Lean pork tenderloin marinated with lime juice is a lighter way to enjoy pork as spring arrives. Steam some fresh veggies and cook up some quinoa or brown rice, and you have a meal that mirrors AICR’s New American Plate: two-thirds plant foods and one-third lean animal protein.
Pork is a red meat, which AICR recommends limiting for cancer prevention, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy small portions occasionally. Preparation method is key to reducing cancer risk when cooking any meat. Avoiding high heat and using marinades, as this recipe does, reduce the formation of cancer-causing compounds. No matter how you prepare it, limit total intake of red meat to 18 ounces per week.
This recipe’s lime juice marinade adds tartness and its acid helps soften the meat fibers, making this tenderloin extra “tender.” Limes have limonoids, which researchers are finding may have promising anti-cancer potential. Garlic, which is linked with lower risk of stomach and colorectal cancers, adds an aromatic quality to this easy-to-make marinade. A tip for those who don’t like to peel garlic or spend extra money for peeled cloves: simply place the flat part of a broad knife on a clove and press your palm down to smash it. The skin will break and come off easily. Allow minced garlic to sit a few minutes before cooking to allow allinase enzymes to release beneficial allicin.
Lime juice with blackstrap molasses makes a richer marinade and coating. Blackstrap molasses has a somewhat contradictory sweetness, with bitter undertones that result in a decidedly pleasant taste when combined with the other marinade ingredients. This type of molasses is the richest in minerals such as iron and calcium. However, molasses contains roughly the same amount of sugar and calories as regular white sugar, so don’t overdo it. Unsulphured blackstrap molasses has a milder flavor and is less processed.
Serve a 3-ounce portion of Lime Pork Tenderloin on a plate filled with colorful vegetables and whole grains and you’ll have a delicious springtime New American Plate.
Lime Pork Tenderloin
- 4 large cloves garlic minced
- 3 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
- 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil divided
- 1 tsp. unsulphured blackstrap molasses
- 1 tsp. low-sodium soy sauce
- 1/2 tsp. chili powder or to taste
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- 1½ lb. pork tenderloin
- 1 small red apple optional for garnish
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In large mixing bowl combine garlic, lime juice, 1 tablespoon oil, molasses, soy sauce, chili powder, salt and pepper. Place tenderloin in bowl, turning to completely coat with marinade.
Heat large ovenproof pan or cast iron skillet over high heat. Add remaining oil. When oil is hot, use tongs to place meat in skillet, being careful to avoid splatter. Turn tenderloin every 2-3 minutes for even searing to seal in juices.
Remove pan from burner. Pour remaining marinade over meat and brush to coat well. Add 3 tablespoons water to bottom of skillet, not on tenderloin.
Place pan in oven. Cook approximately 30 minutes or until a meat thermometer inserted into center reads 145 degrees. Remove skillet from oven and allow tenderloin to rest for 5 minutes before slicing.
For garnish, if using, cut apple in thin slices.
Cut tenderloin diagonally in 1/4-1/2 inch slices. Arrange slices on plate, garnish with apple slices, and drizzle with remaining juice from pan.
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Photographs by Heather Victoria Photography