Pork: The Forgotten 'Other' White Meat
Food qualifies as being extra lean if it contains no more than 5 grams of total fat, 2 grams of saturated fat and 95mg of cholesterol per 100g, which is about 3.5 oz, according to the US Food and Drug Adminstration. By these standards, pork tenderloin and pork chops trimmed of excess fat and skinless chicken breasts, legs and thighs are all extra lean. However, if you eat your chicken breast with the skin on, it jumps to 9g of total fat, which very barely qualifies as being lean, and to keep the skin on those chicken legs and thighs? The total fat increases to 10g and they are then no longer considered lean choices.
Pork is high in lean protein, having 43% of the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for men, and 53% RDA for women. Proteins are found in every single cell in the body where they contribute to the structure and maintenance of tissues, deliver messages between cells, cause muscles to contract, and carry important substances from cell to cell. One such substance is hemoglobin which carries oxygen, but others include antibodies, enzymes and some hormones.
Pork is also an excellent source of B vitamins, containing all of the B vitamins except folate. Pork is an exceptionally good source of 3 B vitamins that contribute to overall cardiovascular health, those being niacin, B6 and B12. Niacin decreases cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and B6 and B12 remove homocystine, a normal byproduct of biochemical reactions within the body that if allowed to accumulate in the blood, increases the risk of cardiovascular disease. A 3 oz. serving of pork contains 25% RDA of B12, 38% RDA of B6, and 47% RDA of niacin.
Pork is also a good source of zinc, which is essential for the creation of new cells that normal growth and development depend on, especially during pregnancy and adolescence. Zinc forms the structure of protein and supports the immune system. A zinc deficiency impairs the ability of white blood cells to destroy pathogens such as bacteria and viruses. In fact, online research in 2011 by the Cochrane Database of Systemic Reviews concluded that taking zinc within 24 hours of the appearance of cold symptoms can reduce the severity and duration of the cold.
We haven`t had pork in awhile, so I decided it was time. I didn`t want to do the same ole, same ole...I wanted something a little more interesting; complex yet simple. I began to think of flavours I had tried and experimented with over the last few months and my mind stopped on Coffee Crusted Bacon. Hmmm.....coffee and pork...how could I make that work? Perhaps a marinade that could also double as a sauce or glaze. Coffee has a special affinity for meats and is an ideal ingredient for marinades and sauces. But, because it is very strong and flavourful, it should be paired with other strong flavours. Coffee alone can also be bitter and given that the basis of any marinade is an acid, I needed something to sweeten it up. But what could I use as a sweetner that also had the strong flavour coffee would require? Molasses! But what herb would go nice with coffee and molasses? Perhaps there are many, but my favorite, in case you haven't noticed, is thyme.
From that, Grilled Pork Chops with Coffee, Molasses and Thyme Glaze started to take form in my head. The next question of course was: What would I have as a side/sides? (You're probably saying to yourself, 'I really don't want to know how this woman's mind works", but perhaps seeing how things flow from one thought, to another, to a restaurant worthy meal, will inspire!). I grew up with having pork chops, mushrooms and onions and mashed potatoes. They seemed the natural pairing. But with my creative juices flowing, I wanted to give my mushrooms and potatoes a little mmore 'oomph'! I also wanted to have something green on the plate.
Looking in my refrigerator and cupboards, having a fairly solid idea of what I was doing with my pork, and wanting all of the things on the plate to 'marry', I decided on Smoky Shrooms, Baked Garlic Smashed Potatoes with Thyme and Sauteed Broccolini.
Smoky Shrooms: Mixed Mushrooms with garlic and paprika.
Baked Garlic Smashed Potatoes with minced garlic and thyme.
Sauteed Broccolini, a hybrid of broccoli and kai lan also known as broccoli rabe, with garlic and a sprinkling of parmesan cheese.
The Star of the Show: Grilled Pork Chops with Coffee, Molasses and Thyme Glaze, which was also the marinade!
This meal was proof positive that you can have food that's low in salt and fat, but high in flavour....healthy doesn't have to mean rabbit food, not any more! Grilled Pork Chops with Coffee, Molasses and Thyme Glaze, Baked Garlic Smashed Potatoes, Smoky Shrooms and Sauteed Broccolini....easy, inexpensive, healthy AND delicious!