Hot dogs scream summer and barbecue, and that’s especially true during July when it’s National Hot Dog Month. It can get boring, though, dressing up your dog with the same mustard-and-ketchup combo for every occasion. Instead, try these creative and healthy toppers that will give your old dog new life (or make the grilled chicken dog pictured above).
Choosing Your Dog
Some folks are concerned about what’s actually in a hot dog. With many recent concerns regarding ingredients being used, it’s a legitimate question to ask. Nitrites are a preservative that is commonly added to hot dogs. It helps minimize bacterial growth and lengthen shelf life, and it also gives hot dogs their bright-red hue. There are several nitrite-free versions available (Trader Joe’s, for example, has one).
Other concerns about hot dogs are the sodium content, size and composition. Choose hot dogs that are the traditional 6-inch variety (not longer) and low in sodium. Also, you may think chicken, beef or even soy hot dogs are healthier, but that isn’t necessarily the case. That is why it’s important to compare labels.
Check out these five healthier hot dogs to choose from.
Dress Up Your Dog
Here are five ways to add flavor and more fiber to your dog. Adding fiber is a lower-calorie way to keep you satisfied.
Jazz up your hot dog with Mexican-inspired flavors. Mash a slice of avocado and top with sliced jalapenos and a few spoonfuls of salsa.
Spread 1 teaspoon of light mayo on your hot dog, then top with 2 tablespoons of homemade pineapple salsa. For more zing, add sliced red onion.
Spread 2 teaspoons of Sriracha mayonnaise over your hot dog. Then top with fresh herbs like mint and cilantro; finally, top with pickled carrots and cucumbers.
Spread 1 tablespoon hummus on your hot dog. Top with sliced olives and a chopped salad made with cucumbers, red peppers, and tomatoes tossed in olive oil and lemon juice.
Lighter Chili Dog
Dress up your dog with grilled onions, cooked pinto beans and pico de gallo for a lighter spin on a traditional chili dog.
Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. She is the author of The Greek Yogurt Kitchen: More Than 130 Delicious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Day.