Is it possible to find healthy hot dogs at a grocery store?!
When a friend told me that she'd found organic, grass-fed, all beef, uncured healthy hot dogs at Meijer of all places, I didn't believe it until I saw it with my own eyes. It's TRUE, and they're good too!
Keep reading for why all that is causing me to do back-flips, but first, some information from the package…
Certified organic. Organic uncured hot dog. Organic grass-fed beef. No nitrate or nitrite added.* Fully cooked. Not preserved.
*Except for the naturally occurring nitrites in sea salt and celery powder.
Ingredients: organic grass-fed beef**, water, contains less than 2% of the following: sea salt, organic spices, organic garlic powder, organic paprika, celery powder, organic onion, lactic acid starter culture (not from milk).
**Beef used never administered antibiotics, growth hormones or animal by-products. Grass-fed beef.
IS THAT WILD OR WHAT?
The homemade all-natural healthy hot dogs from the farm that I've had in the past were all only “OK” and the kids didn't go for it. Then I found the all-natural ones from Cosco & Trader Joe's. They tasted good, like a “real” hot dog, and had a good ingredient label (they were also uncured, which means they don't have the cancer-causing preservatives that most hot dogs have), but they weren't grass-fed OR organic like these!
UPDATE: SEE COMMENTS BELOW FOR MORE ABOUT NITRATES/NITRITES!
I'm thrilled! But…the only drawback:
These suckers were $6 for a pound, yikes. We don't have them all that much anyway, though, and it's worth it to know that not only is there no crap in them, but because they're grass-fed, they're full of omega-3's and CLA, too!
- Find a local farm near you for more grass-fed meats.
- Nothing nearby? Or your farm doesn't have organ meats or other cuts you'd like? Check out U.S. Wellness Meats for mail order.
- Should you eat breakfast cereals?
- Do you know how good coconut oil is for you?
- Find out how to get more coconut oil into your diet.
- Best deals on virgin coconut oil.
Tina Coyle says
I love the applegate ones because the 100% grass fed meet in them, and they are good. I don’t find them at any local stores, but you can order them from the Applegate Farms website, I think they run about $5.99 a pack, and you get free shipping on orders over $100. They freeze great so we order some bacon, hotdogs, lunchmeats from them every once a while to save in the freezer for “meal emergencies”. They even have some “Big Apple Hot Dogs” that use natural casings that have that wonderful “natural snap”, although these aren’t listed as grass fed. I generally cheat once a year and get some of those for a special barbeque we have every summer.
Nitrates are what my plants crave to grow up strong and healthy in my aquaponics system. Plants can not do much with the water until the nutrients are converted into nitrates by the beneficial bacteria. Aquaponics is the method for future food production. Notice how Tilapia fish is being served more places? I guarantee you it was raised in an aquaponics system.
April Thornton says
We discovered these a couple of years ago. My kids were THRILLED to be able to have a hot dog again, since I banned hot dogs a while back! 🙂 These are so yummy! They’re very expensive where we live…I think $8/package. So we only buy them a few times a year. But I love that my kids can have a hot dog along with all the other kiddos at cookouts and such. 🙂
Just curious about the “organic spices” comment. I’m not familiar with all the standards that must be met to be organic. Can MSG fall under this category or would that violate the “organic” lable? On a side note, is there a site that would tell me what the organic lable really means??
I’ve recently found out that “organic” doesn’t for sure mean MSG-free, but it *usually* does…someone sensitive to MSG would have to be extra careful with this.
Here’s a little more on what organic means: https://kellythekitchenkop.com/2008/05/why-eat-local-organic-sustainable-food.html
But you could also do some googling and see what you find.
A nice, middle of the road compromise on the rolls, if you have the inclination to make, are these (my modifications following the link):
I used butter instead of vegetable oil, used half organic all purpose flour and half organic white-whole wheat flour, and halved the amount of yeast, which allows for a longer, slower rise (allwoing the yogurt to “soak” the flour longer; rising time was roughly 3x the time indicated in the recipe).
It isn’t perfect nutirition for sure, but it isn’t wonder bread squishy chemical rolls either.
i think i misread label–i thought the polyunsaturated oil content must have come from added veggie oil[was shocked to see any oil added to grassfed dogs], but i think it’s mainly from the beef. i don’t want to unduly trash any decent attempt at better food. got them on sale ==they were about the best beefy dogs i ever had. most uncured dogs are not that great,too salty…[never saw the grassfed applegate, don’t like their regular ones] btw, diestel used to make a good-tasting meaty, lowfat turkey dog–can’t find anymore. we like finely ground meat products like h.dogs,fish cake…they can be made healthy–too bad most aren’t
anyone try the org. wellshire grass-fed franks @ whole foods? seems to have more sunflower oil than natural beef fat–never heard of adding veggie oils to hdogs! how is this oil?–probably yet another source of mostly o-6?
