Butternut Squash Garden Veg Puree

Squash from our garden

Squash from our garden

I know I recently talked about the benefits of pumpkin, and the benefits of butternut squash are not far off, but I love it so much that I had to write about it. This year we attempted (successfully I might add) to grow our own butternut squash. This magical winter squash is one of the healthiest vegetables you can feed to your dog. It is higher in Vitamin-C than any other winter squash. It is also a packed full of fiber, vitamin A and potassium. Vitamin-c helps boost your dog’s immune system while vitamin-A helps with vision health.

For the Butternut Squash Garden Veg Puree I started off by peeling, seeding and cutting up the squash. 20130930_160935[1]

I then pureed the squash in a few different batches because it quickly filled my food processor. I added olive oil to the puree to help my processor out. 20130930_161459[1]

I then separately pureed some Swiss chard, kale and a pear from my garden. I also added some apple cider vinegar and some more olive oil.

20130930_162242[1]I then mixed all the purees together. You can do this all in one batch if you use smaller quantities or if you have a giant blender…which I don’t.

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And, Voila! You have a big mixing bowl full of veggy puree. I bagged it up into six labeled and dated freezer zip locks and one small tupperware. The tupperware portion will be served up for the pups meals for the next week or so and the freezer bags will keep me stocked for a while. Of course, I still have plenty of produce  growing in my garden so I’ll probably make a couple more fresh purees before the snow really starts to fall.

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Pumpkin

pumpkinI know August just began but I am seriously looking forward to cooler temperatures and the smells and tastes of fall. Utah temps have been way too hot for far too long! This year I planted my first ever pumpkin plant in our garden in hopes of having lots of excess to puree for the dogs. You see, my pups LOVE pumpkin. In fact, I don’t think I’ve met a dog yet who doesn’t enjoy a spoonful or two mixed in with their usual grub both RAW and kibble alike.

Besides being a favorite addition to many bowls, pumpkin helps with

  1. digestive health – Just a tablespoon or two of pureed pumpkin, without any sugar added of course, is a great source of fiber and will help with both constipation and  diarrhea. Their high water content will also help hydrate their intestines further assisting with constipation.  I give a little to my dogs when they have an upset stomach and it usually helps them feel much better.
  2. urinary tract health  – It is believed that the oils in pumpkin flesh and seeds aid in urinary tract health.
  3. weight loss – If you have been struggling with your dog’s weight and just can’t seem to get him or her to shed a couple pounds, try replacing a portion of their food with pureed pumpkin. The fiber in the pumpkin will help them feel full.

Pumpkins are also a good source of Vitamin A, beta-carotene, potassium and iron and the seeds are high in essential fatty acids which is great for your dogs skin and coat.

By the way, it is great for cats as well! That is if you can get them to eat it.

Nothing makes you loose your appetite quite like clipping the nails off of chicken feet

Owpid-20130427_113052.jpgh, the things l do for my dogs. A few days ago l picked up a couple pounds of Chicken feet or as the package proclaimed, chicken paws, for the pups. l have read that they are a wonderful source of glucosamine so l thought I’d try them out. Upon further reading, of course after l had already bought them, I discovered that you need to trim off the claws or nails before feeding them to your dogs.

Until a few years back, l couldn’t even bring myself to touch raw meat much less Chicken feet. Needless to say the “paws” sat in my fridge for several days. I would pull them out a couple of times each day with the resolve to finally get the trimming done. Then I would “chicken out” and put it off for later. wpid-20130427_112348.jpgFinally this morning l did it! l had to call my best friend in the process so we could chat about boys and keep my mind off the task at hand. When the job was done I put a few in the dog’s bowls and the rest into freezer bags. Now here it is a little past noon and l still have not been able to eat anything today. Not only did the chicken feet contribute to my lack of appetite but l decided to give the dogs some full sardines that l purchased from Primal as well. These are not the canned kind that I often feed to the dogs and Nakia at least quite enjoys. They are full on frozen fish.

