Hot Dog! There Are Healthier Franks to Enjoy This Summer

Rows of hot dogs on barbeque grill at parkHot dogs are a staple food all summer long, but they can be an absolute disaster if you’re going for those foot-long belly busters covered in chili, cheese and stuffed inside a big ol’ bun.

We’ve scouted out some leaner and cleaner wieners for your summer cookout. And, no, they’re not made of tofu. Tofu dogs were a popular replacement for traditional fatty dogs back in the day, but companies have perfected non-traditional franks so you don’t have to go that route anymore (unless you’re a vegetarian, and if you are, we’ve got something for you, too!).

Here are just a few of the better varieties of friendlier franks.

applegate natural beef dogs

Applegate Hot Dogs: The company makes a variety of uncured (i.e., nitrite-free) beef, beef-pork, chicken or turkey dogs that come in natural or organic varieties. Its Natural Uncured Turkey Dogs are an amazing 50 calories apiece so you can feel good about doubling up. Even the Natural Uncured Beef Hot Dogs weigh in at just 70 calories.

thin n trim

Thin n Trim Gourmet Chicken Hot Dogs and Sausages: In addition to this brand’s chicken hotdogs, it makes some of the lowest calorie chicken sausages we’ve seen (70 calories), and they come in a slew of flavors — Spicy Italian, Sweet Italian, Chipotle and Peach Salsa, Spinach and Red Onion, Garden Vegetable, Apple and Cinnamon, and our favorite, Wildfire Buffalo Chicken. Like the other brands, these are also nitrite-free, but they’re also vastly lower in sodium than other brands and still manage to taste great.

Uncured Duck Hot Dogs

D’Artagnan Uncured Duck Hot Dogs: Is a turkey or chicken dog just too pedestrian for you? How about duck? These fancy ducky dogs are just 90 calories and pack 9 grams of protein with no artificial preservatives. They’re a little higher in fat than traditional poultry dogs, which makes ’em a little juicier. They’re a little difficult to find, so check the company’s website for stores or to buy them online.

field roast frankfurters

Field Roast Frankfurters: OK, vegetarians, here’s one for you (and it’s not a tofu dog). Field Roast uses vital wheat gluten as its protein source, so if you can handle the gluten, you’ll dig these doggies. They’re 180 calories each, but they’re really substantial and flavorful and offer up 21 grams of protein, which is unheard of in the weenie world. You also get 4 grams of fiber, and what hot dog can boast that?

You also can clean up the toppings by using organic ketchup, relish and mustard, which often taste better than conventional. And that classic topping, sauerkraut, has become super trendy since it’s loaded with probiotics. If you need to spare some carbs, do what we do — toss your hot dog into a romaine lettuce leaf. It’s the perfect size to cradle that dog and it’s sturdy enough to contain your toppings.

What are your favorite hot dog toppings? Fresh veggies on top are a great way to boost the nutrition of your frank! — Gail

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