Who loves a good hot dog? Everyone! In fact, I love them so much that I never eat them. The reason is because if I eat one, then I have to eat a second one, which quickly turns into a third. The same can probably be said for most lovers of hot dogs, because they just taste so amazing—they taste American. There’s just something about stuffing your face with your daily supply of fat and cholesterol that just reeks of Americana. Oh, and do you want to know the other reason why I never eat them? Well, obvious nutrition fact reasons aside, the chemicals and preservatives that manufacturers pump into the dogs, nitrates and nitrites to name a few, reportedly give a hot dog the same effect on your body as smoking a pack of cigarettes. There just became no way for me to trick myself into eating one, especially after reading that, which combined with these little pieces of smoked goodness running an upwards of 20 fat grams per piece, and some beyond, because I was dieting and trying to lose weight at the time. Now that I have lost some weight and am probably in the best shape I have been in for quite some time, I still could not get myself to chow down on a hot dog, no matter what the occasion. That was until I met Trader Joe, a specialty store of organic and natural foods.
When people think “healthy”, “natural”, and “organic”, usually the word “tasteless” comes next, because to sacrifice fat, additives, or sodium would be to sacrifice flavor. Not so at Trader Joe’s, which I find myself visiting at least twice a month. Their food is not so much lower in fat than it is lower in all the extra ingredients the factories add to prolong shelf life. You will not find any unnatural preservatives in their foods, and certainly no high fructose corn syrup, a sugar substitute, that some people argue, can cause problems for your pancreas, and an over-eating of which can cause the same effects on your liver as over-consumption of alcohol. That is why I stopped drinking soda: the regular has fake sugar that will kill you, and the diet has chemicals in it that will kill you faster—I try to avoid lose-lose situations. Anyway, back to the main point of this article, as it has taken me long enough to introduce Trader Joe’s Organic Uncured Beef Hot Dogs (~$4.99 per pack). Most people who are well learned know what goes into your typical hot dog: the odds and ends of pork (noses and toes, as they say) that cannot be used by the butcher/manufacturer in any other way, so they grind it all up, and some spices and chemicals, and voila! You got yourself a hot dog! Hebrew National is probably a better option on the mainstream market, but for both health and flavor, you have to just try these.
Right off the bat, you will notice the first ingredient is “organic grass-fed beef”, located right under the advertisement of the following: “no antibiotics used”, “humanely raised”, “gluten and casein free”, and “no fillers”. Aside from the beef, the only ingredients are water, spices such as sea salt, garlic powder, paprika, celery powder, and onion powder, and finally, lactic acid culture starter rounds off the minuscule list. So, you’re probably wondering…how do they taste? One word: incredible. No, I should be more specific: a hundred times better than your normal hot dog. I have tried all different variations of “healthier” hot dogs over the years, including veggie dogs, which were gross, and low-fat regular hot dogs which were even worse. Trader Joe’s are not advertised as being made to be low-fat, they just happen to already be low in fat. Each link has only eight grams, meaning you could eat three of these and absorb the same amount of fat as one regular hot dog. The sodium is still pretty high at 330 milligrams, but I guess that is unavoidable. Cholesterol tops out at 30 milligrams, which is lightly less than your average dog.
If you like hot dogs, then you have to give these bad boys a shot. When you bite into it, you will get all the spices and flavors of a pork hot dog, until you begin to chew and realize that there is a distinct, beefy flavor to these, which will only enhance the feeling in your taste-buds. Trader Joe’s supplies a plethora of all-natural items, even organic wine from Charles Shaw, which you can buy for $3 a bottle, earning it the nickname “Three Buck Chuck”. The list of items I have purchased from here is endless, but the hot dogs are the one that truly stands out. Please visit their website and see if there is a story in your area. You will be happy that you did!