Grain Free Chicken Dog Biscuits

Grain free baking is still new to me. I have worked with buckwheat and nut flours before, but this was the first time that I had tried using bean flour. Nowadays there are a variety of bean flours on grocery store shelves: black bean, garbanzo/chickpea, fava bean, green pea, soy, and white bean. For this recipe I used Bob’s Red Mill “Gluten Free Garbanzo and Fava Flour.” You may see this two bean mixture labeled by other brands as “garfava”. If you can’t easily find it pre-made, you can simply mix together equal parts garbanzo flour and fava bean flour. (Or try using either all garbanzo flour or all fava flour.)

I found this dough to be much stickier than that made with a wheat flour. Be warned that you’ll need plenty of extra flour for dusting the countertop, rolling pin, cookie cutter, and pretty much anything else that is going to come in contact with the dough. Otherwise, I found it very easy to work with. The dough came together quickly, rolled out easily, and baked up with a nice, soft texture.

Like many “alternative” flours, the garbanzo and fava flour has a distinct aroma and flavor. My taste-tester Pacey is picky about strong flavors, so he generally prefers treats made with rice or wheat flours (which taste blander); however, Pacey definitely seemed to like these biscuits better than any of the other grain free recipes that I’ve tried thus far.

Grain Free Chicken Biscuits

Grain Free Chicken Dog Biscuits

Makes about 20 (3-inch) biscuits

 

2 1/2 cups Bob’s Red Mill Garbanzo & Fava Flour (OR 1 1/4 cup garbanzo/chickpea flour and 1 1/4 cup fava bean flour), plus more for dusting

1/2 cup homemade or low fat, low sodium chicken broth

1 egg

 

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

2. Place the flour in a bowl. Add the chicken broth and egg, and stir to combine.

3. Use your hands to press the mixture together until it forms a smooth, homogenous ball of dough.

4. Dust the countertop very generously with flour. Dust the dough with a little extra flour before rolling it out into a sheet about 1/4-inch thick.

5. Use your desired cookie cutter to cut the dough into pieces. (If needed, dip the cookie cutter in flour to help keep the dough from sticking to it.) Arrange the biscuits on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

6. Bake for 8 minutes. Remove from the oven, flip each biscuit over, then return to the oven to continue baking until the treats are firm to the touch and baked through, about 8 minutes more.

 

These treats are best stored in an airtight container inside the refrigerator.

Grain Free Dog Treats

In the past few weeks I have had a handful of people ask me about making a grain free dog treat. In fact it seems like I’m encountering more and more dogs who are on a completely grain free diet. The recipe that I’m sharing today is perfectly tasty to make as-is, but it also makes a great baseline to add your own flavoring ingredients and creativity. For example it would be simple to add minced herbs or small diced veggies or to replace all or part of the broth with canned tuna water or freshly squeezed veggie juice.

It may confuse some of you that the main ingredient in a grain free recipe is buckwheat flour. Contrary to popular belief, buckwheat is NOT a type of wheat. As a matter of fact, buckwheat is not a grain or cereal of any kind. (So, yes, it is gluten free!) Buckwheat is actually a seed that is harvested from a flowering plant closely related to rhubarb. The pyramid-shaped buckwheat seeds, or “groats”, may be toasted and sold whole or may be ground into a rich, gray flour labeled as buckwheat or kasha flour. Buckwheat flour is now widely available at most grocery and health food stores, so you shouldn’t have any trouble finding it in your local baking aisle.

Grain Free Treats

Basic Grain Free Dog Treats

Makes 60 (2-inch) treats

 

2 Tablespoons olive oil

1 egg, beaten

1/2 cup chicken or beef broth

2 cups buckwheat flour

 

1. Preheat the oven to 400F.

2. Combine the olive oil, egg, and broth.

3. Slowly pour the buckwheat flour into the egg mixture, stirring constantly to incorporate.

4. Knead the mixture until it forms a smooth, homogenous dough, about 2 minutes.

5. Roll the dough out into a sheet about 1/4-inch thick. Cut the dough into pieces using your desired cookie cutter.

6. Arrange the treats on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

7. Bake for 6 minutes. Flip each of the treats over, then return to the oven and continue baking until the treats are firm to the touch, about 6 minutes more.

