Recipes & Kitchen  

Healthy Pork Carnitas Recipe – Clean Eating Kitchen with Jan D’Atri

Watch Jan D’Atri, Red Mountain’s Culinary Chef, explain how to create healthy pork carnita tacos!

Pork Carnita Tacos


  • 3 lbs pork tenderloin, cut into 3-inch cubes
  • 2 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 1 jalapeño pepper
  • 1 large head red cabbage


  1. In a cup, combine chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt and pepper. Sprinkle half of the spice mixture over all sides of the pork.
  2. Set an Instant Pot to the high sauté setting and spray with a little zero-calorie nonstick cooking spray. Add pork and cook, turning until very browned on all sides, or 10 to 12 minutes.
  3. Pour lime juice into the Instant Pot and add garlic, jalapeño and remaining spice mixture. Set the Instant Pot to high pressure and make sure the pressure valve is in the “seal” position. Set timer to 35 minutes. Press start.
  4. Meanwhile, preheat oven broiler to high and position rack at the top of the oven.
  5. Cut the cabbage in half lengthwise. Peel leaves from each half, discarding the core, and wash & dry each cabbage leaf to use for the taco shells.
  6. When cooking is complete, allow pressure from the Instant Pot to release naturally (about 15 minutes). Use a slotted spoon to transfer the pork to a rimmed baking sheet and shred with two forks.
  7. Place pork under the broiler for 3 to 5 minutes to crisp up the edges.
  8. When done, remove, toss the pork with some of the remaining juices, then broil again for just 2 to 3 minutes this time.
  9. Serve hot, stuffed in cabbage shells. Garnish with toppings as desired.

Video Transcript:

Pork carnita tacos: all the flavor, none of the guilt!

Hi, it’s Jan D’Atri and today we’re going south of the border for clean eating Mexican style!

In a word: delicioso! These pork carnitas are loaded with flavor without a lot of fat, carbs, and calories. You could make them in an instant pot, Dutch oven, or crock pot

Here are your ingredients: pork tenderloin –lean and delicious — about three pounds, six cloves of fresh garlic are real superfood, one jalapeno and if you want to cut down on the heat, discard the stem and seeds.  By the way, Chili Peppers are a known fat burner and can help fight off colds and flu. And you’ll need lots of limes — about five or six; enough to yield one cup of lime juice

Well, you’ll love these delicious seasonings: chili powder cumin oregano salt and pepper. Then, instead of tortillas, we’ll use red cabbage leaves. At only 25 calories a cup, you can enjoy your carnitas guilt-free.

Just pull apart the leaves from the whole cabbage or slice it in half, core it, and pull the leaves apart. Red cabbage is a great choice for carnitas — high in vitamin C and loaded with antioxidants.

So, let’s get cooking!

Slice the pork tenderloin into three-inch cubes. Combine the oregano, cumin, chili powder, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Mix it together, then divide in half.

Place the pork cubes in a bowl and sprinkle with half the seasonings. Coat the pork thoroughly, and then in a skillet with zero-calorie cooking spray, sear the pork until browned. Searing meat gives meat a nice, rich, caramelized flavor — and it also speeds up the cooking time! If you have an instant pot you can skip this step and sear the pork right in your pot.

Since I’m using a crock pot, I’ll add that brown pork, then the lime juice, the fresh garlic, the chopped jalapeno, and the rest of the spices. Then, we’ll just let the magic happen!

Now here’s a great clean eating cooking tip for you:

 If you find that you’ve added a little bit too much lime juice to that pork tenderloin, here’s a great fix. All you have to do is add about a quarter of a teaspoon of baking soda. Baking soda is an acid neutralizer, so it’s going to smooth out all those flavors and you won’t get that real harsh citrusy bite.

When done, you can serve the pork chunky or shredded. If you want the pork to be a bit crispy, put it in a baking sheet and broil for just a few minutes. Now, let’s eat! Scoop the pork in a red cabbage bowl and top with green or red cabbage radishes and a sprig of cilantro.

Flavor-filled pork carnita tacos, the Red Mountain clean eating way!

For more recipes for clean eating the Red Mountain Way, visit

Author Image

Jan D’Atri is Red Mountain’s official Culinary Chef, providing patients with a variety of instructional videos regarding how to cook healthy meals.

With an extensive background in the food industry as a restaurant owner, gourmet food distributor, and cookbook author,  Jan’s expertise is in high demand. In fact, she has been featured in various Phoenix media outlets including radio host on 92.3FM KTAR, Arizona Midday, Sonoran Living, Phoenix Magazine, and more.