Whether it’s macrobiotics, Ayurvedic practices, raw food or food combining—I love finding ways to reduce stress and increase energy. I’ll take my research and obsession with freshness and nutrient density, and turn them into approachable tips to help you prosper. Regardless if you are plant-based or not, I hope to help you reach optimal wellness with the most up-to-date information on healthy living.
Some say that “putting bacon on it” can make any meal taste good. The reality is that when eating for long term health and wellness it is important to consider what foods we are eating above and beyond how good we think they taste. The good news is that there are multiple sources of plant-based bacon (affectionately called fakon) that have a similar taste and texture to the real deal. Plant-based bacon can provide the crisp and flavorful addition to your meal, without the cholesterol, and saturated fat. One serving of bacon, about three strips, contains 162 calories, over 4 grams of saturated fat, 82 grams of sodium and 33 grams of cholesterol.
Research has shown a strong association between eating processed meats (including bacon) and increased risk of developing cardiovascular diseases and cancer. R Sabine et al. (2013) Meat consumption and mortality – results from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition. BMC Medicine. Accessed 7/13/15 from: http://www.biomedcentral.com/content/pdf/1741-7015-11-63.pdf Even small amounts of processed meats, 3.5 ounces daily (2 to 4 strips of bacon) can increase your risk of colorectal cancers by 36%.American Institute for Cancer Research. (2014) Processed meat and Cancer. Accessed on July 13th 2015 from: http://www.aicr.org/enews/2014/08-august/faq-processed-meat-and.html It is hypothesized that this is due to a combination of nitrates and nitrites added to processed meat to prevent spoilage, as well as the process of smoking the bacon, and the heme iron found in red meat. American Institute for Cancer Research. (2014) Processed meat and Cancer. Accessed on July 13th 2015 from: http://www.aicr.org/enews/2014/08-august/faq-processed-meat-and.html On to the good stuff: Adding in plant-based bacon into your diet, and reducing the amount of bacon-bacon you eat, can be good for your health—and still taste great! There are loads of options for you to choose from when satiating your bacon cravings, here are some of the best:
1. Tempeh Bacon:
I absolutely love the texture and flavor of this product especially from Lightlife. It has a meatier texture to it adding some great layers to sandwiches for plant-based BLTs. If you like it a little crispier like I do, leave it in the pan for a few extra minutes. Tofurkey also has a tempeh bacon; go all out and have a taste test to find your favorite.
2. Soy and Gluten Bacon:
If visual appeal is important to you as well, try the soy or gluten-based bacon. They look almost exactly the same as bacon from pigs and have a nice crisp texture. These tend to have less sodium than other versions. Chop these up for your next BBQ potato salad and no one will know the difference.
3. Coconut Bacon:
This is my new favorite! Coconut bacon has a perfect crispy texture and is loaded with flavor plus the health benefits of coconut. These tend to use fewer ingredients perfect for someone that prefers clean real foods and is arguably the healthiest of all the options. To make it yourself check out this homemade coconut bacon recipe.
4. Eggplant Bacon:
For those of you that know how to get it done in the kitchen try making your own eggplant bacon! There is nothing better than grilling up your own marinated, bacon-like foods to crispy perfection. Can’t wait to try these out? Here are just a few of the many ways you can incorporate plant-based bacon into your meals:
- Burgers and sandwiches: Toss it on your favorite burger or make a heart healthy BLT. Get crazy and make a BALT (bacon, avocado, lettuce, tomato)
- Donuts: You haven’t lived until you’ve experienced the salty and savory combination of a bacon donut.
- Vegetables: Don’t let your favorite side dishes get boring. Add some chopped coconut bacon to roasted veggies for that little extra something.
- Mashed or Baked Potatoes: Take these old classics to the next level. Who doesn’t love the crunchy burst of smoky flavor with their potatoes?
- Maple Bacon Smoothie: Prepare to have your mind (and taste buds) blown. This smoothie will start your day off right.
The options don’t end there. Add it to your favorite soups, dips, bruschetta, tacos, baked beans, chilli, potato salad... you get the idea.