Turkey Bacon Versus Pork - Is Turkey Bacon Better?
Culinary Basics - Cooking with Turkey Bacon versus Pork
One standard culinary basic ingredient for cooking is bacon. Whether it is some form of BLT sandwich or several slices of bacon used in a chowder, or wrapped around shrimp as an appetizer, it is important to know the facts about this ingredient.
Like so many nutrition facts out there, the ‘facts’ are actually a little misleading. Unless you are really on your toes, you may be tricked into thinking that one is not so good for you and the other is better for you.
There has been a lot of controversy over bacon.
I think the most important fact is that regardless of the calories, regardless of the fat, and regardless of the sodium, bacon cured with nitrites and nitrates have been shown to increase the possibility of pancreatic cancer by 67%! That is staggering.
These additives have also been shown to potentially enhance or cause the presence of brain tumors in children when their pregnant mothers consumed products with nitrates and nitrites on a fairly regular basis.
All that said, it is probably not wise to have a diet where your main protein ingredient is pork or other meats treated with nitrites or nitrates! Why do they add these things anyway? Strictly for the color – to make it appear more 'natural'.
The additives aside, the other really bad thing about bacon, turkey or pork, is that most brands are absolutely loaded with sodium. Many manufacturers, however, have noticed the decline in sales and have stepped up to create a healthier ingredient for us to choose from, so always try to choose low sodium or reduced sodium bacon, hot dogs, or kielbasas.
Even those of us who are watching our diets and trying to be good about fat, carbs, and sodium probably every once in a while want to have a hot dog at the ballpark, or do a sausage chowder, or go out for breakfast and have some bacon.
It is probably best to reserve bacon ‘cravings’ for at home though where you know what is in the bacon. Especially if you tend to eat a lot of bacon and eggs for instance when you go out. If you only eat these things occasionally though, the risk is minimal.
If you are using bacon as an ingredient for other recipes or even the occasional BLT, it is important to note that portion size is a murky area that manufacturers are using to confuse us, the ever-confused consumer.
While traditional pork bacon actually has the serving size listed on its packages as 2 slices per serving, the clever folks that make turkey bacon seem to think that we cannot add 1+1. Their serving size is always listed as 1 slice. In so doing, it makes it appear that their product is FAR less in calories, fat, and sodium.
Sometimes it is easiest to compare the ingredients side by side in the store before purchasing. In looking from one to the other, bear in mind that the serving size has to be the exact same or the comparison is all wrong.
Look for those low sodium or sodium reduced packaged meats and even check out ‘health food’ sections in your supermarket. These products generally will always have no nitrates or nitrites and reduced sodium offerings.
However, on a recent trip to the market, in the regular bacon section, I found that Hormel had a no nitrate, no nitrite bacon. It was very reasonable in price and way lower in sodium.
Some manufacturing pioneers have actually tried to reduce the fat, sodium and calories because they've figured out that we consumers are trying to be healthier overall. Some of these products are Healthy Choice and Oscar Mayer. The good news is that the products actually DO taste good.
I have tried turkey bacon and it is very good. The only thing I did not like about using this as an ingredient in my recipes was that it doesn’t ‘cook like bacon’. It just kind of lies in the pan and turns pinker than it started out. It also looks ‘fake’ to me.
However, I have to say that there was relatively zero grease and after letting it sit for a few minutes, on tasting it – it really tasted just like bacon – with the exception that this product is extremely sodium-laden. That was my only ‘beef’ with turkey bacon. They pretty much killed the idea for me with all that sodium.
From Nutrition Action, their awards for the ‘best bites’ went to the following (for overall taste, fat content, sodium content, etc)
- Louis Rich Turkey Bacon
- Oscar Mayer Pork Bacon - both equally won
- Healthy Choice Beef Franks
- Empire Kosher Turkey Franks
- Ball Park Fat Free Franks or Fat Free Beef Franks
- Oscar Mayer Free Hot Dogs
- Hebrew National 97% Fat Free Beef Franks for kosher fans
- Healthy Choice
- Jimmy Dean 97% Fat Free Breakfast Sausages
- Wampler Foods Hot Italian Turkey Sausage
- Shady Brook Farms Turkey Breakfast Sausage and Italian Turkey Sausage
- Bilinski’s Chicken Sausages
- Yorkshire Farms
- Eckrich, Louis Rich, and Mr. Turkey polish kielbasas
SUMMING IT UP
For more detailed info on fat content, sodium, etc. see the individual packages.
In short, eating bacon or hot dogs and sausage once in a while won’t kill any of us – but knowing what you are eating is paramount to a healthy diet. You can add bacon (or sausage, etc) to your culinary basic ingredient package – just check out the facts before you buy.
Also keep in mind that turkey bacon, though is a viable ingredient perhaps in a BLT sandwich, in another recipe, it will not perform the same as a true slice of bacon.
Part of culinary basics when it comes to cooking ingredients is knowing your ingredients and what works for what purpose. I think there is a place for both bacons in the culinary scheme of things although I for one want more low-sodium, additive-free products!
Read More Here on Best Bites and Bacon
- Lower-Fat Hot Dogs, Bacon, & Sausage: The Best of the Wurst
- Turkey bacon vs pork bacon, the truth! | SuperJason\'s Personal Blog
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