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From Our Freshologists: Meat-free Hot Dogs

My friend Carolyn was beautiful and funny and had a smile that made you want to smile yourself whenever you saw it. I had just arrived at college when I first met her and had just spent two years listening to The Cure and Depeche Mode. She was always sunny and I was always overcast. But being morose takes a lot out of ya. So when Carolyn burst into my dorm room one day dragging a big, dusty cow costume behind her and said, “Let’s make signs and tell people that hamburgers are really cows!” – I was ready.

And just like that, boom, I’m a vegetarian. Ah, youth!

But for me, vegetarianism didn’t stick. At my core, I’m a carnivore. I’m grateful for that period in my life, though. It taught me to be mindful about the things I eat. To care about the way my food is treated before it gets to my plate. And my stint in the world of vegetarianism also gave me an appreciation for the vegetarian diet. I still love tofu in all its various permutations, even though I punctuate it with a few juicy steaks now and again.

My favorite meatless thing has to be the tofu hot dog. The most common brands are Tofu Dogs and Smart Dogs. Luckily, we carry both at FRESH. (Look in the vegetarian section in the dairy aisle.)

Tofu versions of hot dogs are similar in texture to non-casing hot dogs. But tofu hot dogs typically have a third of the calories and little to no fat. The leading brand of all beef hot dogs has 14 grams of fat with almost half of that comprised of saturated fat. Tofu Pups? Sixty calories, 2.5 grams of fat. Smart Dogs? Better yet: they have no fat and only 45 calories. And there’s no worry about nitrites or harmful fillers.

You can use them like you use any other hot dog. Cut ‘em up and put ‘em in your pork & beans. Make your own corn tofu dogs. Make tofu pigs in a blanket. Cut ‘em up and put ‘em in mac & cheese.

But why over think it? Just grill ‘em, slap ‘em, in a bun, squeeze a few lines of mustard on ‘em and defy people to tell the difference.