Does hot dog = junk food in your mind? A hot dog can definitely be one of the more horrible junk food meals you feed your family, but there are actually many ways to turn a toxic hot dog into a nutritious meal. Don't “give in” to eating a hot dog at the family bonfire — just take some extra steps to ensure you're eating the right ingredients, not the toxic ones!
Let's begin with the Frank…
First, can someone please tell me why it's called a frank? Because frankly I don't understand. And to be frank, let me tell you that the hot dog franks available in the market are some of the most disgusting food products I've ever looked at. (Sorry… pun gets away from me sometimes.)
I went to a super market to get the ingredients needed to make my “toxic” hot dog for the main photo of this post. It was just too embarrassing to buy some of the worst options, but I snapped a few photos in the store.
Check out the ingredients in the hot dog franks. In this collage I have the worst option on the top, a well-known top seller on the bottom left, and a grass-fed organic option on the bottom right (which is readily available in most markets in my area).
The worst option (on the top) is made mostly of pink slime or “mechanically separated chicken”. Pink slime is one of the most disgusting products made by the industrial food industry: leftover meat parts, cartilage, and who knows what washed in an acid formula and mechanically pressed with chemical preservatives and additives into a slimy substance that is used to make cheap meat products (like these hot dog franks and almost any “chicken” food on fast food restaurant menus). This pink slime frank is also full of corn syrup, artificial flavors and colorings, and chemical preservatives.
The next option is the popular “holy” hot dog frank. Most people assume these are the good ones since they are kosher and made of high quality beef. First of all, there is no claim to the quality of the beef used in this hot dog. So is this hot dog frank worth considering? NO WAY! Look at that ingredient list. While most of the hot dog is made of beef and water, the product can't avoid adding plenty of chemical additives and flavorings in the franks. Pay close attention to this: hydrolyzed soy protein, or hydrolyzed vegetable protein of any sort, contains free glutamic acid which is also known as MSG (monosodium glutamate). MSG is a toxic food additive that I'm not willing to feed my family!
Finally, there are reasonably priced, delicious grass-fed hot dogs available with nutritious ingredients. I found this option in multiple grocery stores, so there should be a decent option available for you as long as you're willing to look at the labels, look at the ingredients list, and even pay a little extra. The best option would be to find franks made by a local grass-fed beef farmer who makes minimally processed hot dog franks or even an authentic bratwurst or liverwurst frank.
The Hot Dog Bun
How bad could a hot dog bun be? It's bread!
A hot dog bun can be REALLY BAD! I was almost as overwhelmed with the chemically-laden hot dug bun options as I was with the pink slime franks.
You can see from the ingredient lists in this collage that the top right and top left buns are pretty bad. These are brand name buns containing an array of chemical preservatives, artificial flavors, artificial colors, yeast extracts (MSG), and dough conditioners. Most interesting was the option on the top right: with a big green label that says “Nutritional Spotlight” highlighting things like calories, fat grams, sodium, etc.. The photo below the “Nutritional Spotlight” shows that same package's ingredients list, which happened to be the worst one I found in the store.
The bottom left photo shows the ingredients of a store-bought hot dog bun I would consider “better” than the others. It is made with enriched flour and has some additives I don't like feeding my family, but I would definitely eat this option over the other two since it does not contain the chemical preservatives, artificial coloring, MSG, and dough conditioners.
The best option for a hot dog bun would be an artisan roll that you find at a bread store or make in your own kitchen! These hot dog and hamburger buns (pictured on the bottom right of the collage) are simple and delicious!
Now for the Condiments…
Of course there are many different condiments you could add to a hot dog to make it unique, but I thought I'd inspect the three main hot dog condiments found on any typical dog: ketchup, mustard, and relish.
In this comparison photo there are three store-bought ketchup options. The top left photo is by far the most popular ketchup brand in the market. The ingredients aren't horrible, except the product is made mainly with a processed tomato product (tomato concentrate) and both high fructose corn syrup and corn syrup. The label also proclaims that they use their own tomatoes. That sounds like code language for genetically modified plants (GMO), since they “own” the seed. I prefer non-GMO organic ingredients.
The second most popular ketchup brand on the bottom left is almost the same as the first.
The bottom right photo is an organic ketchup that doesn't contain GMOs or corn syrup. All the ingredients are organic — even the spices. This is obviously the best option for a store-bought ketchup.
Classic mustard is not that bad, and most of the commercial products on the market offer products made with simple, all natural ingredients. I've put together a few photos of “flavored mustard” products, such as a honey mustard or sweet mustard to show how quickly a natural mustard product can turn into a toxic food product, filled with artificial flavors and colors, corn syrup, chemical preservatives and other toxic ingredients.
Stick with an organic mustard like the one pictured on the bottom right. Simple, organic and completely natural. Or, here's a homemade fermented mustard recipe.
How could a simple, sweetened pickle turn into a toxic mess of ingredients? Just ask most of the companies producing the relish products in the market. In this photo collage the top and bottom left photos show the ingredients in the most popular brand name products selling relish.
Both these products have high fructose corn syrup, chemical preservatives, artificial coloring and even ALUM (aluminum)! All that instead of chopping up some pickles?
I prefer just finely chopping up my homemade lacto-fermented pickles. With the sweet ketchup on my hot dog there's no need to sweeten up the relish. If you have to have sweet relish, then stir a little coconut sugar, maple syrup, or honey into your chopped pickles.
As you can see it is truly simple to eat a nutritious hot dog — just read the ingredient list and choose wisely! It can mean the difference between consuming toxic waste that attacks your body or consuming nutritious real food that your body recognizes and uses for good.
PS: Make your hot dog extra nutritious by loading it with plenty of finely chopped organic vegetables like tomatoes, onions, and bell peppers!
How do you dress up your (hopefully healthy) hot dog?
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