Bacon has developed a cult-like following around the low-carb and Paleo diet circles where it’s not rare to see people wearing t-shirts affirming their love for bacon.
It’s also the ultimate white-trash American iconic food, but has this weird ability of being enjoyed equally by the rich and the poor. It’s the perfect poor man’s breakfast, but fancy restaurants now serve bacon ice cream, bacon mousses, bacon flavored vodka and foie gras with bacon.
The word “bacon” itself comes from the Old High German word bacho, which means buttock. It’s prepared differently depending on where you are in the world and many parts of the pork can be used to prepare bacon. In the U.S., bacon is most often prepared from pork belly, which gives a very fatty bacon. What is often referred to as Canadian bacon in the U.S. is back bacon taken from the pork loin, which is leaner.
Bacon is always cured, but can be smoked or not and high-quality smoked bacon from artisanal producers will often be a whole different story than the bacon readily available in grocery stores. While pork bacon is the most popular version, other meats like beef, lamb or chicken can be cured and smoked in a similar manner.
Bacon is versatile with many foods and is good in savory as well as sweet preparations. It’s great in sauces, stews, soups, salads and snacks or wrapped around fruits, fish, seafood, poultry and red meat. It possesses a unique combination of umami flavors that give an addictive taste to most foods that it’s coupled with. Additionally, you should always keep the rendered bacon fat as it will also impair some of the bacon flavor to food cooked in it.
Nutrition-wise, we know that bacon is not the villain that it’s made out to be. Dietary saturated fat and cholesterol are good for us, and not just in moderate amounts. The stigma against saturated fat and cholesterol has strong ties and even some people in the Paleo circles still fall in the trap of fearing fat and seeking lean meat as their main source of energy. It’s important to keep in mind that fat is a great source of fuel and that it’s excess protein consumption that should be feared more than excess fat consumption. Of course, when it comes to fat, some choices are better than others. Pork’s fat, lard, is about 40% saturated, 45% monounsaturated and 12% polyunsaturated. Saturated and monounsaturated fats are the ones that should be consumed liberally, while polyunsaturated fats should be kept to a minimum. In the case of lard, the levels of polyunsaturated fat is higher than in tallow, butter fat or coconut oil, which makes it somewhat less desirable to consume in large quantities and for high-heat cooking. The fatty tissues of pork in confined production tend to be higher in total polyunsaturated fat and lower in omega-3 fatty acids, which is needed in balance with omega-6. For this reason, it might prove to be a good idea to consume fatty fish regularly or a very high-quality fish oil supplement if lard is a main constituent of your diet.
Another concern is the levels of nitrates in bacon. It’s true that most bacon, other the the nitrate-free versions, will contain varying amounts of nitrate, but this is often an unfounded concern has most vegetables contain comparable levels of nitrates.
One true concern with bacon is the high amount of sodium found in it, but this could be a good thing to some people who eat a Paleo diet without adding much salt to food and who start experiencing low blood pressure problems. For most people though, it’s wise to watch the amount of total sodium consumed. A good way to tackle it is to use much less salt or none at all in meals that include bacon, making the bacon your source of sodium for that meal.
Following is a roundup of 8 delicious bacon-centered recipes. Most of the recipes call for the basic salt and pepper seasoning, but keep in mind that much less salt will be needed then usual because of the saltiness of the bacon.
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste;
Place the beets in a pot and fill with cold water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and simmer for about 45 minutes, until the beets are tender.
Meanwhile, heat a large pan over a medium heat and cook the bacon until crisp, about 5 minutes per side.
Pat the bacon dry and crumble it.
For perfect hard boiled eggs, place the eggs in a pot with cold water and gently bring to a boil. When the water boils, cover the pot, turn off the heat and let stand for exactly 7 minutes. After 7 minutes, drain the hot water and rinse with icy cold water for a minute to stop the cooking and prevent a grey ring from forming around the yolk.
When the eggs are cool enough the handle, peel them and chop them coarsely.
Drain and rinse the beets with cold water.
When cold enough to handle, remove the skin from the beets and cut them in cubes.
Place the beet cubes in a bowl, add the other ingredients and combine well.
Season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and place in the refrigerator to chill before serving.
P.S. Be sure to check out the Paleo Recipe Book. It’s a cookbook I’ve created to help you cook the best food for your health. It contains over 370 Paleo recipes and covers absolutely everything you’ll ever need.