There is a strange fact about myself that I typically keep hidden for fear of seeming unAmerican . . . I hate fries. French fries, steak fries, curly fries, potato skins. I hate them all, and I honestly can’t figure out the source of my aversion. I love potatoes and I love fried foods, but I can not stand fried potatoes. However, of all the various French fries, my arch nemesis is the sweet potato fry. I hate the flavor, texture, and pretty much everything else about sweet potato fries. HOWEVER, I know that I’m in a very small minority. Most people (and dogs too) seem to love the flavor of sweet potatoes, and their natural sweetness makes them a perfect flavoring for a dog treat.
You can simplify the prep work for this recipe by using a canned sweet potato puree. (It could also be labeled “mashed sweet potato”). If you decide to take this route, you don’t want to buy candied sweet potatoes, any sort of syrupy concoction, or pie filling. Be sure to look for 100% sweet potatoes on the can’s label.
It’s not that much more work to bake and mash the sweet potatoes yourself. Check out my Sweet Potato Treats post for step-by-step instructions.
Sweet Potato Fries
Makes about 40 (2-inch) treats
1 cup mashed sweet potato or canned sweet potato puree
1 large egg
1/4 cup water
1 cup white rice flour
1 cup oat flour
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Combine the mashed sweet potato, egg, and water in a bowl.
In a separate bowl, combine the white rice flour and oat flour.
Pour the flours into the wet ingredients, stirring with a rubber spatula to combine. Press the mixture together with your hands until it holds together in a ball of homogenous dough.
Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit your baking sheet.
Place the piece of parchment paper on the countertop, and use a rolling pin to roll the dough out into a sheet about 1/2 inch thick on top of the piece of parchment.
Carefully transfer the parchment paper (with the sheet of dough on top) to your baking sheet.
Bake for 12 minutes.
Remove the baking sheet from the oven.
Immediately (before the treats cool), use a fluted pastry cutter or a pizza cutter to make parallel cuts about 3/4 inch apart all the way across the sheet of dough. Next, working perpendicular to the cuts that you just made, make parallel cuts about 2 inches apart across the sheet of dough. These cuts should now form rectangular pieces measuring 3/4 inch by 2 inches that mimic the shape of French fries.
Gently separate the pieces so that there is about 1/4 inch of space between them on the baking sheet and flip each of the treats over.
Return the baking sheet to the oven for 6 to 7 minutes. The finished treats should be lightly brown and firm to the touch.
These treats are best stored in an airtight container inside the refrigerator.
The main ingredient in this recipe is a sweet potato. Not a yam. Despite the way that we Americans tend to use the two terms interchangeably, yams and sweet potatoes are NOT the same thing. True yams have a rough, dark skin with white, purple, or red flesh. They are also native to Africa and other tropical regions, and do not grow well in North America. The tubers so familiar to our Thanksgiving tables are actually sweet potatoes. Their orange flesh is soft and sweet and their skin is coppery-orange. Sweet potatoes are also moister and less starchy than yams, and the ends of sweet potatoes are tapered whereas yams have a more rounded shape.
Now that you’re educated on correct tuber terminology, it’s time to choose the perfect sweet potato. When in the produce aisle, you want to look for a sweet potato with smooth skin that is free of bruises and/or cuts. You do not want to find a lot of white strings sprouting out, because that is a sign that the sweet potato will be tough (because it has overmatured).
For this recipe, microwaving is the quickest way to prepare the sweet potato for mashing. (However, you can bake or boil if you prefer.) First, use a fork or paring knife to pierce the sweet potato’s skin a few times on each side. Place the sweet potato on a microwave-safe plate and microwave on high for 5 to 6 minutes. When it’s done the flesh should be very soft and the skin should be very easy to peel away with your hand or a paring knife. Remove the skin and discard it. Mash the flesh using a fork. It’s that easy! Just be sure to allow the mash to cool before you add it to the other ingredients in this recipe.
Sweet Potato Biscuits
Makes about 7 dozen (1-inch) treats
3/4 cup mashed sweet potato (about 1 medium sweet potato)
1/4 cup water
2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
2. Combine the mashed sweet potato, eggs, and water in a bowl.
3. Stir in the whole wheat flour, and knead until the mixture forms a smooth, homogenous 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 pieces on an ungreased baking sheet; they can be placed rather close together because these treats will not spread during baking.
5. Bake until firm to the touch, about 20 minutes. If desired, flip the cookies over halfway through the baking time to ensure even browning.
These treats should be stored in the refrigerator.
When you make them yourself, dehydrated vegetable chips are a completely natural and very inexpensive treat for your pooch. For this recipe, all you need is an oven, one sweet potato, and a little bit of time.
The most important factor for success when dehydrating a vegetable is to slice it as thinly as you possibly can. If the slices are too thick, they will take FOREVER to dry out or won’t successfully dry out at all. Using a mandolin slicer is definitely the best option for this task; however, you can use a sharp chefs knife if you don’t have a mandolin handy. If you have a smaller dog, you should then cut the veggie slices into smaller pieces that are more manageable. (For Pacey, who weighs 15 pounds, I cut the larger of the sweet potato rounds into quarters.)
I used a sweet potato for this recipe, but the same method also works really well for dehydrating carrots.
Sweet Potato Chips
Makes about 80 chips
(The yield can vary greatly depending on the size of the veggie and the slicing)
1 sweet potato
1. Preheat your oven to 120°F. If your oven won’t go as low as 120°F, simply use your oven’s lowest setting. Just be sure to shorten the baking time if you’re using a higher temperature.
2. Slice the sweet potato as thinly as you possibly can.
3. Arrange the slices in a single layer on a baking sheet.
4. Bake in the oven for 40 minutes.
5. Turn each of the slices over, return to the oven, and bake for an additional 40 minutes. The chips are done when they have lost all of their moisture–and feel light, dry, and crispy.
Store these treats in an airtight container.