Fruit is not just for dessert or snacks. It can be the centerpiece of a savory dish using a modest amount of meat that acts almost like a condiment, yet is adequate in providing needed protein and nutrients.
This approach fits health experts’ recommendations on diet. Cancer researchers recommend cutting back on meat and increasing consumption of fruits and vegetables to help reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease and other chronic health problems.
A diet emphasizing plant-based foods supplies the health-protective phytochemicals that help protect us from serious and chronic health problems. Research on the relationship between nutrition and cancer, for example, shows that specific phytochemicals protect us from particular aspects of the cancer process. And because certain phytochemicals are found only in specific foods, eating a wide variety of vegetables and fruits, as well as other plant-based foods, is the best way to protect against the many different types of cancer.
Lycopene, for example, is only found in red fruits like watermelon, pink grapefruit, and in tomatoes and tomato-based products. It helps protect against prostate cancer, and possibly breast cancer. Another phytochemical, cryptoxanthin, which is linked to a decreased risk of cervical cancer, is abundant in many orange fruits, like mango, tangerines, oranges and papaya.
In some cultures, fruit is a common ingredient in main courses. Many Asian cooks, for example, use fruit to contribute a sweet element to the hot-sour-sweet-salty-bitter balance of taste they try to achieve.
Vietnamese fish soup, for example, often includes pineapple along with tomatoes and bean sprouts. Fruit is a common ingredient in Chinese sweet-and-sour dishes, and in
stir-fried rice, too.
Different fruits offer different textures and flavors as well as phytochemicals. Pears and apples add crunch. Pineapple, berries, oranges and grapes contribute bursts of tangy sweetness. Peaches, nectarines, plums and mangos offer a range of juicy textures.
The variety of fruits in the following entrée creates a colorful presentation that suggests a tropical sunset. And the flavor of pork nicely complements the rich interplay of flavors.
Tropical Pork Salad – Makes 4 servings.
2 medium peaches, sliced
2 nectarines, sliced
1 small mango, peeled and diced
2 plums, sliced
1/3 cup orange juice1 Tbsp. reduced-sodium soy sauce 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
Pinch of hot pepper flakes (optional)
8 oz. pork tenderloin, trimmed of visible fat, and cut into thin strips
1 Tbsp. canola oil
2-3 drops sesame oil (optional)
6 cups mixed salad greens
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 Tbsp. slivered almonds, toasted
Place prepared fruit in a large bowl.
Combine orange juice, soy sauce, ginger (and hot pepper flakes, if used) in a small pot. Warm over low heat; do not boil. Mix into the fruit and set aside.
Heat the oil(s) in a medium skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add the pork and stir-fry, stirring, 3-5 minutes, until cooked through. Transfer meat to a dish and set aside to cool. Combine fruit/juice mixture with salad greens and toss. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Divide mixture among four dinner plates. Top with pork and sprinkle with toasted almonds. Serve.
Per serving: 291 calories, 8 g. total fat (1 g. saturated fat), 40 g. carbohydrate, 17 g. protein, 7 g. dietary fiber, 178 mg. sodium.
AICR offers a Nutrition Hotline (1-800-843-8114) 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET Monday-Friday. This free service allows you to ask a registered dietitian questions about diet, nutrition and cancer. AICR is the only major cancer charity focused exclusively on the link between diet, nutrition and cancer. It provides a range of education programs that help Americans learn to make changes for lower cancer risk. AICR also supports innovative research in cancer prevention and treatment at universities, hospitals and research centers across the U.S. It has provided more than $65 million for research in diet, nutrition and cancer. AICR’s Web address is www.aicr.org. AICR is a member of the World Cancer Research Fund International.