Raine, this is great scoop for us because while the kids & I love these, Kent’s not crazy about them, so I’d like to try the Organic Valley ones, thank you! I’m like you, I love letting my kids have these and they didn’t have hot dogs for so long, they’re thrilled to be able to again. 🙂
Raine Saunders says
Hi Kelly – I came across this post for some reason, while digging around, and I just wanted to add that we have been eating the Organic Valley uncured grass-fed hotdogs for several years. I called Organic Valley sometime ago and asked them if their meats and dairy products were from grass-fed cows, and they said they were.
I like them better than Applegate Farms ones, although I buy those if I cannot find the Organic Valley ones. The Organic Valley ones are just so amazingly good. My son eats them several times a week because they are easy to fix and good for him. I feel just fine about his eating them because they are healthy and he loves them. 🙂 Here is the link:
I don’t think so, I think they have to say it. Try calling the company and asking where to get them – maybe you’ll get someone who can be more specific this time.
Christine, just saw your comment from February, don’t know how I missed that, I’m sorry! Yes, you want grass fed AND finished, which these hot dogs are (I called the company). Pasture-fed just means they’re out roaming on grass, so they’re healthier all-around and eating what they were meant to eat.
Okay, I found them, but our store only had the natural turkey, chicken, and beef hot dogs. Are they still grass-fed, do you know?
I went to the website and located two stores near me which it said was supposed to have it. Unfortunately, neither of them did. Oh well, I’ll definitely keep my eye out for them!
Thanks for the info. My husband requested hot dogs for an upcoming camping trip and I was cringing on the inside, but trying to be accommodating since he is generally so receptive to my idea of “normal” food. I’ll have to see if I can find these. I get the applegate bacon for a special treat (add a slice or two to a big pot of beans, delish!) and I love it.
Kelly, here is the applegate farms site. It appears that they do require poultry to be pasture fed, no antibiotics (hormones are illegal in poultry nation wide).
I’m still figuring all that out, Kelly. About a year back, dh and I decided to go ahead and get organic meat/dairy as much as possible (it is hard to find all products in one store, so sometimes I settle for less than best, cheese for example, is difficult to find raw).
Then I read Kevin Trudeau’s book (dh likes him) and we decided to try for pasture/grass fed meats and eggs. But I’m still learning the terms. I’m unsure whether pasture fed means grass fed? Whole Foods – all their meats – are all pasture fed until the last month of finishing off (same with Meijer NatureWell beef.) And organic – so no pesticides or hormones, etc.
Applegate I have not yet researched much – but I do know they are organic. : ) And nitrate free which is our priority for any processed meats.
We love Hormel Natural lunch meats! What a lifesaver so far (until I learn something horrible about them??!) No nitrates – our schools are nut free (#@$!!) and my children do not like sunflower butter. So lunchmeat is helpful. They are quite reasonably priced at Walmart & Meijer – much higher at other stores.
While the ingredient list is short, and I can pronounce it all – there are no claims of organic or hormone free. : / We use these occasionally – but I am glad to avoid MSG and nitrates and other chemicals, at least.
No, but I’d like to, do you know if they are grass-fed too?
We do, yes. They seemed much more flavorful, by far, actually. But its been a while since we’ve tried their hot dogs – and I’m wondering if they were all beef or what? I know we didn’t care for any of the poultry hot dogs we tried (organic).
So, it is possible we didn’t try the exact type your family likes so well, Kelly! : D
And truthfully, the hot dogs are about the only thing I buy at TJs – they have some nice dairy products too.
I definitely like Applegate’s sweet Italian sausage! Have you tried that? : )
So do you like the Trader Joe’s better than the Applegate grass-fed dogs? I’m thankful my family loves the Applegate just as much as the Trader Joe’s. (We don’t have a TJ’s nearby.)
Thanks for the great, helpful comment, Christine!
Btw – I’m not terribly clever, and it took me a long while to figure out that organic hot dogs and canned, organic baked beans are a fabulous, economical and healthier ‘fast food’ lunch for us on Sundays.
I utilize my crock pots and have the dogs (with a couple tablespoons of water) in one, on low or warm, and the baked beans in another, on warm. When we come home from church, this is an instant lunch with a fast food feel to it, and we use paper plates, too. I also include a store brand bottle of soda water (which we add condensed juice to, immediately before pouring over ice, for ‘soda’) and a bag of organic chips. I get a bit of a Sabbath from cooking, and I can still feed all 7 of us for under $8 or $9.
We are Dave Ramsey people (www.DaveRamsey.com), and this is one of our ways of planning NOT to resort to a meal at Micky Ds, which runs us about $30 for the 7 of us.
