If I had to guess, I’d say about 80% of my childhood diet consisted of hot dogs. My first cooking related injury resulted from boiling water for hot dogs as a 5-year-old latchkey kid. I accidentally touched the burner with the palm of my hand, and seared the flesh right off. I had a perfect set of ring burn marks and I can still remember the excruciating pain… as I sat there munching my hot dogs while watching The Muppet Show, waiting for my parents to get home from work. That’s right, even after suffering a severe burn to my entire left hand, I still boiled the dogs and ate them. I mean… the burner was already hot.
I never held that injury against them, and when a microwave finally found it’s way into our house, the hot dog consumption went off the charts. That’s probably the main reason I always had to shop in the “husky” section of kid’s clothing. I have fond memories of my grandmother cooking Bozo brand hot dogs, the ones with so much red dye in them you could use the leftover water to color Easter eggs. I shudder to think of the ingredients in those dogs, whatever was in there should have either killed me or given me some weird superpower.
So, now as a health-minded adult, I didn’t want to swear off my favorite childhood food. At first that seems very problematic, given the very questionable ingredients in most dogs, and then the simple carbs and sugars in the buns. Your regular hot dog gear is a nutritional disaster, and that’s a no go for me. My food has to be both tasty and fuel my workouts, while maintaining weight. The key, as always, is selecting the best ingredients and coming up with a few adaptations to overhaul the classic childhood favorite into something my adult body and sensibilities will approve of. Regular hot dogs won’t do.
Here’s the average ingredients list:
Mechanically Separated Chicken, Water, Pork, Dextrose, Modified Corn Starch, Salt, Contains 2% or Less of the Following: Beef, Corn Syrup, Flavorings, Sodium Phosphates, Potassium Lactate, Potassium Acetate, Sodium Diacetate, Sodium Erythorbate, Oleoresin of Paprika, Sodium Nitrite, Smoke Flavoring.
First off, mechanically separated is a phrase that should make you throw down any product and run from it like your backside is on fire and your head is catching. That means they take any scrap bones from chicken and pork slaughterhouse bone bins, throw it in a machine that spins so fast all the little bits of meat, cartilage, and connective tissue left on said said bones fly off it and stick to the sides like those centrifuge rides at the county fair. Then that pink slime (that’s the actual term the industry uses) is scraped up, formed into a tube, steam heated with the rest of those ingredients, and now it’s a hot dog. But it’s still just pink slime, no matter what they call it. If you notice, the next ingredient is Dextrose. That’s right, our old nemesis, corn sugar. It’s a simple sugar, so it immediately will spike your blood sugar levels, and has zero nutritional value, other than making a meat stick that can give you diabetes. There are also plenty of nitrates and phosphates listed there, which preserve food but harden arteries and destroy kidneys, not to mention they love to feed cancer cells. There is simply nothing good going on there.
The good news is there are quality, all grass fed beef hot dogs out there if you look for them. The taste is incredible, like eating a steak in tube form, and the ingredients are all scary-word free and won’t work your kidneys and heart over with a baseball bat. No pink slime either, and if I have to convince you that alone is worth a couple of extra dollars, let’s face it, this isn’t the feature for you. Now, I’m not saying this is health food. There’s always going to be a lot of sodium in any dog, and a bit of sugar. The trick is to find ones that use real sugar and not lab created corn sugar, and using grass fed will mean the fats you are getting are the best ones for you. I’ve found Mighty Good Dog has a great taste and a much better list:
For the bun, I use the “fat-head dough” I featured in last week’s pizza article, and repurpose it as a wrap to make pig – well – cow in a blanket. It almost has a corn dog type crunch and taste, and that is always a good thing in my book. Pair this with the jicama fries I’ve featured before, my homemade ranch for dipping, or some stone ground mustard. You will have a healthy alternative to make the 10-year-old in you happy, and your 40-to-50-year-old organs not cry out in pain.
- 170 grams grated grass fed mozzarella (1 3/4 cups)
- 85 grams almond flour (3/4 cup)
- 30 grams grass fed cream cheese (2 tbsp)
- 1 chicken egg
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 1/4 tsp onion and garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- 1/2 tsp dried parsley
- 1/4 tsp dried basil
Mix the shredded cheese and almond flour in a microwave proof bowl. Add the cream cheese on top:
Nuke it for one minute, stir until well combined, then nuke it for 30 more seconds. Stir again, then add the spices and the egg. I like to wear latex gloves with a hit of non-stick spray to work the egg into the dough until well combined:
Fit a piece of parchment paper to a large baking sheet, place it on the counter and hit it with non-stick, slap your dough ball down, spray another piece of parchment paper and lay on top. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough out thin and flat:
Use a pizza cutter wheel to cut the dough into strips:
Dry the dogs with a paper towel, and wrap each one with a strip of dough:
Bake at 425 degrees for 15 – 20 minutes, then flip each one and cook for 10 more minutes. Let cool for a few minutes and enjoy.
See the list of all the Shirtless Chef recipes at www.mysaline.com/shirtless.