Butter and bacon have made their way back onto the plates of many, but did you know that pork rinds are making a comeback too?
A childhood favorite of mine was to get a bag of pork rinds from a local venue that made them fresh and crunch on them all the way home. I can still taste them, warm and crackly on my tongue…oh wait, could that be because I’m back to eating them now? The high-fat, low-carb lifestyle has forged a new path for these crispy cracklins to become a healthy snack option once again.
While the low-fat movement threw pork rinds out with the lard they were fried in, the world became obsessed with calorie-counting, processed, refined carbs, and fat-free cookies. After all, we’ve all heard that anything deep-fried in fat must be “bad for us.”
Why Pork Rinds Are Better Than You Think
As the low-fat movement has caused us to become sicker and more obese than ever, the question then turned to sugar and carbs as the culprit rather than fat. The research is out – saturated fats are actually a good thing, and foods like red meat, butter, bacon, and the beloved pork rind are beneficial to a healthy diet. Cracklins, pork rinds, chicharrons. Essentially, the skin of a pig is fried in lard and sometimes bits of the meat and fat as well. Cracklins are more of the fried fat, and pork rinds basically are the skin only.
Though they are definitely deep fat-fried, the benefits are actually true and numerous.
Check this out:
- Pork rinds are actually quite high in protein. The protein content is 9 times higher than potato chips. Generally, 7 to 8 grams of protein per serving.
- No carbs. Pork rinds will not raise blood sugar and contain no carbohydrates making them a healthy chip alternative for those with blood sugar handling problems.
- The saturated fat and adequate protein will keep you full longer since both fat and protein take longer to digest than carbs do.
- Pork rinds have also been touted as a good source of collagen, since the skin is essentially “concentrated collagen”.
Tips Before You Buy
But before you go “hog” wild on buying these guys, you should keep in mind a few tips:
- It’s best to get the pork rinds from sustainable practices and pastured hogs. Companies like epicbar.com and primalpastures.com are two companies who put out a plump pork rind and make it their mission to have sustainable care for the animals too.
- Avoid MSG (Monosodium glutamate). Many pork rinds that you find at convenient stores have extra fillers and flavor enhancers like MSG. MSG has been linked to headaches, weight gain, and even liver issues. Look instead for simple ingredients such as: pork and salt.
- They aren’t just for crunching, but for crushing too: crush them up and use them as a wonderful breading to enhance your meats and veggies. Check out the recipe below.
February is National Pork Rind month, and if you haven’t tried them or it’s been a decade or two, give them a go. Your taste buds (and waist band) may thank you.
Pork Rind Encrusted Medallions
Pastured pork rinds, crushed
Meat of your choice, sliced into thin medallion shapes
Apple cider vinegar and water
Sea salt and other of your favorite seasonings
Slice your meat of choice into medallion rounds. Then toss into a bowl of water with 2
tbsp apple cider vinegar. Marinate for 15-30 minutes and then drain, and toss into
crushed pork rind dust and seasonings. Fry medallions in bacon grease or coconut oil.
(You could also do this with strips of zucchini, yellow squash or other veggies as well.)