Pork - The other white meat
Pork is known as one of the 'sweetest meats' to eat and its diversity in cooking is amazing. However, in our culture, its positive dietary properties have been devalued and it has generated an unfortunate reputation as being unwholesome, and even thought to be the cause of cardiovascular ailments. Contrary to these misconceptions, though, the 'other white meat' is quite a healthy option as it is packed with more nutritious value than it is given credit for.
The benefits of pork are many, making it an ideal addition to one's diet and a great ingredient for healthy recipes. At a glance, pork contains six essential vitamins, four key minerals, as well as energy and lean protein, which are necessary to create and maintain a fit body and healthy lifestyle.
Pork is actually also a very 'heart-smart' meat choice. It has been noted that trimmed pork is suitable for even persons following a heart-healthy or cholesterol-lowering diet, as nutritionist at the Heart Foundation of Jamaica, Frances Mahfood, shares.
With the possibility of its cholesterol and saturated fat content drastically being reduced by trimming at the processing stage, pork holds a significant advantage over other meats. Mahfood explains that there are "only 120 calories in three ounces of lean pork (no visible fat), five grams fat, and approximately 60 milligrams of cholesterol. The right way is to eat three to four ounces at a meal with your heart-healthy vegetables and one cup sweet potato, which is truly a delicious and nutritious meal".
She also notes that pork contains many vital nutrients, the main one being protein. Pork also contains iron, which Mahfood explains is especially required by women, particular during two reproductive-related moments in their health cycle - pregnancy and menopause. Pork is also a great source of zinc which is easily absorbed by the body, vitamins B6 and B12, niacin, riboflavin, fat, cholesterol and thiamin - an element known to be effective in the healthy functioning of the brain.
Known to be an 'energy-boosting' food, the incorporation of pork is great for growing children, pregnant women and older adults, and the proteins in pork are vital building blocks central to an athletic physique.
INDUSTRY RESPONSE TO NUTRIENT NEEDS
It is clear that persons, now more than ever, are health conscious. As lifestyles become more active and hectic, they are constantly seeking healthy food options that will support their day-to-day activities, and expect food service providers to step up and act accordingly. In response to this need, those in the business of rearing pigs and producing pork have improved breeding and management practices and ensured fat trimming at the processor level to meet the ever-increasing health demands of today's consumers.
Cognisant of these changes and trends, the CB Group , for instance, has made a commitment to providing Jamaicans with the most nutrient rich pork, starting from the farm. To counter and dispel rigidly held beliefs that pork is not good, the Copperwood team ensures that only the cleanest, leanest meat - and therefore the healthiest - is put on the market for consumption.
CB Group's Chief Operating Officer Matthew Lyn asserts that "Good food starts with good farms, and at our farms we have invested in the best, hand-picked breed of animals, where they are fed a balanced diet with the best quality nutrients, and then the meat is produced and packaged to the highest standards in the Caribbean's only - ISO 9001:2008, GMP and HACCP certified facility, in keeping with the CB Group's commitment to producing safe food."
HEALTHY COOKING TIPS
To maximise all the benefits pork offer, there are some recommended healthy cooking tips for this leaner meat, starting with cut selection. The healthiest pork options, for instance, are the leanest cuts - those with 'loin' in the name - such as tenderloin, loin chops and sirloin, and pork is safe when cooked to the proper internal temperature of 70C. In purchasing pork, it's suggested that you pay attention to colour - it should be pink - as well as texture, which should have a fine, velvety feel.
Mahfood further shares that because most of her clients are concerned about the cholesterol, fat and, of course, caloric content in their diets, she teaches them how to incorporate foods like pork by changing the method of cooking, how much salt they add, and portion size.
"Pork is a popular meat among most of my clientele, and deprivation is not the answer. Fresh pork, rather than cured pork (like salted pig tails), is what I recommend. Fresh pork includes the loin chops, ribs, tenderloin and shoulder roasts and pork legs. In addition to stressing portion control, I also advise that the method of cooking is key to enjoying the health benefits associated with this high-nutrient meat. Best preparation methods include roasting, broiling, grilling and baking, absolutely no frying!" advises the nutritionist.
Here's a delectable recipe that can be followed to prepare a healthy and nutritious pork meal.
Serving: 4 portions
600 gm boneless pork butt or loin, diced
12 garlic cloves, chopped
24 whole black peppercorns
3 bay leaves
250 ml white cane vinegar
50 ml soy sauce
1. Place pork in a heavy bottomed pot.
2. Mix all other ingredients together.
3. Pour on pork and mix well.
4. Leave to marinate overnight, or at least four hours.
5. Place pot on heat, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until pork is tender.
6. Remove pork from pan, leaving the sauce.
7. Boil sauce until slightly thickened.
8. Put pork back in sauce, mix well, season to taste with salt and pepper.
Serve with jasmine rice and pineapple-naseberry salsa.
1 pineapple, peeled and sliced
Black pepper, milled
6 oz fresh naseberry, peeled, deseeded and diced
1 oz Appleton Gold Rum
Chopped, fresh mint to taste
1. Liberally coat the pineapple with the fresh ground pepper.
2. Cook on a hot grill for one minute each side, allow to cool
3. Dice pineapple and mix with naseberry, rum and mint.