Holiday treats for the co-pilots
Just in time for holiday cookie making, a delightful new book by Janine Adams—You Bake ’Em Dog Biscuits Cookbook—is filled with tantalizing dog biscuit recipes. Whip up a batch of the Red and Green Christmas Cookies to share with all your doggy friends.
Preheat oven to 325° F
Rinse out the processor bowl. Return it to the base and add spinach. Process to chop the spinach. Add water while the blade is going and continue to process until the spinach is finely chopped. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil and remaining 2 cups of the flour mixture. Process to form green dough.
On a lightly floured surface, roll red and green dough out, separately, into 1/4-inch-thick ovals. Try to make the ovals the same size and shape. Stack the green oval atop the red oval and roll again. Use cookie cutters to cut into Christmas shapes. Place on a baking sheet covered with greased or nonstick foil. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until just starting to brown on top. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Excerpted from You Bake ’Em Dog Biscuits by Janine Adams. Copyright © 2005 Running Press. All rights reserved.
A no-cook delight from the raw food maven
If you are blessed with the friendship of an animal companion, then you know about the special bond that can form between species. And as we share our lives and our love with them, we often share our food with them, too. Fresh, whole food is rich in the nutrients that we and our animal companions need to enjoy healthy lives. And raw food contains many more important nutrients than cooked food.
To get the most flavor and nutrients from your food, you’ll want to purchase it organically grown whenever possible. If you can’t buy organic, don’t let that deter you from eating fresh, whole foods. Choose fruits and veggies that are ripe and in season—and find fresh, locally grown produce whenever possible.
This is a delicious autumn soup. This winter squash is an excellent source of antioxidants, including beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin—compounds that help fight the damaging effect of free radicals that can cause heart disease and cancer. Pumpkin also contains minerals such as potassium, copper, manganese, iron, magnesium and phosphorus; vitamins A, C, B and E; and enzymes. It’s often used as a digestive aid for nausea and diarrhea.
Choose a pumpkin that’s firm and heavy for its size. The skin should be free of blemishes, and some of its stem should remain on the squash; store in a dark place and refrigerate only after cutting its skin.
2 cups pumpkin, peeled and diced
1 1/2 cups apple juice
1 cup carrot juice
1/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Place all ingredients in a food processor or blender and puree. Pour into bowls and garnish with a sprinkle of chopped pumpkin seeds. Makes about 4 cups.
From The Natural Nutrition No-Cook Book, by Kymythy R. Schultze (Hay House, 2005); used with permission of the publisher.
Note: We've omitted the garlic originally in this recipe.
Repurpose that still-fresh jack-o-lantern into a tummy-taming treat.
1. Preheat the oven to 350° degrees F.
2. Cut your jack-o-lantern into large wedges. Place the wedges skin side up on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Bake for approximately 90 minutes, or until the pumpkin wedges are fork tender.
3. When the pumpkin is cool enough to handle, scoop the flesh out of the skin into a bowl, then mash it or whirl it in a food processor. If the purée is a bit watery, cook in a saucepan over medium heat until some of the moisture has evaporated.
4. Let cool, then portion into freezer bags or containers and freeze. The purée can be defrosted quickly in the microwave or by placing the frozen bag or container into a bowl of hot (but not boiling) water. Use by itself to help with canine constipation or diarrhea (check with your vet for the amount appropriate for your dog), or—more pleasantly—try it in this recipe for Pumpkin Cheese Cups.
Dog-Sized Baked Frittatas
Kale might be all the rage in the food world, but I love kale for its assertive flavor and nutritional profile. My dog, Cookie, will eat anything, but I feel good about feeding her kale because it is rich in beta-carotene, vitamins and anti-cancer properties. I usually just toss Cookie scraps of vegetables while I’m cooking, but it was a treat to share these mini frittatas with her for dinner. She loved them!
In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs and milk. Stir in the cheese and kale. Use a large spoon to transfer the mixture into each of the muffin cups, filling them about halfway. Bake for 18 minutes, or until the frittatas are lightly golden.
Store in the refrigerator, covered, for up to 3 days. Use organic ingredients if possible. If you’d like smaller frittatas, try filling the muffins cups about a quarter of the way, and check for doneness after 8 minutes.
Dr. Deva K. Khalsa is a licensed doctor of veterinary medicine and author of the book Dr. Khalsa’s Natural Dog. An advocate of an integrative approach to natural health and healing for dogs, Dr. Khalsa suggests different ways to make dietary changes, from home-cooked meals to simply adding fresh vegetables to a good kibble. Below, she offers her formula for quick-and-easy, mix-and-match meals. Pick one item from Column A and one from Column B and just mix them together. These meals can be made fresh or prepared ahead of time and stored.
