Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Handout to Healthy Hot Dogs

Buds on the tree! Woohoo!

Today's post is a simpler affair, but delicious none the less. My family decided to do an American favorite: hot dogs on the grill. I'm sure that you'd think hot dogs would go straight to the "Never Eat" list when you're on a diet, but there are many ways to make this tailgate favorite light and guilt-free! Read on for some handy advice and tips!

You might not know it, but there are plenty of brand names that offer hot dogs that are nearly fat free. A very popular choice for fat free franks come from Hebrew National. They boast their dogs are "a favorite item with health-conscious consumers—worth only 1 point on the Weight Watchers® weight-loss program. They taste great and they're 97% guilt free, too."

I've never tried the Weight Watchers program, and I know practically nothing about how it works, but I'm no knucklehead- One point is nothing. So, one whole package would be 7 points altogether. I think that's still low, but don't quote me on it. For those of you counting calories, each hot dog is only 45 cals. That's very impressive, especially when compared to Hebrew National's regular hot dogs, which are 150 cals.
Although, there are several ingredients in these Hebrew National dogs that sound kind of... weird (like Potassium Chloride, Potassium Phosphate, Sodium Diacetate, Sodium Erythorbate, Sodium Nitrite, and Sodium Lactate), they're still good and pass as an exceptionable hot dog. They may taste different when eaten plain (It's been awhile since I've had a real hot dog, so I have no clue to be frank) , but when you pile on your favorite toppings, you won't even notice. (More on toppings later, by the way).

Hebrew National Fat Free Franks have been my stand-by low-calorie hot dog since the beginning, but today I went with something different: Ball Park's Smoked White Turkey Franks, which also are only 45 calories a "dog."

This change came about originally because I wanted to try something different. I was thinking of eating a frank from Hebrew National and one from Ball Park to compare the two, but after opening up the packaging for the Fat Free Franks...

Hmm... Funny, they weren't brown like that when I bought em'...
Ewwww. Pardon my slight French, but they smelled like complete crap. I'll be honest, I'm couldn't even recall when I had bought that package. I wasn't surprised to see they had expired. So, it looked like I was going to have to settle for only the Turkey Dogs. Sorry, guys!
Here are the buns I used to hold my dogs with. They are Healthy Life's Original Wheat Hot Dog Buns, which are only 80 calories and have 4g of fiber each. While I don't care for Healthy Life's bread slices, which are really small and flimsy, the buns are a decent size and taste much better. They also come in a White variety, which I haven't tried yet. Unfortunately for me, I had my package of buns stored in the freezer for a few months, at least. And if memory serves, I had forgotten to seal the bag back up for half of that time. Needless to say, after I defrosted the buns, they were really crumbly and could barely hold themselves together, the poor guys. Since there is nothing I can really do about bad buns, I kind of just patted the crumbly center down and hoped the bread segments would stick together. Hopefully, the taste won't have worn down over time as well. We'll see... Time for the grill!

Mmm, love those grill marks!
Now we just let them cook for a few minutes until they're warm.
Until then, it's time for topping tips!
Here is a list of toppings you can indulge in without guilt, along with the amount of calories per serving. If you're a fan of any of these, rejoice and feel free to pile em' on!
  • Yellow Mustard (0 calories per tsp.)
  • Reduced Sugar Ketchup, like the kind by Heinz, pictured (5 calories per tbsp.)
  • Sauerkraut (5 calories per 2 tbsp.)
  • Chopped Onions (8.5 calories per 2 tbsp.)
  • Pickle Spears (5 calories per spear)
  • Hot Sauce (5 calories per tbsp.)
  • Tomato Slices (4 calories per two half-slices)
  • Sport Peppers (10 calories per ounce, or about two tbsp.)
  • Shredded Fat Free Cheese (45 calories and 9g of protein per 1/4 cup)
Here is a list for toppings to avoid. AT ALL COSTS.
Sorry friends- chili is a no-go.
Not really, but go easy on them, alright? Even if you're using light hot dogs and buns, these add-ons can still add up.)
  • Shredded Cheese (110 calories per 1/4 cup)
  • Canned Chili (36 calories per 2 tbsp.)
  • Coney Island Hot Dog Chili Sauce (100 calories per 2 tbsp.)
  • Ketchup (20 calories per tbsp.)
  • Hot Giardineria (50 calories per 2 tbsp.)
  • Sweet Pickle Relish (20 calories per tbsp.)
So, now you know how to make your hot dogs light n' easy within your own home! But what about when you're out and about? Here is a list of some different ways hot dogs are served, along with their average calorie counts:
  • Plain Hot Dog (250 calories)
  • Corndog (280 calories)
  • Pigs in a Blanket, four pieces (300 calories)
  • Cocktail Weenies, no sauce (140 calories)
  • Chicago Dog (455 calories)
  • Chili Dog, no cheese (380 calories)
  • New York Dog (340 calories)
  • Pretzel Dog (360 calories)
Anyway, my family's hot dogs quickly were ready to take off the grill. I had three of the turkey franks from Ball Park, and covered each of them in chopped onions, Frank's Red Hot Sauce, and a bath of mustard & ketchup. Yummers!

They looked fantastic. But how did they taste? Well, the buns turned out fine, in the end. They had a nice warm, doughy consistency. Love it!!! They tasted especially well with all of the mustard and ketchup smothered inside.
The Reduced Sugar ketchup, by the way, is delicious. It's perfect for someone like me, who likes A LOT of ketchup. 4 tbsp. Heinz Reduced Sugar Ketchup has the same caloric amount as 1 tbsp. of their regular ketchup. And who doesn't like more ketchup? The taste is awesome, and also a bit addicting. Maybe it's because of the fact you realize just how guilt-free the stuff is. This is a product to always have stocked!
The mustard and raw onions went well together. I love the slight bitterness of mustard and the slight sweetness of Sweet Vidalias combined. It just works!
But what about the turkey dogs? Did they turn out okay?
Well... yes and no.
I say "no," since they didn't taste like beef. They tasted like turkey. They had that turkey texture. Dare I say it, that turkey smell. (Not really. Like I could even tell!) It was turkey, and no huge amount of ketchup could change that. Not even the strong taste of Franks' Red Hot could... (Which is a surprisingly yummy topping on your dog, if you can handle the spice.)
I say "yes," since it was a good taste, even if it was obviously turkey. I don't dislike turkey, it's a good meat. It's just clearly, very different from beef. Turkey is not my first pick to have sitting in my hot dog bun, you know?
In the end, I'd still have to go with Hebrew National 97% Fat Free Franks for my favorite low-calorie hot dog, so far. Ball Park has good turkey franks, they just aren't the low-fat beef replacement I'm looking for. If you love turkey, you should go out and buy these for your next cookout. If not.... meh.

Well, there you have it, folks! Are there any low-calorie hot dog picks I ought to mention? Any toppings I left out? What's your favorite style of hot dog/topping? Post whatever you feel in the comments section below! I'd love to hear from you guys. Till' next time!

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