The Healthy Hot Dog Bar

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Are you hosting a Super Bowl party or casual get together soon? Want to break up the monotony of the usual party menu? Why not create a hot dog bar? We did, and it was not only a ton of fun, but it was also a delight for our taste buds. Since we focus on creating healthy recipes and meal ideas, we started out with uncured 100% beef and turkey dogs, Udi’s whole wheat buns and gluten-free buns, and fresh bolillos that I purchased at L.A.’s famed Cuban bakery, Porto’s. To this, I added some Portuguese sausage and lemon chicken and kale sausage because choice is the trademark of food bars, and I wanted plenty to choose from.

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With our basics in place, we chopped a variety of fresh vegetables and a bit of fruit and attractively arranged them on compartmentalized wooden trays. While some of the vegetables were old favorites such as tomato and onion, others that were less expected really gave us a treat. Crispy leaves of napa cabbage lining the bun gave us a surprise burst of yumminess, while bits of pineapple and jicama kept us coming back for more. We also provided an assortment of pickles, pickled peppers and vegetables to  complete our wiener schnitzel extravaganza. Homemade Micheladas were the perfect refreshment match.

Sure, there are old favorites such as chili dogs and a lot of street food (salchichas) and regional hot dog recipes that have come into favor recently, but the basic idea of the dog in a bun topped with ketchup, mustard, relish and possibly mayo seems to be at the heart of almost every wiener preparation. In fact, the basic hot dog has been prepared in the same basic manner since its inception. A steamed dog on a white bun is packed with calories but little nutrition, and it make take 3 or more hot dogs (or a generous helping of chips) to fill up a person with an average appetite.

However, when we stuffed our hot dog buns with a variety of fresh chopped veggies, our hunger was satisfied with one or two dogs. Okay, probably two because they were so enjoyable to taste. They were also quick and easy to cook several at a time using a panini press. Paired with our roasted sweet potato chips, jicama chips, parsnip fries and jicama fries, we had no guilt when it came to chowing.

For those who might feel overwhelmed when faced with so many choices, I will list a few hot dog recipes that you can follow. Of course, at a hot dog bar, you don’t have to follow any established hot dog rules, so please experiment. Don’t feel limited by our suggestions. Go out on a limb and take your bun with you. Get creative and get your hot dog dressed!

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Our hot dogs are pictured with our Michelada Light that is made with light beer and cleaner ingredients.

Chicago Dog Plus

Add dill pickle slices, cucumber, chopped tomato and chopped onion to an all-beef or turkey dog. Then add your favorite condiments.

Hot Dog de Michoacan

Line the bun with lettuce. Then add thin-sliced pickles, radishes and diced red onion. Top with mustard and any combination of condiments.

Napa Dog

Our healthy treat of a dog has crispy Napa leaves lining the bun. The dog is topped with diced pineapple, jicama and red onion. Beyond that, add anything else you desire.

Korean Dog

Line the bun with Napa cabbage leaves. Top the dog with kimchee and fresh thinly sliced cucumber. Add onions and condiments.

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The Cuban dog on a fresh baked bolillo from our local Cuban bakery, Porto’s, is truly an experience to eat.

Cuban Dog

Slice a fresh bolillo roll down the center. Spread mustard and mayo on the bread. Line the bun with lettuce. Layer ham, Swiss cheese, tomato and pickle slices on the bun. I even added a fresh roasted, stemmed, seeded and peeled Anaheim chile. Place the hot dog on top of it all, and if you slit the hot dog down the middle lengthwise, you can line it with some relish.

Our version of the Sonoran dog tastes great with many fewer calories.

Our version of the Sonoran dog tastes great with many fewer calories.

Sonoran Dog

In Tucson, Arizona, the Sonoran dogs come on fresh steamed buns. Since I haven’t found a source for them in L.A., I decided to use Porto’s fresh baked bolillos slit on the top but still closed on the sides. Wrap a dog with uncured bacon and grill it up on the panini press. Smother the bacon-wrapped dog in frijoles de la olla (fresh made pinto beans), chopped onions, cheese if desired and top all of that off with jalapeño salsa or fresh sliced jalapeños. Add ketchup, mustard and even mayo to blow your taste buds away.

Puerto Rican Dog

Saute thin-sliced onions until caramelized. Add some sofrito and tomato sauce and cook until the sauce thickens a bit. If you’re very adventurous, serve the hot dog on fried plantain planks like a jibarito sandwich.

Hawaiian Pizza Dog

Line the bun with lettuce. Add pineapple chunks (or even mango) and bits of Canadian bacon. Place the dog in the bun, and add tomatoes, onions and some pizza sauce instead of ketchup.

Italian Dog

Line the bun with spinach leaves and fresh basil. Spread with pesto. Add sun dried tomatoes. Put the dog in the bun and cover with a bit of mozzarella or parmesan cheese.

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If you’ve never tasted a Chinese style hot dog, you’re in for a delightful surprise.

 

Chinese Dog

Pickle some cabbage, grated carrot and thin sliced red onion in sweet rice wine vinegar. Add a dash of turbinado sugar and a sprinkle of celery seeds. Marinate for several hours. When ready to prepare the dogs, melt 2 tbsp. coconut oil in a skillet over medium heat. Place several spoonfuls of marinated cabbage mixture towards one end of a large egg roll wrapper. Put the uncured all-natural hot dog on top of the cabbage. Roll the wrapper around the wiener like a cigar. Saute in the hot oil, turning as soon as the wrapper browns until all sides are cooked. Serve with Chinese hot mustard and a natural sweet and sour or Thai chile sauce.

The ideas for loading dogs at the hot dog bar are endless. If you have a great suggestion, leave it in the comments. We would love to hear from you.

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Note: If you don’t eat meat, there are many meatless hot dog options available, and some are also soy-free.

I am not a fan of wheat, but in the case of hot dog buns, I recommend choosing either sprouted or whole wheat buns. For gluten sensitivities, there are several brands of GF hot dog buns available.

To make the sweet potato and jicama chips, slice them in very thin rounds, brush them lightly with melted coconut oil and sprinkle with your favorite spice. Spread them on a lined baking sheet in a 375 degree oven. Jicama will cook faster than sweet potato, so it’s a great idea to separate them and use two baking sheets. The sweet potatoes will usually cook in 12-15 minutes, but the jicama needs to be watched and taken out before it blackens.

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