With an enticing aroma that can pull even the most stubborn sleepers out of bed, bacon makes burgers better, BLT’s more flavorful and brussell sprouts more palatable. Spinach and Cobb salads get a nice salt oomph from bacon bits which also happen to be the perfect crunchy topping for a hot baked potato. Seriously, what’s not to love? Unfortunately, it’s the common preservatives (nitrites) that have us turning away. You don’t have to avoid all bacon but you should up your game.
#1 – Look for “uncured” bacon products treated only with natural ingredients, such as celery or sea salt. Uncured bacon smells much better and fresher when it is cooking. It has a rich aroma that entices everyone in the house. The downside is that uncured bacon can be more expensive and must be used within a week. It’s worth it, right? You can just about bet that a platter full of bacon will soon be empty!
#2 – Be Adventurous! Here in California, we have thin or thick cut, smoked or pepper seasoned. If you haven’t tried turkey bacon, which is naturally lower in fat, go for it. It’s fabulous. If you can’t find them in your local grocery store, look for a local butcher instead. Look for naturally smoked bacon rather than those that use chemicals to create a smoky flavor. i
#3 – Support local, small farms rather than national brands. The challenge with national mass market products (and/or eating at national chain fast food restaurants) is that you have no idea where that meat came from, how it was processed, how the animals were fed, and so forth. Purchase your meat from small, local meat producers rather than factory farms. Odds are the animals will have been more compassionately raised, using better quality hay and other feed products. If in doubt? Ask the rancher! They are often happy to share and proud of their farming practices.
(1) US EPA Nitrates and Nitrites TEACH Chemical Summary – http://www.epa.gov/teach/chem_summ/Nitrates_summary.pdf
Growing up, my parents made sure that my siblings and I could cook. In fact, by the time we were in middle school, we each had responsibility for preparing one dinner a week. One of my favorite finds was in the Sunset Italian Cookbook from which this Carbonara Pasta was adapted. The original recipe called for using raw egg. I choose to use butter or olive oil instead. As to pasta, I prefer using Quinoa pasta rather than wheat based pasta to reduce bloating and gas. This recipe takes about 15 minutes to put together and creates a fabulous meal. In fact, we had it again last night which inspired this blog today!
Carbonara Pasta With Bacon & Sausage
1/2 pound MILD fresh italian sausage
4 slices uncured bacon
1 box Spaghetti (Wheat or Quinoa), hot, cooked and drained
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1/2 cup grated or shredded parmesan cheese
Salt & Pepper To Taste
Prepare and cook your spaghetti as per the instructions on the box. While the pasta is cooking, remove casing from sausage and crumble into a frying pan. Finely chop the bacon and add to sausage. Cook on medium low, stirring constantly, for about ten minutes until browned. Drain pasta and then place back into the pan you cooked the pasta in. Add the butter or margarine to the pasta and stir until the pasta is well coated. Add the cooked bacon mixture, chopped parsley and parmesan cheese. Stir until ingredients are well distributed. Serve hot, topped with more grated parmesan cheese.
Serve with a mixed green salad of your choice, hot bread and you’ve got a simple, easy meal.