Summertime Craving Upgrades

By your Fitness Trainers at Century Fitness

Summertime is a fun time of year and we all have seasonal cravings.  Some of these cravings might be more on the fun-naughty side than fun-healthy.     Here are some tasty upgrades and alternative choices to some of the typical summer cravings:

Potato Salad – As an option, try a salad without all the mayo.  Preparing your own ensures health quality and freshness!


Nacho Cheese Dip – Use baked multigrain tortilla chips with healthy and limited ingredients.  Replace the cheese dip with low fat vegetarian refried beans and a smattering of shredded cheese.

Hotdogs – Unless you’re at the ballpark you might just choose a healthier hotdog.  Here is an article by “Fooducate” that makes some distinctions:

Why are hot dogs so popular?

  • They’re relatively cheap
  • They are easy on the eyes and mouth
  • It’s effortless to get kids to like them
  • They are made of meat scraps that would otherwise go to waste

Let’s take a closer look at 4 different hot dogs based on their nutritional profile.

  1. This is the ingredient list of the classic version of Oscar Mayer Wieners:

Mechanically Separated Turkey, Pork, Mechanically Separated Chicken, Water, Contains Less than 2% of Salt, Flavor, Sodium Lactate, Corn Syrup, Dextrose, Sodium Phosphates, Sodium Diacetate, Sodium Ascorbate, Sodium Nitrite.

We’ve written about mechanically separated meat in the past (it went viral). The sodium nitrite is a preservative used to rid the meat of a bacteria that may cause botulism. Unfortunately it has a carcinogenic side effect.

A serving is one link, weighing in at 1.6 oz and 110 calories. There are 3 grams of saturated fat per dog (15% of the daily max) and 340mg of sodium – 15% of the daily max, before the condiments.

  1. OK, what about Oscar Mayer Selects Angus hot dogs?

Angus beef, water, cultured corn sugar, contains less than 2% of dextrose, salt, cultured celery juice, vinegar, sodium phosphates, cherry powder, lemon juice solids, flavor, extractives of paprika.

With 170 calories and 6 grams of saturated fat here (twice as much as the turkey/pork combo), be assured you are not getting the best cut of the beef here. Cultured corn sugar is a synonym for high fructose corn syrup. On the positive side, the nitrites have been replaced by celery juice. Celery is a natural source of nitrites, but they are present in smaller amounts than in artificial preservatives.

  1. 3. Applegate Natural Uncured Beef & Pork Hot Dog is made from beef and pork, and has only 2.5 grams of saturated fat. The lower fat content gives you a hint that we’re looking at a better quality cut compared to the previous hot dogs. The calories are lower too – just 70 per frank. From a portion size perspective, the two brands are very close (45 grams for Oscar Meyer, 42 grams for Applegate).

Here is Applegate Farms ingredient list:

Beef*, pork*, water. Contains less than 2% of the following: sea salt, paprika, spices, garlic, onion, celery powder. Gluten & casein free. *beef & pork never administer antibiotics or animal by products. Beef never administered added growth hormones. Vegetarian grain fed.

It is much easier to understand this ingredient list compared to Oscar Mayer’s. It’s nice that information is provided about the animal husbandry. However, celery powder is just the same as nitrites.

  1. Last but not least – a vegetarian hot dog option from Yves.

Water, Isolated Soy Protein, Vital Wheat Gluten, Natural Flavors, Salt, Wheat Starch, Evaporated Cane Juice Powder, Spices, Carrageenan, Vitamins & Minerals (Thiamin Hydrochloride, Cyanocobalamin, Calcium Pantothenate, Ferric Orthophosphate, Iron Oxide, Zinc Oxide, Dimagnesium Phosphate, Dipotassium Phosphate), Beet Powder and Paprika (for Color).

The veggie wiener here has only 50 calories, and barely any fat. But the sodium count is high (400mg). Did you notice how water is the first ingredient? It’s the main ingredient into which soy protein and gluten are mixed. To make this cocktail taste good, Yve’s has to add lot of flavorings.

Honestly, we’re not big fans of vegetarian fare pretending to be meat. If you are vegetarian, you can enjoy lots of great food that is not shaped like a hot dog. But if this is your way to fit in with the 4th of July cook out crowd, go for it.

Bottom Line

Make hot dogs a once in awhile food, not a staple in your home.

Supermarket Tip

When choosing hot dogs, the top 3 considerations should be:

  • Quality of meat
  • Presence of preservatives such as nitrites or celery powder

Fish & Chips – Instead of the fried fish and greasy fries, you can try a crusted baked fish with baked sweet potato or potato latke.


Ice Cream – Don’t worry, no one here will ever take the fun out of ice cream.  Here are a few tips: 1- Watch the serving size; 2- Choose toppings wisely; 3- Go to a dairy farm where they make the ice cream; 3- Some brands of ice cream, frozen yogurt and gelato feature limited ingredients.


This article is intended to provide general knowledge of health and fitness principles and should not be taken as medical advice or used to diagnose health problems or for treatment purposes. It is not a substitute for medical care provided by a licensed and qualified health professional. Always consult your doctor or licensed healthcare provider for personalized advice on diet and exercise.