Tomato season started last week. Each summer, I start checking the tomato plants daily, anxiously awaiting that first home-grown, fresh tomato for a BLT. Not the 'real' BLT, rather the fake type with faux bacon.
Regardless of how people debate the ethics of vegetarianism, or the difficulties, or not, of eathing a balanced diet (in general, not difficult), the most difficult part for this convert, is comfort food. I finally figured out a reasonable replacement for braunswager, made from lentils and spices. And I've long made lentil loaf, replacing the meatloaf that my mother used to make. But BLT is not a BLT when it is just LT. I love BLTs. This is the only time that I buy white bread, because a BLT is not a BLT on whole wheat. The big challenge, is the bacon.
For years, I've used the Morningstar Bacon Strips instead of the real thing. This year I bought some Lightlife Bacon Style Strips. Comparing the two, led to this discussion topic.
What do I look for in a fake bacon-product? Since it is an occasional food, and almost a flavor-enhancer or condiment rather than a main course, I am not too worried about salt and fat content. I want it a bit greasy, a bit salty, crispy, and having that 'bacony' flavor.
I've tried using artificially-flavored bacony chips (Bacos), but they leave a lot to be desired, especially because they are sprinkled, instead of laid on top of, the tomato.
Morning Star Farms Bacon Strips-
This is my 'standard'.
They are easy to prepare. I usually microwave them, using 3 on a small plate, for 1 minute.
Each strip is 60 cal, 4.5 gm fat, 230mg sodium
They have a long list of ingredients, starting with egg whites, soybean oil, soy protein, corn starch, then many more. Obviously, they are not vegan.
The MorningStar strips are reasonably bacony, reasonably greasy (probably no where near as much as the real thing), reasonably crispy, and reasonably salty. I do add pepper before cooking. I give them a 6 out of 10 as a bacon substitute. Not perfect, but OK for this purpose. I also use them as a stand-alone side in breakfast, or in a fried egg sandwich.
Lightlife Smart Bacon-
Each strip is 20 calories, contains 1gm fat, 140 mg sodium. The ingredients start with water, soy protein isolate, wheat gluten, soybean oil, textured soy protein, and more. They are certified vegan.
I tried microwaving the Lightlife strips. The instructions actually state to fry or bake, but in the hot summer, we are trying to keep the kitchen cool. Preparing them not according to the label may not be fair, but it's how I did it anyway.
Lightlife went directly from soft and mushy to leathery. There was no crisp stage. They didn't really taste bacony, they were not greasy at all, and they were not salty.
I gave them a 3 out of 10 as a bacon substitute. In fact, I finally pulled the strips out of the BLTs, ate the sandwiches without, and fed the strips to the chickens. The hens really did like them, fighting over them, grapping strips and running away from the other hens, who chased the 'winners'. The only thing I've seen them fight over more, is spagetti.
So there you have it. Neither product is perfect. I like the MorningStar much better than the Lightlife, but my nonstardard preparation of LightLife was an issue. The chickens loved the Lightlife, but have never been give a chance at the MorningStar.
I would love to hear your opinions of these products, or especially your results with other products, or homemade fake bacon. I've seen online recipes using eggplant, mushrooms, or tofu. The look like a lot of trouble, and I'm skeptical about the result.