With Sweet Potato, Thyme, Oats and Bone Marrow
When there’s a chill in the air, Kit loves to dig into a warm, satisfying stew. Kit and her sisters can’t think of a more comforting variation than this recipe from The Culinary Canine by Kathryn Levy Feldman. With delicious marrow meat and caramelized veggies, it’s more than a tasty treat. Chef Nick LaCasse makes this extra nutritive with oats, a powerhouse source of protein, fiber, iron and B vitamins for your pup.
Put a slightly salted pot of water on high heat and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Add green beans and simmer for about five minutes until very soft (or slightly less if your pooch likes a little more crunch). Set aside.
Place the sweet potato or yam pieces in the same water and simmer until tender but not mushy.
Place the pieces on a rack to airdry for about 10 minutes. When dried, put the pieces on a baking sheet, sprinkle with oats, drizzle with a little bit of honey, olive oil and add some thyme sprigs. Roast for about 25 minutes until the potato or yam starts to caramelize around the edges. Remove the thyme sprigs and set aside.
To serve, place a few spoonfuls of the oat/sweet potato (or yam) mixture on a plate and top with green beans and diced marrow. To garnish, pinch thyme leaves from the sprigs; they will be dried and fall from the stems easily.
This is enough for two to four meals, depending on the size and appetite of your dog.
An extra dose of delicious
A homemade vinaigrette on the salad, fresh herbs over a perfect al dente pasta — these are the flourishes that elevate our experience of eating. Everyone who has watched their dogs dig into a flavorful meal knows that they too are gastronomes to the core.
Like us, our dogs occasionally enjoy a little something different, and it’s easy to provide those quick hits of tastiness that make a meal just that much better. This is especially true for dogs with diminished interest in eating, whether due to illness, age or simple boredom. By adding toppings, you have a real opportunity not only to brighten your dog’s day with fragrant, fresh tastes, but also to slip in some supplemental nutrition in the process.
The good news is that you need go no further than your own pantry or the aisles of your local pet-supply or grocery store to discover simple, healthy ways to liven up an otherwise humdrum dinner for your dog.
Some of you may be saying, Wait! We know dogs have only about one-sixth the number of taste buds we do. Why bother dishing up anything out of the ordinary? Ah-ha. You’ve forgotten another widely known fact: When it comes to smell, dogs have 125 million sensory cells to our 5 to 10 million; they can smell each and every ingredient. Imagine that! And research has shown that they are able to distinguish at least four flavor profiles: sweet, sour and salty, which they tend to like, and bitter, which they do not. (Put down that saltshaker; according to Psychology Today, because dogs’ wild ancestors ate primarily meat, they did not develop salt receptors like those of humans, so what we consider perfectly seasoned is likely to be too salty for them.)
In this round-up, The Bark shares three different kinds of toppings: On the Go, or easy toppings that will bring a little surprise and variety to their meals. For the Home Cook, which includes ingredients and recipes that take a bit of preparation and Off the Shelf, commercial additions that often include nutritional enrichments. With a few key harmful foods excepted (see box on left), the only real limits to topping your dog’s food with delicious add-ons are her particular needs and tastes, and your imagination. Of course, each dog is different and it’s best to clear dietary changes with your veterinarian.
On the Go
Even easier? Drizzle some oil. Few supplements are as popular as salmon or fish oil for the canine mealtime — and for good reason. Fish oil is among the most beneficial additives to the canine diet: it is excellent for the treatment of canine allergies, but is now recommended for everything from arthritis to high cholesterol as well. One convention for calculating the amount of fish oil to include in your dog’s diet is to multiply your dog’s weight (in pounds) by 20. For a 60-pound dog, for example, the daily target dose is 1,200 mg. Another top product is flax seed oil, which is credited with healing, strengthening bones and maintaining dog’s energy. Flax seed and olive oil are both great sources of antioxidants, and key for maintaining canine cardiovascular health.
For the Home Cook
Postins selected these ingredients with a dog’s health in mind. Both cherries and fennel are packed with powerful antioxidants, and fava beans tonify, or maintain the healthy function of, the spleen, liver, kidneys and pancreas. But you don’t need a PhD in animal nutrition to boost your dog’s meals. One more home cooking approach: simply buy a medley of vegetables in bulk (see low-prep list) and oven-roast as many as your dog might eat in four to five days, then store in refrigerator and add at mealtime. A healthy “fast food” your dog will love. You can even just stock up on frozen vegetables — defrost and serve!
Making dog treats from leftovers
Table scraps: dogs love them, and their pleading eyes are difficult to deny. However, the consequences of this indulgence can range from minor and annoying to life-threatening and expensive. Some human foods — onions, chocolate, grapes and raisins in particular — contain enzymes that may produce gastrointestinal upsets, neurological problems, seizures and even death if fed in large quantities.
