January 10th, 2012


If there’s anything that college students miss, it’s those home-cooked meals from our parents. Something my dad always makes when I’m home is pork tenderloin. Don’t get me wrong, I like pork, but sometimes my dad goes overboard and makes too many pork dishes in one week. So many, in fact, that I never thought I’d get to the point of actually missing pork dinners. But, lo & behold, sometimes I do.

When I was asked to produce a video about quick and nutritious dinners for Student Health 101‘s January issue, it took me awhile to get some inspiration. I know, I know, I blog about quick and nutritious meals all the time. Why would this assignment be so difficult for me? Well, I’ll let you in on a little secret of mine. Not all of my personal dinner recipes are quick. In fact, dinner is my time to veg out (semi pun intended) from those long days on campus and spend time doing what I love: cooking!

To find some inspiration for this video, I paid a visit to Trader Joe’s (I love to wander the aisles of TJ’s discovering new ingredients!). When I came across their pork cutlets, something I had never noticed before, it hit me. What about a twist on my dad’s pork tenderloin recipe, but instead make lemon pepper pork cutlets served with sautéed onion, garlic sautéed spinach, and puréed parsnips. Sounds fancy? Of course. Difficult to make? Not at all. Can it be done in 20 minutes? You better believe it.

Some fun facts I learned while making this dinner:

  • Pork, AKA “the other white meat” has less fat and cholesterol than a chicken breast. Who would’ve known?
  • Sautéed spinach is super quick to whip up when you need some added veggies. You could also try sneaking fresh spinach leaves into your fruit smoothies when blending for added nutrition. Only the color would give away the secret ingredient as you barely notice the flavor of uncooked spinach.
  • Parsnips are awesome. Seriously. Ditch the mashed potatoes and make some puréed parsnips with olive oil instead of butter. Higher in fiber and folic acid and lower in cholesterol and carbohydrates, you can’t go wrong.

To learn more about the health benefits of this dinner recipe, you can watch me prepare the recipes here. You can also view the latest issue of Student Health 101 here.

Lemon Pepper Pork Cutlet with Sautéed Onion
Makes 1 serving

Extra virgin olive oil
1/4 sweet onion, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon lemon pepper seasoning
1 pork cutlet
Unsweetened apple sauce

Heat a small skillet with olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and sauté until golden brown, about 3 minutes.

Heat another small skillet with olive oil over medium heat. Evenly spread the lemon pepper seasoning on both sides of the pork cutlet. Add the pork cutlet to the skillet and cook for 2 minutes. Flip the cutlet with kitchen tongs and cook the other side until the pork is cooked through, about 2 more minutes.

Place pork on a plate and top with sautéed onions and desired amount of unsweetened apple sauce.

Garlic Sautéed Spinach
Makes 1 serving

Extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
½ cup fresh spinach leaves

Heat a small skillet with olive oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic and sauté until the garlic begins to brown, about 1 minute. Add the spinach to the pan and mix it with the olive oil and garlic. Cover the skillet and cook for 1 minute. Uncover the pan and mix the spinach again. Cover the skillet and cook for an additional minute. Remove the skillet from heat and drain any excess moisture into a sink.

Puréed Parsnips
Makes 1 serving

2 medium parsnips, peeled & ends trimmed off
½ tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
¾ tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Salt & pepper, to taste
Paprika (optional garnish)

Boil a small pot of water. Cut the parsnips into 2-inch pieces and place into boiling water. Cook the parsnips until they are very soft, about 15 minutes.

Place the parsnips in a blender (or a food processor if you have one). Add the olive oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper, and puree the ingredients. Sprinkle with paprika and serve.

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2 Responses to “There’s Nothing like a Home-Cooked Meal”

  1. Dad says:

    Next time you come home, NO PORK FOR YOU! Actually, I thought I had cooked chicken too much, but Oh, Well! FYI, I made pork cutlets after you went back to school–shallots, olive oil, butter, garlic, dry sherry…Mmmmmm. Missing you…

  2. Chef Dennis says:

    I’ve never had pureed parsnips before they sound delicious!
    Thanks for the follow on twitter!