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Hot dog! There are healthier franks to enjoy this summer

How about a hot dog that's only 50 calories apiece?
How about a hot dog that's only 50 calories apiece?

Today may have been National Hot Dog Day, but hot dogs are a staple food all summer long. They can be an absolute disaster if you're going for those footlong belly busters covered in chili, cheese and stuffed inside a big ol' bun.

But we've scouted out some leaner and cleaner wieners for your summer cookout. And, no, they're not made of tofu. Tofu dogs were a popular replacement for traditional fatty dogs back in the day, but companies have perfected lower-fat franks so you don't have to go the faux-dog route anymore (unless you're a vegetarian, then go ahead).

Here are just a few of the better varieties of friendler franks:

  • Applegate: The company makes a variety of uncured (ie, nitrite free) beef, beef-pork, or turkey dogs that come in natural or organic. Its turkey dogs are an amazing 50 calories apiece so you can feel good about doubling up. Even the all-beef dogs weigh in at just 70 calories. In fact, you can stage a "wienervention" for your friends and family, tweet or post photos with the hashtag #wienervention and be entered to win a year's supply of Applegate dogs. You can also grab a coupon at its site.
  • Jennie-O: The turkey folks have just introduced a line of nitrite-free turkey dogs in regular, bun length or jalapeno-jack flavors. These dogs, which are a big bigger than Applegate's, are 80 calories each for all three varieties, so if you're a fan of spicy dogs, spluge on the jalapeno-jack dogs, which have tiny bits of cheese throughout.
  • Thin n Trim: These aren't hot dogs, per se. but this brand has some of the lowest calorie chicken sausages we've seen (70 calories), and they come in a slew of flavors -- Spicy Italian, Sweet Italian, Chipotle and Peach Salsa, Spinach and Red Onion, Garden Vegetable, Apple and Cinnamon, and our favorite, Wildfire Buffalo Chicken. Like the other brands, these are also nitrite free, but they're also vastly lower in sodium than other brands and they still manage to taste great.

You can also clean up the toppings by using organic ketchup, relish and mustard, which often taste better than conventional. And if you need to spare some carbs, do what we do -- toss your hot dog into a romaine lettuce leaf. It's the perfect size to cradle that dog and it's sturdy enough to contain your toppings.

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