5 Healthy Sonoran Dog Ideas For National Hot Dog Day

If you’re a conscious foodie, you’re probably aware that the average hot dogs aren’t so hot. Not for you, not for the planet, and not for the animals they’re made from.

Tucson’s version, the Sonoran Dog–a juicy beef frank wrapped in bacon and nestled in a soft bun with tomatoes, mayo, beans, mustard, grilled onions and jalapeño sauce or chiles–is no exception (tasty as it is).

But who wants to miss out on the most delicious dog on National Hot Dog Day? It is totally possible to show your Tucson pride and still keep a conscientious diet in mind.

Here are 5 ideas for making a healthier (but still tasty!) Sonoran Dog:

  1. Choose your dog wisely. Instead of a ballpark frank choose a grassfed, 100% real beef dog that isn’t tainted by genetically modified animal feed, hormones, or antibiotics (a whopping 80% of all antibiotics sold in the U.S. are used on the farm animals we ingest). Applegate Farms Great Organic Beef Hotdog is widely available in grocery stores and contains only 110 calories and 8 grams of fat per dog. Made from just beef, water, salt and spices, their “cleaner wieners” are as pure as you can get. Another safe bet is Organic Prairie Organic Uncured Beef Hotdogs, which are higher in Omega-3s and vitamins than a typical hot dog and are humanely raised on certified organic family farms.
  2. Go veg. Swap in a super inexpensive and protein-packed Lightlife Smart Dog at just 50 calories, zero sugars, and 2 grams of fat per serving. The benefits? No animals harmed, no risk of unknown toxins, a lower risk of heart disease and diabetes, and improved blood pressure.
  3. Be picky about your bacon. Choose an uncured, reduced-sodium, and center-cut option at the market. Uncured means no nitrates were added and center-cut is much lower in fat. You could also try subbing crisply cooked MorningStar Veggie Bacon Strips for a vegan or vegetarian version.
  4. Make your own mayo. Try this simple Paleo Diet approved recipe to cut extra fat, sugar and other store bought additives and boost your vitamin B12 intake. Or, go vegan with an egg and dairy-free product like Nayonaise that is cholesterol free. The best idea here: go light on whatever option you choose and then load up on beans, peppers and onions for a full heaping of fiber and protein-rich veggies that will keep you fuller longer. Plus, jalapeños contain capsaicin which stimulates metabolism, speeds up heart rate and burns fat.
  5. Bolillo bun or bust. The traditional bolillo bun is like a short little baguette, crusty on the outside and soft on the inside. The good news is that the original recipe from Sonora often calls for sourdough, which is fermented and filled with good bacteria that are great for digestion. Anything is better than plain old white bread with no nutritional value, but if you can find a whole wheat, wheatgerm or flaxseed bolillo, you’re even better off. For freshly baked bolillo, take a trip to La Estrella Bakery on South 12th Ave. Feel good about supporting a local, family owned business while you gobble up your healthier Sonoran Dog!

And if you just can’t help yourself to a fatty, beefy Sonoran Dog, at least indulge in the very the best. Check out our 4 Awesome Sonora Dogs in Tucson. Happy National Hot Dog Day!

Nina is a Creative Nonfiction MFA candidate at the University of Arizona, a food writer and a recipe addict.