Can Sausages Ever Be Healthy? | This Morning
How to Make Healthy Sausage
While sausage isn’t generally classified as a health food, there are a few surprisingly simple ways you can make it better for you. Your best bet is to start making your own encased meats at home, where you’ll have full control over what goes into them. By choosing quality ingredients, monitoring your sodium levels and using lighter cooking methods, you can continue to enjoy delicious, savory sausage while staying faithful to your health goals.
Choosing Wholesome Ingredients
Use all natural ingredients.Most store bought varieties of sausage are loaded with excess fat, nitrates, bread derivatives and other filler ingredients. When making sausage yourself, shop around for organic meats free of hormones or preservatives. Anything else you choose to include, such as fruits, veggies and grains, should also be checked for quality. This way, you’ll know exactly what you’re putting in your body.
- Look for a seal or label on the packaging that signifies that the meat you’re buying is certified organic.
- Processed meats are responsible for a wide range of health problems, including heart disease and even cancer.
Substitute a leaner variety of meat.Pork and other red meats tend to be high in saturated fat. For your sausage, you might instead opt for chicken, lamb, venison or another low-calorie alternative. You’ll cut down drastically on the calorie count when it’s all said and done, and chances are you won’t even be able to detect a difference in flavor.
- Vegans and vegetarians can experiment with making homemade sausage using plant-based food items like tofu, tempeh, or quinoa.
Add fruits and vegetables.Don’t stop at just meat—feel free to bulk up your sausage with things like carrots, apples, celery, or even dried dates or figs. Mince the fruits and veggies up extra small so they won’t interfere with the texture or structural integrity of the sausage. These types of extras can make your sausage less one-dimensional by creating more depth to the flavor.
- Fresh and dried fruits will fill the role that processed sugar usually plays in packaged sausage.
- Incorporating fruits and vegetables is a good way to fortify your breakfast with additional vitamins, nutrients and dietary fiber.
Leave out unwanted additives.One of the biggest drawbacks of processed sausage is the excessive salt and carbohydrates used to enhance flavor and make it more filling. The fats in meat already contain a fair amount of sodium naturally, so go easy on the salt and let them speak for themselves. Cheeses are best avoided or used in moderation for the same reason.
- Use only a pinch of kosher or raw sea salt, then supplement with dried herbs that will play up the savory notes without contributing to the sodium level.
- Eating lots of fat and salt leads to bloating, which can make you feel sluggish. An all-natural sausage will provide you with beneficial protein and clean energy.
Making Sausage from Scratch
Start with lean ground meat.The meat you use to make sausage should be cold so that it will hold its shape better. Pork sausage is most common, but you could also choose from chicken, turkey, bison or a combination of different meats. Place the meat in a large mixing bowl with your other ingredients close at hand.
- If you’re using frozen meat, be sure to defrost it ahead of time.
- Since you’ll be handling raw meat, you’ll want to wear gloves or wash your hands thoroughly before and after the process.
- Try a basic lean turkey sausage, or get more elaborate with flavor pairings like chicken and apple.
Add your spices of choice directly to the meat.To cut down on the amount of salt in the sausage, stick with pungent, flavorful spices like garlic, parsley, cloves and paprika. There’s no exact proportion of each spice that’s best—just season to taste. It will help to portion out your dry ingredients in advance so you’ll be able to dump them into the meat all at once.
- Make the flavor of your sausage pop by including more intense spices like mustard, sage or cayenne pepper.
- A traditional breakfast sausage seasoning can be made by blending salt, black pepper, sage, cloves, marjoram and a hint of brown sugar.
- For spicy Italian-style sausage, season with a dash of salt, black pepper, garlic powder, dried onion, parsley and dried red pepper flakes.
Form the sausage into patties.Grab the meat with both hands and begin mixing it by folding it in on itself repeatedly. Once the spices have been evenly incorporated, separate the meat into golf-ball sized chunks, then smooth them flat into patties. You can also press the sausage into casings, if you have a grinder at home.
- Don’t pat the meat out too thick, or it will be difficult to cook it through without burning it.
- Use a round cookie cutter to cut out patties of a uniform size.
Store or cook it right away.Now that you’ve made your sausage, you can either slap it on the griddle or stick it in the refrigerator until you’re ready to eat it. Fresh sausage should be consumed within a couple of days. If you don’t plan on using it right away, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap or a Ziploc gallon bag (vacuum-seal bags are ideal) and freeze.
- Another option is to cook all the sausage at once, then place it in the refrigerator and reheat as needed. Try to use up precooked sausage within 2-3 days.
- When properly frozen, sausage will typically stay good for up to three months.
Cooking Healthier Sausage
Grill or boil your sausage.When it comes time to prepare your sausage, do it on a ribbed grill pan or in the oven on a separate meat rack. The temperature will heat the meat more consistently throughout, allowing more fat to escape.
- Frying the sausage in a skillet causes it to reabsorb much of the fat that cooks out of it.
- Don’t use any extra butter or oil to cook your sausage. This just adds unnecessary fat.
Drain off the excess fat.Rather than serving sausage patties that are swimming in their own juices, funnel all that unwanted fat into a separate receptacle and dispose of it. Blotting the cooked sausage with a layer of paper towels will help soak up grease, as well. Afterwards, you’ll be left with sausage that’s almost entirely lean meat.
- Always get rid of fats and oils by throwing them in the trash, not pouring them down the sink.
Limit your portion size.Too much of anything can be unhealthy. Make sausage a part of the meal, not the meal itself. Along with homemade sausage, you might serve poached eggs, steel cut oats, fresh fruit or whole wheat toast. For entree sausages, select sides of sautéd vegetables, beans or salad.
- Fix a single serving of sausage at a time so you won’t be as tempted to overeat.
- Add a handful of crumbled sausage to other dishes, such as pastas, casseroles or frittatas, to boost your protein intake.
- Just because you’re buying organic meat doesn’t mean you have spend an arm and a leg on the priciest selections. Go with cheaper cuts whenever possible, like shoulders or thighs.
- If you’re using fresh herbs as opposed to dried, you’ll need to add roughly twice as many to compensate for shrinking during the cooking process.
- When stuffing your own sausage, look for casings made from all-natural ingredients.
- Lean sausage makes a perfect addition to a balanced breakfast or a quick, protein-rich snack after the gym.
- Combine the sausage with low fat cheese and a little whole wheat flour to make homemade sausage balls.
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