Posted in Being Healthy, Cooking

I want a “real” dinner (Momentum 7; PointsPlus 8)

So this morning as we passed each other in the kitchen, my mom says “Tonight, I want a “real” dinner.” What the heck? Oh, yeah, well, I haven’t exactly been around for a couple of weeks to be with my family for dinner. So we review what we’ve got frozen and settle on a pork loin, part of one that we bought at Costco and divied up for a couple of meals. I suggested braised spinach with it and for some reason that made my mom want glazed carrots; weird, but whatever. Keeping it in the simple vein, we agree on herbed egg noodles as our final side selection.

So the menu is

  • Roasted Pork Loin
  • Braised Spinach
  • Glazed Carrots
  • Herbed Egg Noodles

in case you didn’t catch that part already.

So, as you know, you want to start with the item that will take the longest to cook. Now, contrary to past posts, I will recommend that you completely thaw your pork loin before cooking; there’s just something difficult about keeping pork moist that calls for it to be treated special.

Okay, roasted pork loin is really easy. You have a piece of pork loin. You coat it with a dry rub. You put it in the oven. And, viola, roasted pork loin. So what’s this dry rub thingy? Nothing more than your choice of an herb combo. Please feel free to use whatever combo you have on hand (like Greek seasoning, poultry seasoning, pork seasoning, anything already combined that you like); me…well, if you’ve read anything of mine, you know I’m a sucker for the simple song herbs: parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme. Tonight, I combined about 1.5 teaspoons of each along with salt and pepper in a mortar and blended them all into a fine powder rub with the pestle. Don’t know what a mortar and pestle are? Click here. Don’t have a mortar and pestle? You can also use a spice or coffee grinder (one reserved for spices) or just combine the herbs as they are.

Coat both sides of the pork loin, rubbing the spices in with your fingers. If you don’t need to wash your hands, you’re not done. Set the loin fat-side up on a rack placed inside a foil-lined baking dish (9×13). Here’s my rationale: foil-lining the dish saves a lot of time on clean-up; using the rack allows excess fat to drip away rather than greasing up the loin; and placing the loin fat-side up helps keep the meat moist and crisps up the remaining fat (that didn’t melt down the sides) for those who enjoy it.

Roast uncovered at 350 for about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Check it for doneness and either set it out and cover for its resting period or put it back in the over for a little while longer (try 15 minutes at a time). Generally, you want your pork to read 155 on a thermometer before you pull it out of the oven for the resting period; 160 is your goal.

When the pork has about 30 minutes left to cook, you’ll get your sides going:

  • Set a large sauce pot on to boil, with some salt in the water. This one is for the noodles.
  • Set a large skillet (one that has a lid that fits) on a high-heat burner with a drizzle of olive oil. This one is for the Braised Spinach.
  • Set a medium skillet on a high-heat burner with a drizzle of olive oil. This one is for the Glazed Carrots.

As the water works on coming to a boil, you will quickly set the other two dishes to cooking.

In the medium skillet, drop in one clove of minced garlic and chopped carrots. Salt and pepper lightly and stir quickly for about 1 minute to coat the carrots with the little bit of oil in the pan; it’s on high heat, so watch carefully that you don’t burn the garlic. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of sugar over the carrots and again stir quickly for about 1 minute to coat the carrots and dissolve the sugar in the oil; this allows the sugar to begin carmelizing just a tiny bit. Add 1/3 cup of water, stir, and bring to a boil. Let the carrots and sauce boil until the carrots are as “done” as you like them; I like mine with bite still, so for me it’s about 7 minutes. And they’re done.

While the carrots are glazing in their boil, you’ll start dropping in ingredients for the Braised Spinach. Start with 2 cloves of minced garlic and 1 whole sliced red onion. Stir continuously to make sure the garlic doesn’t burn and to cook the onions through without carmelizing them. Drop in 2 bags of baby spinach and snap the lid on tight; turn off the cooking heat and let the dish sit for about 5 minutes. Lift the lid and stir using a folding motion. Salt and pepper and drizzle with good quality balsamic vinegar.

With these two dishes just about done, the water is probably boiling for the noodles (use Lehmans if you need a gluten free, corn free option). Just drop them in and cook like the package says. When they are done, drain, drizzle with olive oil, and add herbs: salt, pepper, and herbs de provence are our favorite and a good complement to the pork rub.

By now, the pork is probably done and resting on the counter. Just slice it into nice sized servings (about 4-5 oz each, perhaps 1/2-inch thick).

And tonight I decided to try a new beer, one on sale at the grocery store (so if it’s not good, I haven’t lost that much). But it’s really nice. I chose Pyramid Breweries Apricot Ale, hoping to marry the sweet notes in the beer with the sweeter flavor of white meat pork loin. I wasn’t disappointed!

Weight Watchers Momentum Points:

  • 5 oz roasted pork loin = 5 points
  • 1/2 cup herbed egg noodles = 2 points
  • braised spinach = 0 points
  • glazed carrots = 0 points
  • beer = 3 points

Weight Watchers Points Plus:

  • 5 oz roasted pork loin = 5 points
  • 1/2 cup herbed egg noodles = 3 points
  • braised spinach = 0 points
  • glazed carrots = 0 points
  • beer = 5 points


If you've had my cooking or heard me sing, you've shared some of the happiest and most memorable moments of my life. But if you've been lucky enough to listen to me sing while I cook, well, then you've seen the real me. And if you've sung and cooked with me, you know what being loved by me is!

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