Have you ever wondered where turkey bacon comes from?
Is it really a healthier alternative to traditional pork bacon?
In this article, we’ll explore the origins of turkey bacon and how it differs from its pork counterpart.
We’ll also take a closer look at the nutrition content and health benefits (or lack thereof) of this popular breakfast meat.
So sit back, grab a cup of coffee, and let’s dive into the world of turkey bacon.
Where Does Turkey Bacon Come From?
As the name suggests, turkey bacon is made from turkey meat. The process of making turkey bacon involves chopping or grinding turkey meat and adding seasonings and preservatives. The mixture is then pressed into bacon-like strips, which can be cooked in the same way as traditional pork bacon.
Unlike pork bacon, which comes from the fatty area of the pork belly, turkey bacon can be made using a mix of chopped up light and dark turkey meat, as well as the skin. Some manufacturers may even add pork fat to improve the flavor and texture, since turkey can be a bit dry. Other brands incorporate liquid smoke for flavor, or the meat might actually be smoked, to increase the complexity of the taste.
It’s worth noting that not all turkey bacon is created equal. Some brands may use only 100% turkey breast, while others may use a combination of different parts of the bird. Additionally, some brands may add more preservatives and artificial ingredients than others.
The History Of Turkey Bacon
The origins of turkey bacon can be traced back to the early 1990s when it became popular as a lower fat alternative to pork bacon during the low-fat craze. However, the idea of creating a bacon substitute has been around for much longer. In the 1930s, “beef frye” was invented as a kosher substitute for pork bacon, allowing Jews to enjoy a classic American breakfast without breaking any dietary laws.
In the 1970s, as vegetarianism became more popular and concerns about the health effects of red meat grew, mock-meat and soy products hit the market. Turkey bacon, which had been around since the 1980s, joined this trend and became a mainstream alternative to traditional pork bacon.
Turkey bacon is not only a healthier option but also suitable for people who do not eat pork for religious or dietary reasons. Muslims consider pork haram (not halal), while Jews consider it treyf (not kosher). For example, when Beautiful Brands International signed a deal with a Saudi Arabian firm to open Camille’s Sidewalk Cafe locations in the Middle East, they had to substitute pork bacon with halal turkey bacon in their recipes because Islamic customs forbid consumption of pork and non-halal meat.
However, while turkey bacon may be a healthier alternative to pork bacon, it is worth noting that it is not necessarily much better. Dietitian Laura Jeffers points out that turkey bacon gives the illusion of being a healthy option while, in fact, it may contain preservatives and artificial ingredients. Additionally, turkey bacon cannot be used in recipes that require the higher fat content of pork bacon, such as grilling.
How Is Turkey Bacon Made?
Turkey bacon is typically made by extruding two types of emulsions, both containing turkey meat. One type of emulsion is darker in color than the other, which results in a light and dark product that resembles the appearance of pork bacon. However, historically, turkey bacon has been somewhat dry and does not have the flavor, appearance, or texture similar to pork bacon. These products tend to be more rubbery than pork bacon, which has led to reluctance in using such bacon alternatives.
At True Bites, they make their turkey bacon by hand using only 100% turkey breast. The process begins by taking a whole turkey breast and removing all bones and excess fat. The meat is then rubbed with curing salt, the same ingredients used to make premium dry-cured back bacon. The breast is then packed and placed in the fridge to allow the meat to cure, which can take up to one week. To ensure an even cure throughout the meat, they turn the breast over every day. After one week, they unpack the turkey breast, which is now turkey bacon, slice it into rashers and pack it into retail packs ready for customers to enjoy.
Nutritional Comparison: Turkey Bacon Vs. Pork Bacon
When it comes to comparing the nutritional value of turkey bacon and pork bacon, there are some similarities and differences. Both types of bacon are high in protein, with each 2-ounce serving providing roughly the same amount – 20 grams for pork bacon and 17 grams for turkey bacon. However, turkey bacon contains fewer calories than pork bacon, with 218 calories per serving compared to pork’s 268 calories.
