Spicy Pork Tenderloin Salad

This spicy pork tenderloin salad is served with seared tomatoes and a creamy harissa yogurt dressing. Enjoy it with a glass of riesling!

Spicy Pork Tenderloin Salad with Harissa Yogurt Dressing

Spicy Pork Tenderloin Salad with Harissa Yogurt Dressing

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 30 minutes
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A flavorful entree salad that won't weigh you down on hot summer days! Delicious with a glass of chilled riesling.

Adapted from: cookinglight.com

Ingredients

  • 1 roasted red bell pepper, jarred
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice, divided
  • 1 tablespoon sambal oelek (ground fresh chile paste)
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 2  garlic cloves
  • 1 cup plain 2% reduced-fat Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
  • 1  (1-pound) pork tenderloin, trimmed
  • 2 roma tomatoes, sliced into 1/4″ thick disks
  • 8 cups mixed greens
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Directions

  1. Place bell pepper, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 tablespoons juice, sambal oelek, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon cumin, coriander, and garlic in a food processor; process until smooth. Place half the harissa in a large bowl and set aside. Place the remaining harissa in a microwave safe dish and cook, covered, in the microwave for 60 seconds. Stir and set aside to cool.
  2. Preheat oven to 425°.
  3. Combine yogurt, mint, 1 tablespoon juice, and 1 teaspoon cumin in a bowl.
  4. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil; swirl to coat. Sprinkle pork with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Add pork to pan; cook 6 minutes, browning on all sides. Add pork to harissa in the large bowl, turning to coat. Sear tomato slices in the hot pan for 60 seconds each side. Remove from heat.
  5. Place pork on a rack in a pan; brush with remaining harissa from the large bowl. Bake at 425° for 11 minutes or until a thermometer registers 145°. Remove from oven; let stand 5 minutes; cut crosswise into 12 slices. Serve 3 slices over 2 cups of mixed greens with tomato slices, a drizzle of microwaved harissa, and a dollop of yogurt sauce.

This recipe is an adaptation of one of Colby’s favorite meals of all time, North African Pork Tenderloin. He has enjoyed other variations of pork tenderloin that I’ve made, but this remains his top pick.

Spicy Pork Tenderloin Salad

If you like riesling wine, you’ve gotta try this one! One of my sister’s favorites, Kingfu Girl, is sweet, crisp, and reasonably priced at Trader Joes! It pairs perfectly with the spiciness of the pork tenderloin in this salad.

Kung Fu Girl Riesling

Chicken Lettuce Wraps

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Do you pack a lunch to work or school? It saves me a lot of money to pack food for myself and Colby each morning. My typical go-to packed snacks are:

-Asian salad: shredded cabbage, spinach, grated carrots, wonton crisps, rotisserie chicken, and sesame soy ginger dressing

-Greek yogurt parfait: plain nonfat Greek yogurt, stevia, frozen mixed berries, and granola cereal

(Actually, that’s been about it lately!)

I love this month’s Recipe ReDux theme because it got me thinking of ways I can branch out and try some new packed lunch ideas. I’m lucky to have a fridge and microwave at work, so almost any meal works for me. If you don’t have that luxury, this meal tastes great chilled! You can pack the seasoned turkey filling in a plastic container, lettuce in a zip top bag, and pack it all in a lunchbox with an ice pack!

I tried making a shortcut tuna fish version of this. Let’s just say that recipe is still a work in progress ;) This version is good to go! I’m happy with the addition of chopped spinach and grated carrots. You get some extra veggies and flavor that way!

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Chicken Lettuce Wraps

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 15mins
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:

1 lb ground chicken (or turkey)

1 cup frozen chopped spinach, broken up a bit

1/2 cup grated carrots

1 can water chestnuts, drained and diced

2 tablespoons hoisin sauce (if you choose one with more than 300 mg sodium per serving, skip the garlic salt)

1/2 teaspoon garlic salt

1 teaspoon reduced sodium soy sauce

1 teaspoon rice vinegar

3 tablespoons powdered peanut butter

2 tablespoons chopped green onion

Sriracha sauce (optional)

head of butter lettuce

Preparation: 

  1. Cook the ground chicken (or turkey) in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, breaking up the chunks with a spatula and stirring frequently until no longer pink. This should take about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the chopped spinach, grated carrots, and diced water chestnuts. Continue to stir and heat until everything is hot and bubbling, about 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add the remaining seasonings (hoisin sauce through green onion), and continue to stir to combine the flavors for another 1-2 minutes.
  4. Scoop into leaves of butter lettuce and drizzle with sriracha sauce if you like it spicier!


