November 13, 2009

The best bread substitute -- huge honking pork rinds

Whether you're gluten-intolerant or following a low-carb diet in general, you occasionally want something like toast, bagels, etc., to pile your egg salad on top of, to provide a sturdy base for a stack of lunchmeat and cheese, and so on. Most options are made from grains and seeds, and the human digestive system isn't designed for grains, and neither is that of any of our primate relatives.

Today I found the perfect substitute -- pork rinds the size of pizza slices. Usually the fat is cut into pieces similar in size to chips, but Guerrero makes some called "chicharrones gourmet" where they've thrown an entire canvas of pork fat into the deep fryer.

Tonight I made low-carb pizza with them, and it tasted better than any other homemade pizza I've ever made. They're not flat, so you have to break off some of the curled areas, but you still get a pretty big piece to work with. Around the edges they were very crisp, like thin-crust pizza, and toward the center the tomatoes and olive oil had softened them somewhat, making them slightly pliable like doughy pizza slices. The real difference, though, was not tasting a bunch of flour. Pork-flavored pizza crust -- hard to beat it.

I also made some salmon salad, and the curly pieces I'd broken off of the big ones worked great as a cracker substitute. Ditto for carrying the side of liverwurst that I had. And again, pork crackers taste better than grain and seed crackers.

If it's more of a chip snack that you're looking for, Guerrero also makes something called "chicharrones de cerdo," where the skin is left attached to the fat before deep frying. They're very crunchy and taste much richer than the skinless type -- no surprise there.

I'm not sure how widely available these Guerrero products are, since they seem to be targeted at Hispanics, but they're definitely worth looking for.

7 comments:

  1. Oh God, I love freshly fried pork rinds. Very few places have them though. Luckily I live in the South, so they're pretty ubiquitous.

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  2. post-postmodern10:57 PM

    My understanding is that frying protein to a crisp like these delicious things creates a lot of undesirable stuff. The protein in pork rinds is almost useless to begin with, so they're probably a poor nutritional choice overall.

    My local prole grocery store sells strips of fatback for next to nothing, which can be made into excellent lard-drenched cracklings.

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  3. hey agnostic - i'm also a grad student - and i fuckin gained 40 pounds since starting 3 yrs ago...and not gettin ass has me depressed.

    time is not my problem (i'm unable to work out fanatically like past, but looking good is mostly diet). problem is, i can't think for shit whenever i try to cut carbs. maybe we have different body types, but don't you find carbs helpful when you have to tackle a tough problem etc.?? i mean i've gone overboard (slippery slope), but still, i know i wont look good again without cuttin carbs, so i'm interested in whether your brain power is optimal on no carbs.

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  4. I've heard a few other people say they feel they need more caffeine when they do low-carb, so you could take more than you do now.

    Your brain does need a certain amount of glucose to function, but it's not much. However, if you rely too much on fat, and not enough on protein, you may not be making enough. Your liver converts the amino acids in protein into glucose, so you may try eating more meat.

    And you don't have to cut carbs to 0 -- around 20 to 30 g per day is considered low. That still allows for some almond butter, vegetables, and fruits, which will give you a bit of a sugar boost.

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  5. Hey - thanks for replying.

    yeah, by "no carbs" I basically meant 20-30 grams, but still that's really low
    (e.g. the pomegranate juice i just sucked down has 40 grams). I've known about the importance of low carbs for a while, and I know from experience that the lethargy etc. definitely gets better after the first week or two, probably having to do with insulin adjustment or whatever. But, I guess what I'm asking is, have you been less mentally productive since cutting carbs? i.e. has there been any kind of tradeoff for you?

    Grad school is different than undergrad for me, as I can't just cram for a week and get away with shitty eating. You get out of it what you put into it and all that, papers, ideas etc..

    Not that it matters - I realize that looking like shit is just bad all around, and I will cut carbs whether I can think optimally or not. (I'm 5'7 so the weight I gained really makes a difference in girl reaction, and that just sucks).

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  6. Anonymous1:54 AM

    Man Im so gluten intolerant, I literally will have a celiac "event" if I eat a small bag of cheetos.
    I wonder how many more people (that the oft-repeated 1%) of us actually have an immunological response to gluten whereby our immune system attacks the villi on our stomach walls and damages it so badly that we have blood in our stool in an effort to attack the gluten with a cytokine storm? If I eat (literally) one bite of bread, I'll have diarreha (bad too) about one hour later, and I will feel like I have the flu for about half a day.

    10 years ago I had a "cast-iron" stomach, and could down the hottest hot wings (the sauce has wheat products therein), with the coldest beer (barley is a no-no now, of course). Gluten-intolerance means you pretty much have to either become a dairy-fetishist or eat like a caveman (nuts, seeds, fruits, veggies, and meat). Im pretty much doing the latter with a big helping of potato-based carbohydrates for sustenance. Im getting "ripped" again with no extra effort though, and my body is looking more and more like an anatomy chart (the way it did during my twenties). Im even getting abs again despite the fact that the only sit-ups I do are when I get up from bench press sets. There is no doubt paleo is the way to go if you want a built-up muscular physique with minimal effort (Im too lazy at this age to work out very hard.......Im doing frat-boy-level effort work outs, and thats being generous).

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  7. Scott...

    I had my diet perfected at one point though now I'm trying to get there again. I find when changing diets drastically it usually takes 3 days minimum for the body to adjust. It's normal to feel really tired for the first 3 days.

    I've pretty much given up coffee for now due to it giving me mood swings & more anxiety. The downside is I'm often really tired and I don't get the little metabolism boost I use to get drinking it. If you don't experience side effects then a bit more coffee (espresso) will help you cope through the changes.

    Anonymous...You are obviously very gluten intolerant. I'm a bit more mildly intolerant in that it will often paralyze me much like I took a sleeping pill. My eyes start to close and my limbs get numb. I haven't given up beer yet but I don't drink a lot of it. Lately I've been drinking the good stuff and that seems to affect me more due to it not using rice as filler.

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