Pork Chops with Grilled Pineapple Salsa and Spiced Sweet Potatoes
I’m pleased to report that things are pretty solid on the Dude Diet front, folks. Despite an off-the-wagon wedding weekend in Newport, where he drank his weight in mudslides and terrorized many a finger-food server, the Dude has been keeping it relatively tight over the past few weeks. Logan has been doing a respectable amount of exercise, eating a decently balanced diet, and his recent carbohydrate fetish appears to be on the decline. The numbers on the scale are going down, and things are looking up. Forward and onward, dudes.
Today, I would like to focus on an issue that Logan has been struggling with for most of his adult life. It’s a somewhat personal problem, and I didn’t realize until recently that it might be tied to Logan’s eating habits, and that The Dude Diet could potentially help bring about some change…Let’s talk about snoring, dudes.
To say that Logan snores would be the understatement of the century. It’s hard to describe the noises that the Dude makes in his sleep, but suffice it to say, they are truly horrifying. Based on the deafening combination of gasps, grunts, and snorts, one would assume that Logan is perpetually on the brink of death, which, as you can imagine, is quite traumatic for me. When we first became roommates, I used to worry that there was something seriously wrong with him, and that he was in need of immediate medical attention. For better of for worse, this was not the case, and according to Logan, he’s always snored like an animal. He’s not too concerned about this snoring habit because “it can’t be that bad.” Clearly, Logan is delusional. It is that bad. In fact, it’s worse.
In the early days of our relationship, I didn’t comment on the Dude’s snoring because I am the best girlfriend ever, and I didn’t want to hurt his feelings. Instead, I would gently roll him onto his side whenever he got too loud and hope for the best. When that didn’t work, I would rub his back or his arm, which miraculously quieted the beast. However, as soon as the snoring stopped, I would fall asleep and stop stroking, and the noise would erupt again with a vengeance. This would promptly wake me up and the cycle would start all over again. At a certain point, I realized that I was spending several hours every night petting Logan like a dog. Needless to say, this was not a sustainable system.
Unfortunately, Logan’s snoring isn’t just a problem in the privacy of our own home, he also terrifies the public with his mouth-breathing ways. I pity the fool that sits next to Logan on a plane, train or bus because he will inevitably pass out and commence the whistling/grunting/choking thing he likes to do in his sleep. I’m pretty sure he’s made several small children cry.
In hopes of finding a better way to quiet Logan’s snoring, I took to the interwebs to do some research. To be honest, the amount of information about the causes of snoring and potential fixes was overwhelming. Doctors suggested everything from nasal strips to wearing compression stockings during the day. Some swear by taping tennis balls to the back of the snorer’s pajamas so that they can’t roll onto their back. Others claim that learning to play a brass or woodwind instrument will tone the muscles of the upper airways, allowing for better “airway dilation control” and easier breathing.
While all of these ideas were intriguing, few of them seemed realistic. Logan enjoys wearing short-shorts, which would make it very difficult to pull off compression stockings. The tennis balls sounded promising, but Logan doesn’t wear pajamas, and using tape in such close proximity to his plentiful back hair would be dangerous and borderline sadistic. Learning to play an instrument is rather laborious, and while I want Logan to stop snoring, I don’t want to listen to him practice a woodwind everyday. Plus, I don’t like the thought of having to say things like, “Oh, Logan can’t make it tonight. He’s staying home to play his flute.”
Disappointed by the lack of straightforward snoring solutions, I figured that short of shipping Logan off to a sleep clinic, I would just have to put up and shut up. And for almost a year and half, I’ve managed to do just that. However, Logan’s snoring has been particularly disruptive of late, and in addition to losing a significant amount of beauty sleep, I’ve become legitimately concerned about two things…
First, Logan appears to be on the verge of developing full-blown sleep apnea. Call me superficial, but I really don’t want to deal with him wearing one of those unattractive respiratory masks to bed. Second, my patience with Logan’s snoring is reaching new lows, and I’m afraid of what I might do to him in the night. Last week, I “accidentally” punched him in the stomach in a fit of snoring-induced rage at 3am, screaming, “YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED TO SLEEP ON YOUR BACK!” (To Logan’s credit, he rolled over, kissed me on the cheek and said, “I’m sorry, princess,” before going back to sleep. I thought this was a very civilized reaction to being sucker punched. I also liked being called “princess.”)