It does take planning – so I actually jot this meal down in our weekly menu, as if I have to cook it – in order to make sure I buy the needed items, and have them prepared Sat. night (thawed, condiments out, etc.) It is easy enough to work ahead in the week, and have tacos or sloppy joes (with controlled, organic and sale items) ahead of time, also. Planning ahead is a real money saver for us. : )
OK – I have to chime in after trying (it seems!) a dozen brands of organic dogs last summer!
If anyone has a Trader Joes near by – they are hands down our favorite organic all beef dog – at under $4 a pd.
My family found every other brand I tried bland, mushy and lacked the true hot dog ‘flavor’ that they like. I was beginning to think that they actually liked the flavor of nitrates. : /
A friend told us she found Trader Joes uncured organic all beef hot dogs to be well accepted by her 5 sons. : D And at $3.99 a pound (8 dogs), they are not too hard to work into our budget.
What do we find best about Trader Joes? The TASTE. They TASTE like actual, greasy, spicy DOGS!!! They have that ‘snap’ when you bite into them (not mushy) and hold up great on the grill. (They are not high in fat, btw, but taste like it).
Woot – now I can let Chicken Little have hotdogs on his birthday. Thanks for checking into that Kelly!
Wooohoooooooo, I just called Applegate Farms and they’re 100% grass fed!!
Oh great…I’ll go look and see if I have some in the freezer…
SHOOT, it only says “grass fed beef”…I’ll call them tomorrow, thanks for the heads-up, Annette!
And now here is another barb in the tush – did it say 100% grass fed beef? One trick smart companies are doing now is to finish the cows with grass the last 2-3 days before slaughter with grass so they can claim grass fed status – much like Tyson now injects their chickens in egg so they can claim “raised w/o hormones”. It’s getting scary out there.
40% off??!!!!!!!!!!! I wonder if that’s the case at ALL Meijers????? If so, it would be well worth it to stock up!
Donielle @ Naturally Knocked Up says
Hey – a quick FYI on these. AT the Meijer in Jenison they actually have them 40% off! So it’s 3.59 per pack.
And thanks for the heads up on these! I bought them and gave them to my hubby without him even knowing they were “healthy”. And I don’t feel bad about letting my toddler have one every now and again. 🙂
Kelly the Kitchen Kop says
I agree with your conclusions, and also agree that it can all be very frustrating! Good that we can all help each other figure everything out!
Marsha M says
Hmmm, I read those articles and they were very interesting. It frustrates me that there are so many opposing views but here is where I am now:
Is there really no difference between naturally occurring nitrates and the nitrates used in major manufacturing?
It seems like the more important concern would be where the meat came from instead of whether it has nitrates or not after reading those articles.
Thanks for the replies!
Kelly the Kitchen Kop says
Marsha, Anna’s reply beat me to it, I was going to suggest the same thing. Come back and let us know your thoughts after reading those if you have a chance. 🙂
Anna, can’t wait to hear what you think!
I noticed the Applegate grassfed beef “uncured” hotdogs at my local natural foods store today so I bought a pack to try later this week. They were approx $7 (rounded up) for 8 dogs.
Marsha, see the two articles I linked to in my earlier comments.
Marsha M says
So I'm confused about the labeling…I was excited to find lunch meat (Hormel) and bacon (Full Circle) at our local grocery store yesterday that was labeled "Nitrate Free" but then said except that which was naturally occurring in the celery salt. Is this okay? I figured we would have to give up all lunch meats & bacon since we are no where near a Whole Foods or decent grocery store but now I am hoping that I can use these new options in moderation of course!
The bacon was such a new product that I had to wait at the cash register while the manager added it into the computer system!
Kelly the Kitchen Kop says
Anna, these hot dogs aren't mushy at all!
Shauna, love that idea with the hot dogs, chili & cheese. (I'd omit the onions!) I'll bet the kids love them! Hot dogs & chili are one of my favorite low-carb foods.
Beth, the hormel meat looks pretty good to me…the only question is where the meat comes from and how the animals are raised, but with this or the Boarshead meats or whatever the natural brand, that's always going to be a question, and these type of meats are much better than your average lunch meat. It's something we do now and then, but just not all the time.
I don’t buy hot dogs that often, not for any particular reason other than I don’t think about hotdogs very often. I’m more of a bratwurst girl, myself.
But when I do buy hotdogs, I guess what I pay most attention to is how much of the ingredients seem to be cheap filler (starch), added sugar (unnecessary), coloring (dyes) and preservatives (BHT, etc.), and additives like that.
It’s been a while since I have bought any turkey or chicken hotdogs, though I know that 10-15 years ago I would have chosen them over pork or beef because of the cost and the worries about pork and beef. But now chicken and turkey seem sort of fake and NC, “nutritionally correct”.
