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Affordable nutrition

By Staff | Sep 6, 2013

RENEE SWEERS, a nutrition and health specialist with Iowa State University Extension, said her recipe, pork loin roast with veggies, is one of many nutritious and cost-efficient recipes available at Extension’s Spend Smart, Eat Smart website.

MOVILLE – Not everyone can take a part of their job home and enjoy it. Renee Sweers considers herself lucky because she can.

Sweers’ responsibilities as a nutrition and health program specialist with Iowa State University Extension include those of sharing Extension’s message on the importance of preparing family meals that are not only nutritious, but affordable for budget-conscious meal-planners.

She said she enjoys following her own advice and admits to “being a bit of a foodie” that, in part, influenced her decision to become a dietitian.

A farm girl and former member of the Madison Livewires 4-H Club, she grew up cooking alongside her mother and grandmothers.

“One of my grandmothers cooked with butter, cream, really rich foods and always had desserts and sweets,” she said. “The other grandmother had diabetes so food was simpler and I’m sure healthier.”

THE READY-TO-BE served meal, pleasing in appearance as well as taste, is a good one for fall when root crops are readily available, Sweers said.

Sweers said her early interest in gardening added to her career choice.

Her recipe selection – pork loin roast with veggies – is, Sweers said, one she often prepares for her husband, Fred Sweers, and son, Gabe Sweers, at their Moville home. She said it’s “definitely among the favorites” of the numerous recipes featured on Extension’s Spend Smart, Eat Smart website at www.extension.iastate.edu/foodsavings.

“Roasting the vegetables,” Sweers said, “and maintaining their nutrition is a great way to eat vegetables served with the roast in this recipe.

“It’s super easy. You don’t have to add a lot of seasonings to bring out the flavor of the vegetables nor do you have to use a lot of pans.

“And, like other recipes on the website it’s a recipe low in fat and sodium.”

“Everyone is interested in saving money. And this program we feel can benefit all families and individuals.” —Renee Sweers ISU?Extension dietician in Moville

Sweers adds that the roast and vegetables recipe, meanwhile, is a also seen as a timely one as fall approaches and with it, the ready availability of fresh root crops such as carrots, parsnips and potatoes all of which she terms “absolutely delicious” with the pork.

It’s also a good recipe to try during October Pork Month.

Use of the Spend Smart, Eat Smart website developed several years ago in part to encourage more fruit and vegetables and whole grains in diets has mushroomed since its inception several years ago, Sweers said.

Sweers said it’s her “go-to site” for meals she makes most often, as well as recipes for entertaining, holiday, potlucks, and for taking food to others in need.

Videos are included in several food categories. There are also tips on meal costs and planning, shopping and preparation, and basic cooking.

The latter, Sweers said, has become popular for beginning cooks.

“The program is not designed only for those not having money,” Sweers said, “but all income levels of meal planners.

“Everyone is interested in saving money when they go to a grocery store.

“And this program we feel can benefit all families and individuals.”

Pork loin roast

with veggies

2 cups onions, cut in wedges (about 1/2 pound or 2 medium onions)

2 cups potatoes, diced (about 12 ounces or 2 medium)

2 cups baby carrots or 3/4 pound regular carrots, sliced

2 tablespoon vegetable oil, divided

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 1/4 pound pork loin

Wash and cut potatoes and onion into chunks about the same size as baby carrots.


1 tablespoon brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

In a bowl mix veggies with 1 tablespoon oil, salt and pepper.

Lay veggies around the edge of a 9-by-13-inch pan and put in oven.

Use a small bowl to make the rub. Mix the brown sugar, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon pepper and 1/4 teaspoon salt in the bowl.

Sprinkle the rub over the loin. Press gently so the rub sticks to the roast. Wash your hands after handling the raw meat.

Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.

Add the loin. Brown the sides of meat. Turn after about 2 to 3 minutes per side.

Transfer the pork to the center of the pan with veggies. Bake for about 40 minutes.

A meat thermometer should read 145 degrees.

Check the temperature after 30 minutes in the oven.

Remove from oven. Let set for 5 minutes. Slice and serve.


Use a meat thermometer. Cooked pork can be pink even when the meat has reached a safe temperature.

For safety and quality, allow meat to rest for at least three minutes before slicing.

Other raw vegetables can be used, to total approximately six cups.

Source: Spend Smart, Eat Smart, www.extension.iastate.edu/foodsavings.

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