Logan’s snoring is clearly a serious problem, and he is not alone. According to several studies, almost 50% of dudes snore (versus 25% of women). Luckily, there is something simple that you can do about this problem that doesn’t involve male stockings or becoming a flautist. According to my snoring research, changing your diet can have a significant impact on your snoring.
Long story short, dudes, an inflammatory diet and that gut of yours are likely the root cause of your snoring habit. Yes, thin people snore too, but fat people snore more. There are several reasons for this. Fat around the neck squeezes the internal diameter of the throat, making it more likely to collapse during sleep and cause you to snore. Excess fat also makes it harder to breathe in general. When the chest rises, the diaphragm pushes down to allow more room for lungs to expand. If you have a lot of extra belly fat, there isn’t much room for expansion. This stifles your breathing, which leads to annoying noises.
Therefore, losing weight, especially by decreasing your intake of inflammatory foods (aka refined carbohydrates), can noticeably decrease your snoring, dudes. I’ve told you before that eating inflammatory foods can cause an insulin imbalance (which leads to many serious health consequences), but it also causes dehydration. Because your nasal passages need to moisten air before entering the lungs, when you’re dehydrated, your body responds by mouth breathing. Bad news for your bedmate.
In an effort to tackle the snoring issue from all sides, I’m going to need you to consume less booze, dudes. Not only is alcohol inflammatory, but it is also a sedative. Despite their other fun effects, sedatives reduce the resting tone of the muscles in the back of your throat, meaning that you are more likely to snore, and snore more loudly, than when you’re a sober Sally. After a night of cocktails, Logan’s snoring takes on the sound and cadence of a dying family of bears, and there is almost no stopping it, since a drunk dude is impossible to roll. A deadweight deuce feels more like a deuce and a half. Fact.
Obviously, I’m not telling you that you have to stop drinking all together. I’m just asking you to exercise moderate sobriety, at least on weeknights. A cocktail or two is fine, but anything more and you’re just asking for sleep apnea. Needless to say, please don’t drink any cocktails involving milk or cream, as they will only add to your congestion and exacerbate your snoring tendencies. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, white Russians and mudslides are not acceptable drink orders. Ever. (For more Dude Diet cocktail guidelines, please see here.)
In an effort to improve upon Logan’s snoring, I have been actively upping the amount of anti-inflammatory foods in his diet. I’ve also been slowly trying to steer him toward fish, chicken, and pork, and sneaking in as many fruits, vegetables and whole grains as is humanly possible. Last night, I whipped up an anti-inflammatory Dude Diet feast of Pork Chops with Grilled Pineapple Salsa and Spiced Sweet Potatoes.
This is a dank meal, dudes. First of all, you should be eating pork loin chops on the reg. Cooked properly, pork chops become deliciously tender and juicy, and they can be served with a variety of sauces, salsas and side dishes. More importantly, pork loin is an excellent source of lean protein. Knowledge bomb: Ounce for ounce, pork loin has less fat than a chicken breast. Pork also contains more B-vitamins than most other types of meat. This is great news, since B-vitamins help improve metabolism and increase energy production. Ironically, eating pork will actually make you look and sound like less of a pig. Booyakasha.
Grilled pineapple salsa is just what you need to dress up these pork chops. Grilling the pineapple enhances its natural sweetness and gives it a badass smoky flavor that’s balanced by the citrusy tang of fresh lime juice. Diced red onion and red bell pepper give you a nice bite and a little crunch, and the cilantro brightens everything up. Pineapple is famous for its anti-inflammatory properties, which is ideal for snorers, and this salsa is packed with vitamin C, manganese and a host of other antioxidants. I recommend trying grilled pineapple salsa over grilled fish or chicken as well.
