasing the amount in the diet and timing of when it is consumed may produce benefits to the waistline, bone strength, and lean muscle. This is because it actually takes more calories for the body to process protein than both carbohydrates and fat and it is needed to preserve bone and lean muscle. Furthermore, a diet made up of 25% protein has shown to decrease late night snacking and cravings throughout the day. Starting the day with a protein rich diet (20-25 grams) not only slightly increases the metabolic rate, but also controls the appetite which may decrease snacking throughout the day. Assuring that a good protein source is consumed shortly after exercise, and especially with strength training, assists recovery and building strong muscles.
Care needs to be taken to assure that proteins chosen are mostly from lean protein foods and, if they are plant based, they are combined in such a way to make a complete protein (such as beans with rice). Consuming more steaks and burgers is not the best strategy because this will likely lead to excessive saturated fat intake and calories. Most of your animal protein sources should come from lean meats, dairy products, fish, and eggs. In addition, there should still be a focus on whole grains, and fruits and vegetables to round out the diet. My-Plate, America’s food guidance system, provides more detail on the Protein Foods group to assist you in building a healthy eating pattern.
A 4 oz. portion of boneless center-cut pork loin is just under 200 calories, contains less than 10 grams of fat, and provides 24 grams of protein. This meal features this lean cut of pork and uses it in a “comfy food” way that is economical, nutritious, and quick.
- 4 – 4 oz. boneless center-cut pork loin chops
- 1 tbsp. olive oil; plus 1 tsp. for oiling the pan
- 1- 14-15 oz. jar prepared sauerkraut
- 4 oz. dark dipping chocolate
- 12-16 oz. fresh strawberries
- 1⁄2 cup bread crumbs
- 1⁄4 tsp. garlic powder
- 1 egg
- 1⁄4 cup corn starch
- 1⁄4 tsp. paprika
- 1⁄4 tsp. black pepper
- 2 tbsp. milk
- 1⁄4 tsp. salt
DIRECTIONS (Serves 4)
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Place dipping chocolate (broken into pieces) in a microwave safe bowl and cook on high for 30 seconds. Stir and cook in 10 second increments until melted. Dip washed and dried strawberries in the melted chocolate to coat and then place on a wax paper lined baking dish in a single layer. Place the strawberries in the freezer.
- Pound the 4- 4 oz. boneless center cut pork loin chops to 1⁄4 inch thick by placing the chops in a single layer on a cutting board, covering with plastic wrap, and gently hitting them with a heavy sauce pan or a meat mallet.
- Sprinkle cornstarch on both sides of the chops. Gently pat and set aside.
- In a shallow dish, combine bread crumbs, salt, pepper, garlic powder, paprika and 1 tbsp. olive oil.
- Whisk together milk and egg in another bowl.
- Line a baking sheet with foil then coat with the additional 1 tsp. olive oil.
- Dip each chop into the egg mixture and then dredge both sides of the chops with the bread crumbs so they are coated completely. Pat gently to assure the crumbs stick.
- Place the chops on the baking sheet and place in the oven. Cook until golden brown and the center is no longer pink and the internal temperature reads 160 degrees F.
- While the chops are baking, microwave a 12-14 oz. steamable bag of your favorite plain vegetable, according to package directions.
- Serve each plate with 1 chop topped with 1/4th of the sauerkraut, alongside a 1⁄2 cup of unsweetened applesauce and 1/4th of the steamed vegetables. For dessert, serve the frozen, chocolate covered strawberries.
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