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.
NOTE: These treats bake up very soft and cakey, so they make a great choice for older dogs or any dog with dental issues.
These treats are best stored in an airtight container inside the refrigerator.
Beef is kind of a no-brainer when it comes to dog treat flavors, because dogs are naturally carnivores. I don’t know a single dog that doesn’t love the flavor of beef and digest it easily. (I guess maybe there’s one out there, but I certainly haven’t met him yet.) And making these treats in the shape of Italian biscotti puts a fun little twist on plain ol’ beef biscuits.
If you’ve got the time and inclination, you can make your own beef broth or beef stock for this recipe. If you do, just be sure to leave out any salt, onion, or garlic. However, most grocery stores now carry high-quality, natural beef broths that come in a can for convenience. When buying canned beef broth for use in dog treats, it’s always good to look for organic, low or no fat, and low sodium.
Gingered Beef Biscotti
Makes about 42 treats
2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons ground ginger
3/4 cup beef broth (homemade or fat free, low sodium)
1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
2. In a bowl, combine the flour with the ground ginger. Add the egg and beef broth and mix well.
3. Knead the mixture by hand until a smooth, homogenous dough forms.
4. Divide the dough in half. Roll each half into a log about 1 1/2 to 2 inches wide.
5. Arrange the logs on a baking sheet, and bake until a toothpick inserted into the log comes out clean, about 35 minutes.
6. Remove the logs from the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 350°F.
7. As soon as the baked logs are cool enough to handle, use a serrated knife to cut each log into 1/2-inch slices.
8. Arrange the slices on a baking sheet, and return to the oven for 10 minutes.
9. Turn each slice over, and bake for an additional 10 minutes.
10. Turn the oven off, crack the door, and leave the biscotti slices in the oven to dry out for about 2 hours.
These treats may be stored in an airtight container at room temperature, but they’re best stored in the refrigerator.
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.