Because the Dude tends to panic if there is not an obvious carbohydrate on his plate, I worked in some spiced sweet potatoes, which are both healthy and satisfying. I’ve waxed poetic on the benefits of sweet potatoes many times before, dudes, but let me just refresh your memories. In addition to tasting awesome, sweet potatoes are full of fiber, vitamins, and anti-oxidants, as well as beta-carotene, which improves your skin. (I know The Dude Diet is focusing on snoring this week, but I may as well make you a little prettier while I’m at it.) I also threw some cayenne pepper into the spice mixture to help speed up your metabolism. You’re welcome.
As always, this meal is gloriously simple to prepare, and it’s almost impossible to mess up. It’s makes a great weeknight dinner, and I highly suggest throwing the leftovers over mixed greens for a hearty Dude Diet salad the next day. If you’re feeling festive, Pork Chops with Grilled Pineapple Salsa and Spiced Sweet Potatoes is more than fancy enough to serve to friends at your next dinner party. If nothing else, it’s a pretty delicious way to decrease the cumulative snoring of your social group.
For the record, the Dude was a big fan of this creation. I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but I think his snoring is already on the decline. I only had to kick him once last night, and his nighttime noises were more, “gurgle and whistle” than “choke and snort,” so I’m feeling optimistic…
Pork Chops with Grilled Pineapple Salsa and Spiced Sweet Potatoes: (Serves 4)
4 boneless pork loin chops (about 6 oz each)
1 tablespoon olive oil
Fresh ground pepper
For the grilled pineapple salsa:
½ whole pineapple, peeled and cut into ½-inch rounds
½ red bell pepper, finely diced
¼ cup red onion, finely diced
1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
For the spiced sweet potatoes:
4 cups sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into ¾ inch cubes (2-3 medium-sized sweet potatoes)
2 tablespoons olive oil
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon paprika
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Preparing your Pork Chops with Grilled Pineapple Salsa and Spiced Sweet Potatoes:
-Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees.
-Start by preparing your pineapple. Peel your pineapple and cut it into ½-inch rounds. You will need 4 rounds for your salsa, dudes.
-Heat a grill/grill pan over medium-high heat. When hot, add the pineapple rounds and grill for 2 minutes on each side. Remove from the grill and set aside to cool.
-While the pineapple is cooling, move on to the sweet potatoes. In a small bowl, combine the salt, paprika, cumin, cayenne pepper and cinnamon. Place sweet potatoes in a baking dish and drizzle with olive oil. Add the spice mixture and toss to coat.
-Bake your sweet potatoes for 30 minutes, stirring every ten minutes, until they are very tender.
-While your sweet potatoes are cooking, prepare your pork chops. Pat the chops dry with paper towels and rub each chop with olive oil. Season both sides with salt and fresh ground pepper.
-Heat a grill or grill pan over high heat. If you are using an outdoor grill, sear your chops for 2-3 minutes on each side until they have nice grill marks. Move your chops to a cooler area of the grill (or turn the heat down to low) and continue cooking for 12-15 minutes or until the chops have an internal temperature of 140 degrees. If you are using a grill pan, sear your chops for 3 minutes on each side and then transfer the pan to the 400-degree oven (where your sweet potatoes should already be cooking!) and cook for about 10-12 minutes or until the chops reach an internal temperature of 140 degrees. However you choose to cook your chops, make sure to let them rest for 10 minutes before serving. Gotta let the juices redistribute.
-Now it’s time to finish your grilled pineapple salsa. Dice your grilled pineapple, being sure to remove the core from each round.
-In a bowl, combine the diced grilled pineapple, red bell peppers, red onions, lime juice, and cilantro. Season with salt to taste.
-Serve your pork chops over the spiced sweet potatoes and top with grilled pineapple salsa. Enjoy your anti-inflammatory meal, dudes. May you (and your significant others/roommates) rest easy tonight. Snoring is so last season.
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