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Is bacon a slab of fat or a healthy snack?

Could bacon be the next hot health craze? I doubt it.

But there are those who tout its benefits as a good-for-you indulgence.

Dr. John Salerno, for one, believes bacon is one of the healthiest foods you can eat. Of course, he's also a protege of Dr. Robert Atkins (gasp), creator of the once-hot "eat all the bacon you want but don't dare touch a slice o' bread" Atkins Diet.

"Many think of bacon as one of the guiltiest pleasures possible, but it has also been shown to alleviate the effects of diabetes, heart disease and strokes," says Salerno, author of "The Silver Cloud Diet."

"Nitrate-free bacon is an excellent source of high-protein, low-carbohydrate energy that helps to reset the metabolism," he continues, "and it's filled with amino acids delivered without the risk of dangerous levels of mercury, which can be found in many fish."

Need more reasons to praise the pig?

* Bacon has a 4-to-1 ratio of protein to fat.

* It contains choline, which boosts memory and healthy brain function.

* It's composed of monounsaturated fats, the kind that contains lots of healthy fat-soluble vitamins and minerals.

* And it's a potent source of oleic acid and saturated fats, which help reduce levels of low- density lipoprotein (LDL), lower triglycerides and raise HDL, commonly referred to as the "good" type of cholesterol.

I do love the stuff and will continue to chomp down on more than my fair share. But let's not kid ourselves about its debatable health benefits.

Wheatgrass, it's not.

Of course, man cannot live on wheatgrass alone, which is why the occasional slab of bacon is such a joy.

Everything in moderation.

So when you're ready to moderate, here are a few fine bacon-blessed treats you might want to try these:

* Wrap a slice of bacon around your favorite items when grilling. Chicken or a nice filet, of course, but also around asparagus, scallops, even some grilled fruits.

* Bling up a traditional BLT with creole mayo, sliced avocado or spicy pickles.

* For an incredible appetizer, wrap bacon around a feta stuffed fig or a chunk of apricot rolled in brown sugar. Bake until the bacon is cooked through.

* Three words: bacon cinnamon rolls. Unroll cinnamon buns from a refrigerated canned dough and roll them back up with a cooked slice of crisp bacon inside. Bake per package directions.

* Two more words: bacon candy! Spread sliced bacon across a slotted baking pan and sprinkle with brown sugar, cinnamon and a touch of maple syrup, then bake at 375 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes. Best bacon ever.

***

Bacon also played a supporting role in a great appetizer idea a neighbor recently shared. Actually, she didn't just give me a recipe but also brought over all the ingredients I needed to make it.

What a gal!

Her Cheesy Stuffed Peppers featured an assortment of red, orange and yellow peppers filled with a mixture of cream cheese, sauteed onions, garlic and bacon, then baked until warm and gooey inside.

The results were so good, I'm sharing Naomi's recipe this week. But like me, she didn't really measure anything so just adjust all amounts to taste.

Contact writer Steven Keith at dailymailfoodguy@aol.com or 304-348-1721. You can also follow him on Facebook and Pinterest as "DailyMail FoodGuy," on Twitter as "DMFoodGuy" or read his blog at http://blogs.dailymail.com/foodguy.


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