The red beet, or “beetroot” as it’s called in many parts of the world, has been touted as one of nature’s superfoods. The root vegetable is jam-packed with iron, potassium, magnesium, fiber, and antioxidants such as beta-carotene and vitamins A, B, and C. The beet is also a detoxifier, which simply means that it encourages the liver to cleanse the body of toxins, and it is also thought to improve blood flow and stamina. And on top of all of these health benefits, beets have a naturally sweet flavor that most dogs will love.
The beet’s intense red pigment gives these dog treats a beautiful pinkish color, but you should promptly rinse out your blender, bowl, utensils, etc. so that the natural dye doesn’t stain your equipment. Be aware that the color can also transfer to your hands while you’re peeling and cutting the beet. But don’t panic! It will go away with a few good hand-washings. (I also recently heard a tip that washing your hands with coarse salt, in addition to soap and water, will help pull the color out of your skin more quickly.)
At this point some of you are probably wondering, “how do I shop for the perfect beet?” When in the produce aisle, look for those that are uniform in shape and medium in size. (In this case, bigger is not better. Larger beets will taste less sweet and more earthy.) You also want to find beets that feel very firm to the touch; a beet that feels soft is old and will not be the best quality.
Sweet Beet Treats
Makes 50 (3-inch long) dog treats
1 medium-sized red beet
Natural apple juice, as needed
1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup natural applesauce
3 cups whole wheat flour, plus as needed for dusting
1 teaspoon baking powder
1. Lightly peel the beet using a vegetable peeler and roughly chop it into pieces. Place the beet in a blender and blend until smooth. If needed, add apple juice by the tablespoonful to keep the blender moving easily. Place a fine-mesh strainer over a bowl. Strain the pureed beet through the fine-mesh strainer, using a spoon or rubber spatula to press down on the pulp and squeeze out the maximum amount of juice into the bowl. Reserve 1/3 cup of beet juice for this recipe. You can discard the pulp, and use the remainder of the beet juice for another purpose (or just drink it up—it’s naturally sweet and healthy for you!)
2. Preheat the oven to 350F.
3. Combine the 1/3 cup of beet juice, oil, and applesauce in a bowl.
4. In a separate bowl, combine the flour with the baking powder.
5. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, mixing constantly. Continue mixing until a smooth, homogenous dough forms. (The dough is slightly sticky.)
6. Generously dust the countertop with flour, and roll the dough out in to a sheet about 1/4-inch thick. Use your desired cookie cutter to cut the treats out.
7. Arrange the treats on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
8. Bake until the treats are firm to the touch, about 14 minutes. Allow to cool completely before serving.