So…I’m kinda on a crazy “diet” again. In an effort to remind ourselves that eating healthier has amazing benefits, the hubby and I are embarking on another 30-day “reset” diet similar to the Whole30 diet. Last year the hubby and I followed Whole30 to a tee, eliminating all dairy, grains, alcohol, refined sugar, soy and legumes (click here for my previous posts), and afterwards I couldn’t believe how good I felt. At the time, I swore I’d keep on trying to cook cleaner, to eat fresher and to be better about my food choices.
Six months later, I can’t say that I’ve really abided by this promise. We rarely eat pasta anymore (before our first Whole30, we used to eat it every week), and I never stock white bread or serve it as a side with dinner. I’m also not like, mindlessly grabbing handfuls of grated cheese or mainlining chocolate chip cookies, but — well, let’s just say the holidays happened, and I also happen to really like chocolate and peppermint mixed together. You can probably infer the rest from there. The hubby and I made a pact: after the New Year, we needed to recalibrate our bodies and the choices we make about our food.
That’s why today I’m sharing this recipe for roast pork with apples and carrots that I recently made for my family as part of our easing in to a paleo diet for the next 30 days. The kids love pork tenderloin, and roasted apples and carrots fill us all up without making some of us (i.e., me) feel weepy and sad that I can’t eat all the delicious (but unhealthy) things I normally eat.
This roast pork tenderloin is all kinds of tasty. First, I made a quick applesauce-based marinade for the pork tenderloin, which bathed the pork while I cut and prepped the apples, carrots and herbs. Then, I seared the pork tenderloins in shimmering olive oil to give them a nice crisp crust and then finished everything, including the vegetables, in the oven. The pan drippings for this pork make a great jus, which adds in tart, juicy flavor.
The best part about this roast pork with apples and carrots is that it’s a one-dish meal. There’s enough meat and veg for a family to get full, but, because I didn’t want to subject my kids to our crazy paleo diet, I also made a kale and chickpea couscous with tahini dressing (a recipe that I’ll post later). It turns out I didn’t really need to make the couscous because the kids loved the tart, softened apples and devoured slice after slice of roast pork. But whatever — there’s never any harm in leftovers for lunch, right?
Oh, except in my case, there was — when I opened my ‘fridge the next morning to figure out what I’d be eating for lunch, that delicious-looking couscous with kale peeking through every crevice was staring at me, taunting me. Is it objectively a healthy dish? Sure. But in my case, being paleo for 30 days means that it’s on the no-eat list (because of the wheat in the couscous).
Blurgh. Off to sob quietly into my handful of dry roasted almonds…
- 2 pork tenderloins, rinsed and patted dry with paper towels
- ½ cup unsweetened applesauce
- 4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, divided
- 4 tablespoons whole grain mustard, divided
- 3 tart apples (Granny Smith or tart pink lady apples), peeled, cored and sliced into 8 sections
- 1 medium onion, thickly sliced
- 3 cloves garlic, smashed
- 4-5 carrots, peeled and cut diagonally into 2-inch chunks
- 4 tablespoons ghee or olive oil, divided
- 1 cup unsweetened apple juice or apple cider
- 3 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 1.5 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- In a small bowl, mix together 2 tablespoons of the apple cider vinegar, 2 tablespoons of the mustard and the applesauce. Place the pork tenderloins in a gallon Ziploc bag and pour the applesauce mixture over the pork tenderloins. Seal the Ziploc bag and turn the pork tenderloins over once or twice in your hands to coat them thoroughly in the marinade. Set aside (if making right away) or refrigerate for up to 8 hours.
- In a large ovenproof skillet, heat 1 tablespoon ghee (clarified butter) or olive oil (if using) over medium-high heat. Remove pork tenderloins from the bag, using a spatula to brush off the marinade. Season with salt and pepper and sear the pork tenderloins so that they're browned on all sides, 2-3 minutes per side. Remove the pork tenderloins from the pan and place on a plate
- Add another tablespoon of ghee or olive oil to the pan and add the onions, garlic, rosemary, garlic and carrots to the pan. Reduce heat to medium and cook for 7-9 minutes until the vegetables are browned. Stir in the sliced apples, then push the vegetable mixture to the sides of the pan. Return the pork tenderloins to the pan and place the pan in the oven to roast.
- Roast the pork tenderloins for approximately 25-30 minutes until the meat registers around 145 degrees. Remove the pan from the oven. Arrange the vegetables on a serving platter, discarding the rosemary, and cover loosely with foil to keep warm. Transfer the pork tenderloins to a cutting board and tent loosely with foil to rest.
- Meanwhile, put the pan on medium heat on the stove and pour the remaining apple cider vinegar into the pan, making sure to scrape the pan with a spatula to get up any browned bits stuck to the pan. Add the apple juice/cider and remaining mustard and simmer the sauce until it's reduced by half, then swirl in the remaining 2 tablespoons ghee/olive oil.
- Slice the pork tenderloins (making sure they've rested at least 10 minutes) into ½-3/4" thick slices. Arrange the pork slices on the platter with the vegetables, then pour the sauce over everything. Serve immediately.