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I’m looking forward to getting back in the kitchen to develop more recipes. Colby has pointed out that the dinners I’ve been making have been “weak” lately. It’s true! We’ve been dining on easy meals, like quesadillas, quick pastas, smoothies, and protein shakes. Challenge accepted- I will make more fast and easy recipes that are a little more imaginative. Can’t wait to share them with you all too :)

Check out more lunch ideas in this month’s Recipe ReDux linkup below!

Moroccan Chicken Tagine over Kamut

Bored of the same old flavors when eating clean? Try this bold dish to excite your taste buds! This month’s Recipe ReDux theme is using new ingredients. My recipe features THREE new (to me) ingredients/ tools.

Tagine (tajine)- This is an earthenware pot in which the North African dish by the same name is cooked. Traditionally, this clay pot is placed over hot coals and is used in a cooking method similar to roasting. In this recipe, I place the tagine in the oven. The cone shaped lid helps any condensation that forms return to the bottom. A similar result can be achieved by using a slow cooker!

  
Raz el Hanout- This is a spice mix used in North African (typically Moroccan) dishes. It means “head of the shop” (or top shelf), referring to the best spices the seller has to offer. It is traditionally rubbed on meat or stirred into couscous or rice in savory dishes. The blend that my sister found at World Market is made of ginger, pepper, nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, cayenne, and… “other spices”?? These are most likely cardamom, cumin, and/or coriander. Big, bold flavors here!

  

  
Kamut (khorasan wheat)- Traditional Moroccan tagine is served over couscous or plain white rice, but I decided to try out a different whole grain to shake things up a bit. This ancient grain is rich in protein, fiber, B vitamins, and manganese (an essential mineral). Half a cup of cooked kamut has only 140 calories and 6 grams of protein- that’s about 40% more than wheat! Kamut is not gluten free. Its flavor is slightly sweet, nutty, and buttery. The texture is pleasantly chewy with a bit of a bite. I’ll be trying it in a salad next time!

  
Ready? Here comes the recipe for a delicious dish bursting with flavor! If you’re eating healthy and ready to try something new, this is the meal for you!

  
Ingredients:

2 large chicken breasts

1 teaspoon raz el hanout

2 teaspoons honey

2 garlic cloves, minced

pinch of dried chili flakes

4 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon salt

3 cups boiling water

1 cup kamut

1 large onion, thinly sliced

1 3/4 cups vegetable stock

15 oz can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed

1 1/2 cups grape or cherry tomatoes, sliced lengthwise

1/4 cup pitted green olives

Fresh chopped cilantro (optional)

Preparation:

  1. Pound the chicken breasts with a mallet on a cutting board to 1″ thick. Cut each breast into 4 chunks.
  2. Whisk together raz el hanout, honey, garlic, chili flakes, olive oil, lemon juice, and salt in a glass dish. Place the chicken breasts in the mixture, coat well, cover, and refrigerate 8-12 hours.
  3. Combine Kamut and boiling water in a saucepan. Simmer on low heat, covered, for 1 hour. If using a slow cooker, do this step about an hour before serving the meal.
  4. If using a tagine, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. While the kamut cooks, pan fry the marinated chicken breasts over medium-high heat until golden on all sides. Transfer the browned chicken and remaining marinade into the tagine or slow cooker.
  5. Top the chicken with onions, vegetable stock, garbanzo beans, tomatoes, and olives. If using a tagine, cover and cook in the oven for 1 hour until the chicken is tender and cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees F. If using a slow cooker, cover and cook on high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours.
  6. Serve over cooked kamut topped with fresh cilantro, salt, and pepper.

  
The flavors in this dish are vibrant an unique! I’m looking forward to trying other dishes cooked in the tagine. Check out the links below for other recipes developed by the Recipe ReDux crew!

 

Pumpkin Protein Muffins

I should probably be studying… or writing an article that’s due Wednesday. I swear I’l get to all that, but I had to interrupt all that to bake muffins! Colby and I bought this pumpkin pecan waffles candle at Bath and Body Works yesterday,  and the decadent smell compelled me to make a pumpkin treat. It was definitely worth taking a break to make these pumpkin protein muffins– they’ll be a great study snack anyway. Each muffin has a balanced macronutrient ratio to power a study session or keep you focused at work or school between meals: 85 calories, 12 grams of carbohydrate,  2 grams of fat, and 5 grams of protein. 

