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How to Make Your Own Vegetarian “Bacon” Bits

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The Cooking Cardiologist Dr. Richard Collins shows us how to make our own vegetarian bacon bits.

This could be the year of the BACON. The bacon craze is definitely turned on in America.

Traditionally, bacon is processed pork belly loaded with salt and fat, at least 60% or more by weight. The preservative is sodium nitrite, necessary to prevent food born illnesses. The nitrites are converted into nitrosamines in the stomach, which are carcinogenic. A recent warning by the World Health Association reported a higher risk of cancer with processed meats including bacon. GI malignancies are higher in all processed meat with nitrites, even turkey bacon. There is nitrite free bacon available, but still the salt and fat is there.

There are several bacon veggie options available including Morningstar Farms, Veggie Bacon Strips; Smart Bacon by Lightlife and organic smoky tempeh strips, Fakin’ Bacon by Lightlife, but even these have a good amount of salt to create a “bacon” flavor.

Below is my recipe to make your own guiltless vegan bacon bits at home.

Ingredients:

½ cup Coconut Secret, Coconut Aminos (available at Whole Foods)

1T vegan Worcestershire sauce (available at Whole Foods)

1T smoked sweet paprika

1t Maple syrup

½ t Liquid Smoke Flavoring (available at Whole Foods)

¾ cup Grapenuts or Kashi 7 Whole Grain Nuggets

In a small bowl, combine all ingredients except the Grapenuts. Whisk to combine. Note: the sauce can be refrigerated for later use and used for coating prepared vegan bacon strips. This will add more “bacon” color and flavor to pre-purchased “fakin’ bacon”. Add the Grapenuts to the liquid ingredients. Mix evenly until all liquid is absorbed. Spread the whole grain nuggets evenly on a small baking pan. Cover with parchment and let the nuggets dry out completely, approximately 24 hours. Place in an airtight container and store for up to 2 weeks.

Makes ¾ cups of “bacon” bits.

Serving size: ½ teaspoon.

Chocolate Pomegranate Bacon Bark

Yes, you see it right...bacon in a recipe from a Cardiologist. However, bacon used discretely in a recipe can be acceptable. Several facts need to be considered. First, the bacon should be nitrite free to reduce the cancer risk. It should be the lowest fat available, lean is the ticket here. Also check the salt content, selecting the lowest salted bacon on the shelf. Three essential things need to be watched when selecting bacon: nitrite free, lowest in fat and sodium.

This bark is simple to make and it is perfect for a holiday party or as a hostess gift. Be sure to use a rich dark chocolate, at least 60% cacao. Sweet, salty and savory are the flavors created by the bacon with the pomegranate and chocolate. For those who like the heat, use peppered bacon in the recipe.

 

10 ounces bittersweet chocolate at least 60% cacao such as Ghirardelli® 60% Cacao

1/2 cup fresh pomegranate seeds (arils of approximately ½ of a whole large pomegranate) placed on a paper towel to absorb excess water. Divide equally reserving half. See recipe below.

3 strips bacon, cooked, crisp and chopped

As an option for garnish, drizzle white chocolate over the bark

 

Melt the chocolate in a wide shallow microwave safe bowl. Carefully melt the chocolate, on high in 15-30 second increments until just melted. Do not over heat. Stir in ½ of the pomegranate arils. Pour onto an 8x10 baking sheet lined with parchment paper...this is very important to “break the bark”. Spread evenly over the sheet. Sprinkle the remaining ½ cup of arils on the top, pressing them slightly into the chocolate. Sprinkle on the bacon.

Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to harden the chocolate. Break the bark into pieces. The bark will keep refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

 

Serves ten. Serving size: 1/10 of recipe, approximately 1 ounce.

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