Grain Free Coconut Macaroons

Coconut flour behaves differently than any other grain-free flour, so baking with it can be somewhat daunting. Despite the unique challenges that it presents to baking, coconut flour makes an excellent addition to your pet’s diet. It contains a significant amount of fiber, protein, and lauric acid, a healthy fat that is great for the immune system as well as skin and coat health.

Coconut flour is actually a powder made by grinding defatted, dehydrated coconut meat. Since coconut is ultra absorbent, recipes using coconut flour require at least an equal amount of liquid. Due to this unusual texture and absorbency, coconut flour is typically not used for more than 20% of the total weight of flour in a recipe. However, the following recipe calls for 100% coconut flour. Even though this recipe contains plenty of water and an egg to help bind it, the dough has a loose, sandy texture and must be pressed firmly together in order to be able to scoop it into cookies. In spite of that, the baked cookies hold together quite well. And the super soft texture makes them ideal for older dogs or any dog with dental issues.

I got the #30 cookie scoop that I used to make this recipe at Sur La Table.

I got the #30 cookie scoop that I used to make this recipe at Sur La Table.

This recipe is best prepared with a cookie scoop, also known as a disher or spring-loaded ice cream scoop. These spring-loaded, stainless steel scoops can be found in a wide range of sizes at most kitchen stores. (I bought mine at Sur La Table. http://www.surlatable.com/product/PRO-698407/Stainless-Steel+Ice+Cream+Scoop) These scoops are numbered according to their size using an industry-wide system; a #100 is the smallest at 3/4 tablespoon or 3/8 fl oz, while a #4 is the largest (that I’ve seen) at 1 cup or 8 fl oz. To make these macaroons, I used a #30 scoop that holds about 2 1/2 tablespoons or 1.25 fl oz and has a diameter of about 2 inches. You can use any small-ish size scoop that you’d like to make this recipe, but the spring action is really necessary to get the soft dough to come out cleanly in the nice, round scoops that make these dog treats look like the people-food macaroons that we all know and love.

 Coconut Macaroons

Coconut Macaroons

Makes about 3 dozen (2-inch) dog treats

 

1 3/4 cups coconut flour

1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut

1/4 cup honey

1 egg

2 1/2 cups water

 

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

2. Combine the flour and shredded coconut in a bowl.

3. Add the honey, egg, and water, and stir well to combine.

4. Use your hands or the back of your spoon to press the dough down and pack it tightly into the bowl. Using a small cookie scoop, scoop the dough onto a non-stick baking sheet. Pack the dough down into the bowl as often as needed to be able to continue scooping it easily.

5. Bake until dry and firm to the touch, about 20 minutes.

6. Turn the oven off, crack the oven door, and allow the treats to cool inside the oven for about 1 hour.

 

These treats should be stored in an airtight container inside the refrigerator.

Lemon-Dill Cookies

Lemon and dill is a popular flavor combination for humans, but I wasn’t sure if dogs would enjoy it quite as much. After experimenting with this recipe, 3 of my 4 doggie taste-testers gave it an enthusiastic two paws up.

Believe it or not, fresh dill is considered a natural remedy for doggie breath. Since it’s naturally antibacterial, dill can actually help reduce bacterial growth in your dog’s mouth and even help prevent the early onset of gingivitis.

Lemons have surprising health benefits, as well. Lemons contain a high level of vitamin C, which is great for a dog’s heart, eyes, liver, teeth and bones, and immune system. Lemons are also thought to help relieve arthritis pain, and incorporating lemon into your dogs’ diet early in their lives may help prevent or delay the development of arthritis as they age.

Lemon-Dill Cookies

Makes about 22 cookies

 

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1/4 cup water

1 egg

1/4 cup chopped (fresh) dill

1 cup oat flour

1 cup brown rice flour

 

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

2. Combine the lemon juice, water, egg, and dill in a bowl.

3. Stir the oat and rice flours into the wet ingredients. Knead or stir until the mixture forms a smooth, homogenous dough.

4. Roll the dough into balls about 1-inch in diameter. (I used a tablespoon to portion the dough into scoops to roll into balls).

5. Arrange the balls on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Use the heel of your hand to gently flatten each ball into a cookie shape. The cookies can be close together on the baking sheet, because they will not spread during baking.

6. Bake for 9 minutes, flip each cookie over, and return to the oven. Continue baking until the cookies are firm to the touch, about 9 minutes. Turn the oven off, and crack the oven door, and leave the cookies to dry out for about 2 hours.

 

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

Peanut Butter Crisscross Cookies

With Mother’s Day just a few days away, I’ve been thinking about all of the wonderful memories that I have of baking with my mom when I was growing up. She is a very talented baker and was the one who inspired me to go to culinary school to study baking and pastry arts. When I was still too little to handle cracking eggs or measuring flour, I remember my mom letting me use a fork to make the crisscrosses on top of the peanut butter cookies. I was always so excited to be able to help, and it was so gratifying to make each crisscross look just so—an early sign of my tendency toward obsessive organization I guess.

These tasty dog treats look just like their human-cookie counterparts but are natural, gluten-free, and wheat-free. I made this recipe for Pacey today, and I have to admit that it was still a treat for me to get to make the crisscrosses.

Peanut Butter Crisscross Cookies

Makes about 30 cookies

 

1/2 cup natural, unsalted peanut butter

1/2 cup water

1 large egg

2 cups brown rice flour

 

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

2. Place the peanut butter, water, and egg in a bowl and stir well to combine.

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

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

5. Use a tablespoon to scoop the dough into portions. Roll each scoop into a ball, and arrange the balls of dough on an ungreased baking sheet.