Watching the dogs crunch into a whole fish did me in. Surprisingly enough though, I may have found something Nakia doesn’t like. She crunched into the fish bodies opening the carcasses, then left them for Rose to roll in. So, that is how my morning went, chicken paws, fish guts and bath time, all on an empty stomach.
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So why not cook my dogs food?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHuman evolution included learning how to cook foods like meat to make them more easily digestible. So why would we not do the same for our dogs? Well for one heat destroys many of the vitamins in the food, especially many B vitamins and Vitamin C. One reason we cook our food is because enzymes begin breaking down the raw product causing it to spoil. If we cook it, the enzymes are destroyed, stopping this process and allowing us to store food more effectively. When cooking food for our dogs, the enzymes which control chemical reactions are destroyed. These enzymes are important to your dog because they help aid in digestion as well as slow the aging process. Without these enzymes, your dog’s pancreas is force to work harder thus resulting in health problems like Pancreatitis and Diabetes. Antioxidants, another anti-aging nutrient, are also destroyed when heating food. This can lead to degenerative diseases during old age such as cancer, heart disease and arthritis.

When you cook your dog’s food two essential amino acids are lost with the heat: Lysine and methionine.  The loss of these essential amino acids can lead to growth problems, skin problems, reduced resistance to disease and more.

IMAG1599Basically, when you cook your dog’s food all the major nutrients, the fats, the proteins, the carbs are all changed. Dogs were not designed to process a steady diet of cooked foods. So, while just like everything, it is ok in moderation, cooking food is just not the best option for your pooch. Think about this as well: when you provide homemade cooked meals for your dog they are usually deprived of the chewing, ripping and tearing that accompanies raw meat. That means that not only are they not getting the best nutrients but they are also being deprived of the exercise when eating their meal. It also means that their teeth are not being cleaned while they eat. Meaning you have to do more brushing, bleh. (Those of you who follow my blog know I HATE brushing my dog’s teeth.) So more brushing and more work cooking, that alone is reason enough for me to feed my dogs RAW!

The Benefits of Adding Apple Cider Vinegar to your Dog’s Diet

applesFor centuries people have been using apple cider vinegar to improve their health as well as for the heath of their pets. Raw apple cider vinegar is packed with potassium. One tablespoon contains 11 mg. When it is combined with foods that have significant vitamins it helps the body assimilate them. It will also help the body absorb calcium and other minerals. Vinegar helps prevent the growth of bacteria and viruses in the digestive tract. My theory is that this helps reduce the chance that your dog will have any issues with harmful microbes that may be in the raw meat you are feeding them. Especially because it will not effect the body’s beneficial bacteria. You can add it to their food or water, or apply it topically to your dog’s skin. If using topically for the first time, test it on a small patch of skin to be sure your dog doesn’t have an allergic reaction. Adding a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar daily to fresh water can help with eyes, teeth and coats. It is also a non-toxic cleaning product that is safe to use around your furry friends. You can use it to disinfect toys, deodorize bedding and to help remove pet stains.

Vinegar in general has a low pH. While water is neutral with a pH of 7, most vinegars are in the 2 to 5 pH range. Apple cider vinegar is in the 4.25 to 5 pH range making it less acidic than most vinegars. ACV, white vinegar and balsamic vinegar are the most familiar vinegars and are available at your local supermarket. Organic apple cider vinegar is made by crushing organic apples into a cider which is then aged in wooden barrels. The finished product is dark and cloudy because it is raw and unfiltered. It is usually light brown or orange color.

Apple cider vinegar can help with ailments such as:

  • Arthritis
  • Allergies
  • Skin Problems like dandruff and static control

It also helps:

  • Cholesterol problems
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Sinus infections
  • Regulate blood sugar levels
  • Regulate blood pressure
  • muscle aches
  • sunburn
  • insect bites and stings

I also like to add it into some of my vegetable purees. My dogs seem to love the taste.

Have you ever used apple cider vinegar for yourself or your dog? How do you use it?

Sources:

Puotinen, CJ. The Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar to Dogs. The Whole Dog Journal. January 2012

Flaxseed Salmon Treats

These treats have become a favorite of my dogs. They are rich in protein and omega-3s. They are also really easy to make. I found the recipe in Natural Dog magazine’s 2013 annual.