 

These treats are best stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Howl-o-ween Dog Treats

If, like me and thousands of other Americans, you will be dressing your dog up in an exceedingly silly costume this evening, then your poor pooch certainly deserves a special Halloween treat! You can make this recipe as simple or as fancy as you like. The carrot cut-out cookies look pretty even if they are left plain. I took the extra time to decorate the treats. I used melted yogurt chips to make an easy icing for the cookies, but you could use melted carob chips or dog treat coating chips or make your own sugar-free peanut butter or cream cheese icing (or use all of the above!) to decorate. I used unsweetened carob chips for the ghosts’ eyes. Other ingredients that make great, dog-safe “sprinkles” are:  sesame seeds, yogurt chips, natural peanut butter chips, crumbled bacon, shredded or diced carrot, blueberries, or unsweetened dried cranberries.

Remember your mom warning you not to pig out on too much Halloween candy while trick-or-treating? The same principle holds true with Halloween dog treats. You don’t want to load these cookies down with too many toppings or your dog could end up with a tummy-ache. Less is always more: this recipe should only be fed sparingly as a special holiday treat.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

Halloween Treats

Carrot Halloween Treats

Makes about 8 large treats

 

1/4 cup finely shredded carrots

1 tablespoon honey

1 large egg

1/4 cup water

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

About 2 cups yogurt chips (or your desired icing)

 

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

2. Combine the carrots, honey, egg, and water in a bowl.

3. Combine the cinnamon with the flour. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, and stir to combine. Use your hands to gently knead the mixture until it forms a smooth dough.

4. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out into a sheet about 1/4-inch thick. Use your desired cookie cutter to cut the dough into pieces. Arrange the treats on a prepared baking sheet.

5. Bake until lightly browned and firm to the touch, about 18 minutes. To ensure even browning, flip the treats over halfway through the baking time.

6. While the treats are cooling, place the yogurt chips in a metal bowl and place over a small pot of simmering water. Stir the yogurt chips with a rubber spatula until they are just melted. Be very careful not to overheat them!

7. Once the treats are completely cool, decorate them with the icing. You can spread the icing using an offset spatula or pipe the icing onto the cookies using a piping bag. Allow the icing to fully set and serve.

 

These treats must be stored in the refrigerator.

Crunchy Beef Biscuits

The dog treats that I typically share on this blog have a soft texture, because I think that more closely mimics the look of “people cookies” (plus, my dog Pacey likes soft treats best). But I realize that sometimes it’s good to switch things up, so this recipe yields super crunchy biscuits that have a texture similar to Milk Bones.

It contains only two ingredients, so this recipe literally couldn’t be any simpler! The most important step is to use high quality ingredients. It’s best if you can make your own beef broth, but a store-bought broth will also work well. If you choose to use store-bought broth, just be sure to choose one that is natural, low fat, and low sodium.

If the dough isn’t coming together easily, you can add more beef broth by the teaspoonful. Take care to add no more than just enough broth to bind the flour together, because adding too much moisture to the dough will affect the texture of the finished treats.

Crunchy Beef Biscuits

Crunchy Beef Biscuits

Makes about 7 dozen (1 1/2-inch) treats

 

2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

2/3 cup beef broth

 

1. Preheat the oven to 300°F.

2. Stir the flour and beef broth together in a bowl. Knead by hand until the mixture forms a smooth dough.

3. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough out into a sheet about 1/4-inch thick. Use your desired cutter to cut the dough out into pieces.

4. Arrange the pieces on a baking sheet. The pieces can be placed close together, because the dough will not spread during baking.

5. Bake for 28 minutes. Flip the treats over, return to the oven, and continue baking for an additional 28 minutes.

6. Turn the oven off, crack the oven door, and leave the treats inside the oven to dry out for about 2 hours.

 

These treats should be stored in an airtight container at room temperature or in the refrigerator.

Fresh Peach Biscuits

Just in the last two weeks or so, fresh, ripe, local peaches have started popping up in our markets here in southern Pennsylvania. Like many fruits, peaches have a delicious natural sweetness that makes them perfect for baking for people and dogs alike.