  
Ingredients:

(Makes 24 muffins)

1 cup oat flour (Rolled oats crushed in a blender)

1 cup all purpose flour

2 scoops vanilla whey protein isolate (I used Quest brand)

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1 can pumpkin puree (15 oz)

1/2 cup light brown sugar

1/2 cup egg whites

1/2 cup plain, nonfat greek yogurt

1 cup skim milk (or almond milk)

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

nonstick cooking spray

2/3 cup chopped walnuts

Preparation:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk together all dry ingredients (starting with oat flour down to ground ginger) in a mixing bowl or large measuring cup. 

2. In a separate mixing bowl, stir together all wet ingredients (pumpkin puree to vanilla extract). Fold in the dry ingredients and stir until well incorporated.

3. Grease two muffin pans (24 muffins) with cooking spray and use a 1/4 cup measurng scoop to fill each cup about 2/3 of the way full. Sprinkle each with a few chopped walnuts and bake for 12-15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the fluffiest muffin comes out clean. 

4. Cool on a cooling rack and serve warm! These freeze well in zip top bags. They also keep well in a refrigerated airtight container for about 2 weeks. 

  
The pumpkin puree and greek yogurt make these muffins perfectly moist despite the omission of fat in the batter. That means you can slather these with some whipped butter knowing they aren’t aleady full of oil or fat! I hope you’ll enjoy them as much as I do. Have a great week, everyone! 

  

Thai Steak Frittata

I sooo wanted to enter this recipe in the Beef Checkoff recipe contest because I think it stands a good chance of winning. Unfortunately, the nap I took this evening took a little too long and I didn’t post it in time. It’s ok though, I’m more interested in sharing it with you all because it’s awesome.

I had leftover steak from this recipe and wanted to use it to create a breakfast recipe. The frittata I came up with is pretty legit and takes only a few minutes to make!

  
Ingredients:

(serves 4)

8 oz leftover cooked steak, diced small

1/4 cup diced onion

1/4 cup diced bell pepper

1 tablespoon canola oil

Half a medium zucchini, grated

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tablespoon reduced sodium soy sauce

6 eggs

1/4 cup milk

1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese (optional)

2 tablespoons chopped green onion

Sriracha sauce, for serving

Preparation:

1. Heat canola oil in an oven safe 10″ nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté the steak, onion, and bell pepper for about 1 minute before adding the zucchini, garlic, and soy sauce. Cook for an additional minute. Turn down the heat to low while performing the next step.

2. Whisk together the eggs and milk in a medium mixing bowl. Pour the egg mixture over the steak and vegetables.

3. Turn the heat up to medium and cook for about 3-5 minutes, or until the bottom of the frittata is set and the top is beginning to set around the edges. Sprinkle with grated cheese and green onion.

4. Transfer the skillet to the oven and broil for another 3-5 minutes, or until the top is golden and the eggs are fully set.

5. Serve immediately with sriracha sauce or allow to cool before storing in the fridge.

Leftover frittatas make great salad toppers! They’re tasty cold, so there’s no need to reheat if you want to save some for the work week. If you decide to freeze this dish, let me know how it is after it defrosts. 

  
I’m pretty sure my skillet isn’t intended to be placed in the oven over 400 degrees. I’m glad the handle didn’t melt! 

  One last thing! If you want to cut some calories from this recipe, use a lean cut of steak, such as flank or skirt steak, and swap 3 of the eggs with 6 egg whites. You probabaly won’t even taste the difference. 

Thai Marinated Skirt Steak

*By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by The Beef Checkoff and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.

If you’re a regular around my blog, you’ve probably noticed that I am a protein fiend. It’s my favorite macronutrient by far! Here are a few ways that protein promotes weight loss:

1. PROTEIN SATISFIES: Protein is important because it helps you feel fuller longer. Having protein around slows down digestion making us more satisfied and less likely to go back for seconds or snack shortly after a meal.

2. PROTEIN MELLOWS CARB HIGHS AND LOWS: Pairing protein with carbohydrate-rich foods slows down the absorption of sugar from your stomach into your bloodstream, which may help keep your blood sugar and insulin from spiking and ward off future cravings.

3. PROTEIN TAKES MORE CALORIES TO BURN: The “thermic effect of food” (TEF) is the energy we use to digest food into small, absorbable components. Protein has a higher TEF compared to carbs and fat meaning you’re actually burning more calories to process protein than to process the other two.