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For these treats you will need:
– 1 14-ounce can of salmon
– 3 tablespoons ground flaxseed meal. I used golden flaxseed meal.
– 2 egg yolks

1. Drain the can of salmon. Empty drained salmon into a large bowl and finely shred with a fork removing all bones and hard pieces.

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2. Add the flaxseed meal and egg yolks. Mix well.

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3. Take 1 teaspoon of the mixture and form into flat patties about 1/4 to 3/8 inch thick.

4. Place on dehyrator tray. Patties can be placed close together but should not touch.

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5. Dehydrate at 160 degrees for 6-8 hours or until dry and crisp.

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Store in an airtight container in the fridge and use within a few weeks. Excess can be frozen.

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Peanut-Butter Trail Crunchies

Peanut butter face

Peanut butter face

I have been looking everywhere for a biscuit or cookie recipe that does not contain any wheat. I finally stumbled across one when flipping through the latest issue of The Bark magazine. I then adapted their recipe, Granola Peanut-Butter Crunchies, adding my own twist. You can find the original recipe at TheBark.com/recipes. Here you will also find a recipe for homemade peanut butter that my dogs went absolutely crazy for. If you are following either The Bark’s Granola Peanut-Butter Crunchies or my Peanut Butter Trail Crunchies recipe and wish to make your own homemade peanut butter you will need to triple the recipe to have enough. Also, The Bark’s recipe just calls for pumpkin seeds. The only pumpkin seeds I could find were shelled and I spent a lot of time shelling. So, if you can find unshelled pumpkin seeds, I strongly suggest that route.

For my Peanut-Butter Trail Crunchies you will need:

  • 2 cups 100% Natural Whole Grain Old Fashioned Oats (not instant)

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  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds

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  • 1/4 cup roasted sunflower seeds

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  • 1 tablespoon golden flaxseed meal
  • 1/4 cup shredded or grated coconut (I used Trader Joe’s Roasted Coconut Chips)

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  • 2 tablespoons chopped dried apricots
  • 2 tablespoons chopped dried apples

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  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey (I used raw honey)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/4 cups unsalted peanut butter (preferably homemade)

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  • 3/4 cup almond milk

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Recipe:

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Lay parchment paper on a cookie sheet.

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2. Grind pumpkin and sunflower seeds slightly in a food processor.

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3. Combine seed mixture, flaxseed meal, coconut, and dried fruit in a medium-size bowl.

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4. Heat the coconut oil and honey long enough to soften.

5. Slightly beat egg in a small bowl.

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6. Put the peanut butter and almond milk into a food processor and process until mixed.

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7. Add the egg, honey and coconut oil and mix again.

8. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients in the medium-sized bowl. Mix with a wooden spoon. It should be at a consistency that can easily be rolled into balls. If it seems too wet add a more flaxseed meal in small quantities.

9. Roll into small balls. I made two sheets of different sized balls. Large balls for big dogs on one sheet and small balls for little dogs on the other sheet. You can space them close together. Bake for 20 – 40 minutes or until golden brown.

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10. Cool balls on a rack and store in an airtight container.

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These turned out to be a big success. I took them to the training center and tested them on the dogs there. 15 out of 16 dogs LOVED them. The rest of the evening, whenever I would walk by the kennels the dogs would get out of their beds and sit nicely by the door with hopeful looks and drooling jowls. These treats also made my house smell delicious. I tried a nibble myself and while a little dry for my taste they were pretty good. I really debated about posting my recipe because I think I may start selling these through my business. So enjoy while you can. I may delete this post in the future and lock the recipe in my vault. 🙂

Thanks to Rose, none of the peanut butter went to waste.

Thanks to Rose, none of the peanut butter went to waste.

The girls licking the bowl. They love it when I bake.

The girls licking the bowl. They love it when I bake.

Ruby loved 'em...

Ruby loved ’em…

...Foxy loved'em...

…Foxy loved’em…

...Tucker loved'em...

…Tucker loved’em…

...Athena loved'em...

…Athena loved’em…

...Kernal loved'em...

…Kernal loved’em…

...Neo,  not so much.

…Neo, not so much.