I believe that life is all about balance. There can’t be hard work without fun and there can’t be a healthy, happy life without enjoying foods that we love simply because they taste good.
One of the struggles I’ve found in the “health world” is that many health and nutrition experts preach about healthy eating like it’s all or nothing. I don’t agree with this. None of us live in a vacuum and since food is such a large part of our culture, family, and lives, we can’t expect to live on a commune somewhere where we raise our own livestock and grow only organic kale (although, this would be pretty cool).
I think healthy eating is about making the best choices that we can in regards to food and treating our bodies with respect.
For this reason, one of my philosophies around food, health, and life is following the 80/20 Rule. This means that 80% of the time I focus on eating fresh, healthful foods that make my body feel strong and vibrant and 20% of the time I allow myself to have treats (or less-than-optimal foods). I’ve found that this actually makes me eat healthier overall and feel better about my food choices (because I don’t guilt myself for indulging in occasional treats).
In summertime, one of my occasional treats is BBQ food and hot dogs. So today I though I would share my best tips for making a healthier hot dog! Here we go…
1. Start by picking the right dog.
- Eating meat? Look for a dog that is organic (meaning no antibiotics/hormones), contains no nitrates (or at least no added nitrates), grass-fed (for beef), and local if possible. I really like the Applegate brand, especially their organic beef hot dog.
- Vegetarian or plant-based? Choose a dog that’s not overly processed and avoid ingredients like textured soy protein and non-organic sources of soy. Non-organic soy contains GMO’s (or genetically modified organisms) and there are many concerns about the impact of GMOs on health. Field Roast is a great local brand here in Seattle for vegetarian sausage-alternatives. (Note: Field Roast is not gluten-free).
2. Skip the bun.
- A lot of buns are made with refined white flour and/or contain sugar. White flour and sugar both spike blood sugar levels and lead to crashes and cravings — not fun!
- Instead, use fresh lettuce or greens as a healthy wrap, especially since they’re in season!
3. Add sauerkraut!
- Sauerkraut is a fermented food that has tremendous benefits for our health. It gives you a healthy dose of good bacteria for your gut (which aids in digestion) while also adding lots of flavor!
- You can check out my step-by-step photo tutorial of How to Make Sauerkraut here.
4. Skip the ketchup or BBQ sauce.
- I don’t think there’s anything wrong with enjoying an occasional summer BBQ, but I do like to avoid unnecessary sources of sugar whenever possible. Most of the condiments we use (e.g. ketchup, BBQ sauce, etc) are loaded with sugar. Instead, opt for some plain or organic stone ground mustard and a little freshly-ground black pepper.
5. Add extra veggies!
- Just because you’re eating a hot dog doesn’t mean you can’t get your servings of vegetables!
- Seasonal produce is incredibly abundant in summer so take advantage of this by adding grilled zucchini, eggplant, bell peppers, and onions! Sliced cherry tomatoes and cucumber are also fabulous toppings. All of these options will help to add extra fiber while making you feel full!
What are your favorite tips for making a hot dog a little healthier?