A Healthy Appetite, in More Ways Than One…

January 7, 2011

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You wanna know why people don’t like eating healthy (speaking in generalities, of course)? Because it sounds restricting. Doesn’t it? We all get so jazzed about starting the new year off right, so we eat nothing but raw carrots and boiled raisin skins for 2 weeks until one day we find ourselves passed out in front of the Chinese buffet surrounded by empty soy sauce packets with moo goo gai pan smeared on our face. I’ve seen it a million times. Everyone talks about binge eating, but going on these unrealistic diets is another form of binging. You’re binging on starving yourself, and the only thing that comes from that is inevitable failure.

You see, I’ve gone through the aforementioned scenario nearly every year for the past…well…several years (minus the Chinese buffet… seriously, it didn’t happen). I always fail at my healthy eating resolution. 2010 I gained a few pounds and got lazy and now I am always tired and craving bacon-wrapped chicken wings with a side of cheddar fries and a tall glass of vegetable oil to chase it down. When you eat horribly, your body craves it and it gets bad, fast. So, all this considered, I have a new strategy this year.
Before getting to the good stuff, here’s my plan. First and foremost, portion control. Being full doesn’t mean I have to have a stomach ache. Second, better planning. If I set my menu at the beginning of the week, I can buy exactly what I need at the store without impulse buying things I don’t. This helps me save money, making it more affordable to buy fresh ingredients. Third, less salt. Salt makes your body retain water. I know it makes food taste good, but just cutting down on your salt intake can help you lose 10 pounds. Fourth, and most importantly, make small but impactful shifts in the way I prepare food to 1-cut down on calories, and 2-maximize flavor so I don’t feel like I’m starving myself.
Last night was really the first night I made a meal using this plan and I can tell you, I’m excited to keep it going. Check it.
Blue Cheese, spinach and leek stuffed pork chops with honey-balsamic glazed brussels sprouts and mushrooms. Delish, right? I admit, the name needs some work but trust me, it’s extremely tasty. Some of you might be saying, “Pork? How is that healthy?” Believe it or not, pork can have fewer calories than chicken and even help lower levels of bad cholesterol (fun fact). Don’t get me wrong, I love chicken, but nobody wants to eat it all the time. You also might be thinking that you don’t like brussels sprouts, and I’ll give that one to ya. They’re basically like small, bitter cabbages and they aren’t for everyone. But you can do this same recipe with asparagus and it would turn out awesome. Let’s get started.

So here’s what you need (this is for two people):
Two pork chops-boneless
1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
1/4 cup light sour cream
1 garlic clove
1 cup chopped leeks
1 cup chopped Spinach
1/2 lb brussels sprouts, cut in half (or asparagus, cleaned and trimmed)
1/4 lb shitake mushrooms, sliced (or any mushrooms you can find would work)
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 red wine vinegar
1 tbsp honey
Olive oil (not extra virgin)
1/2 cup bread crumbs (optional)
1 tsp garlic powder
Kosher Salt
Black Pepper (fresh ground, if possible)

*side note- I know this is a recipe and I’m against recipes, but I also know some of you aren’t against them and would like to know exact amounts. I’ll give you exact amounts, but I encourage you to change this anyway you want. make it your own.

First, preheat the oven to 350 and make the stuffing. You’ll need this stuff:
sour cream, blue cheese, garlic clove, spinach, 1/2 cup chopped leek (only half cup with this)

Saute the leek and garlic (minced- if you don’t have a garlic press, I would suggest getting one. It has one job, and one job only, but it does that job so well) in a little olive oil. Add a pinch of salt, little black pepper, and the spinach. Cook until the spinach is just wilted:

spinach, garlic, leeks

Remove the mixture from the pan into a bowl or something and add your sour cream and blue cheese. Mix to combine and set aside:

Stuffing- you don’t need a lot

You can do the pork chops one of two ways. Either way you decide, you need to put an oven-safe frying pan on the stove on medium/medium-low heat. No oil yet. As far as the pork goes, you can cut a pocket in the pork chop and put the stuffing into it, or pound the pork chop flat, lay stuffing on it and roll it up. We chose the latter, but if you don’t have something to flatten a piece of meat, you can just cut a pocket in the center. If pounding flat, make sure to wrap the chops in plastic wrap:

pounding the chops
Spread half of the stuffing on top of each chop, roll up and secure each one with 2 tooth picks (be sure to have the toothpicks visible, so you can remove them easily after cooking.
rolled up chops

Mix the breadcrumbs and garlic powder together with a pinch of kosher salt and black pepper. Lightly dust each chop with the mix. If you’re REALLY cutting back the calories, you can ignore the breadcrumbs, but because we’re not dredging the chops in anything, you won’t have a thick coating and it adds some good texture without going overboard. After that, put a couple tablespoons of olive oil in your heated pan and add the chops. Move the whole thing to the oven and let cook for 15 minutes or so, until the inside reaches 160. Usually pork chops are fine cooked to 145, but because we have a stuffing in it we’re not taking any chances. About halfway through cooking you’ll flip the chops to brown both sides.

While the pork is cooking, put your vinegars into a small sauce pan and reduce by half. Once it has reduced, add the honey, stir and set either on the lowest temp or turn the stove off and let it sit:
reducing the vinegar removes the harsh flavor and makes it sweeter
*just a warning, it will make it hard to breathe in your kitchen for a few minutes
but it’ll be worth it. :)
Boil the brussels sprouts until almost cooked and shock with either an ice bath or by running the entire pot under cold water until they’re cooled down. This will help them keep their bright green color. Remove from water onto a paper towel and let drain:
sprouts- notice the bright color- coolio, huh?

While the sprouts are draining, put your mushrooms and the rest of the leeks into a saute pan with some olive oil. Pinch of salt, pinch of pepper. Cook for a couple minutes and add the sprouts. Saute until you think it’s done. Just before serving, add the vinegar mixture and toss to coat:

leeks, shitake mushrooms and brussels sprouts

When the chops are done, remove from the oven and let them rest for at least 7-10 minutes. This will help them stay juicy:

you hear that? sounds like applause to me.

After the chops rest, slice them at a bias and get it all on the plate and eat it. I’m not even going to try and be humble- this meal is outstanding. Not your typical health food, right? But health food isn’t about denying yourself all carbs, all oils and all fats. It’s about controlling those things and using them with restraint. We’re going for a lasting change in eating habits, not just random phases of strict dieting, followed by a weekend of non-stop pigging out through quiet sobs of shame. A meal like this can cut out needless calories, without cutting out enjoyment. Because let’s be honest, who wouldn’t want to eat this:

trust me, you can make this. super easy, and so good.

What do you think?

  1. Heather says:

    Hmm, I have a few brussel sprouts in the fridge at this very moment…thanks for the tips!

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We believe we should all love where we live.

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