You will find that peaches are sometimes listed as a no-no fruit for dogs, but that is all dependent on how they are prepared. It is true that dogs should NEVER, EVER be given a peach, or even a part of a peach, with the skin and/or pit still on it; however, the flesh of the peach is fine if it has been thoroughly cleaned of the skin and pit. Just be sure to dispose of the waste in a secure trash container that your dog is unable to get into, because peach pits pose a major choking hazard.

That said, the peach flesh makes a natural, sweet summer treat for dogs, and the fresh peach puree in this recipe definitely had our four taste-testers begging for more.

Peach Biscuits

Peach Biscuits

Makes about 18 large treats (2 1/2 in diameter)

1 medium peach

2 tablespoons honey

1/4 cup water

2 1/4 cups oat flour

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

2. Take care to completely remove every bit of skin and pit from the peach. Discard the skin and pit in a secure place. Cut the peach flesh into chunks.

3. Place the peach, honey, and water in a blender, and process into a puree. Transfer the peach puree to a bowl.

4. Add the flour in two additions, stirring well after each addition to combine. Knead the mixture by hand to form a smooth dough.

5. On a clean countertop, roll the dough out into a sheet about 1/4-inch thick. Use your desired cutter to cut the dough into biscuits. (Since it contains no gluten, this dough is a bit more delicate when it’s rolled out. Take care when transferring the biscuits from the cutter to the baking sheet so that they don’t break.)

6. Arrange the biscuits on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, and bake for 6 minutes. Remove from the oven, flip each of the biscuits over, and return to the oven. Continue baking for an additional 6 minutes. Allow the biscuits to cool completely before serving.

These treats may be stored in an airtight container at room temperature but are best stored in the refrigerator.

Apple Cinnamon Dog Biscuits

These dog biscuits really do make a good human treat too! The delicious, sweet-tart flavor of the Granny Smith apple is given a boost by the addition of applesauce and honey. Granny Smiths are the classic choice for baking, because they hold up well and won’t turn to mush in the oven, but you can use another apple if you’d like. Besides the fact that they’re naturally yummy, apples are also rich in fiber, vitamin A, and vitamin C.

In those moments when you just don’t have the time to whip up a dog treat recipe, apple chunks (with the core and any seeds removed) make a healthy snack for your pooch, and most dogs really love the crunchy texture.

 

Apple Cinnamon Dog Biscuits

Makes about 40 (1 ½ inch) biscuits

 

1/3 cup grated Granny Smith apple (peel removed first)

3 tablespoons unsweetened natural applesauce

1/4 cup honey

1 large egg

1/2 cup water

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

3 cups whole wheat flour

 

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

2. Place the grated apple, applesauce, honey, egg, and water in a bowl and stir to combine.
3. Sift the ground cinnamon into the flour.

4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in 2 or 3 additions, stirring well after each addition.

5. Knead the mixture by hand until a smooth, flexible dough forms.

6. On a very generously floured countertop, use a rolling pin to roll the dough out into a sheet about 1/4-inch thick. Use your desired cutter to cut the dough into pieces. Arrange the pieces on an ungreased baking sheet.

7. Bake until golden brown and firm to the touch, about 20 minutes. Allow to cool completely before serving.

 

These treats may be stored in an airtight container at room temperature but will last longer in the refrigerator.

Cheddar Biscuits

I have yet to meet a dog that doesn’t love cheese. Cheddar cheese is packed with protein and flavor, but you do want to be careful not to overload your dog with too much. Most dogs will have no reaction at all to the occasional bit of cheese, but you should be aware that it is a common canine allergen. According to the ASPCA, “pets lack significant amounts of lactase, the enzyme needed to break down lactose in dairy products. As a result, some may have difficulty with digestion and end up with stomach upset. Cheese, however, has less lactose than milk and some other dairy products, so it’s less likely to cause problems.” Just be sure to use low fat cheddar cheese and feed these treats sparingly.

 

Cheddar Biscuits

Makes 34 (2-inch) biscuits

 

2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

1/2 cup very finely shredded low fat cheddar cheese

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup homemade or fat free, low sodium chicken broth

 

1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.

2. Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl.

3. Knead vigorously by hand until the mixture forms a smooth dough.

4. Generously dust the countertop with flour. Roll the dough out to about 1/2-inch thick, and cut into pieces using your desired cookie cutter.

5. Arrange the biscuits on a prepared baking sheet, and bake until firm to the touch, about 12 minutes.

6. When finished baking, turn the oven off, crack the oven door, and leave the biscuits to dry out for about 2 hours.

 

These treats must be stored in the refrigerator.

Everyone’s an Irish Setter on St. Patrick’s Day!

Just because our dogs aren’t allowed to partake of the green beer, that doesn’t mean that they should miss out on all the St. Patty’s Day fun. These green, spinach-flavored biscuits are really festive, especially when cut out with a shamrock-shaped cookie cutter, and they are also rich in antioxidants, iron, and fiber.

Some people (erroneously) think that spinach is toxic to dogs, because it contains a substance called oxalic acid. It is true that in extremely large amounts oxalic acid can cause health problems; however, according to veterinarian Marie Haynes, “the amount that a dog would have to eat in order to cause toxicity is so high that it probably couldn’t be done.” So, spinach is A-okay for dogs to eat in moderation, and it makes a beautiful, natural green food coloring for dog biscuits.

I hope you and your dog have a happy and healthy St. Patrick’s Day! In celebration of all things Irish, I’ll leave you with a few canine-centric Irish proverbs:

-A little dog can start a hare, but it takes a big dog to catch one.

-A live dog is better than a dead lion.

-The dog that’s always on the go is better than the one that is always curled up.

-The cat is always dignified . . . until the dog comes by.

Shamrock Biscuits

Makes about 26 (2 1/2-inch by 2 1/2-inch) shamrocks

 

2 cups organic spinach leaves, tightly packed

1 egg

1/2 cup water

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more as needed for dusting

 

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

2. Place the spinach leaves in a food processor or blender, and process to a puree.

3. Transfer the spinach puree to a bowl, add the egg and water, and stir to combine.

4. Add the flour, and stir to combine. Use your hands to squeeze and knead the mixture into a smooth dough.

5. Lightly dust the countertop with flour, and roll the dough out into a sheet about 1/4-inch thick.

6. Use a shamrock-shaped cookie cutter to cut the dough into pieces. Arrange the biscuits on an ungreased baking sheet.

7. Bake until the biscuits are firm to the touch, about 20 minutes.

 

Note: I used all-purpose flour in this recipe to keep the green color as vibrant as possible, but you can substitute whole wheat flour if you’d like.

 

These treats are best stored in the refrigerator.

Blueberry Bones

Dogs can enjoy many of the same berries that we humans love: cranberries, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, and blueberries. Blueberries in particular are rich in antioxidants, vitamin C, and fiber. They are also naturally sweet and delicious and turn these dog treats a pretty bluish-purple color.

When it comes to feeding your dog blueberries, keep in mind that a little goes a long way. Too many fiber-packed berries can cause an upset stomach or diarrhea, so feed berries (and these blueberry biscuits) as a special treat, not as a daily supplement.

It’s also important to note that you should never feed your dog fruits or berries that contain pits or stones (like cherries, for example), because many pits/stones are poisonous and they also pose a major choking hazard.

 

Blueberry Bones

Makes about 30 (2 1/2-inch long) bones

 

1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries (if using frozen, thaw them first)

1 tablespoon honey

1 egg

1/4 cup water

1/2 cup oat bran

2 1/2 cups brown rice flour, plus more as needed for dusting

 

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

2. Place the blueberries in a food processor or blender, and process into a puree.

3. In a bowl, combine the blueberry puree with the honey, egg, and water.

4. Add the oat bran, and stir to combine.

5. Add the flour in two additions, stirring well after each addition.

6. Use your hands to press and knead the mixture together to form a smooth ball of dough.

7. Since rice flour doesn’t contain any gluten, this dough is delicate and extra care must be taken when rolling it out. You may or may not need to dust the countertop before rolling it out.