The most significant difference between the two is the fat content. Turkey bacon is leaner, with only 14 grams of fat per serving, while pork bacon contains 22 grams of fat. However, it’s important to note that turkey bacon still has a high level of saturated fat, with 4 grams per serving compared to pork’s 8 grams. High saturated fat intake is linked to an increased risk of heart disease.
Another area where turkey bacon falls short is sodium content. Two ounces of turkey bacon contain over 1,900 milligrams of sodium, while the same amount of pork bacon has roughly 1,300 milligrams. The American Heart Association recommends consuming no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day for optimal heart health, with an even lower limit of 1,500 milligrams for some individuals.
In terms of vitamins and minerals, both types of bacon contain vitamin B complex nutrients and zinc. Pork bacon has slightly more vitamin B and also contains more selenium, a mineral that may help prevent cancer.
Health Benefits And Risks Of Eating Turkey Bacon
When it comes to the health benefits and risks of eating turkey bacon, there are a few things to consider. On one hand, turkey bacon has fewer calories and less fat than traditional pork bacon, making it a good option for those on special diets or who can’t eat pork. However, it’s important to note that turkey bacon is still a processed meat and may contain preservatives that have been linked to an increased risk of cancer.
One of the benefits of turkey bacon is that it contains slightly less saturated fat than pork bacon. Saturated fat is considered the “bad” fat for your diet, as it can increase your risk of heart disease. However, turkey bacon still contains 4 grams of saturated fat per serving, which should be consumed in moderation. Additionally, turkey bacon is still high in sodium, with two ounces containing 1,900 milligrams of sodium, which is more than the recommended daily intake of 1,500 milligrams.
On the other hand, turkey bacon does offer some nutritional benefits. Each two-ounce serving of turkey bacon contains 17 grams of protein, which is only slightly less than the 20 grams found in pork bacon. Turkey bacon also contains zinc and B-complex vitamins, which are important for overall health.
It’s important to remember that just because something is marketed as a healthier alternative doesn’t mean it should be consumed in large quantities. Experts recommend limiting all types of bacon to one serving or less per week in your diet. If you do choose to eat turkey bacon, look for brands with fewer preservatives and artificial ingredients and try to balance it with nutrient-rich foods like whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
Cooking With Turkey Bacon: Tips And Recipes
If you’re looking for a healthier alternative to traditional pork bacon, turkey bacon can be a great option. Here are some tips and recipes to help you get the most out of your turkey bacon:
1. Cook it on the stovetop: While turkey bacon can be cooked in the oven, it’s best to fry it on the stovetop to get that crispy texture. Use a non-stick skillet and a little bit of oil to prevent sticking.
2. Add flavor: Turkey bacon can be a bit bland on its own, so try adding some seasoning to enhance the flavor. Black pepper, garlic powder, and paprika are all great options.
3. Make a breakfast sandwich: Turkey bacon is perfect for breakfast sandwiches. Toast an English muffin and add a slice of cheese, a fried egg, and some avocado for a delicious and healthy breakfast.
4. Use it in salads: Crumble up some turkey bacon and add it to your favorite salad for a protein boost.
5. Make a BLT: Swap out traditional pork bacon for turkey bacon in your BLT sandwich for a healthier version of this classic dish.
6. Maple Glazed Turkey Bacon: For a sweet and savory twist on turkey bacon, try glazing it with maple syrup, brown sugar, and black pepper before baking it in the oven. The result is a mouthwatering treat that’s sure to impress.
7. Turkey Bacon Wrapped Asparagus: Wrap asparagus spears with turkey bacon and bake until crispy for an easy and delicious side dish.
Remember, when cooking with turkey bacon, it’s important to keep an eye on it as it can burn quickly. With these tips and recipes, you’ll be able to enjoy the delicious taste of bacon without all the added fat and calories.