Everyone celebrates this time of year differently. Large families are gearing up for the annual gathering at a family home. People plan meals with their special friends. Some folks just enjoy sitting in solace embracing years past.
There are other traditional parts like organizing a cookie swap, recreating your great uncle’s latke recipe or picking out that perfect gift. There really is something for everyone and in my world, that includes some dog-centric cooking.
Meet my girl, Scout, a 5-year-old German Shepherd. Most of the year revolves around her and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Scout has learned that once the indoor tree gets set up, she may be fortunate enough to find an extra treat or two wrapped up for her.
She is an extremely gracious and thankful recipient of any food that crosses her path. My issue is that so many of the treats we receive as a gift have an excessive number of additives.
Sure, the red and green frosted biscuits are adorable but if there is anything “unnatural,” I’m afraid I won’t feed it to Scout. As humans, we may eat with our eyes but dogs primarily eat by the smell of the food. They don’t necessarily “need” a cookie that matches the colors of the season. (The AKC has this great explanation of deciphering choices for your best friend.)
This year I wanted to prove that there is a way to indulge my furry friend with a goodie that is easy to make with limited ingredients: only banana, oats and peanut butter.
When choosing the peanut butter, I made sure the choice was absent of xylitol (a sugar substitute) which is toxic to dogs. A smoother blend was much easier to incorporate than some of the chunkier brands. The 365 brand of organic smooth peanut butter is one of the better choices on the store shelves.
Like humans, dogs can have food allergies. I chose oats for my grain since whole wheat flours make some pets itchy. It is also supposed to keep their coats healthier. Instant oats are not an option due to the fact they are more processed. Use healthier rolled or steel cut oats.
And finally, inexpensive bananas are a great source of vitamins for your pets. In all honesty, Scout goes bananas for bananas!
The craziest part of this recipe is that I incorporated some of my dog’s food into the treats. I did this for two reasons. First, dogs do well if you introduce new foods mixed with the foods their gut is used to digesting. If you give your puppers too many new foods at once, you will not have a silent night. Second, I found the dog food made a great “flour” to dip my cookie cutters in. Great way to keep the ingredients to a minimum.
I have not made Scout these homemade treats in the past but this was a truly rewarding experience. She somehow knew these were for her. The absolute best part of giving these as a gift is that this is the one time no one will care if there is accidently a dog hair in their food! (It happens.)
Happy holidays and here is to a new year with good friends…. with and without fur.
Homemade Dog Treats
Scroll down for a printable version of this recipe
Makes 2 dozen biscuits
Serving Size: 1-2 biscuits daily depending on the size of your dog
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Total time: 30 minutes
1.5 cups uncooked oats
1 large banana
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/3 cup your dog’s food
Special Equipment: 2-inch dog biscuit cookie cutter. (The 6 inch one in the photo was not used.)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place parchment paper on a baking sheet.
2. In a large food processor, add the dog food. Before you question this step, this will be your “flour” on your work space. Using a food that your dog is used too will help lesson any stomach issues that occur when dogs experience sudden dietary changes.
3. Remove the dog food flour from your food processor. Set aside in a shallow bowl.
4. Add your oats to the food processor. Pulse until oats are a powdery consistency. If there are a few oats left whole, don’t worry about it. It adds character.
5. Add the peanut butter and banana. Pulse until all the ingredients are incorporated. It lumps up into a nice ball. It will be very sticky.
6. You will want to pat the dough out into a patty. To help it from sticking to my board, I sprinkled some of my “dog food flour” on my board. It helped keep my biscuits gluten free.
7. I tried to pat my dough to about 1/4-inch thickness. I dipped my biscuit cutter into the dog food flour to help keep it from sticking to the edges.
8. Place on parchment-lined baking sheet.
9. Bake for 15 minutes. If the bottoms aren’t brown, allow them to cook a few more minutes. Assign a watch dog to the oven so the treats are safe.
10. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Full disclosure: These were probably a little too brown.
11. Allow to cool completely and then test one on your favorite furry friend. Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to two weeks.
If the only treats you make are for humans, we have a Hands-On Holiday Boot Camp at Lincoln Square on Saturday, December 17 at 10am. There are just two spots left, so snag them now!
And if you are really adventurous in your treat making, sign up for the virtual Croquembouche Workshop on Sunday, December 18 at 11am CST.