Iowa Tenderloin, Florida-Style

Arugula, Paleo, Pan fry, pork

“Pork tenderloin sandwich” by Glane23 – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

I recently visited my husband’s family in the Midwest for our niece’s graduation. While in his hometown we had several traditional meals that were anything but Paleo. One of these famous heartland favorites is the “tenderloin.”

This is basically a breaded and fried pork chop sandwich. No actual tenderloin meat is  used (as far as I can tell) and usually people leave off the word “sandwich” when they order the “tenderloin.” From what I hear, Indiana and Iowa both think they make the best tenderloin.

But enough semantics. This tasty pork sandwich got me thinking about how to make it as Paleo as possible while respecting the dish’s tradition. First things first – get rid of IMG_2052that bun. Secondly, let’s pan fry instead of deep fry. Thirdly, let’s figure out how to add some greens. Voila! A Florida girl’s answer to a Midwest favorite.

Pounding the pork chop to 1/4″ thickness is the key to this recipe. Ask the meat department to “tenderize” the pork chop or you can beat the pork chop with a mallet until it’s 1/4″ thick. The result is a crispy, tender pork chop that the whole family will want to eat.

This dish doesn’t fully adhere to Paleo, but it gets pretty close. Chicken breasts can be a substitute for those who don’t eat pork. The Midwest purists will be shocked at my addition of arugula and lemon, but I don’t care! The combination is elegantly delicious and reminiscent of my husband’s roots.


4 boneless pork chops, pounded or tenderized to 1/4” thickness IMG_2036

1/2 cup almond flour or regular all-purpose flour

1 egg, beaten and mixed with 2 tablespoons of water

1 cup Italian-style breadcrumbs

2 tablespoons butter or ghee

3 tablespoons olive oil

4 cups arugula

4 lemon wedges

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper


Take the flour, egg mixture and breadcrumbs, place each in its own shallow bowl, and create a “bowl assembly line” to bread the pork chops. Gently dip each pounded pork chop in the flour, shaking off any excess. Then dip into the egg wash, then into the breadcrumbs, making sure the ingredients adhere well to the pork chop.

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In a large pan, heat one tablespoon of butter or ghee and one tablespoon of oil over medium to medium-high heat. Cook two pork chops at a time, for 4-6 minutes per side, allowing them to get brown and crispy.

Remove pork chops from pan and place them on a plate. Loosely cover with foil, and repeat the process with the remaining two pork chops.

When the second set of pork chops is ready, combine arugula, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper in a separate bowl.

Top each pork chop with a cup of arugula mixture and serve with a lemon wedge.

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Pesto Shrimp Over Zucchini Linguini

Arugula, Paleo, Pesto, Seafood, sunday supper, vegetables

Cooking Paleo really means removing foods like pasta from our diets. While I can’t follow a Paleo lifestyle perfectly, I am getting better at creating meals that are a healthy spin on traditional favorites. IMG_1764

My pesto shrimp over zucchini linguini embodies Paleo eating. Instead of using real linguini pasta, I thinly slice zucchini as its replacement. Paired with my Arugula Pesto Recipe, this dish results in a dairy-free, pasta-free dinner that’s satisfying and healthy.

This entire meal uses a single sauté pan and only takes 10-12 minutes once you turn the burner on. So have someone set the table while you take a little time at the stove. Regularly stirring the zucchini noodles will keep them from burning or getting too soft.

Don’t be intimidated by this recipe, and I suggest that you make the pesto ahead of time. I often double the pesto recipe and either freeze the extra or keep it in the refrigerator for up to seven days. The beginning of this recipe requires a little knife work, but the end result is quite simple and elegant. Oh, and it’s Paleo, which was kind of the point in the first place.


1/2 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined

2 or 3 zucchini

1/2 white onion, thinly sliced

2 garlic cloves, chopped

3 tablespoons of olive oil

2/3 cup arugula pesto (click here for the recipe)


In a bowl, mix shrimp with 3 tablespoons of pesto sauce and put into the refrigerator.

While the shrimp marinates, make the zucchini noodles. Cut each zucchini length wise, into 1/8”-1/4” thick slices. Then cut those into long strips, creating julienned “noodles.” (see image)

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In a large sauté pan, heat 2 tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and onion and stir for 2 minutes. Add the zucchini noodles, stirring occasionally, until they are tender but still firm, around 4-6 minutes.

Remove zucchini mixture from the pan and place into large bowl. Mix the remaining pesto with the zucchini noodles. Cover with foil to keep warm.

Then add another tablespoon of olive oil to the pan. Toss in the shrimp and cook for 2  minutes per side.

To plate, assemble the zucchini pesto noodles in the center of a plate and top with shrimp, evenly divided between all the guests. This recipe serves four adults.

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Caprese Salad with Arugula Pesto

10 minute side dish, Arugula, Caprese Salad, Paleo, Salad, Tomatoes

Tomatoes aren’t typically associated with winter, but February brings plenty of this tasty fruit in the Southeast, where I live. One of the great things about tomatoes is that you really don’t have to do much to make them amazing. Let the tomato shine, that’s what I always say (okay, I don’t really say that but tomatoes can truly stand on their own).

DSC03983I’ve got two quick side dishes using tomatoes that I am sure you’ll enjoy. Both are served chilled or at room temperature. Another plus is that you can make them ahead of time, which reduces the stress of getting the entire meal prepared all at once.

Today I’m sharing an easy Caprese salad recipe. Arugula is also in season, so I use that to make my pesto. The homemade pesto really adds something without taking a lot of time to make, so give it a shot!

This serves four people, and I like to pair it with either chicken parmesan or a grilled steak. Don’t forget to check back tomorrow for another 10-minute side dish utilizing seasonal tomatoes.



2 beefsteak or vine ripe tomatoes

5 oz. buffalo mozzarella ball

4 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted

4 cups packed arugula    IMG_0452

1 tablespoon fresh garlic

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

2 teaspoons kosher salt

5 tablespoons olive oil

Juice of 1 lemon


Pesto Preparation

Combine pine nuts, garlic, black pepper, salt, arugula and lemon juice in a blender or food processor. Blend for 1 minute, slowly adding the olive oil, and increasing the speed to achieve your desired texture. The pesto will keep for a week in the refrigerator.




Cut tomatoes into 1/4-inch slices. Do the same with the mozzarella ball. Alternate tomato slices and mozzarella slices. Drizzle 1/4 cup of pesto sauce over it and serve.