The simple summer pleasure of enjoying a hot dog at the ballpark or on the patio of a casual eatery has evolved into a gourmet event.

As part of a nationwide trend, restaurants specializing in hot dogs and sausages such as HD1 in Atlanta are putting the "haute" in hot dog. You can still enjoy a Plain Jane at HD1 with a choice of two toppings, such as mustard, ketchup, sweet relish or onion, but chef Richard Blais' imagination goes way beyond the basic beef. His menu includes haute dogs such as the Little Italy, featuring fennel sausage garnished with San Marzano tomato ketchup, and a Bavarian bratwurst with beer-braised onions.

Dietitian Lanier Dabruzzi likes the high-end dog trend. "I think the 'haute' dog rage is actually great. People aren't stuck with those mystery-meat dogs topped with sugary ketchup and relish anymore. A lot of the dogs are now being made with leaner meats and act as a great medium for people to load on the veggies."

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Of course, there are a lot of options to load on other toppings that can really pile on the calories.

What'll ya have? At the Varsity, hot dogs are the culinary canvas to take on slaw, cheese or chili, or you can get them all by ordering the chili cheese slaw dog. Mustard, sauerkraut, pickle relish and chopped onion are the traditional toppings with the least amount of calories. Calorie-free celery salt is an option to sprinkle on at Mike's Hot Dogs in Sandy Springs, Ga. Count about 315 calories for a regular-size dog on a roll with ketchup.

Turkey dogs? They are generally lower in fat and calories than beef- or pork-based dogs, and most places offer a meatless alternative veggie frank, too.

Choose a whole-grain bun and you're on your way to creating a tasty and nutritious summer treat.

Hot dog diet facts

5-inch-long, 1.6-ounce beef hot dog: 150 calories, 13 grams fat, 5 grams protein

5-inch-long, 1.6-ounce turkey dog: 102 calories, 8 grams fat, 6 grams protein

5-inch-long, 1.6-ounce veggie dog: 80 calories, 2 grams fat, 11 grams protein, 3 grams fiber

1-ounce hot dog bun: 84 calories

Toppings (1 tablespoon)

Ketchup: 16 calories

Sweet relish: 21 calories

Mustard: 12 calories

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