Happy meals for happy dogs, that’s the way to go! Yesterday I shared a list of ingredients to prepare a home made meal for your beloved hounds. Today I am going to share a recipe for the spaniel (or any dogster) in your life to keep him healthy, satisfied and content even if you run out of dog food, have to self-isolate or simply feel like cooking him a special meal.
If you don’t have all of the ingredients, don’t worry. I’ll give you alternatives to get everything covered. The recipe itself can be found at the end of this post. But if you are a bit of a nutrition geek, keep reading the part where things get a little “science’y”.
I called this dish a “Happy meal” because the idea is to give the dog something without excessive quantities of protein to prevent hyperactivity, yet provide correct balance of proteins and carbohydrates, and most importantly – sources of amino-acid tryptophan and essential co-factor nutrients including vitamin B3, B6, B12, folic acid, iron, chromium, zinc, magnesium and Omega 3 & 6 fatty acids. Together these special ingredients will help the brain to synthesise and maintain the levels of happy hormone serotonin known for its ability to keep the dog relaxed and calm.
Turkey is the star ingredient of the meal because it’s one of the best sources of tryptophan. It is also a very good source of iron essential for the transport of oxygen between cells and tissues, nourished coat and strong immune system. We will be using the breast meat to reduce the amount of poultry fat, which would allow an addition of other sources of fatty acids to meet your dog’s daily needs and get as many benefits as possible, too.
Chicken liver makes a fantastic addition because it’s a wonderful source of retinol (or vitamin A) for strong immunity, eye, skin, bone and hormonal health, and B12 to support DNA synthesis, healthy heart and enzyme production, and also contains plenty of iron, folic acid, riboflavin, and vitamin C Liver is the “cleansing” organ, so it is important to choose organic to avoid an unnecessary overload of hormones, antibiotics, pesticides, herbicides and any other toxic waste that the body had to deal with.
Liver and the added egg yolk are two sources of choline, a “brain food” that keeps it healthy by supporting the cell structure, ability to communicate with the rest of the body and may help to reduce anxiety levels. The levels of choline decline with age, so it’s important to top it up through food.
The biotin in egg yolk will support healthy coat, skin and nails without the need to use supplements because those can lead to toxicity.
Adding buckwheat helps to meet energy requirements for complex carbohydrates and fibre without the need to include regular grains, which some terrier breeds may not tolerate well due to their genetics. To our benefit, buckwheat is one of the few “faux grains” that contains substantial quantities of tryptophan as well as the necessary “transport” for the amino acid to cross the blood-brain barrier and actually reach it’s destination. It is full of folic acid, vitamin B3, manganese, calcium, zinc, chromium, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium essential for the immune and nervous system. The “grain” is one of the wonderful sources of quercetin (often referred to as rutin) known to prevent and reduce allergic response and inflammation in the body, supporting heart health and reducing the risk of several cancers.
Buckwheat can be replaced with rice or oats.
Oats are used to provide both soluble and insoluble fibre as well as protein, biotin, zinc, chromium and magnesium. Oats are also high in tryptophan and are often referred to as sleep-inducing grain. Biotin will improve the coat and skin, zinc will take care of the immune system, hormones, wound healing, DNA and hundreds of enzymatic reactions throughout the body. The chromium in oats will improve the body’s resilence to stress, control blood sugar levels, reduce the risk of diabetes and heart problems and support metabolism.
Oats also work as a natural prebiotic since we are not using any in a supplementary form.
Rice is a source of carbohydrates and fibre. It also contains B vitamins, calcium, magnesium and iron.
Sweet potato is another special food packed with vitamin A (beta-carotene), vitamin B6, iron, magnesium, calcium and fibre. Besides supporting production of serotonin, the vegetable will help the dog maintain healthy eyes, skin, reproductive hormones, strong bones and reduce the risk of cancers thanks to beta-carotene
Organic cold pressed extra virgin coconut oil and cold pressed flaxseed oil will ensure that our dog gets Omega 3 as well as plenty of linoleic Omega 6 acid – the most essential fatty acid for canine health. It helps to maintain cell membranes, supports the immune and nervous system, skin and coat. Dogs cannot produce it and rely on food sources for the daily supplies.
Flaxseed oil also helps to balance the essential fatty acids ALA (alphalenoleic acid) and LA (linoleic acid) which is essential when the dogs are fed poultry-based meals.
Fats are also important for proper absorption of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K.
Next come a few special ingredients that are only needed in minute quantities to make a big difference to the dog’s well-being.