6. Lightly press the tines of a fork on the top of each ball of dough, flattening the ball into a cookie shape and creating a pattern of parallel lines on top. Turn the fork 90 degrees, and press the tines into the dough once again to form a crisscross pattern on top of each cookie.

7. Bake until the edges are golden brown, about 21 minutes. When done baking, turn the oven off, leave the cookies inside the oven with the door cracked, and allow the cookies to dry out for about 2 hours.

 

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

Snickerdoodles

A snickerdoodle is a type of sugar cookie that is traditionally coated in cinnamon-sugar before it’s baked. In this dog-friendly version, the snickerdoodles are sweetened with honey and packed with cinnamon flavor. If your dog really likes cinnamon, you can also sprinkle a tiny bit of cinnamon on top of each cookie immediately after they come out of the oven.

Snickerdoodles

Snickerdoodles

Makes 28 cookies

3/4 cup oat flour

3/4 cup brown rice flour

2 teaspoons cinnamon

2 tablespoons honey

1 large egg

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons water

 

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.

2. Combine the flours and cinnamon in bowl.

3. Make a well in the dry ingredients, and add the honey, egg, and water. Stir until the mixture is well combined. Use your hands to press the mixture into a smooth dough.

4. Roll the dough into balls about 1 inch in diameter, and arrange the balls on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

5. Bake until the cookies are golden brown and firm to the touch, 19-20 minutes. When the cookies are done baking, turn off the oven, crack the oven door, and leave the cookies to dry out for 1 to 2 hours.

 

These cookies may be stored at room temperature or in the refrigerator.

Banana Cookies

Just like us, individual dogs have distinct taste preferences. As you try out more and more treat recipes, you’ll get a better idea of what your dog likes and doesn’t. Banana is not a flavor popular with all dogs. I’ll be honest—Pacey isn’t a big fan. However, bananas are naturally creamy and sweet, so some dogs absolutely love them. And that creamy texture also lends itself very well to baked goods.

Bananas have nutritional benefits as well. Dogs are able to quickly metabolize the natural sugars, so bananas can offer an energy boost. Bananas also contain potassium, electrolytes, minerals, vitamin B6, and vitamin C and are fiber rich.

When you’re preparing this recipe, do not panic if the cookie dough seems wet when you’re mixing it. When I made this recipe, the dough was very moist, bordering on a batter, but when I portioned the dough (using a 2-tablespoon scoop) the cookies held together well and didn’t even spread out too much in the oven. I did press gently on the tops of the baked cookies as they came out of the oven. This flattened them out a little bit and gave them a neater appearance, but that’s completely optional. Just leave them as-is if you’re okay with a more rustic look.

 Banana Cookies

Banana Cookies

Makes about 50 cookies

 

2 cups all purpose or unbleached white flour

2 cups (uncooked) oats

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2cups natural, unsweetened applesauce

3 very ripe medium-sized bananas, mashed

 

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

2. Combine the flour, oats, and baking soda in a bowl.

3. Add the applesauce and bananas, and stir to combine.

4. Drop the dough by the heaping tablespoonful onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. These cookies may spread slightly during baking, so be sure to leave about 1 inch between the drops of dough. (Optional: I like to press down gently on the top of each drop of dough to flatten the cookies out a little bit—this is purely for looks.)

5. Bake until the cookies are light brown and spongy to the touch, about 11 minutes. Turn the oven off, crack the oven door, and allow the cookies to harden for at least 2 hours and up to overnight.

 

Definitely store these moist treats in the refrigerator.

Oatmeal Cookies

I’ll admit that these doggie drop cookies don’t have exactly the same texture as their traditional “people cookie” counterparts, but my taste-tester gave them an enthusiastic two paws up anyway. I would describe the consistency as slightly rubbery, but the crunchiness of the oats provides a nice textural contrast to the sponginess, and Pacey gobbled them right up.

Grains were not an original part of the canine diet. Dogs, who are natural carnivores, only started eating grains when we humans started feeding them to our domesticated pets. Today, grains are a common ingredient in most commercial dog foods and biscuits. If you’re going to feed grains to your dog (which many of us already do), oats are an excellent choice. Oats contain less gluten than wheat flours, so they are generally tolerated very well by dogs’ digestive systems. Oats have significant nutritional value as well. They are high in protein and are also a source of iron, magnesium, silicon, and B vitamins. Oats are also believed to calm the nervous system (of dogs as well as people), so they can be especially beneficial to anxious dogs.

Oats are a great source of soluble fiber. This has an up side and down side. The up side: oats are great for dogs that are getting up in years and are starting to have trouble with bowel regularity. The flip side: too much added fiber can cause diarrhea in dogs with more sensitive systems. If you’re concerned, just feed oatmeal very occasionally and keep an eye peeled for your dog’s response. (Note: unless your dog has some sort of allergy, the amount of oatmeal in these cookies should not pose a problem if they’re fed sparingly as a treat.)

I call for organic oats in this recipe simply because organically grown oats have a higher nutritive value than traditionally grown oats, but you can use the old fashioned kind if you’d like.

 

Oatmeal Cookies

Makes about 45 cookies

 

1 1/2 cups (uncooked) organic oats

2 cups whole wheat flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 egg

3/4 cup honey

1/2 cup water

1/4 cup natural, unsweetened applesauce

 

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.

2. Combine the oats, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon in a bowl.

3. Add the egg, applesauce, honey, and water, and stir to combine.

4. Drop the dough by the tablespoonful onto a prepared baking sheet. The cookies should be placed 1 to 1 1/2 inches apart to allow for any spreading.

5. Bake until golden brown and firm to the touch, about 11 minutes. When finished baking, turn the oven off, crack the oven door, and leave the cookies to dry for about 2 hours.

 

These moist cookies are best stored in the refrigerator.