The last hotdog I had (a few weeks ago) was the poorest excuse for a hotdog imaginable. Even my son agreed, though he ate two. His sports team had a hotdog party in a local park at the end of the season. They were grilled and looked ok, slightly browned and just starting to blister. It was all I could do to finish it politely (wasn’t sure who provided them). I eat hotdogs without the bun, (my son calls them “naked dogs”, dipping them into mustard (brown mustard if available). Without the bun, a bad hotdog can’t hide. But when bitten into, what a soft mushy texture, with no resistance. Ugh.
Maybe I need to rethink my kid party strategy. Usually I prepare a cut up veggie and/or fruit tray as an antidote to all the chips, and sweet snacks that are omnipresent at these events, but maybe I should be volunteering to bring the hotdogs instead.
Wow, my mind is spinning with the nitrate/nitrite info. Thanks for the articles. I’ve been getting Hormel’s natural deli ham with no “added” nitrates nor “added” msg. What do you all think of these:
I got some uncured, frozen hot dogs for dd’s B-day party last week but I got a chicken and turkey because, frankly, the beef were double the price and I had to feed 9 kiddos more than one each. Funny thing is that the other families wouldn’t care but I just couldn’t use the regular hot dogs. Wish I had read this first, I would’ve paid more attention to the hot dogs :).
Michigan Mom2three says
Yes – we forgo the bun too! When we’re camping, we put the dogs on a plate, smother them in homemade chili (that I bring), grated cheese, onion and eat them with a fork around the campfire! It’s our traditional “set-up” night meal.
The hot dogs we had sound like the ones you describe Anna….. they had real casings, from the farm (sheep maybe?).
My son wanted to know whyy I was laughing when I read “Anna filter”…
Do you use google reader? Go to google.com, click on More at the top left corner and select Reader.
You can copy and paste the Junkfood Science URL into the Add a Subscription (top left corner) and you’ll be notified on your google reader page that a new post is up. That’s how I keep up with my favorite blogs.
Anna the filter
Yeah, she doesn’t do comments (phew!)
Kelly the Kitchen Kop says
Oh, what a happy day when something I love makes it through the “Anna filter”!!! 🙂
BTW, I love my dogs without a bun, dipped in organic ketchup…
I wish the Junk Science site had an email subscription sign up. If I have to go check a site, then I’ll never read it – only if it comes up in my in-box. I don’t see an email for her, either, so I couldn’t suggest it.
Oh, if you read Sandy at Junk Food Science, your gears will really start spinning and smoking, LOL.
My guess is that hotdogs from healthy animals (I prefer beef or beef and pork to pale poultry dogs) and a fairly simple ingredient list that is largely absent of starchy fillers, more than a trace of sugars, BHT, and laboratory flavor enhancers, are probably fine, whether the nitrate curing agent is potassium nitrate or a plant source like celery juice.
Like I always say, it’s the doughy white bread buns that will get you, not the burger or the hot dog! 🙂
Kelly the Kitchen Kop says
Shauna, they say “fully cooked” on the package, and I’ve only boiled them to eat so far, so I don’t know if they *have* to be parboiled…maybe you could call the company at the number above?
WOW!! My comments…
1. After the 1st article I was depressed, thinking, “Oh GREAT, so they’re just “hiding” the nitrites in something else that *sounds* healthy!”
2. But then I read the 2nd one and thought, “PHEW”, maybe I’m guilty of believing something for years that is wrong (that nitrates and nitrites were bad), but now that I know they’re not bad, and neither is the celery powder in them, I can still eat these hot dogs!
Thanks for the links to a couple very interesting posts – especially the 2nd one – she sure covers her bases doesn’t she?
Here’s the article I was looking for, but I found the NYT article first.
So perhaps the quality of the meat scraps in the hotdog (from grassfed, humanely raised animals without added hormones and antibioitics), taste, and texture (and perhaps cost) are the most important considerations when choosing hotdogs.
Personally, I like the old fashioned hotdogs, like the “special occasion” party hotdogs from my childhood, locally made by Albany Pork Co in albany, NY, made with a real casing – they sort of “popped” when bitten into. We didn’t have these special dogs often because they cost more and required a drive to Albany, but oh, they were so good hot and blistery from the grill. But kids don’t like those old fashioned hotdogs anymore, because they cut their teeth on artificial casings that are sort of “barely there” and boring.
You might find this NYT article interesting. About halfway down it has some interesting info about cured meats and nitrates. Things aren’t always as they seem, are the?
Michigan Mom2three says
This is great! We only eat hot dogs when we are camping…… and last year, I bought the same ones that you mentioned from the local farm. So this, gives us an option. One question- being uncured, do they need to be parboiled first? This is what I ran into with the uncured hot dogs from the farm….. they took FOREVER to cook over a fire. I finally realized that I needed to parboil them first!