We sure do love our hotdogs, don’t we! The very thought of hot dogs conjures images of fun like ball park games, picnics and backyard barbecues with friends. Whatever the celebration, the bottom line is hot dogs hit the grill anytime and anywhere and they are an easy meal choice to quell those hunger pangs.
Over the years, hot dogs have stepped up their game in terms of offering nutritious options – with lots of nitrate-free, lower fat, turkey. Vegan hot dog options are also showing up in grocery stores deli counters. And the many ways they’re served these days have also evolved. Trendy food trucks and street food stalls in Asia have latched onto this American classic and taken them through all sorts of fusion fare, piled-high with different ingredients, inspired by different cultures and tastes. These dogs certainly deserve their place on the plate – as a side dish or two. Give up the fries and sink your teeth into these tasty sides – you’re in for something special!
So, what else can we do to get a step closer to consuming a healthier dog and making it even better for our bodies?
There’s really nothing wrong with the occasional hot dog – moderation is key! Many brands today are made with 100 percent meat, with no fillers or nitrates. The meat sections of the supermarket are no longer restricted to beef dogs. You now have healthy choices between turkey, chicken and tofu for veggie-lovers. While these varieties typically have less calories and saturated fat compared to the original beef hot dog, the sodium levels are about the same number for any type of dog. A typical beef hot dog contains around 150 calories, 13 g of fat, 5 g of saturated fat, 450 mg of sodium, and 6 g of protein. So, while you may not want to chow down a dozen, just one isn’t going to break your no-junk-food diet.
Tip: When buying hot dogs, read the label on the package. Look for 100 percent chicken or turkey as the first ingredient, water second, and compare the saturated fat and sodium levels – the lower the better!
Making a hot dog healthier
It really boils down to what you put on your hot dog, especially since there’s a lot to choose from when it comes to topping a frank. New York dogs keep it simple with sauerkraut and spicy mustard. People from Chicago tend to go for tomatoes, pickles and peppers, and those from San Francisco take theirs BLT-style (bacon-wrapped hot dogs). A tablespoon each of ketchup, mustard and relish adds more than another hot dog’s worth of sodium (about 500 mg); 2 tablespoons of sauerkraut (234 mg) is (relatively) better. Sauerkraut is recommended because it’s a good source of gut-healthy probiotic. Naturally low-sodium toppings like fresh tomatoes, scallions and hot peppers add fiber, lycopene and vitamin C; onions boost iron and zinc content. Avocado adds heart-healthy fat.
You can also opt for a whole wheat bun to nestle your delicious dog and bountiful toppings into. Last but not the least, say no to cheese as the creaminess of cheese only adds extra calories and fat, delicious as it may be!