- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 21, 2004

If you follow nutrition news or your grandmother’s advice you know that eating more fruits and vegetables is beneficial to your health. Cooking an extra vegetable side dish or adding an extra snack to your day may not be feasible, though. In fact, most surveys say the number of dishes Americans prepare for any meal is shrinking, not increasing, due to time constraints.

Skillet meals, soups and stews provide the simple solution. Simmer meat, poultry or fish with the vegetables of your choice and reap the nutritional rewards.

Although it’s a little more challenging to incorporate fruit using these cooking techniques, it’s not impossible. Pork is the protein that’s most often paired with fruit because of its neutral taste. Pork and apples, for example, are a classic combination.

Seasonings are essential to either match. I prefer herbs with vegetable-enhanced recipes and spices including cinnamon, ginger and allspice with fruit.

No matter what you’re preparing, you can find ways to sneak in more fruits and vegetables.

For example, stir chopped carrots into chili or spaghetti sauce; include pears in a squash soup recipe; add a handful of green beans to beef stew; or sprinkle grapes over sauteed chicken breasts. For inspiration, start with curried pork chops with plums; this is a mouthwatering dish.

Curried pork chops with plum

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 small red onion, sliced

½ teaspoon curry powder

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

2 (1-inch-thick) bone-in rib loin pork chops

1/4 cup fruity white wine

1 cup chicken broth

3 sliced, pitted plums

Heat vegetable oil in a skillet. Add onion and saute for 5 minutes. Combine curry powder, ginger, cumin, salt and pepper in a bowl. Rub the pork with the spice mixture. Add pork to skillet and brown 2 minutes per side.

Remove pork and keep warm. Add wine to skillet and scrape up any browned bits using a wooden spoon. Add broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low. Return pork to skillet. Add the plums. Simmer, covered, for 15 to 20 minutes or until pork is tender. Serve over rice. Makes 2 servings.

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