Photo/IllutrationVinegar-flavored pork (Photo by Masahiro Gohda)

  • Photo/Illustraion

Beside its core business, Tanita Corp. operates a franchise of eateries that center on healthy low-calorie, low-salt lunches for those who are keen to lose weight.

Tanita is a household name when it comes to the manufacture of weight scales and body-composition analyzers that measure the percentage of a person's body fat.

But it is its "shokudo" staff restaurant that spawned recipe books and affiliated canteens found in hospitals and elsewhere.

Nanako Ogino, who is 35 and a registered nutritionist at the staff restaurant, has played a key role in spreading Tanita's dietry mantra.

“Tasty and healthy is the motto of the Tanita shokudo system,” Ogino said, adding that three rules govern the way meals are prepared.

She said set meals should be around 500 kilocalories, contain only three grams or less of salt, but feature generous helpings of vegetables weighing between 150 and 250 grams. The meals change daily at the staff restaurant.

Ogino supervised the compilation of “Taishibokei Tanita no Shain Shokudo” (Staff restaurant of body fat scale maker Tanita), published in 2010 by Daiwa Shobo and listing recipes offered at the staff restaurant. The four-volume series, including sequels, became a big hit, selling 5.42 million copies.

Tanita set up a venue in Tokyo's Itabashi Ward where it is based to offer nutritional guidance as well as meals to local residents.

In 1999, the company turned the place into a staff restaurant that continues to offer weight-loss menus.

Yet Ogino was concerned that healthy employees might find some of the dishes somewhat flat and has gradually made subtle adjustments in seasoning and cooking procedures.

This week’s vinegar-flavored pork was formerly called “set menu of pork in Mireille-style.” Mireille? Assuming the name wouldn't ring a bell with employees, Ogino listed the dish with a new name that communicated the use of vinegar.

To this main dish, she added burdock root and “chingensai” (green pak choi) in sesame sauce, simmered konjac and deep-fried thin tofu, clear soup with mushrooms and rice to create a set meal.

Even those watching their weight are sure to enjoy this version of pork loin because it is low on calorie and salt content. For instance, the pork is grilled in an oven toaster. The Tanita method is to reduce the fat by using the fish grill or the oven as much as possible.

The flavors of vinegar and garlic help reduce the salt content.

Other key points are that the vegetables are cut in large slices and that they are cooked to remain firm.

“They should be chewy. You feel satisfied when you eat by chewing well,” says Ogino.

It makes sense. This way, one can avoid wolfing down a meal and yearning for more.


(Serves two)

2 slices (90 grams each) pork loin (buta-rosu)

Dash of salt and pepper for initial seasoning

Little less than 1 Tbsp flour

1 tsp butter

60 grams onion

40 grams tomato

Bit of garlic

1/2 tsp oil

Dash of salt and pepper

1 Tbsp wine vinegar

1 tsp soy sauce

Some dried parsley

50 grams “mizuna” leaves


Make a few incisions between meat and fat at right angles to prevent pork from curving. Sprinkle salt and pepper and dust with flour.

Preheat oven toaster. Spread butter on meat. Lay parchment paper on baking sheet, place meat and cook for 10 to 15 minutes.

Cut onion and tomato into 1-cm dices. Cut mizuna into appropriate size, finely chop garlic.

Heat oil in frying pan and cook garlic. When aroma rises, add onion and cook further. Add tomato and sautee briefly. Add salt, pepper, wine vinegar, soy sauce and simmer briefly to create sauce.

Serve mizuna and meat on dish, pour sauce and sprinkle with parsley.

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From The Asahi Shimbun's Watashi no Ryori column