A review of Beyond Bacon

Book Reviews,New Cookbook

If you’re into cooking real, fresh, whole foods, and you like or love pork, you’ll want to check out Beyond Bacon: Paleo Recipes That Respect The Whole Hog by Stacy Toth and Matthew McCarry (Victory Belt Publishing 2013).

Stacy and Matt, author’s of Eat Like a Dinosaur, a family-friendly paleo cookbook aimed at children and their parents, have created a cookbook that is beautiful enough to grace any coffee table and practical enough to guide both newbies and experienced cooks in the purchase and preparation of every part of the pig, not just the most popular parts (bacon and chops).

The book arose out of the authors’ evolutionary journey to better health. Matt, Stacy, and their three children had a long list of health problems, from skin rashes, eczema and asthma to pet allergies, joint pain, depression and fatigue, and from high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels to sleep disorders and chronic heartburn. Additionally, they were all obese. By adopting a paleo lifestyle, limiting their diet to vegetables, fruits, nuts, eggs, healthy fats, and meats of the highest quality, avoiding all grains and dairy products, and whenever possible, choosing fresh, organic, and locally grown foods, their health improved almost overnight! All of their health issues resolved. Stacy and Matt lost a combined 200 pounds. Their cholesterol and triglyceride levels went down along with their blood pressure. Their HDLs went up, all while increasing their saturated fat and cholesterol intake. Their children all crept back into the normal height and weight range for their ages too.

6a00e552ad01da8834019104a6c397970c-300wiThe couple started buying vegetables and fruits from local farmers and meat from animals raised on pasture. They fell in love with pastured pigs and the deliciousness of their meat and fat and learned how to use every part of the pig, just as people used to do before food processors sold us on fast food, packaged food, and the benefits of refined, polyunsaturated vegetable oils.

Beyond Bacon is a love letter to pork. It not only encourages readers to find a source of pastured pork, it also educates us about the history of pig cultivation, the science of pork and saturated fat and the temperature we should cook it to for safety. It answers to common concerns about the whether pork is or is not a healthy food and then teaches us how to make lard, stock, sausages, cured meats, soups and stews, braised and roasted dishes, veggies and sides, sauces and dressings, and even sweet things that utilize pork or pork fat.

You’ll find more than 100 gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free takes on classic American and international dishes in this gorgeous cookbook. The mouthwatering food photos will whet your appetite (if you’re not a vegetarian!). I made the Licorice Sausages (page 80) twice over a two month period using organic pork from Whole Foods, once as shaped patties and once as loose ground sausage to top a caramelized onion and olive topped grain-free (Chebe-based) Focaccia. I also made the Cracklin Pork Belly (p. 136) using a locally grown pork belly. I replaced the chili powder with smoked paprika at the time, to suit taste buds that couldn’t tolerate spicy food. Both recipes froze and reheated well.

As a result of reading this book, I plan to reconnect with local farmers who raise pigs on pasture and try more of the recipes from Beyond Bacon. I’ll post one of the recipes that I made and the photo soon.

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