You can make most things healthier, and the humble hot dog is no exception. Dr. Oz once reported that enough hot dogs are made every minute to reach the top of the Empire State Building. Hot dogs aren’t going away.
Some tips for making a healthier hot dog:
Look for a few simple ingredients on the label: beef, water, sea salt, spices like garlic, onion, paprika, and celery powder (a natural form of nitrites).
Choose all-beef (ideally organic, grass-fed) and nitrate/nitrite-free.
Avoid those with corn syrup, starch, and preservatives you can’t pronounce or don’t understand.
Serving your hot dog:
Look for whole-grain buns without high-fructose corn syrup, preservatives, and other additives.
Wrap your dog in a romaine lettuce leaf.
Serve it without a bun, topped with beans or other healthy toppings and crunchy veggies (see below).
Ketchup is commonly made with sugar, corn syrup, and high-fructose corn syrup. It may contain as much as 25% sugar. Buy organic ketchup that has no type of corn syrup added. Heinz makes one sweetened with honey. I like to buy organic, because tomatoes are on the Dirty Dozen list.
Sweet relish usually contains sugar, corn syrup, and high-fructose corn syrup, and some have added yellow food coloring. Read labels and search for a healthier version.
Yellow mustard is the winner among condiments! It contains vinegar, water, mustard seed, salt, turmeric, and paprika. Turmeric is known for its anti-inflammatory properties and is beneficial for the liver. Read the ingredients label to make certain that nothing else has been added, and check the amount of sodium in each serving. I try to find varieties made with apple cider vinegar and whole-grain mustard.
Some healthy toppings:
Sauerkraut, onions, cilantro, jalapeños, kimchi, mushrooms, tomatoes, salsa, avocado, guacamole, hummus, pickles and pickled vegetables (some contain food coloring), alfalfa sprouts, sunflower seeds, radishes, goat or feta cheese, arugula, caramelized onions, artichoke hearts, beans (if using canned, read the ingredients and avoid hydrogenated fats and sugar). If you like a sweet dog, try some raw honey instead of ketchup. It’s actually good.
Skip the chips! Add lots of crunchy vegetables instead. These will add nutrients and fiber to give you energy to enjoy other Memorial Day activities! If you must have a few chips, stick to plainer varieties, like potato and corn chips, and avoid those with food colorings, artificial flavors, MSG, sugar, etc., etc. Potatoes and corn are commonly genetically modified, so look for the non-GMO label or buy organic.
Crunchy raw vegetables:
Carrots, sweet peppers, jicama, radishes, asparagus, celery, cucumbers, beets, turnips, broccoli, cauliflower, snow peas, sugar snap peas, cherry tomatoes (they’re not crunchy, but add delicious sweetness), etc.
Eating twice as many vegetables as everything else helps to balance the health scales. They provide antioxidant power against carcinogens that may be formed when grilling meat, as well as other toxins.
If you need some ideas for incorporating more veggies into your meals, download my free Eat More Veggies PDF!
Just in case of food poisoning, you might want to keep a bottle of activated charcoal on hand. The capsules help to absorb toxins and are a great first aid when food is involved, including eating out and traveling.
Whatever you decide to eat or not to eat this Fourth of July, I hope you enjoy the love of family and friends!
Keep learning to be healthy, and God bless America!
Lisa Hernandez, Certified Nutritionist & Health Coach
1 Corinthians 10:31–“Whatever you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for God’s glory!”
This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease. It does not take the place of any medical care that you may need. Consult your health care provider about making dietary and lifestyle changes that are right for you.