Cocoa Chile Pork Tenderloin with Triple Cherry Sauce

Pork Full bowl BLOGPT[pinit]

Pork tenderloin is so versatile – grill it outside or oven roast it inside, and either way, it’s typically done in 30 minutes or less.

Pork tenderloin tastes terrific with just a simple salt and pepper rub, but it also goes with numerous flavor profiles. Sweet. Savory. Zesty. Spicy. Tangy. In less than 2 minutes you can whisk up a smoky BBQ, Cajun, Caribbean, Latin, Thai or Asian rub. Or my 3-in-1 sweet, smoky and spicy Cocoa Chile Rub. Deep chocolate flavor to compliment the smoky and spicy.

Want more pork versatility? Try pork tenderloin with savory chutney, zesty salsa and sweet or sour sauces. I vote for a sweet sauce to balance the spicy and smoky Cocoa Chile Rub, like my Triple Cherry Sauce. Cherries happen to be my #1 favorite fruit and this sauce counts toward your daily fruit servings!

Time to celebrate the goodness of this recipe:

  • Weight watcher. Pork protein (about 24 grams in every 3-ounce cooked serving) helps fill you up, keeps you full and satisfied and therefore, helps curb cravings and prevent mindless munching and overeating. This helps weight loss and weight maintenance efforts.
  • Muscle manager. Protein is critical for optimal muscle repair and growth day-to-day, after exercise and especially as you age. The latest research suggests spreading that protein throughout the day, so 20-30 grams at breakfast, lunch and dinner…not just at dinner!
  • Monotony breaker. Attention gym goers and weight trainers! There’s more than chicken to help you “eat more protein!” There are 7 slim cuts of pork. And pork tenderloin is just as lean as chicken breast with only 2.98 grams fat in a 3-ounce serving.
  • Processed with perks. This cherry sauce is a shining example of processed foods that provide big nutrient perks. Like canned, frozen, dried and 100% juices in the fruit and vegetable category. They’re just as nutrient-rich as fresh. Tart cherries contain natural anti-inflammatory properties, too.
  • RQ. That’s short for restaurant quality, the term my good friend Rick uses for home-cooked recipes that are just as good as restaurant foods. My husband Jeff says this Cocoa Chile Pork Tenderloin with Triple Cherry Sauce is better than RQ!
    Cocoa Chile Pork Tenderloin with Triple Cherry Sauce
    • Cocoa Chile Rub
    • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
    • 2 teaspoons ancho chile pepper
    • 1 teaspoon chipotle chile pepper
    • ½ teaspoon paprika
    • ½ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
    • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
    • 1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
    • ½ teaspoon ground Saigon cinnamon
    • 1 teaspoon firmly packed light brown sugar
    • 1 ¼ teaspoons kosher salt
    • Pork
    • 2 pork tenderloins (2 ¼ - 2 ½ pounds total)
    • Triple Cherry Sauce
    • 1 can (15 oz.) unsweetened tart cherries, drained and juice reserved
    • ½ - 1 cup 100% tart cherry juice
    • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
    • ⅓ cup firmly packed light brown sugar*
    • ¾ cup dried tart cherries
    • ¼ teaspoon Dijon mustard
    • 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
    1. Heat oven to 425°F.
    2. Whisk all rub ingredients together in a small bowl. Divide mixture between both tenderloins, completely rubbing, coating and pressing into pork thoroughly. Place tenderloins in large rimmed baking covered with foil.
    3. Roast pork until it reaches 145°F with an instant read thermometer, about 20 – 35 depending on tenderloin thickness. Check temperature regularly after about 15 minutes of roasting. Let pork rest at least 3 minutes before slicing.
    4. While pork cooks, make cherry sauce. Drain cherries and reserve juice. Add enough additional 100% tart cherry juice to make 1⅓ cups total liquid.
    5. In a small bowl, stir cornstarch into ¼ cup cherry liquid. In a small saucepan, combine cornstarch mixture with remaining juice, canned cherries, brown sugar and dried cherries. Cook, stirring nearly constantly, until mixture boils and thickens. Remove from heat and stir in mustard and vinegar. Enjoy warm or room temperature with pork tenderloin.
    6. Makes 6-8 servings (about 2 ½ cups total sauce)

    [pinit] Disclosure: As a proud supporter of Indiana Agriculture, I’m happy to mention this is a sponsored post for the Indiana’s Family of Farmers. And did you know? Indiana ranks 5th in pork producing states.

