Here’s a paleo menu that’s sure to warm you up on a wintry night. When you uncover your steaming pork chops, the heavenly apple-y aroma clearly says, “Get ready for comfort food.” Rounding out the meal are whipped cauliflower and sauteed spinach, both with a touch of garlic.
If you think you don’t like cauliflower, try it this way — the garlic and oil mellow out the flavor, and whipping it well makes the texture smooth and creamy.
BAKED PORK CHOPS WITH APPLE-THYME GRAVY
Start to finish: 90 minutes (active time: 15 minutes)
2 tablespoons oil
4 medium pork chops, boneless or bone-in
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 tablespoons arrowroot powder
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
3/4 cup applesauce (if chunky style, mash or process until smooth; see NOTE for instructions for making a small batch)
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Place oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add chops and sear until browned, 3 to 4 minutes on each side. Remove pan from heat.
Layer browned chops in a casserole dish with a cover or in a baking pan you can cover with foil.
In a pint-sized jar or small bowl, shake or whisk the arrowroot powder and water until well-combined.
Place skillet (the same one used to brown the chops) over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for a moment, just until fragrant. Pour the water-starch mixture into the skillet and cook and whisk until thickened and bubbly, about 2 to 5 minutes. As you whisk, scrape any browned bits off of the bottom of the pan. Add the salt, thyme, applesauce, and lemon juice and stir until heated through and well-combined.
Transfer pork chops to a casserole dish. Pour gravy over chops. Cover and bake for about 1 hour 15 minutes or until tender. Check partway through and baste or rearrange chops if necessary to make sure they’re still covered with gravy.
Note: If you don’t have home-canned applesauce, you can make a small batch just for this dish. For a little more than enough for this recipe, peel, core, and chop two medium apples. Place apple pieces in a small saucepan and add about 2 tablespoons water. No added sugar or seasonings are needed. Cook over medium heat until soft, about 15 to 20 minutes. Stir and mash with a potato masher or fork until smooth.
Nutrition information per serving (based on 1/2-pound bone-in pork chop; will vary according to fat content of chop):
537 calories; 379 calories from fat; 42 g fat (14 g saturated); 122 mg cholesterol; 6 g carbohydrate; 1 g fiber; 5 g sugar; 32 g protein; 685 mg sodium.
WHIPPED CAULIFLOWER WITH GARLIC
Start to finish: 30 minutes (active time: 10 minutes)
1 head cauliflower, cut/broken into florets
1 clove garlic, peeled
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
Place cauliflower florets and garlic clove in a large pot, and add water to cover. Heat to boiling over medium high to high heat. Then turn heat down for a low boil. Cook 15 to 20 minutes or until cauliflower is soft when pierced with a fork.
Drain water and add oil and salt. Beat well with electric beater or immersion blender until very smooth and well-combined, making sure garlic clove is incorporated.
Nutrition information per serving:
126 calories; 114 calories from fat; 13 g fat (2 g saturated); 0 mg cholesterol; 4 g carbohydrate; 2 g fiber; 2 g sugar; 1 g protein; 167 mg sodium.
SAUTEED SPINACH WITH GARLIC
Start to finish: 15 minutes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons coconut aminos (paleo substitute for soy sauce)
2 bunches or 1 9-ounce bag fresh spinach, washed well and large stems removed
Place olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. When oil is warm, add garlic and heat just until fragrant.
Add coconut aminos, then add spinach, as much as will fit into the pan. Then as the spinach cooks down, add a handful or two at a time until it’s all in the pan. Increase heat to medium high. Saute until all of the spinach is wilted and dark green, 3 to 5 minutes.
Push spinach into a loose pile to one side of the skillet and allow the liquid to drain out of the spinach, tipping the pan slightly. Let the liquid bubble and reduce down a little. Place spinach in serving dish or onto individual plates with tongs or a slotted spoon and drizzle the liquid over it.
Nutrition information per serving:
78 calories; 65 calories from fat; 7 g fat (1 g saturated); 0 mg cholesterol; 3 g carbohydrate; 2 g protein; 1 g fiber; 107 mg sodium.