Bacon is pretty awesome. So today, we're celebrating it with an ULTIMATE CHEWDOWN -- answering your burning questions about bacon (but none about burning bacon), yapping about our favorite bacon fixes, and hooking you up with a slew of GREAT recipes that are bursting with bacon...
What are imitation bacon bits made of? Anything else I should know about them?
Fake bacon pieces are typically made from textured vegetable protein, a.k.a. soy, and they're usually low in fat and calories. You can pig out (sorry!) on 1 1/2 tbsp. of Bac-Os for just 30 calories and 1.5g fat. Sadly, the flavor is just NOTHING compared to the real thing. And the texture is a little TOO crunchy for us. If you're a meat eater, we suggest going with precooked real crumbled bacon, like the kinds by Oscar Mayer and Hormel. A tablespoon of either has 25 calories and 1.5g fat. Whether you go for bacon-flavored bits or actual bits of bacon, a serving goes a LONG way!
What's the deal with center-cut bacon?
HERE's the deal: Center-cut bacon is sliced close to the bone, so it's less fatty than the standard stuff. In fact, it has around 25 percent less fat and calories than regular bacon! A slice of center-cut averages 30 calories and 2.5g fat. It's basically your best bacon bet if you crave the real thing. Just pay attention to the labels: If the slices are pretty thick or somewhat thin, those stats can vary.
Is regular turkey bacon worth the extra calories, or is the extra-lean kind the way to go?
Truth be told, we used to call for extra-lean turkey bacon -- like the type by Jennie-O -- almost exclusively. With only 20 calories and 0.5g fat per slice, it's a total calorie bargain. But sometimes you need a little more bacon intensity. With about 35 calories and 2.5g fat per slice, your basic turkey bacon is a pretty great option; and the taste and texture are really good!
Are there any meat-free bacon fixes other than imitation bacon bits?
If you're looking for something in traditional strip form, there are a few meatless varieties. MorningStar Farms' Veggie Bacon Strips each have 30 calories and 2.25g fat -- find those in the freezer aisle. Over in the refrigerated section, you'll find Lightlife's Smart Bacon, with 20 calories and 1g fat per slice. Just don't expect the faux strips to taste exactly like the real thing. But for delicious bacon FLAVOR, you might want to try out Bacon Salt, Bacon Pop (that's popcorn that tastes like bacon, not bacon soda!), or any of the other crazy products from J&D's. We're sure it's hard getting by without the real thing, but these items should make it a little easier!
The Bountiful Bacon Roundup
Whether you like your bacon in tiny pieces or long flowing strips, we've got you covered...