Hot Dog! You Don't Have to Pass Up Summertime Eating

March 19, 2008

Don't instruct your patients to eliminate the hot dog altogether - the American classic that serves as the top item at many warm-weather gatherings. Just tell them to avoid the ones that are not good for them. The same is true of most burgers.

So there are some patients adhering to a cardiac diet. And those pictures of giant pastrami sandwiches still might make their mouths water. On the other hand, they know food such as that is not what is needed when it comes to eating healthy.

Spring arrives this week, and with it the visions and smells of grilling, charcoal, and all the trappings of warm-weather outdoor eating. A cardiac diet no doubt eliminates many former favorites. That’s the negative aspect. The positive is there are still many grilled favorites you can enjoy.

Don’t instruct your patients to eliminate the hot dog altogether - the American classic that serves as the top item at many warm-weather gatherings. Just tell them to avoid the ones that are not good for them. The same is true of most burgers.

Two favorites of mine in the hot dog category are the Hebrew National Kosher 97 Percent Fat-Free Beef Frank and the A&B salmon franks, another kosher offering. Kosher is not the most important matter here. What is in these flavorful offerings is. Just add some mustard:

  • This Hebrew National dog is smaller and thinner than its full-fledged cousin, but certainly tastes as good. Grilled to perfection, you won’t believe this is somewhat healthy eating. The dog has 1.5 grams of fat in 45 calories, near the cut in my 3 grams of fat per 100 calories equation I was taught to judge such matters by. It has just 3 grams of carbohydrates and 6 grams of protein.
  • The A&B dog, more orange in color than the traditional reddish-brown, also grills well. Remember, however, these have fish — salmon and salmon trout – in their casings rather than beef or pork. So take care on the fire. The specs reveal 6 grams of fat in 80 calories per dog, above my mathematical cut, but much of the fat is “good fat,’’ including the Omega 3 family, important to heart health.

Another interesting offering is the Ball Park Fat Free Frank. Grilled, it plumps like the rest of the Ball Park line and contains no fat. With 55 calories and 7 grams of carbs, this is another good-tasting choice.

If burgers are more to your taste, the turkey burger can certainly replace the beefy hamburger. Turkey burgers can be a bit dry, but there are dozens of recipes on the Web and in many cookbooks. Smother this creation in grilled vegetables, watch the condiments and enjoy.

Whole wheat and other multi-grain-buns can also be added to the picnic. The average white bread hot dog bun contains 122 calories, 22 grams of carbs, 4 grams of protein and 2 grams of fat. Watch what drinks are served. Sparkling water with a hint of lime or lemon is a marvelous warm weather shot of liquid.

Instead of chips or french fries, opt for an assortment of salads. There are many fat-free dressings which mix tastefully with the fresh vegetables that will soon be available once again.

If you just have to have a few beefy hot dogs, or that man-sized burger, chances are one or two during a summer season won’t cause undue harm. If you eat healthy all the time, you certainly have earned the tasty bite or two you feasted on before all this became so important in your life.