4. PROTEIN SUPPORTS MUSCLE GROWTH AND REPAIR: Your protein needs increase especially after bouts of intense exercise so increasing your protein intake on days that you exercise is beneficial. Additionally, if you strength train consider having a high protein snack right after a training session when the muscle is sensitive to nutrients that it can use to repair and grow.

Check out this awesome infographic from The Beef Checkoff illustrating some of the ways to harness the benefits of lean protein. 

  Red meat, such as beef, can fit in a healthy diet! Choose lean cuts of beef, such as flank or skirt steak, or explore other lean cuts using this tool. This week I tried out three different steak marinades. Of those three, this was my favorite because of the savory, sweet glaze it forms on the meat and how well it tenderizes the steak. Have it for dinner and use the leftovers in another recipe the next day! 

  
Thai Marinated Grilled Skirt Steak 

(Serves 2 – 4)

Ingredients:

1/4 cup dark brown sugar

2 tablespoons water

2 tablespoons canola oil

1 tablespoon fish sauce

1 tablespoon reduced sodium soy sauce

1 tablespoon lime juice (about half a lime)

1 garlic clove, grated on a microplane

1/2 inch ginger root, grated on a microplane

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 pound skirt steak

Preparation:

1. Whisk together all marinade ingredients in a small bowl. 

2. Place the skirt steak in a gallon sized zip top bag and pour in the marinade. Press air out of the bag as you seal it and store on a plate in the refrigerator for 2-8 hours.

3. Remove the steak from the refrigerator and bring to room temperature as you preheat the grill to high heat on one end and low heat on the other side.

4. Shake excess marinade off the steak before placing on the preheated grill grates. Sear on the hot side first for 3 minutes on each side, then transfer to the low heat side until the internal temperature reaches 125 degrees for a steak cooked to medium-rare or 135 degrees for a steak cooked to medium.

5. Allow the steak to rest for 5 minutes before carving. Slice thin, against the grain to serve.

A 4 oz portion of this grilled steak will have between 200 and 250 calories depending on the amount of marinade on it and 28 grams of protein! You can use flank steak instead for a very similar protein and calorie profile. Enjoy!

DIY Asian Marinade

Colby recently decided that he can cook! This is very exciting news for our household because I’m usually the one doing all the food prep. Colby’s specialty is grilling- he boasts that he can cook a perfect hot dog, sausage, or burger patty. When I pointed out that these are all pre-seasoned items and it really takes little more skill to grill a sausage than to microwave a frozen entrée, he stepped up his game. He bought a steak seasoning blend and flavored up some steak for the grill. Turned out awesome!

Next up, I challenged Colby to grill some salmon. This was partly to give him something new to try, but mostly to use up some of the three giant bags of salmon filets we have in our freezer from a recent Costco haul. Couldn’t pass up the great deal! Anyway, I made the marinade and he worked his manly grilling magic. 

You can buy a bottle of marinade or dressing at the store, but it’s typically less expensive, healthier, and more delicious to make these kitchen staples from scratch. Here is a flavorful Asian-inspired salmon marinade I like to use on salmon. If you use it on fish, only let it soak for 1 hour because fish flesh absorbs salt and flavor very quickly. If you’re using it on chicken or steak, you can get away with 8-12 hours (maybe more) of soaking.

  
DIY Asian Marinade (for 4-5 salmon fillets)
Ingredients:
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
3 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons honey
2 green onions, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped

Preparation:
1. Whisk all ingredients together in a bowl or shake together in a jar.
2. Transfer to a large zipper bag or a shallow dish for marinating the fish, poultry, or meat.
3. Marinate fish for 1 hour, meat for 2 hours, or chicken for up to 24 hours.
4. Remove the meat, poultry, or fish from the marinade, and grill or bake as desired. Discard excess marinade.

We grilled the salmon on hot, lightly oiled grates for about 4-5 minutes per side. It was flakey and caramelized on the outside, but not overcooked on the inside. I’ve made it in the oven before, too. Bake on a tinfoil lined baking sheet for 15 minutes at 400 degrees. 

  

Protein Pancakes with Cranberry Grapefruit Sauce

Like many of my recipes, this one is inspired by a single ingredient. In this case, I had about a cup of whole cranberries in the freezer that needed to be used up. The grapefruit and cranberries have a nice tart bitterness that is well balanced with rich brown sugar in this compote over protein pancakes.

There are dozens and dozens of recipes for protein pancakes available online. You can follow mine, choose another, or create your own! It’s amazing that almost anything can be turned into a pancake as long as you have something like egg to hold the batter together!  If you end up having extra cranberry grapefruit sauce after topping your pancakes, use the leftovers with Greek yogurt or swirled into oatmeal.

