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July is National Hot Dog & Ice Cream Month

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Hot Diggity Dog!

Why not feature hot dogs at your cookout in honor of National Hot Dog Month? According to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council (NHDSC), the exact history of the hot dog is not known and widely debated. Sausages were mentioned in The Odyssey by Homer, which dates them to the 9th century BC. What we now know as a hot dog most likely began as a sausage with bread available from street vendors with push carts in 19th century New York. Whatever the origin, Americans love their hot dogs. The NHDSC reports that on July 4th alone, we will consume 150 million hot dogs, enough to reach from Washington D.C. to L.A. more than 5 times. And as our nutritional expectations have changed, so have hot dogs, offering healthier alternatives. Many hot dogs and other processed meat products are cured, treated with nitrites and nitrates, and contain other unwanted and unhealthy ingredients. Look for hot dogs that have less than 150 calories, no more than 450 mg of sodium, are less than 14 grams of total fat with 6 or less grams of saturated fat. Uncured organic hot dogs are your healthiest alternative, but there are also chicken and turkey hot dogs and sausages and even veggie dogs. Or you can make your own by grinding the meat and adding spices. Whatever you choose, put your hot dog on a whole grain bun and you make it even better.

You Scream, I Scream...

For dessert, celebrate National Ice Cream Month. Like the hot dog, the true origin of ice cream is lost in stories and legends. But no matter who invented it, Americans love ice cream, devouring an average of 20 quarts per person every year. 

If you’re on a low fat or other restricted diet, or if you just want to eat healthier, you can still enjoy the delicious creamy treat with one of the many products available today. Frozen yogurt, ice cream and sorbet all provide the taste and experience, but some varieties leave out the ingredients you need to avoid. There are fat free, sugar free, dairy free, vegan, reduced carbohydrate and many other types of frozen products available to suit your particular taste and needs. Be sure to read the nutrition label and the ingredient list carefully to avoid hidden fats and sugars. You can also make your own ice cream using fresh ingredients and controlling the fat and sugar content. There are lots of recipes available on the internet, many of which don’t even require an ice cream maker. Try some fresh strawberries or peaches in some homemade ice cream or frozen yogurt and enjoy the delicious bounty of summer.