It never fails. Halloween ends and Christmas decorations instantly go up everywhere and I really begrudge the whole Christmas thing being forced on me. So I vow to not participate in the holiday. “This is the year!” I tell myself “Nothing!”
By the time Thanksgiving rolls around (another holiday I feel very strange about celebrating because of the whole genocide of an indigenous people thing) my will has softened and I’ve had a million craft ideas bouncing around in my head.
So I give in and indulge my creative inspirations (still trying not to spend money). These easy treats I make from ingredients we always have around the house, Pinto loves them and I thought they would make good gifts for other friends with dogs.
I feed Pinto a raw diet of food I make from the grocery store and she isn’t always too keen on eating her greens no matter how much I try and hide them and it’s difficult to find JUST a treat with vegetables.
3 – 4 leaves of Kale – (or chard, or collards)
Kale is a proven cancer-risk cutter, abundant source of fiber, calcium, Vitamin A, E and C, helps prevent heart disease and contains numerous antioxidants. Avoid in pets with certain types of bladder stones or kidney disease.
2 – 3 Tablespoons of Seaweed Powder – (Kelp is what I used and I found it in the bulk section of the grocery store)
The rich iodine content and high levels of other nutrient minerals and vitamins in kelp make it an herb of choice for regulating and balancing glandular systems. In particular, dogs suffering from hypothyroidism and weight problems can benefit from the iodine in kelp.
Dogs with skin irritation problems as a result of allergies, dogs with dry skin, or dogs who are suffering from hair loss can benefit from kelp. The protein in kelp is highly bio-available, which allows dogs to efficiently assimilate its amino acids so they can speedily and effectively assist in tissue repair.
4 – 5 Tablespoons of Ground Flax Seed – (also found in the bulk section of the grocery store)
(We have a coffee grinder that we use exclusively for grinding herbs and spices.)
About 1/2 cup of Dried Stinging Nettle Leaves– (found at my local bulk herb store, but easily purchased online. Make sure it’s organic!) Nettles have a mild diuretic effect and can increase the output of urine through the kidneys. This action has a cleansing effect helping to remove toxins, unwanted chemicals and poisons. Flushing out waste products can also help where there is kidney disease or impairment. Due to their cleansing nature and high vitamin and mineral content, nettles are considered a good general tonic to help strengthen the body. Used over a period of time, nettles can improve the quality and appearance of both the skin and coat. Also, Nettles have anti-histamine like action and can help reduce itching and scratching, as well as other minor skin irritations.
4 -5 Tablespoons of Blackstrap Molasses – (found at the grocery store, get organic!)
When the sugar cane plant is processed, two products are produced. Refined sugar and a black goo called blackstrap molasses. Though most of the sweetness is removed with the sugar, the precious nutrients from the sugar cane are concentrated in the blackstrap. A single tablespoon of the blackstrap molasses contains up to 20% of the recommended daily amounts of: iron, calcium, magnesium, and potassium. It is also an excellent source of manganese, chromium, copper, selenium, and B vitamins.
There are many people who swear molasses has helped ease their dog’s arthritis. Just make sure to purchase un-sulfured blackstrap molasses, since molasses treated with sulfites does not retain its nutritional value.
Once you have all your ingredients together the process is pretty simple. Obviously, I’m not very scientific with the proportions here, so feel free to experiment.
Take the kale leaves and break them in half with your hands, then stuff them in the blender with a small amount of water. You want just enough water to get them blended up. Once you have a nice bright green juice pour it into a mixing bowl (if there is some pulp don’t worry about it just plop it in the bowl too). Add the seaweed and nettles. Next I add the molasses, it’s important because it adds the sweet savory flavor which counteracts all the bitter greens.
Lastly, add in the ground flax seed and stir it all up, the flax will help keep everything together because as it becomes wet it forms a sticky mucilage. You should now have some nice goop!
Now, you have a choice. If you have a dehydrator spread the goop out on a close-bottom tray and let it dry for a day or so. If you are not fortunate enough to have a dehydrator (like me) turn your oven on the lowest setting between 150 F and 170 F. Line a glass casserole dish or pie pan (I prefer the pie pan) with wax paper and spread the goop out to your desired thickness. I typically like thin treats that I can break into small pieces for training but I’m sure you could easily make different shapes.
You’re probably wondering “Why not just bake those suckers in a few minutes?” Well because I want to keep as much nutrients in the treats as possible which means not cooking them but drying them.
So put the pie pan in the oven and let it dry for 6 – 8 hours. Every now and then just stick your hand in to touch the treats. If they are moist they’re aren’t ready. Once they are nice and dry to the touch then they are ready to come out.
Now you can peel the treats off the paper and bag them up or start handing them out to hungry dogs!
“Stop taking pictures and let me eat!”