Can Bacon Be HEALTHY?

Everybody loves bacon. Bacon makes everything better! My husband says you can wrap anything in bacon and he’d eat it. Well… maybe that part shouldn’t count because he’d eat anything for a dollar. But I think most people would agree that bacon is awesome. I also think people agree that it is not an ingredient on the healthy foods list. Dieters are not on THE BACON DIET trying to lose weight. (I WISH there was a bacon diet that made you skinny!)

There are the low carb diets that suggest that bacon could be on the “ok, but not great” food list. It is high in protein, sure. But what about ALL OF THAT FAT?! The stats say that in TWO slices of streaky bacon there are 104 calories with 80 coming from fat. Those are NOT healthy stats. Unless you’re talking about CANADIAN bacon. That’s right, I’m talking about the hammy, meaty goodness that is found in familiar breakfast dishes such as Eggs Benedict (one of my absolute FAVORITE breakfast options).

PictureCanadian bacon stats look VERY different from the standard streaky bacon that comes from pork belly. Two slices have 89 calories with 36 coming from fat. That’s a BIG difference people! You may be saying “yeah, but it’s not BACON.” And you partially right and partially wrong. It is still from a pig (the pork loin or it is also called back bacon) and it is usually smoked or brined. The flavor profiles are VERY similar. And they can both be used interchangeably.

When I’m out of streaky bacon I go directly to Canadian bacon. I also use Canadian bacon in place of prosciutto, pancetta or ham. It is leaner and less expensive than prosciutto or pancetta. Not to mention a whole lot easier to find in your local grocery store. Think about it. All the flavor of bacon with nearly HALF the calories and fat. It’s almost swimsuit season… Or have you already given up on that resolution?

Don’t believe me? Try it and see what you think.

Here are some recipes to try using Canadian bacon. You won’t be disappointed!


White Bean and Halibut Stew

You’re probably saying “fish stew, iew…” but this is a really nice, non-fishy soup that is light and satisfying all at once. The bacon ads a nice smokiness and flavor.

Yield: Makes 4 servings


4 slices Canadian bacon, chopped
1 cup sliced shallots
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
6 garlic cloves, chopped
1 14 1/2-ounce can petite diced tomatoes in juice
1 8-ounce bottle clam juice
1/3 cup dry white wine
1/2 teaspoon (scant) saffron threads
2 15-ounce cans small white beans, drained
1 1/2 pounds halibut fillets, cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks


Sauté bacon and shallots in large pot over medium-high heat until bacon is crisp, about 7 minutes. Add olive oil and garlic; stir 1 minute. Add tomatoes with juice, clam juice, wine, and saffron; bring to boil. Reduce heat; simmer 5 minutes. Add beans and fish; bring to simmer. Cover; simmer until fish is just opaque in center, about 5 minutes. Season stew to taste with salt and pepper.

Nutritional Information:

Per serving: 517.88 calories; 18.90 g fat (3.05 g saturated); 76.71 mg cholesterol; 35.49 g carbohydrates; 9.81 g fiber; 59.06 g protein

Nutritional analysis provided by Bon Appétit


Photograph by Misha Gravenor

Egg-Topped Soba Noodles with Asparagus and Prosciutto
Recipe by  Marlena Spieler

Soba—the Japanese name for noodles made with a blend of buckwheat and wheat flour—gets an egg on top in this delicious weeknight dish. I like to top this with garlic chili sauce for added heat.

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1 3-ounce package thinly sliced prosciutto or 6 slices Canadian bacon, cut into strips
4 large eggs
1/2 9.5-ounce package thin soba noodles
1/2 pound asparagus, ends trimmed, cut on sharp diagonal into 1/8-inch-thick slices
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese plus additional cheese shavings

Heat 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic; stir 30 seconds. Add prosciutto or bacon strips; cook until slightly crisp. Remove from heat. Set aside.

Heat 1 teaspoon oil in each of 2 nonstick skillets over medium heat. Crack 4 eggs into each skillet. Cook on 1 side until eggs begin to set, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Cover; set aside.

Cook soba noodles in large pot of boiling salted water 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add sliced asparagus to pot; cook until noodles are cooked through and asparagus is just tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Drain noodles and asparagus, reserving 1 cup cooking liquid.

Add drained noodles and asparagus to prosciutto mixture in skillet. Cook over medium heat until heated through, tossing and adding reserved cooking liquid by 1/4 cupfuls to moisten.

Remove skillet from heat. Add grated Parmesan cheese and remaining 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon olive oil and toss to coat. Divide among 4 plates. Top each serving with 1 egg and cheese shavings. Serve immediately.

Yield: Makes 4 servings

Nutritional Information
One serving with prosciutto contains the following:
Calories (kcal) 335.8, %Calories from Fat 45.9, Fat (g) 17.1, Saturated Fat (g) 4.7, Cholesterol (mg) 204.0, Carbohydrates (g) 28.0, Dietary Fiber (g) 2.6, Total Sugars (g) 2.1, Net Carbs (g) 25.4, Protein (g) 18.9

Picture‘Wichcraft’s Roasted Turkey, Avocado, Bacon, Onion Relish, & Aïoli on Ciabatta
Tom Colicchio – ‘Wichcraft

Epicurious asked chef Tom Colicchio for this recipe from ‘Wichcraft, the sandwich shop in his growing collection of Craft restaurants.  If you’d like to slim this sandwich down, use Canadian bacon. But I’m thinking this was made for crunchy streaky bacon. You decide.

For onion relish
2 yellow onions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup red-wine vinegar
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar

For aïoli
1 cup Hellman’s Mayonnaise
1/2 clove garlic, minced (about 1/2 teaspoon)
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon pepperoncini or cayenne pepper

For sandwiches
1 pound roasted turkey breast, sliced (use your thanksgiving leftovers!)
4 ciabatta rolls
12 slices streaky bacon or 8 slices of Canadian bacon
1 avocado, halved, pitted, peeled, and thinly sliced

Make onion relish:
In heavy medium pot, combine onions and enough water to cover and bring to boil, then strain. Return onions to pot and add sugar, red wine vinegar, and balsamic vinegar. Place over moderate heat and bring to simmer. Reduce heat to low, and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until onions are completely tender and have no bite left, about one and a half hours. (The liquid should be syrupy and coat the onions.) Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.

Make aïoli:
In food processor or blender, purée yolk, garlic, mustard, and vinegar until smooth and creamy, 1 to 2 minutes. Combine oils, then, with motor running, slowly drizzle into processor until completely emulsified, about 2 minutes. (If aïoli gets too thick, add a small amount of warm water, 1 teaspoon at a time.) Sprinkle in salt, pepper, and pepperoncini, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until ready to use.

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Cook bacon:

In large, heavy skillet over moderate heat, cook bacon in batches, turning occasionally, until crisp, then transfer with tongs to paper towel–lined plate to drain. Set aside.

Assemble sandwiches:
Slice each ciabatta in half and place on large baking sheet. Place 4 ounces turkey on each of four ciabatta bottoms, then spread onion relish over meat. Lay 3 slices bacon on each of 4 ciabatta tops. Transfer baking sheet to oven and toast until bacon is crispy and edges of ciabatta turn light golden brown, about 5 minutes (the turkey does not have to get hot). Remove from oven and transfer bacon to other side of ciabatta, laying on top of onion relish. Divide avocado slices between sandwiches, placing on top of bacon. Spread aïoli evenly across each ciabatta top, close sandwiches, slice each in half, and serve.

Yield: Makes 4 sandwiches.

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2 Responses to Can Bacon Be HEALTHY?

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