Summer is the quintessential season for grilling. I swear, grill marks on foods just make everything taste way better. From fruit kabobs to vegetables to summertime classics like burgers and hotdogs, grilling foods is a favorite for many. Just like a bowl of ice cream is better with healthy-ish ice cream sundae toppings, burgers and hotdogs are simply just better with a smattering of toppings.
Ketchup, mustard, and relish are all standby staples to any backyard BBQ or cookout. However, if you are looking for healthy burger toppings and healthy hot dog toppings, here are some unexpected ideas that will give your favorite foods a nutritional boost you didn’t see coming.
Healthy burger toppings
A flavorful alternative to lettuce, arugula is a healthy burger topping. This peppery leafy green adds a mildly spicy bite to burgers and offers a variety of vitamins including vitamins A, C, and K. Belonging to the family of cruciferous vegetables, arugula may help in disease prevention and pairs particularly well with chicken or turkey burgers.
Avocado may be often associated with salads, but avocados create a creamy and delicious healthy burger topping, especially when cooking turkey burgers. Loaded with filling fiber, heart-healthy unsaturated fat, and potassium, avocados make a great alternative to traditional mayonnaise.
If you aren’t all about avocados, but enjoy a creamy, savory spread for your healthy burger toppings, try hummus. Colleen Christensen, RD says, “I actually love using hummus as a spread on burgers! It can add some health-promoting fats while also adding a touch of fiber and protein, which many other condiments don’t have. Plus, the flavor is amazing, which can actually increase satisfaction and enhance mindful eating!”
Give your veggie burger a spicy Korean twist with a spoonful or two of kimchi. A healthy burger topping, and a healthy hot dog topping, kimchi is a red pickled cabbage that is a fermented food containing probiotic bacteria, which may help support gut health.
Erin Kenney, MS, RD, LDN, HCP, and Author of Rewire Your Gut, touts the benefits of adding fermented foods to your burger or hot dog. “Fermented pickles, kimchi and sauerkraut are excellent toppings for a [hamburger or] hotdog because they contain live probiotics that help to feed the bacteria in the gut to keep us healthy and regular. The gut is home to 70% of your immune system, so it should be top of mind for anyone looking to improve their health.”
Mushrooms add an earthy layer of flavor to beef burgers and are an excellent option for healthy burger toppings. Besides lending fresh flavor and juiciness, mushrooms are one of the few sources of Vitamin D. Mushrooms also include B vitamins, potassium, and selenium.
Jessica Randhawa, Owner & Head Chef at the Forked Spoon, says, “Hamburgers and hotdogs topped with sauteed mushrooms are always a favorite in my household. Sautée in garlic and butter until perfectly caramelized and sprinkled with fresh chopped parsley for that final fresh finish. Sautéed mushrooms add a whole mouth-watering layer of flavor to any burger or hotdog.”
Onions are often included on top of pizzas, but they are also a delicious healthy burger topping. They’re naturally low in sodium and are a good source of dietary fiber, folic acid, and vitamin C. When caramelized, onions offer a natural sweetness that compliments burgers well, especially when paired with savory mushrooms.
Healthy hot dog toppings
Some healthy burger toppings like avocado, mushrooms, and onions also make for some healthy hot dog toppings. Here are some other foods that will help give those grilled hot dogs an added nutritional boost.
Did anyone else grow up eating beanies and weenies? No, just me? Well, this classic culinary combination is a kitchen staple for good reason – it’s good! Christensen says, “A unique hot dog topping to add is baked beans. Adding beans can add additional protein and fiber to your hot dog, enhancing your fullness and satisfaction.”
Traditional hot dog relish is loaded with sodium, so replace it with a healthy hot dog topping like fresh slices of shredded cucumbers. Cucumbers are low in calories and are water-based, making them an ideal cooling food perfect for summertime.
Another healthy hot dog topping with a cool and refreshing crunch? Coleslaw. Christensen says, “Another hot dog topping that I love is coleslaw. It adds a dose of veggies to your hot dog in a delicious way!”
Jalapeños provide a kick of flavor to nachos and tacos, but they’re also an excellent hot dog topping. These spicy peppers provide antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins with one jalapeños providing more than a day’s worth of vitamin C. Talk about small, but mighty! Just make sure you aren’t using those store-bought jarred jalapeños, which are laden with artificial dyes and sodium. Instead, grow your own or pick some up at the local farmers market.
Being from Chicago, I know a classic Chicago dog consists of a smattering of toppings, including diced tomatoes, pickles, and raw onions. However, once a year, on the Fourth of July, I commit the most sinful act when it comes to eating hot dogs. That’s right folks, I put ketchup on mine. (Hey, it’s sugar-free at least).
Apparently, my fellow Chicagoans are well-versed in healthy hot dog toppings when they opted for diced tomatoes instead of ketchup. A great source of vitamins, tomatoes may boost digestive health, protect heart health and support healthy vision.