Happy Heart Health Month everyone!
This February, let’s take the time to take care of ourselves, whether that means exercising more, sleeping in a bit, meditating a few mornings a week, or eating bacon.
Yeah, I said bacon. SALT-FREE BACON. That you make, on your own, with fresh ingredients and spices. In an hour or so. In your own kitchen.
I grew up on bacon. Bacon for breakfast, bacon in sandwiches. Bacon. Bacon. Bacon. I love bacon. But when it comes to heart health, bacon does not often love you back. High in calories, fat, and yes, sodium, bacon often ends up on the “do not eat list.” But fear not. Just like the other high-sodium food challenges, there are solutions. There are fun low-so swaps (which we will get to). And there is also a real, DIY bacon recipe. Right here. Right now. (And in my new book, 2016).
Now, you may be thinking, how can you celebrate health with bacon (even if it is homemade)?
Well, first of all, eating well starts with eating a balanced diet–so this salt-free bacon is meant to be a treat, eaten once in a while, and not every single day. But the real reason I give you this slice of sizzle for Heart Health Month is to inspire you. To prove that you can remake any favorite high-sodium food, at home, with fresh ingredients, without salt. It’s about owning your diet. And figuring out how to make it work for you.
Think of salt-free bacon as a metaphor for taking control of your health, back into your own kitchen and your own two hands. Then pair that metaphor with an egg and put it in between two slices of low-so bread for a crispy metaphor breakfast sandwich.
And if salt-free bacon isn’t for you (for health or dietary reason), don’t worry about that either. Because there are plenty of other ways to make bacon, without the meat. Like mushroom bacon. Coconut bacon bits. And, if you’re craving a slab of Canadian, swap in a slice of spiced sweet potato (recipe in Sodium Girl’s Limitless Low-Sodium Cookbook–which makes a GREAT VALENTINE’S DAY PRESENT, just saying).
So there you have it. The first low-so solution for our month of tackling all things bacon, cured meat, and sausage. Without salt. Remember to tag your own adventures on Facebook and Instagram with the hashtag #lowsogood. And if you’ve found another way to fake bacon without the sodium and salt, share in the comments below.
SALT-FREE LOW-SODIUM SMOKY BACON
care of my sis-in-law, Cristina Foung of toastiterecipes.com
- 1 lb pork belly, sliced 1/8th-inch thin if butcher is willing or sliced in strips with very sharp knife, no more than 1/4 inch thick
- 2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons maple syrup
- Optional: 4 teaspoons liquid smoke (or add a pinch of salt-free hickory smoke powder or extra smoked paprika to the rub). We used Cedar House Ultra Premium Natural Hickory Liquid Smoke
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
To prepare the pork belly
If you can purchase pre-sliced pork belly, that’s the easiest method. But if you can only buy a slab of pork belly, slice it as thin as possible with a sharp knife. You can also partially freeze the slab to make slicing easier.
Either way though, both the uncut and pre-sliced pork belly still have skin on them. So use shears (or a very sharp knife) to remove just this top, thick layer of skin.
To make the bacon
Preheat oven to 200dg F.
Cover two baking pans with tin foil and then place wire cooling racks (cookie sheets) on top. Place the prepared strips of pork belly on the cooling racks, careful to not over crowd (you’ll probably use two or three baking pans).
Mix liquid smoke and maple syrup together in a small bowl. Note: if you’re leaving out the liquid smoke, just put the maple syrup in a bowl. In a separate bowl, mix the dry spices.
Then, use a pastry brush to coat both sides of the pork belly strips with the maple syrup mixture. Sprinkle the spices on just one side of pork belly strips. And then throw those pork belly strips into the oven for 1 hour.
Meanwhile, cover a plate with a paper towel and set aside.
When the pork has cooked, remove the pans from the oven. Then, use a large sauté pan or a cast iron skillet to fry a few bacon strips at a time over medium-high heat until crispy spots begin to show, about 2 minutes each side. Use chopsticks to remove the twice-cooked bacon from skillet and place on the paper towel-lined plate. Continue until all the bacon is fried.
+Sodium Count: Pork belly, raw: 145mg sodium per 1lb