Homemade dog snacks

The holiday season is here, so bring on the goodies! I love the smell of my kitchen this time of year: simmering sweet potatoes, roasting almonds, aromatic amaranth.

OK, maybe my kitchen smells a little different than yours, but you get the idea. I’d like to offer a few healthy, easy, low-calorie treats for the fine feline and dandy dog in your life. Prepare these alongside your own cooking and offer them to your pets instead of our (almost always) high-calorie fare.

Chow Hounds Book Cover

That’s really my mission: I want to help you discover healthy ways to benefit the pet in your life. The most important decision you make each day regarding your pet’s health is what you feed him, but we often get too busy to focus on what fuels us and our pets. We rely on highly processed foods and treats that satisfy hunger — but starve the body.

The great news is that you don’t have to pack loads of sweeteners and chemicals into your food to enjoy them. Check out these three naturally nutritious recipes from my book, Chow Hounds, and begin your journey toward improved nutrition. As we say in my clinic: Feed well. Live long.

Sweet P’s

It’s no secret that I love sweet potatoes! They are truly one of nature’s superfoods. In addition to being a rich source of vitamin A, C and B6, they have an almost perfect blend of fibers. These sweet potato holiday cookies are packed full of goodness and taste good. 

1 large cooked sweet potato
1 banana
1/2 cup quinoa flour
1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil

1. Preheat oven to 350°.
2. In a medium-size bowl, mix the sweet potato and banana until well blended.
3. Add the vegetable oil.
4. Mix the quinoa flour with the wet ingredients.
5. Place teaspoonfuls of the dough on a nonstick baking sheet and lightly flatten each cookie.
6. Bake 30 minutes.

Yield: four dozen. Calories per treat: 14.4

Salmon Roll-Overs

You can treat both cats and dogs with this tasty yet low-calorie salmon snack. They're so delicious they often find their way onto our own plates during the holidays. (But don’t tell our guests!)

7-ounce can of salmon
1/3 cup oat flour (If you don’t have oat flour, just blend dry oats in a food processer or substitute with other healthy flours, like quinoa or amaranth.)
1 tablespoon minced parsley

1. Preheat oven to 350° and spray a nonstick baking sheet with cooking spray.
2. In a medium-size bowl, mix all ingredients until well blended.
3. Roll the mixture into 1-inch balls and place them on the baking sheet.
4. Bake 12 to 15 minutes.

Yield: 18. Calories per treat: 23

Earth Biscuits

This recipe takes a little more effort, but your pet will be rewarded with a powerfully healthy holiday snack. I challenge you not to fall in love with them as well.

2 cups garbanzo bean flour (You can make this by simply grinding dried chick peas, an excellent source of protein.)
1½ teaspoon baking powder
½ cup chopped carrots
¼ cup thawed frozen peas
½ cup packed spinach
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon oregano
1/8-¼ cup water

1. Preheat oven to 350°.
2. Place the carrots, peas, turmeric, spinach, tomato paste and water in a food processor and puree.
3. Add the flour, baking powder, basil and oregano, and pulse until blended.
4. Coat an 8-by-10-inch pan with nonstick cooking spray, and then lightly dust it with flour.
5. Place the dough in the pan, spread it out evenly and score into about 60 square pieces.
6. Bake 30 minutes.

Yield: five dozen. Calories per treat: 11

Note: Keep in mind that if you feed your pet anything that strays from his regular diet — especially in large quantities — it may cause gastrointestinal upset, such as vomiting and diarrhea. If your pet has a pre-existing medical condition or is on a hypoallergenic diet, you should not feed him any treats or new foods until you have discussed it with your veterinarian.