Tasty lean meals you’ll love

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Image: supplied.
Image: supplied.

SPONSORED: Did you know there are delicious lean pork cuts perfect for your healthier lifestyle? We share some tasty recipe inspiration.

Are you trying to adopt a healthier lifestyle, but you’ve run out of recipes ideas? Here are some delicious, wholesome dishes that use pork as a lean protein. Not only is pork versatile, but it’s also packed with iron, zinc and vitamin B, and by using low-fat cooking methods, it’s a tasty way to avoid unnecessary calories.

Pork fillet, also called tenderloin, is cut from the rear end of the loin and is one of the tenderest cuts of pork you can buy. It’s perfect for serving beautiful medallions of soft, juicy meat.

Add these recipes to your healthy meal plan. They were created by foodie and fitness fan Amy Hopkins, so you know it’s yum and insta-approved!

Basil, Sun-dried Tomato & Ricotta Stuffed Pork Fillet

 SA pork

Basil, sun-dried tomatoes and ricotta go well together. Add pork and you have a match made in heaven. Did you know pork is richer in thiamine, which enables the body to use carbohydrates as energy, compared to other red meats like beef and lamb? It’s delicious and healthy! 

Serves 4


  • 2 x 400g pork fillets
  • basil pesto 
  • sun-dried tomato pesto
  • smooth ricotta 
  • 100g pancetta
  • olive oil 
  • micro leaves, to garnish
  • grilled lemony asparagus, to serve


  • Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. 
  • Dry the pork fillets by patting them with paper towels. Slice the meat lengthways and flatten slightly with a tenderiser. Down the centre of the fillets, place a couple teaspoons each of the basil pesto, sun-dried tomato pesto and ricotta.
  • Roll the meat up, pressing with your fingers and secure with some kitchen twine.
  • Divide the pancetta slices among the fillets and wrap tightly around the fillets. 
  • Place the stuffed fillets on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Drizzle with a little olive oil and place in the oven for 35 to 40 minutes. (Cooking time will vary based on the size and thickness of the fillets.) The meat should be cooked all the way through but not overcooked.
  • Resting the pork is essential. Once removed from the oven, create a foil tent and allow the fillets to rest for 10 to 15 minutes before slicing. (Make sure you use a sharp knife!)
  • Serve with micro leaves and grilled lemony asparagus on the side. Yum!
  • You will need kitchen twine to tie and hold the stuffed fillet.
  • Use a meat mallet or pounder to tenderise and flatten the fillets once you’ve sliced them in half (lengthways). This will help with the stuffing and wrapping process. If you don’t have one, use a rolling pin.

Roast Pork Belly with Fennel

 SA pork

Is there anything more delicious than crispy pork crackling? And it’s good for you too! Did you know that the fat in pork contains more unsaturated fats than beef or lamb, meaning more omega-3 fatty acids? Get that belly in the oven!

Serves 4


  • 1.2 kg pork belly
  • 1 tbsp fennel seeds
  • sea salt
  • olive oil
  • 8 fennel bulbs, halved
  • 1 garlic bulb, halved
  • handful of thyme sprigs
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • broccoli and cauliflower florets, to serve


  • Start preparing this dish the evening before. Dry the pork belly skin with paper towels. Score the fat but be careful not to cut into the flesh (or ask your butcher to do this).
  • Grind together the fennel seeds and salt, then rub the mixture into the scored fat. Place the belly in a sealed container and keep it in the fridge overnight.
  • When ready to cook the next day, take the pork out of the fridge and allow it to come to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 220 degrees Celsius.
  • Grease the base of a large oven dish with oil. Place the fennel and garlic on the base. Scatter over the thyme sprigs, drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice, and place the pork belly on top of the vegetables.
  • Roast for 20 minutes – the skin should be bubbly! Remove the garlic. Then turn the oven temperature down to 160 degrees Celsius. Continue to roast for another 30 minutes and then remove the fennel (it should be beautifully cooked). Place the pork back in the oven for a further 40 minutes to 1 hour.
  • Take the pork out of the oven and allow it to rest for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, place the fennel back in the oven to heat up and sauté the broccoli and cauliflower florets. Serve and enjoy!

