Hot Dogs, Burgers, & The Life Choices Brand

My daughter recently asked me why we don’t eat hamburgers and hot dogs. Before she started school, my daughter had no idea what they were. She doesn’t stay for lunch at school, so I knew she didn’t see a classmate eating a hot dog or hamburger during lunchtime. She told me her classmates talked about it while her class was discussing favourite foods. I told my daughter that hamburgers are made from beef and hot dogs are mostly made from beef or pork. She knows that we don’t eat beef or pork and she is alright with that, for now. My daughter quickly added, “we don’t eat pepperoni either because it is made from pork.”

Last weekend at her friend’s birthday party, she was offered pepperoni pizza and she politely declined saying she doesn’t eat pepperoni and asked for a slice of cheese pizza instead. Watching from afar, I was proud of her for going against the norm and sticking to what she was taught.  To be honest I wasn’t expecting her to refuse. I also wouldn’t have been terribly disappointed or interjected had my daughter not spoken up. I’m a vegetarian but I try not to force my beliefs on my children. I believe they should choose later on when they are old enough to decide for themselves but I am also not going to feed them something that I know isn’t healthy just because they ask for it.  
 
I was a complete vegetarian by choice before I had kids and my husband ate and still eats just about anything. When we had our children, my husband and I agreed that we would feed them egg, chicken, and fish and avoid beef and pork for both health and religious reasons. I agreed to feeding my children chicken because I knew that I could buy responsibly raised organic chicken and I didn’t want to deprive my children of a good source of protein. I agreed to fish because fish is one of the best sources of Omega-3, an essential fatty acid we need for a healthy heart. Omega 3 is especially important for healthy brain development in children. I didn’t give a second thought to hamburgers and hot dogs at the time.  

When my daughter mentioned hot dogs and hamburgers, I realized that it wasn’t really fair to deprive her of these common foods that most children eat. I didn’t want her to wonder what it was and feel left out. I also didn’t want her to grow up and rebel against the strict healthy eating habits I have enforced. I also didn’t want to give my children regular chicken hot dogs because they are made of processed left-over meats, contain sodium nitrate as a preservative which has been linked to cancer, and because hot dogs are high in fat and sodium. After careful thinking, I decided that I would look for “healthier” organic chicken hot-dogs. While I was at the Real Canadian Super Store, I checked out the organic refrigerated food aisle not really expecting to find anything. I was quite surprised and delighted to see Life Choices Chicken Hot Dogs and Chicken Burgers.  

What I love about Life Choices Chicken Burgers:

© www.lifechoicesfoods.com

          Made of premium cuts of chicken (from chicken breast and thighs only)

          Lean meat therefore low in saturated fats

          Responsibility raised free-range meat

          Chickens are raised without the use of antibiotics or hormones

          Vegetarian-fed chicken

          Gluten-free

What I love about Life Choices Chicken Hot Dogs:

© www.lifechoicesfoods.com

 
          Fully cooked hot dogs

          Made of premium cuts of chicken (from chicken breast and thighs only)

          Lean meat therefore low in saturated fats

          Responsibility raised free-range meat

          Chickens are raised without the use of antibiotics or hormones

          Vegetarian-fed chickens

          No fillers or by-products

          Gluten-free

          Peanut-free

          Naturally smoked

          No added nitrates except those naturally occurring in the celery salt

          11 simple ingredients

These chicken hot dogs sounded wonderful to me. I was excited that I could finally give my children their first hot-dog and bought it after quickly skimming the label. Usually I spend more time carefully reading labels but this time I was in bit of a hurry as I was late for an appointment and I was consumed by excitement. When I came home I read the label carefully and noticed one of the ingredients was carrageenan. Through my background in science, I knew carrageenan was derived from seaweed and used as a thickening agent and emulsifier but that was all I knew. I decided to do my research before telling my daughter that I had hot dogs for her.

From my research, this is what I learned:

          Derived from red algae

          Used in place of the animal-based product gelatin for vegan, vegetarian products, organic products

          Common agent in many foods such as ice cream, milk, cottage cheese, jelly, salad dressing, fat substitute in meat products

          Used as a thickener, stabilizer, and emulsifier

          Used to improve texture of foods

          Used in non-food products such as some toothpastes, personal lubricants, and solid air fresheners

          A study conducted by Joanne Tobacman in the early 2000s suggested that carrageenan degraded by acids could cause inflammation and gastrointestinal problems. She also believes carrageenan used in foods can cause inflammation in the stomach as well

          Degraded carrageenan is NOT used in food products

          Variety of carrageenan used in foods is deemed safe by the FDA

From this I concluded that although the FDA deems that food-grade carrageenan is safe for consumption, I would prefer not to put my children at risk, especially when I’ve been very careful as to what I feed my children. Since carrageenan is the seventh ingredient in a list of 11 and the studies were conducted on lab animals with regular consumption of carrageenan, I will probably let my children eat these hot-dogs once in a while and in the meantime look for ones that don’t contain carrageenan as an ingredient. For now this is the best alternative to regular hot dogs, and the best part is that my children ate these nutritious hot dogs without any complaints.


I will happily continue to buy Life Choices Chicken Burgers because the burgers don’t contain carrageenan as an ingredient. These burgers were thick and quite juicy. My husband commented on how fresh and delicious they tasted. My children enjoyed the burgers as well. Although my family enjoyed these burgers, I will likely buy them only on occasion as I do not want my children to think that eating hamburgers and hot dogs on a regular basis is alright. I hope that my children learn that freshly prepared foods are healthier for us and continue eating healthy once they are old enough to make decisions on their own.     

For strict vegetarians, there are tofu hotdogs, and mushroom burgers available. At this time I cannot comment on them because I haven’t tried them but I do wish to learn more about them in the near future.

The Life Choices brand carries other products as well, such as beef burgers, sausages, beef and pork hot dogs, breaded and unbreaded chicken nuggets and fish sticks. To learn about other Life Choices products go to http://www.lifechoicesfoods.com.

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4 Comments

  1. Very informative post. I recommend you check out Whole Foods Market. You will definitely have better luck there. Warning – you will be there for hours and hours browsing due to the countless number of options

    1. Thank you, that is where I am headed this weekend. It’s one of my favourite stores.

  2. Hi there,
    I have a quick question. My husband loves ox tails. Do you know if The Real Canadian Supercenter carries organic ox tails ?

    -the perfect wife

    1. I know in this post I mentioned that my husband eats just about everything, but I have never prepared ox tails so I have no clue. Nonetheless I will check it out next time I go, but I doubt they will have organic ox tail.

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