Unlike green tomatoes and tomato plants that are known to be toxic, fully ripe tomatoes without seeds do not only add beta-carotene, biotin, folic acid, vitamin B6, vitamin K, vitamin C, molybdenum, calcium, magnesium and iron, but also lycopene – a cancer-fighting anti-oxidant and zeaxanthin – another anti-oxidant essential for supporting healthy vision in ageing dogs.
Blueberries are a source of antioxidants, vitamins A, group B, C, and K, and minerals calcium, magnesium, zinc and potassium. They will support healthy heart, strong bones and healthy digestive and nervous system.
Yoghurt will add a serenity-boosting tryptophan, vitamin A, folate, and vitamin C, choline, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and zinc. But above else, yoghurt will supply beneficial bacteria to support healthy digestive tract and strong immune system.
Manuka honey is added to the food as a source of 80 trace minerals and for it’s anti-bacterial properties. It also helps to prevent stress-reduced colitis in anxious and agitated dogs.
Seaweed is used for it’s ability to support adrenal and pituitary glands responsible for stress-handling. The nutritionally dense food is a source of calcium, iron and magnesium essential for bone health and muscle contractions.
No recipe would be complete without calcium and for this reason we are steering clear of processed bone meal or potentially gut-irritating supplements, and turning our attention to green lipped mussels or egg shell powder. The mussels will add more anti-inflammatory omega 3 fats into the diet, and most importantly, plenty of chondroitin and calcium to support healthy bones and reduce the risk of arthritis. The egg shell powder is a great back-up option.
Use the “superfoods” when the meal is cooled and ready to serve to preserve their unique properties that can be destroyed by heat.
The recipe below contains ingredients to prepare a meal to feed a healthy 10-kg dog for a day. If your dog has been neutered, reduce the quantities by 10 per cent. If your dog is very active or lives in a multiple dog household, increase the quantities by 5 per cent. Choose organic whenever possible.
HAPPY MEAL for happy hounds (feeds a 10kg adult dog for a day)
80g turkey breast mince (or replace with 70g skinless chicken or 70g lean beef or 2 eggs or 160g white fish)
30g chicken liver, finely chopped
1 small egg
100g dry buckwheat (or replace with 90g rice, dry weight, 110g dry oats or 130g sweet potato, raw weight or 80g dry pasta)
70g raw sweet potato (or replace with 70g raw butternut squash or 70g raw pumpkin)
1 tsp passata (made with 100% tomatoes, free from ascorbic acid, salt or other ingredients) (or replace with 1 tsp chopped small tomato, skin and seeds removed or tinned tomatoes made with 100% tomatoes, no salt, spices or additive)
20 blueberries, fresh or frozen (optional)
1/4 tsp cold pressed raw virgin coconut oil
3g or 1/3 tsp cold-pressed flaxseed oil (or replace with 1/3 tsp hempseed oil if you use beef as a main ingredient)
1 scoop green lipped mussels powder (we use Riaflex Green Lipped Mussel Powder) (or replace with approx. 1/2 tsp egg shell powder (read how to make it and calculate precise quantities for your dog in my previous post)
1/4 tsp dried nori flakes (we use Clear spring Japanese Green Nori seaweed sprinkle) or Plaque Off seaweed powder
1/4 tsp raw honey (manuka honey or any raw honey of your choice)
1 tsp plain natural yoghurt (cows, goats, sheep or buffalo)
1/4 tsp chopped parsley (optional, do not use if your dog is pregnant)
HOW TO MAKE:
- Cook the buckwheat (or rice) at a ratio of 1 part of grain and 2 parts of filtered water. Oats need to be cooked at a ratio of 1 part grain and 4 parts of water (or use packet instruction). Leave to cool. (If you are using sweet potato or squash – bake it in skin or steam to preserve nutrients as much as possible. Cook pasta as per packaging instructions)
- Wash the sweet potato, pierce with a fork, put on a baking tray and bake in the oven at 180C fan until soft. Leave to cool, then scoop the flesh into a bowl.
Sweet potato, pumpkin or butternut squash can also be peeled and steamed instead.
- Put the turkey and liver in a pan, cover with water and cook on medium heat until ready. Cool, preserve the stock. Chop the meat finely.
- Hard-boil the egg (or eggs, if you are using them as a main protein source), allow to cool. Peel and chop. Use the shells to make the egg shell powder.
- In a large bowl combine buckwheat, sweet potato, turkey, liver, egg, tomatoes, blueberries, oils, and honey, and mix well. Add a little stock to make it sticky, if you like.
- Keep in an air tight container.
- When ready to serve, divide into two meals.
- Just before serving, add yoghurt, calcium source from one of the options above, parsley (if using), yoghurt and seaweed powder.
Photo credit: photo by Maria Kovaleva (C) / Shutterstock