Bacon lovers rejoice, you are not wrong. Bacon gets a bad rap (you knew it, right?).
Bacon can be a part of a healthy, satisfying diet if it comes from a good source. In fact, the French traditionally have had the lowest levels of cardiovascular disease, yet they eat rich foods, including bacon. This phenomenon has come to be known as the “French Paradox”.
Breakfast of Champions
Eating bacon for breakfast is like finding the fountain of youth: You won’t need to rely on processed flours and sugars to give you energy and fill you up. Plus, these carbs contribute to excessive oxidation (ageing), and give you mood swings and blood sugar issues (hangry, anyone?)
Chew on This
Bacon’s bad reputation comes from its high fat content. But fat itself isn’t necessarily bad for you, in fact the tide is changing with studies showing a direct link between dietary fat and heart disease being questioned. In fact, fat can help you eat less because it’s satiating. If you want to outlast your co-workers hungrily waiting for the lunch hour, relying on snacks or over-sweetened mocha lattes to get through the morning, try eating some bacon before work.
For a great read on how important fat is in your diet, pick up Nina Teicholz’s bestseller, The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet. Or refer to my book, The Bordeaux Kitchen: An Immersion into French Food and Wine, Inspired by Ancestral Traditions, for an in-depth look at how the French eat and live so richly. What you’ll discover is that health comes down to a whole package, and good food plays an important role.
Check Your Sources
Any food you eat should come from a good source. No matter what your dietary inclination, you should focus on eating minimally-processed foods that were grown free of synthetic pesticides, are non-GMO, and were treated with care and humanity.
Knowing your food comes from a quality source, such as a farmer you know, a specialty market in town or online, or a brand that you have researched, will help ensure you are getting what you expect.
Read the Label
When it comes to bacon, look for “sugar free” first. This will eliminate all the riffraff right off the bat. The only brands remaining will likely already be conscious of proper animal treatment, zero antibiotic use, and using healthy ingredients. Bacon (and charcuterie in general) can be salted, smoked, brined, or dried. Even if the label says “uncured” it is still “cured” [preserved] at least with salt and vinegar, and then dried (I have a recipe for this, too!).
You Get What You Pay For
The best bacon may cost a bit more per pound, and takes longer to cure than “fast-tracked” industrial bacon using nitrates and fake smoking. Remember you are paying for quality, not quantity. And the big bonus with bacon is that it satiates. A little goes a long way, unless you have an 11-year=old who eats the whole plate in one sitting.
The way I cook bacon is in the oven. It’s easy: Place bacon in baking pan. Heat. Eat. No mess on the stove, and no burning. (Whoever wakes up first in our household turns on the oven. I place the bacon strips on the tray, and by the time we are ready to eat, the bacon is finished.) So why not cozy up to a few warm strips of bacon? While you’re at it, add an egg or two, fried in enough butter to not stick to your pan, and you’ll have yourself a true breakfast of champions.
Tania Teschke is a writer and photographer who is passionate about French food and wine and is the author of The Bordeaux Kitchen,: An Immersion into French Food and Wine, Inspired by Ancestral Traditions. Tania has learned from cooks, butchers, chefs, and winemakers in France and holds a diploma in wine science and tasting from the University of Bordeaux. Tania continues to explore the deep connection the French have to their land, their cultural heritage, and to the nutritional density of their foods.