With care and common sense, though, you can turn leftovers into tasty and nutritious treats for your dogs.
How about a canine trail mix? Chop meat, potatoes, vegetables, even fruit, into 1/2” pieces. Spray lightly with cooking spray and place in a food dehydrator or 200° oven until dried for a nutritious treat to take along on those long post-meal hikes.
Holiday meals bring a bounty of leftover meat. Instead of feeding your dog the scraps, create a healthy frozen treat. Rinse off any seasoning and chop into small pieces. Fill an ice cube tray partway with water, drop an equal amount of chopped meat into each cube and freeze. Even dogs who don’t usually chew ice cubes will lick this refreshing treat.
Sweet potatoes contain vitamins A, C and E as well as protease inhibitors, which are thought to help prevent cancer in dogs. Remove the peel and slice them 1/4” to 1/2” thick. Place the slices in a food dehydrator or a 200° oven until they’re dry and chewy.
You can also make crunchy dog treats using leftovers. Start by rinsing the seasoning from any combination of leftover meat, rice, noodles or vegetables. Purée until smooth in a food processor. Add a couple of tablespoons of vegetable oil and an egg. Use milk or water until the mixture is the consistency of heavy cream. Add a tablespoon of dried parsley and enough whole wheat, soy or rice flour to make a stiff dough. Roll the dough to about 1/4”, cut into shapes and bake at 350° for 20 to 30 minutes. Turn the oven off and leave in the oven overnight to crisp. The treats will keep for about a week in a cool, dry environment.
Healthy and nutritious dog treats are limited only by our imagination — be inspired to create your own recipes!
Makes 20 to 30 servings for a 25 lb. dog
Cooking for your dog is not only healthy and affordable but rewarding too. From stews, stir-fries and other one-pot delectables recipes abound that make it easy—but have you ever thought about making your own kibble? We were happy to find a great kibble recipe from Wendy Nan Rees’s cookbook, The Natural Pet Food Cookbook: Healthful Recipes for Dogs and Cats. Try it out—it’s delicious and nutritious!
This is my basic kibble recipe. I keep 8 cups in a sealed container in the refrigerator and freeze the rest in vacuum-sealed food storage bags. The kibble will keep in an airtight container for two weeks in the refrigerator, or three months in the freezer.
4 cups whole-wheat flour
1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Spray two large cookie sheets with nonstick cooking spray.
Variations: Here are some other ingredients I like to add for flavor and nutrients: alfalfa leaf, barley, basil leaf, beets, broccoli, brown rice, carrots, flaxseed meal, green beans, kamut, nutritional yeast flakes, peas, potatoes, rolled oats, rosemary leaf and zucchini.
Winning ways with leftovers
Dogs love turkey and sweet potatoes, too. Cook this meal from scratch or use up the leftovers—either way, your chow hounds will chow down with gusto!
Per 1-cup serving (approximate, depending on ingredient substitutions)
Protein 44 g
Carbohydrates 16 g
Dietary fiber 1.9 g
Fat 7.7 g (with gravy; less if omitted)
Facts (Vet’s View)
This is a moderate-carb recipe suitable for healthy adult dogs.
For small dogs, 3/4 cup; medium dogs, 1 1/2 cups; larger or more active dogs, 3 cups.
Add 400 mg calcium per 1-cup serving (600 mg if using bone meal).
Preparation Time: 30 minutes
Makes: 9 1-cup servings
3 lb/1.3 kg skinless turkey pieces (light and dark meat)
1 cup (about 6 oz/175 g) oatmeal (cooked)
1 lb/450 g sweet potatoes, cubed
2 tbsp cranberry sauce
4 tbsp turkey gravy (optional; to reduce the fat content, omit the gravy or substitute olive oil)
Use turkey leftovers or roast the turkey:
1. Preheat oven to 350°F/180°C. Lightly oil a roasting pan.
2. For boneless breast or thigh, cook 30–45 minutes; boned breast or thigh, 45–60 minutes; whole turkey, 1 1/2–2 hours or until the meat juices run clear when pierced with a skewer. Let cool.
3. Remove all the bones and dice the meat into large pieces.
4. If using fresh sweet potatoes, roast with the turkey for about 25–30 minutes or until tender. Let cool, then peel and dice.
5. Meanwhile, cook the oatmeal according to package instructions.
6. Mix together the turkey meat, oatmeal, sweet potatoes, and cranberry sauce. If using gravy or oil, add it now and mix thoroughly. (If your dog is at all prone to pancreatitis or other fat-related upsets, omit the gravy.)
Adapted from The Healthy Dog Cookbook: 50 Nutritious and Delicious Recipes Your Dog Will Love. Published by TFH Publications, 2008. Used by permission. © Ivy Press Limited
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