8. Divide the dough in half. (If you try rolling too much dough at once, you’ll have trouble rolling it out.) Use a rolling pin, to very gently roll the first half of the dough out into a sheet about 1/2 inch thick. If you roll the dough too thin, it will not hold together when you make the cut-outs.

9. Use your desired cookie cutter to cut the dough out into shapes. Arrange the biscuits on an ungreased baking sheet.

10. Repeat with the other half of the dough.

11. Bake until the biscuits are firm to the touch, about 20 minutes. Allow to cool completely before serving.

 

These treats may be stored in an airtight container at room temperature or in the refrigerator.

Peanut Butter Jar Cookies

Finished JarYou’ve probably all seen this cute jar cookie idea used to make people cookies, but it also works nicely for these dog biscuits. It’s very simple to execute, and (if you’ve got the time and inclination) you can use your crafty-ness and creativity to make the packaging really special. This is a great homemade gift for dog-lovers. I’m planning to use it as a “thank you” gift when someone dog-sits for Pacey.

Since you aren’t always aware of the special dietary needs of your friends’ dogs, I made this recipe wheat-free and gluten-free, just in case. Most dogs love peanuts/peanut butter and can digest it well, so it is generally not a problem ingredient.

If you’re not in need of a gift for someone else at the moment, you could obviously forget the jar cookie idea all together and just make these cookies for your dog following the same recipe below.

Here are the craft supplies you’ll need:

1 large mason jar

1 scrap of pretty fabric

Ribbon (1/2-inch wide or thinner)

1 piece of paper to handwrite or print the recipe on

Hole-punch

Scissors (to use on both fabric and paper)

Here are the ingredients that you’ll need:

1 1/2 cups (gluten-free) oat flour

1/4 cup chopped peanuts

1 1/2 cups brown rice flour

1/2 cup all natural peanut butter chips

Here’s how you put it all together:

-Carefully pour each of the ingredients into the mason jar in the order they’re listed above. (The oat flour goes in first and so on.) Gently jiggle the jar after each addition to level off each ingredient and keep the presentation neat.

-Place the metal cap onto the top of the jar to seal it.

-Cut your desired fabric into a circle large enough to cover the top of the jar. Depending on the look that you want, you could use regular scissors or the pinking shears kind.

-Place your fabric circle on top of the metal cap on the jar. Place the metal ring (that is made to secure the lid on the jar) on top of the fabric circle. Twist the metal ring to close the jar as you normally would, trapping the fabric tightly between the two metal pieces of the lid.

-Print the recipe onto your desired paper. This is where you can get really creative if you want. You can simply print the recipe out onto white printer paper using your computer (like I did), or you could use colorful printer paper or pretty scrapbook paper. If you’re feeling really fancy, you can handwrite the recipe or even use calligraphy.

-Once you’ve got the recipe printed on the paper, use the hole-punch to put a round hole at the top of the recipe. Then use scissors (again, plain edge or decorative ones) to cut the recipe out. I just did a plain-Jane rectangle, but you could do a circle or whatever shape you like. As long as the recipe card fits neatly against the jar, it doesn’t really matter.

-Cut a length of ribbon long enough to tie in a bow around the lid of the jar.

-Thread the ribbon through the hole that you punched in the recipe card, and tie it into a bow around the metal rim of the jar’s lid. And . . . VOILÀ! You’ve got a personalized gift for your favorite dog-lover!

Below is the recipe as I printed it out for my recipe card. This one is formatted a little differently from the way I typically post my recipes–simply because I wanted it to fit neatly onto a small recipe card.

PB Jar Cookies

PEANUT BUTTER DOG COOKIES

MAKES ABOUT 50

 

Transfer the ingredients inside the jar to a mixing bowl, and stir to combine. Add 1 egg and 3/4 cup of water, and stir to combine. Use your hands to knead the mixture into a dough that will hold together.

 

Roll the dough into small balls about 1-inch in diameter, and arrange on an ungreased baking sheet. Use your hand to flatten each ball into a cookie shape.

 

Bake in a 350°F oven until the cookies are firm to the touch, about 20 minutes. Cool completely before serving to your four-legged friends.

 

Store in an airtight container at room temperature.