Keeping Calories Down During the Holidays: Tuscan Pork Loin

November 4, 2016

By Kay MacInnis, Registered Dietitian

I can't believe we are getting close to Thanksgiving! This is traditionally when we start taking in a few more calories – which usually results with about a one-pound weight gain during these next weeks.

There are strategies for avoiding the extra calories, while still enjoying the holidays. You might think about making a few modifications at a time to your favorite recipes – if you change everything at one time, you may not be happy with the end results. Experiment, a bit at a time.

Select lean cuts of beef and pork – look for cuts with "round" or "loin" in their names instead of the higher-fat options. Use chicken and turkey without the skin. Replace higher-fat cheeses with lower-fat options. Use sour cream or evaporated milk in place of fattier dairy products. Cut down on salt, and use fresh herbs as often as possible. Watch the sugar – you might find another really good option.

If you have a favorite recipe and don't want to modify it, then have a smaller serving! Remember: The more color on your holiday table, the better! Be sure to add vegetables and fruit to your table.

Try this recipe for Tuscan pork tenderloin! It’s a nice alternative for a lean option to a holiday menu. For some extra pizzazz, try a little Dijon mustard with agave as a glaze. The glaze was a special touch from our Chef Rick at our Downtown Café.

Tuscan Pork Loin


  • 1 2-pound pork loin, trimmed
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed and peeled
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 tablespoon white-wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest


  • Tie kitchen string around pork in three places so it doesn’t flatten while roasting.
  • Place salt and garlic in a small bowl, and mash with the back of a spoon to form a paste.
  • Stir in oil, rosemary, and lemon zest.
  • Rub the mixture into the pork.
  • Refrigerate, uncovered, for 1 hour.
  • Preheat oven to 375°F.
  • Place the pork in a roasting pan.
  • Roast, turning once or twice, until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part registers 145°F – 40-50 minutes.
  • Transfer to a cutting board; let rest for 10 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, add wine and vinegar to the roasting pan and place over medium-high heat.
  • Bring to a simmer and cook, scraping up any browned bits, until the sauce is reduced by half – 2-4 minutes.
  • Remove the string and slice the roast.
  • Add any accumulated juices to the sauce and serve with the pork.

Dijon Glaze


  • 2 cups Dijon mustard or whole-grain mustard
  • 1 ½ cups agave


  • Mix ingredients together.
  • Cover pork loin with mixture.

Nutritional information per 3-ounce serving: Calories 221, fat 11 grams, cholesterol 69 mg., carbohydrates 1 gram, protein 24 grams, sodium 156 mg.


This is another in a weekly series of healthy recipes from Kay MacInnis, registered dietitian at Providence Health in Columbia, SC

Kay promotes health and wellness, helping cardiac and diabetes patients eat their way to healthier lives. She works in consultation with the trained chefs at Providence, combining her nutrition knowledge with their food prep know-how to create delicious, healthy dishes for patients and the public. She also conducts a number of health and wellness events for the public, including the monthly Providence Cooks! classes.

"She doesn't just give you the fish, she teaches you how to cook it."

 – a Kay MacInnis fan and Providence Cooks! regular.