I don’t know about you, but sometimes I get on these food jags where I make the same thing the same way for weeks and weeks and months on end and always say I’m going to mix it up but just don’t. Today’s recipe is me breaking out of my rut.

For example, I have doing roasted brussels sprouts tossed with olive oil and sea salt for ages. I used to do Mark Bittman’s Glazed & Braised Sprouts, but I found this is be a lot easier because I could just put the brussels in with whatever else I put in the oven to roast at 400. Logically, I knew I could change up the spices of the cooking fat, but I just…didn’t.

What finally shook me into action?

Bacon.

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It’s one of those foods I try to keep to one or two servings a month. Because I hate wasting food, whenever I buy a pack, I portion it out into a few smaller portions and freeze. Win-win situation because I don’t have to buy more bacon for a while, and I also don’t have to worry about rushing to eat a whole pound of it before it goes bad. Or watch it (and smell it) go bad and feel guilty about wasting money.

I love when people ask, like, “So, you’re a nutritionist. Do you eat healthy all the time? What do you eat when you want to just go nuts?”

There are two answers to this question:

1.) I have a problem with this question because to me, there truly is room for the occasional indulgent treat on an overall healthy diet, so there is no such this as just going “nuts.” Also, I’m allergic to most nuts, so there’s that.

2.) Bacon.

I’m a fan of the 80/20 diet model, where 80 percent is that great-for-you stuff (vegetables, fruit, lean proteins, yogurt, whole grains, beans, nuts, avocado, olive oil, etc), and then that other 20-percent is those “in moderation” choices. Sometimes it’s more 90/10, sometimes it’s more 75/25, but you get the idea.
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Yes, I’m aware that bacon is a Class One Carcinogen. This means that enough evidence exists to be able to make an association between high intake of processed and cured meat (like bacon) and increased risk of cancer. This is why this is a once-in-a-while food and that I skip other processed meats (and other carcinogens I have control over) to make room for it occasionally. That said, given my family’s health history, I’ve grown up knowing that it’s important just to enjoy the ride because, well, yeah.

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This super-easy recipe was inspired by a side dish I enjoyed with my mom earlier this winter at Atlantic Grill. This lightened-up version gives just a hint of that maple-and-bacon flavor without going overboard on salt, fat, or sugar. Try it with your favorite fish, tossed with whole wheat pasta, or even on a salad.

Maple Bacon Brussels Sprouts

Ingredients: 

  • 1 lb brussels sprouts, quartered
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, sunflower oil, or melted butter
  • 2 strips bacon, crumbled
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt or to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Pour brussels sprouts into a baking pan and toss with oil.
  3. Roast 30-40 minutes or until brussels sprouts are caramelized.
  4. Toss roasted sprouts with bacon and maple syrup. Season with sea salt to taste.

(Serves 4)

What’s your favorite in-moderation food? 

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