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.

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Berry Veggy Puree Hearts

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With spring in the air, cravings for fresh fruits and veggies enter my mind. I get excited for the garden and part of that excitment leads me to my local grocery stores produce aisle. The dogs benefit from my trips just as much as I do. The result are purees like my most recent Berry Veggy Puree Hearts. I’m moving further away from dried fruits and frozen veggies that make up the majority of my produce intake in the winter. I am still weening myself away from convenience food. It’s a slow process. Humans are creatures of habit and my habit is bad.

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For the Berry Veggy Puree Hearts I used: 5 fresh strawberries 1 1/2 cups blackberries 1 package butternut squash, precut into cubes. 1 package green beans 2 handfuls Trader Joe’s frozen kale 1 big handful spinach 1 fresh champagne mango, which I peeled and removed the core 1/4 cup Apple cider vinegar I pureed all the ingredients in my food processor and the put into my heart shaped ice cube tray and froze portions for later use.

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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An assault on my nostrils.

IMAG1529As I mentioned in my last post, I bought some offal to dehydrate. For those of you who do not know what offal is, it is organs. My friend Ali always refers to it as “awful offal”. And after my attempt to dry liver, I will also probably be referring to it this way in the future. I decided to try drying the offal products not only because its fun to try new things but because trying to get Rosalie to eat liver is like trying to get a  five-year-old to eat brussel sprouts. I have try so many different things to get her to it. Mixing it with vegetables, other meats, drenching it in fish oil, making various purees, etc. However, as you read in my previous post I finally succeeded in this quest before I started drying. The answer was so simple too. Just try a different kind of liver in this case it was chicken. I had previously only tried beef.

This did not deter me from dehydrating though. Although, after the stench of the liver wafting through my house for several days makes me wish it had.

I began by rinsing all the offal. The chicken hearts, gizzards and livers I just plopped right on to the dryer racks after their rinse. The beef liver I sliced into long strips before setting on the racks. I turned on my dehydrator and left for work. I do not know what temperature it was set at because my dryer does not have the option to set different temperatures. When I returned about 7 hours later, my nostrils were assaulted as soon as I opened my front door. I do not suggest drying liver inside your home! If you can, do it outside somewhere, like in your garage, DO IT! Unfortunately I do not have this option so I am now cursed with a house that smells really, really bad. Hopefully the smell will dissipate soon. Otherwise I may have to move. 😉

IMAG1482The other problem I had when drying the liver was that it stuck to my racks and was very difficult to get off. I am still soaking and scrubbing the trays from the first batch. For the second batch of beef liver (hey, my house already reaks might as well get it all done now), I sprayed the rack with Canola Oil cooking spray. This made a world of difference. It was SO much easier to get off the racks.

IMAG1477I will probably never dry liver again. The dogs loved the smell though. You know how your house smells when you have some delicious dish cooking all day in your slow cooker? Well, this is how I imagine my house smells to them. They spent a lot of the evening with their noses in the air taking in the doggie goodness.

I didn’t have any problem with the hearts and gizzards and will most likely dry them again in the future. The dogs love them too. Rose even liked the dried beef liver! Another offal success.

IMAG1490Unfortunately, I think I left my dehydrator on for too long. After two days of drying, I woke up this morning to a partially melted drying rack. Also, don’t strain the scalding hot water from your dinner’s pasta onto the plastic trays sitting in the sink. This will also melt them.

Pre-dried Beef Liver

Pre-dried Beef Liver

Pre-dried chicken hearts and gizzards

Pre-dried chicken hearts and gizzards

Pre-dried chicken livers and beef livers

Pre-dried chicken livers and beef livers

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Dried beef livers

Dried beef livers

Dried chicken livers

Dried chicken livers

Dried chicken hearts and gizzards

Dried chicken hearts and gizzards

The finished product

The finished product

Offal success!

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Yay! I finally found an offal, or organ that Rosalie will eat! Today I stopped by the grocery store to pick up some salmon for the flaxseed salmon treats that I previously promised. While I was there I also found chicken liver, heart and gizzards! My plan was to dry them all in the dehydrator, mostly because I got so excited to see them that I bought them immediately with out considering the fact that I have absolutely no room in my freezer. I am also drying up some beef liver. I haven’t given the dogs any of the chicken hearts and gizzards yet but I fed them some of the chicken liver in last night’s meal. Rose gobbled it right up. I am so excited. Good dog!