Are you tired of purchasing dog treats from the store that are loaded with preservatives and other ingredients you can't pronounce? Do you cringe whenever you tear open a new bag of those meaty treats after catching a whiff of that less-than-delightful aroma? Sure, every dog loves a snack, and we owners love to treat them to one! But how can we be sure that what we're feeding our beloved four-legged companions is healthy as well as delicious? The following tutorial will guide you through the simple task of preparing a batch of homemade apple cinnamon dog treats. (Also included for you, the health-savvy owner, is a complete list of each ingredients' nutritional benefits for your dog.) From start to finish, it only takes an hour or two to make roughly 50 treats. Nevertheless, your dog will surely enjoy these baked goodies and as their owner, you can be confident that what they're eating is good for them, too!
Step 1: Supplies and Ingredients
- a set of standard measuring cups
- a set of standard measuring spoons
- two medium-sized or large stirring bowls
- a plastic or wooden stirring spoon
- a standard butter knife, fork, or other straight edge
- a grater
- a rolling pin
- a small cookie cutter
- cooking spray
- a large cookie sheet
- an oven
- a kitchen timer or clock
- an oven mitt
- a cooling rack
- a large storage container with a lid
Ingredients and their respective measurements are listed below. Do not mix anything together yet, as this will be done in the next steps. The second picture below depicts these items.
- 4 cups of whole wheat flour (as well as a handful or two of some white flour which will not be added to the actual dough, but used for non-stick purposes)
- 1/2 of a cup of cornmeal
- 1 egg
- 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
- 1 small apple
- 1 1/2 cups of water
HEALTH BENEFITS OF THESE INGREDIENTS TO YOUR DOG:
Cornmeal is found in many types of commercial dog foods. It is used for both its nutrient and fiber content, and helps a dog's digestive system run smoothly.
Eggs are an excellent source of complete protein and provide many of the essential amino acids that dogs need.
Dogs can digest a wide variety of fatty acids. Fats (like the kind in vegetable oil) deliver certain vitamins to a dog's system and are utilized as a primary source of energy. They can also keep his/her skin, paw pads, and nose in good condition.
Cinnamon is an excellent source of antioxidants, which are a basic component of canine nutrition. One teaspoon of cinnamon contains as many antioxidants as a full cup of pomegranate juice.
Complex carbohydrates include fruits (such as apples), whole grains (such as wheat flour), and vegetables. Although they take longer to digest, they supply a dog with a slow, steady stream of energy.
Step 2: Mixing the Ingredients
1. Measure out all of your dry ingredients and their respective amounts using your measuring cups and spoons as shown in the first two photos below. (Dry ingredients include the whole wheat flour, cornmeal, and cinnamon.) Use a straight edge if necessary to level off the contents. Combine it all into one of the large bowls, mix with a spoon, and set aside.
2. Grate the apple using the grater as in the third picture below. Toss the grated apple bits into the other large bowl, being careful not to get any seeds in with it. Add the water and vegetable oil to the grated apple, as well as the egg. (Be careful not to get any part of the shell in the mixture!) Stir well.
3. Carefully pour the dry ingredients in with the wet ingredients. Stir well until the mixture becomes a thick dough.
Step 3: Rolling and Cutting the Dough
4. Turn out the dough on a lightly floured surface such as a counter or tabletop.
5. Spread a small handful of flour on the rolling pin so the dough does not stick to it, and roll it out until it is approximately 1/4 to 1/2 of an inch thick. Add more flour as needed to prevent any unwanted sticking of the dough to the surface or rolling pin.
6. At this point, it is recommended you preheat your oven for 325°F so that by the time you complete the next step your oven will be hot enough and you can begin baking right away.
6. Using your cookie cutter, punch the dough and set the slices onto a lightly greased cookie sheet as shown in the picture below. These treats do not rise or expand during baking, so they can be placed fairly close together. (Just as long as they aren't touching.) Also, depending on how large your slices are, you may need to use a second cookie sheet if you run out of room on the first one, or you can simply use the same cookie sheet after the first batch is finished baking and cooling. Either way is perfectly fine; however, the latter option will be more time-consuming.
Step 4: Baking the Treats
7. Carefully place the cookie sheet in the oven, using an oven mitt if necessary, and set a timer for 15 to 20 minutes.
8. After the timer sounds, carefully remove the treats from the oven using an oven mitt as shown in the first photo below. CAUTION: The cookie sheet will be very hot!
9. Place the pan on top of the stove or on a heat-resistant countertop with an oven mitt underneath it. Allow the treats to cool on the cookie sheet for about five minutes.
Step 5: Completing the Process
10. After the treats have cooled, remove them carefully with your fingertips and place onto a cooling rack. CAUTION: The pan may still be a little hot. If you are uncomfortable using your fingers to remove the treats off the cookie sheet, you may also use a plastic spatula. The first picture below shows the treats cooling on the cooling rack.
11. Let the treats cool down completely for another half-hour or so. This is important to do before moving on to the final step.
12. At this point, you can either call your dog over for a taste test (as I do with my beagle, Jiggsey, shown begging in the second photo, and also eating one of the treats in the third photo below), or simply store the treats in a sealed plastic container. You can also freeze them. This is especially recommended if you know they won't all be eaten within a week after baking. (Their lack of preservatives make them prone to molding.)
Step 6: Conclusion
Congratulations! You have successfully completed your first batch of homemade apple cinnamon dog treats! You can now rest assured that your dog is consuming a tasty snack made only from ingredients that are familiar and healthy. No need to purchase anymore of those smelly mystery meat snacks from the store! These delicious homemade treats will have your four-legged canine companion begging for more!
Mehus-Roe, Kristin. Dog Bible: The Definitive Source for All Things Dog. 1st ed. Irvine, CA: BowTie, Inc., 2005. 499-501. Print.