Tuesday, April 19, 2011
So, yeah, you probably don't see the words "healthy" and "bacon" on the same page very often. But the fact is, most people really like bacon, so who am I to say that in order to eat healthily you can never have bacon again?!! The good news is that it's easy to get real pork bacon that you don't have to feel too guilty about, especially as a small part of a diet full of veggies, fruits, and whole grains. I know it's hard, but do try to remember that there is no bacon group in the food pyramid!
Most grocery store bacon is full of chemicals that companies use to make their bacon taste like real smoked bacon, and potentially dangerous nitrates as preservatives. But you can easily get real, old-fashioned bacon which, although high in fat, has some very important things going for it--it's delicious, and it's real food. As I talked about with the cakes and pies, if it's real food and not a bunch of chemicals put together in a lab by some huge corporation, it works, in moderation.
Look for pasture-raised, nitrate-free bacon, preferably from heritage breed pigs, and preferably from a local farmer. There are tools to help you find local farmers at various websites, such as eatwild.com and eatwellguide.org. If it's pasture-raised and nitrate-free, don't get too hung up if the farmer doesn't call it organic. There are fees to be paid for that label, and many farmers adhere to the standards even if they don't pay the fee that allows them to use the label. If you can't find a farmer, many grocery stores carry such brands as Organic Prairie that are also very good. And if all else fails, it is actually possible to mail order your bacon from various websites, including Organic Prairie.
To prepare your bacon the easiest fuss-free way possible, skip the frying pan and get out a sheet pan and some parchment paper. You can preheat your oven to 400 F., but if it's not all the way preheated by the time you have your bacon ready to go, don't stress about it, it's fine to put it in. Line your sheet pans with parchment, lay the strips of bacon out on the sheets, and put them in the oven until the bacon is done to your liking, generally around 15-20 minutes. I like mine really crisp and it takes about 20 minutes. So simple, and you don't have bacon splatters all over your kitchen!
Note: If you like that packaged precooked bacon, that's no problem either! First, cook your bacon as above and let it cool. Then place your strips on a clean sheet pan and pop it in the freezer so you'll have individually frozen strips. The batch of bacon can then be wrapped in a freezer bag or put into a container and stored in the freezer for later use. If for any reason you don't want to individually freeze the strips first, you can wrap the batch, but separate the strips with waxed paper. And there you have it, bacon, ready to go, any time you want!
Oh, and these pics are mine, not Ricky's, so that's why they're not pro quality! :-)