Eating healthy in Tennessee is tough.
Everywhere you turn there is fast food, fried hot chicken, sweet and fatty barbecue and ribs, meat-and-threes… Coming from the north, where healthier food styles abound and peer pressure keeps you thin or else, moving to Nashville has been a real adjustment, and my waistline has seen the effects. (Working on it.)
As much as I, sadly, love those verboten victuals, my main Achilles heel (next to French fries, which’ll kill you) is bacon, especially the thick-sliced southern variety. My god, I love the sweet, salty, porky goodness of bacon. Just typing those words makes me crave it.
Bacon. BACON. BACON!
Care2 published an article recently that explains this lust for bacon. An excerpt:
As Pulitzer Prize winner Michael Moss talks about in his book Salt Sugar Fat, we are each born with innate food preferences. We love fatty food because it is a good source of energy. We love salty foods because our body needs salt to survive. Remember, when our food preferences were developed in evolutionary history, salt was hard to come by.
With about 3.3 grams of fat per slice and a whopping 137mg of sodium, it is no wonder that we find bacon irresistible!
The pleasure of the fat and salt is amplified even more by a chemical reaction that occurs when you heat bacon. As this infographic from Compound Chem shows, heat causes sugars in the bacon to react with the amino acids and the fats also liquefy. This results in a full array of flavors and aromas. What it all comes down to is this:
Fat + Salt + Sugar + Amino Acids + Heat = Bacon Deliciousness
So, really, it isn’t our fault. We can, however, take steps allowing us to enjoy bacon unburdened by the unhealthy business. The article presents steps in making our own delicious vegan bacon using a base (eggplant, tofu, tempeh, portabella mushrooms, carrots, or coconut chips), coconut oil, a sweetener (agave, vegan sugar, or even a wee bit of maple syrup, if you must), vinegar, and a salty substance such as soy sauce, tamari, or coconut aminos. You can even add seasonings like liquid smoke, paprika, or onion powder for more flavor to savor.
I’m telling you, a couple of strips of eggplant bacon with egg whites is quite wonderful. Perhaps it’s not exactly the same as, say, a double-smoked bacon and egg sandwich at Starbucks, but I feel dirty after eating one of those. In the end, I think the healthier option — and the feeling of satisfaction that accompanies it — is the superior choice.
Check out the Care2 piece for the eggplant bacon recipe.