Thursday, August 4, 2011

Cranberry Pineapple Pork Chops with Quinoa

I don't cook pork very often, so when I do I try to make it special in some way.  I was craving something sweet and tangy for dinner and found whole cranberries and crushed pineapple in the pantry... and a light went off in my head!  I was going for a sweet and sour kind of sauce, but without all the sugar in the sauce.  It came out great, so I'm passing the recipe on!  This may look like it was hard work, but I threw this meal together in less than 30 minutes!

Health benefits of cranberries... Cranberries have been long valued for their health benefits regarding UTI infections but there is so much more to these tart berries!  They are full of wonderful antioxidants (phytonutrients), which may have anti-inflammatory benefits, and may help prevent some types of cancer and chronic disease.  They are also a great source of Vitamin C!  More recent research has shown that they may even aid in increasing the number of healthy bacteria in our digestive tract.  Since about 80% of our immune system is in the digestive tract, we want these friendly bacteria to be numerous and healthy to do their jobs!

Cranberry Pineapple Pork Chops
Serves 4

1 pound of boneless pork chops, sliced thin
1/2 cup of whole berry cranberry sauce
1/2 cup of crushed pineapple
Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Mix the cranberry sauce and crushed pineapple and pour the mixture over the top of the pork and cook for about 20 minutes (or to the internal temperature of 140).

What is Quinoa?  In the last few years quinoa has grown in popularity and is becoming more mainstream, but this isn't any new type of grain.  Quinoa is an ancient grain that has been cultivated in South America for thousands of years.  Although most consider it a grain, it is related to spinach and swiss chard.  It is a small grain, that is surprisingly high in protein (12-18%) and is a complete protein (unlike beans or rice).  It is also a great source of fiber and iron... and is totally gluten-free!  It has a nutty flavor and has a nice "pop" to it. It goes great with citrus flavors, most herbs, and is to die for with a little parmesan on it!

Lemon Thyme Quinoa
Serves 6

1.5 cups of quinoa
3 cups of water
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 tsp onion powder
2 Tbsp fresh or dried thyme
1/2 cup onion, diced
Salt and pepper to taste

Bring water to a boil and add the remaining ingredients.  Lower to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes.  Serve immediately.  Serve with pork, seasonal veggies, and a side salad for a balanced meal!

Nutrition facts based on 3 oz cooked portion and 1/2 cup of quinoa.  Add veggies to complete your meal!

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