  • You want to really get the fat bubbling in a hot oven in the beginning. Then lower the temperature and continue to cook the pork at that temperature.

  • The trick to getting that crackling super crispy is to dry the skin and salt it the evening before.

Pork Rib-Eye Steaks with Chimichurri Drizzle 

 SA pork

This super-easy recipe is great to cook on the braai or in a griddle pan. We chose to use pork ribeye steaks, which are cut from the upper shoulder area. The marbling melts into the meat as it cooks, making for a juicy, tender steak. If you want the extra yummy fat from the rind, rather use pork rump steaks or pork chops.

Serves 4


For the chimichurri

  • 1 shallot (or ¼ red onion), chopped finely 
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped finely
  • 1 jalapeño, sliced finely (optional)
  • ½ cup chopped coriander leaves 
  • ¼ cup chopped parsley 
  • 2 tbsp chopped oregano or basil 
  • salt to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 3 tbsp red-wine vinegar
  • 6 tbsp (or more) olive oil 

For the steaks

  • olive oil 
  • 6 pork rib-eye steaks 
  • salt to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 lemons, halved and grilled
  • grilled lemony broccoli, to serve


  • To make the chimichurri, combine all the ingredients, adding more olive oil if you wish. Set aside to allow the flavours to marry while you prep the steaks.
  • Rub olive oil into the pork steaks, season with salt and pepper, and set aside while you preheat the griddle pan to medium-high heat or prepare the braai.
  • Grill the steaks, turning only once, until cooked all the way through. (Cooking time will depend on the thickness of the steaks.) Leave to rest for a few minutes.
  • Serve the steaks with a good squeeze of lemon juice and a drizzle of chimichurri. We recommend grilled lemony broccoli as a side dish.
  • This recipe will also work well with pork rump steaks or pork chops.

Pork Fillet Stir-Fry with Vietnamese Rice Noodles

 SA Pork

Did you know that pork fillet is a super-lean cut of meat, making it a healthy choice for your recipes? We used it in this delicious, easy-to-make stir-fry that’s perfect for mid-week meals. 

Serves 4 to 6


  • 700g to 800g pork fillets, excess fat trimmed
  • 4 tbsp oyster sauce, plus 2 tbsp extra
  • 2 tsp sesame oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 large piece of ginger, grated
  • 300g Vietnamese rice noodles 
  • 1 tbsp neutral vegetable oil, like canola
  • 200g pak choi, leaves separated
  • 250g mushrooms, sliced
  • 600g mixed stir-fry veg, such as mangetout, red pepper, carrots and broccoli 
  • 1 red jalapeno, sliced thinly (optional), to garnish
  • Black pepper (optional)


  • Start by slicing the pork into bite-sized slices. Combine the 4 tbsp oyster sauce, 2 tsp sesame oil, garlic and ginger to make a marinade. Coat the pork in the marinade and place in the fridge while you prep the rest of the vegetables. 
  • Prepare the Vietnamese rice noodles according to package instructions. 
  • When everything is ready, heat a large wok until hot. Add the vegetable oil and the pork and stir-fry until nicely browned. Remove the meat and set aside. 
  • Wipe down the pan and stir-fry the pak choi until just cooked and bright green. Remove and set aside in a bowl. Repeat with the mushrooms: stir-fry until golden, adding a little more oil if necessary, and add to the pak choi. 
  • Stir-fry the rest of the vegetables until just cooked through. Add the pork, pak choi and mushrooms back to the wok with the remaining oyster sauce, a splash of water and a little more sesame oil. Add the noodles and toss to combine. 
  • Garnish with the jalapeno slices (if using), season with a little black pepper (if using) and serve.


  • You can use low-sodium soy sauce instead of oyster sauce. 
  • Get creative with your veggies – you can add what you like. 
  • It’s best to cut the strips of pork against the grain of the meat. 

Make these recipes your own and enjoy living your best lean life.

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