Kid Friendly Treats & Desserts

I’m headed to the Indiana State Fair for the first of five cooking demonstrations. Today’s topic: The Dietitian Does Dessert and Kid-Friendly Treats. I’ll be showcasing four of my favorites. Several of these, like the clusters, trail mix and dip, are super easy and the kids can make themselves or help you. Get them involved….and they’ll be more inclined to enjoy these nutrient-rich treats!

Decadent Chocolate Fruit & Nut Clusters

 1 bag (12 oz.) semisweet chocolate chips

1½ cups dried fruit, chopped if necessary*

1 cup finely chopped nuts*
Cover a large baking sheet with parchment or wax paper; set aside. Melt chocolate chips in double boiler over slightly simmering water.  (Create your own double-boiler by using a small saucepan or heat-proof bowl over a bigger saucepan that contains the simmering water.) Combine the dried fruits and nuts in a small bowl. Add to melted chocolate and stir to completely coat all ingredients. Using a measuring tablespoon, dip leveled clusters onto covered baking sheet about 1-inch apart. They will look uneven and shaggy. Refrigerate 30 minutes or until clusters are hardened and set. Store clusters in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator. Serve cold or at room temperature. The clusters taste most flavorful at room temperature, however.  Makes 30 to 36 clusters.

 *Cherry Walnut Version:
Dried Fruit:  1½ cup dried tart cherries     Nuts: 1 cup chopped walnuts

 *Date Fig Walnut Version:
Dried Fruit: ¾ cup chopped dried figs and ¾ cup chopped dates      Nuts: 1 cup chopped walnuts

 *Create your own version using any mixture of dried fruits and nuts: Cherries, cranberries and pecans. Dried apricots and almonds. Golden raisins and pistachios. Dates and cashews.









Pumpkin Cheesecake Dip with Apples & Pears

 1 package (8 oz.) 1/3-less fat cream cheese

1 can (15 oz.) pure pumpkin      

½ cup firmly packed brown sugar

1½ teaspoons pumpkin pie spice 

Apples, pears and Asian pears, cut into thick slices

 Combine cream cheese, pumpkin, brown sugar and pumpkin pie spice in a food processor until thoroughly blended. Chill at least one hour before serving. Serve with slices of fresh pears, apples and Asian pears. Makes about 2 ¾ cups dip (11 servings of ¼-cup each)

   Hike Bike & Swim Trail Mix           

 2 cups plain, frosted or honey-nut O-shaped cereal

1 cup whole-grain goldfish crackers

1 cup honey-roasted peanuts

1/2 cup dried tart cherries

3/4 cup raisins

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Keep in a tightly covered container or Ziploc bag.

Makes about 5 1/2 cups (or 22 servings of 1/4-cup each)


Whole Grain Oatmeal Raisin & Date Bars  (100% whole grain) 

½ cup butter (1 stick), softened slightly

1/3 cup canola oil

1 cup firmly packed brown sugar

½ cup granulated sugar

2 extra large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1½ cups white whole-wheat flour (prefer King Arthur brand)*                            

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground allspice

½ teaspoon salt

3 cups old-fashioned oats, uncooked

2/3 cup raisins*

1 package (8 ounces) chopped dates



 Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat 10x15x1-inch jelly roll baking pan with vegetable cooking spray. In a large bowl with electric mixer, beat butter, oil and sugars until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla; beat well. Add flour, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice and salt and mix thoroughly. Add oats, raisins and dates and mix until blended. Spread or pat batter in pan and bake 22 to 25 minutes or until light golden brown. Bars may appear slightly sticky in center with toothpick and they will appear a tad “puffed”. They’ll deflate once cooled. Be sure not to overcook, as bars harden slightly as they cool. Cool on wire rack; cut into bars and store in tightly covered container. Bars can be frozen. Simply wrap individual bars in plastic wrap and place all bars in zippered freezer bag.  Makes about 24 to 30 bars. 

*Toss raisins in small bowl with about a teaspoon of flour before adding to batter. This helps separate all the raisins. 

 Enjoy with a glass of 1% low fat milk for a calcium, vitamin D and protein boost.