I made this dish over the weekend to recover from an evening of beer tasting and to lay a good foundation for a day of brewing our first beer with Colby! Our experienced home brewing friends came over to walk us through it, so I think the nut brown ale fermenting in our bathtub will turn out great! I’m excited to think of ways to use the spent grains in recipes too- maybe in cookies, blondies, or a hearty beer bread? …or pancakes!

Anyway, enjoy this recipe at your next summer brunch get together with your favorite people! 

 
Ingredients:

(Serves 2-3)

For the pancakes:

1/2 cup oats, crushed up in a blender

 2 scoops vanilla protein powder (I used whey protein isolate)

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 cup egg whites

1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt

Milk of choice to thin the batter

Cooking spray

For the sauce:

1 cup fresh or frozen whole cranberries

1/2 cup grapefruit juice

1/4 cup brown sugar (or more, if a sweeter sauce is desired)

1 teaspoon cornstarch dissolved in 1 tablespoon cold water

1 teaspoon lemon juice

Pinch of salt

Preparation:

1. Prepare the pancake batter by combining all dry ingredients in a mixing bowl and stirring in the wet ingredients. Add milk as needed until a batter consistency is reached that will spread easily, but not thinner than 1/4 inch, when poured on a hot pan or griddle.

2. Heat a lightly greased pan or griddle over medium heat and pour 1/4 cup of batter per pancake. Flip when bubbles begin to form (approx. 3 minutes). Continue to cook until both sides are golden and the pancake batter is cooked through.

3. To make the sauce, combine cranberries, grapefruit juice, and sugar in a small saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce to heat to low and simmer for 5-7 minutes. 

4. Add the cornstarch dissolved in water and stir until it is translucent and the sauce thickens. Stir in lemon juice and pinch of salt.

5. Serve sauce over pancakes and top with whipped cream or yogurt, if desired.

Do you have a favorite protein pancake recipe? I’m thinking of trying one with cottage cheese next time! Thanks for reading, my friends!

Pesto Tuna Melts

*By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by Bumble Bee Seafoods and am eligible to prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.

I made this recipe for the nights you don’t have time, energy, or ingredients to cook with. That was me every night this week. I got back from 10 days out of town last Sunday, and hadn’t had time to meal prep or grocery shop. I ended up buying a rotisserie chicken and salad mix  Monday morning for lunches at work. I also picked up greek yogurt, almonds, and apples for snacking. I cooked something fast and easy every night this week- rotisserie chicken quesadillas and grilled vegetables, blueberry banana protein shakes, and these pesto tuna melts.

I had a few cans of tuna on hand since Bumble Bee Seafood generously provided me with samples for this recipe! Here’s some interesting information from the company:

-A researcher at the Harvard School of Public Health stated that “seafood is likely the single most important food one can consume for good health”.

-Canned seafood is a convenient, affordable, nutritious and delicious way to make sure you and your family are eating enough seafood.

Bumble Bee® Solid White Albacore Tuna in Water, the kind used in this recipe, boasts:

-An Excellent Source of Protein

-High in Selenium and Niacin

-A good source of Vitamins B6 and B10

-Free from Saturated Fat

After following a recipe I googled for a tuna salad sandwich that Colby wasn’t crazy about a few weeks ago, I asked him what would make a perfect tuna melt. He informed me that (1) toasted bread, (2) something crunchy like apples in the mix, and (3) gooey cheese are all necessary components. This recipe is a fun twist on a classic tuna melt that still honors all the key features of a great tuna melt!

  
Ingredients: (serves 1)

1 slice whole wheat bread

1 five oz can Bumble Bee® Solid White Albacore in Water, drained 

1 tablespoon diced red bell pepper

1 tablespoon finely diced red onion 

2 tablespoons prepared pesto

1 teaspoon mayonnaise (optional)

salt and pepper to taste

2 slices tomato

1 slice mozzarella or provolone cheese

Preparation:

1. Toast the whole wheat bread. While the bread is toasting, combine tuna, bell pepper, onion, pesto, and mayonnaise in a bowl with a fork. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

2. Spread the tuna mixture evenly over toasted bread. Top with tomato slices and cheese.

3. Broil the sandwich for 5-10 minutes or until the cheese is golden and bubbly. Cut in half and enjoy!

  
This sandwich is filling and easy to make! Canned tuna is such a life saver when I don’t have other protein sources on hand. I hope you enjoy this Italian twist on a classic sandwich.