Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Thanksgiving Dinner for Your Dog: Include Fido in the Feast!!

I found this today surfing the web and wanted to share with all my readers.  Hope you enjoy!
Undeniably my favorite time of the year is Autumn; the brilliant fire of the trees mixes with abundant fields of ripe apple trees and pumpkins, making those early evening strolls with my dog in the crisp air a sensory delight.  But whether one is surrounded by acres of woods or fresh produce stands on busy urban streets, there is no denying the exhilarating change of season in my part of the country.  And along with the cooler air arrives a holiday steeped in tradition that so perfectly and completely helps us usher in the warmth of winter and the holiday season.
Thanksgiving, for me and my family, as for so many others, means an annual gathering of loved ones and a feast guaranteed to fee the soul, stretch the pants, and eventually lull you into an early evening snooze.
This is a day that we are all reminded of just what it is we have to be thankful for in our lives.  And I'll be the first to admit that my dog is at the top of that list; at times almost and extension of myself, giving love unconditionally and unfailingly, asking for very little in return.  So it should come as no surprise that despite the preparation and general business that occurs during Thanksgiving (I always cook the dinner!) I am adamant about including my dog in the festivities, right down to the dinner.  By being careful and little bit creative, our dog enjoys much of the same delights we feast on ourselves.
One of the biggest mistakes people make, especially during holidays, is to "treat" their dogs to foods they aren't used to eating - foods smothered in rich gravies, sugars, salt, etc... .  It may seem fun going in, buy such a heavy diet, even for just a night, can wreak havoc coming out.  If you want your do to be able to enjoy a true Thanksgiving meal, yet still keep it healthy, ready through the suggestions listed below that have worked for us through the years.
  • Don't feed the dog turkey skin.  As tempting as it is, the skin is not only high in fat and hard to digest, but all holds any marinade, butter and oils, or spices used in baking, which can cause stomach upset.  Instead, peel the skin off a big slice of turkey (white meat is the most bland and usually the best tolerated), then cute into appropriate-sized pieces. 
  • As you prepare side dishes, set aside some of the good stuff before adding all of the cream, salt, butter, wine, etc... .  A scoop of plain mashed sweet potatoes, a cup of cooked carrots, broccoli or green beans, even a small biscuit without butter or some dressing without gravy will be a treasure for your dog, and is good for them in addition!
  • A good substitute for gravy for your dog is a little turkey broth.  If you cook the giblets in water for stock, save a little to help moisten meat before you turn it into gravy.  Or buy it canned!
  • If your dog normally eats only "dog food" (i.e. kibble), don't offer up a big plate full of turkey, veggies and potatoes all at once.  This can stress their system.  Instead, try adding a slice of turkey and a few veggies to their kibble.  Save some veggies for "treats" throughout the evening. 
  • If your dog is going to be planted under the table during dinner, denying them those irresistible flavors and sweet temptations may seem impossible, especially if your guests "mean well", but can't say not to that cute furry face!  One way to help the off-limit food stay that way is to play a few "treat cups" around the table.  Fill these with small pieces of plain sliced turkey, cooked veggies, pieces of bread - anything sensible.  Guests will still get a kick our feeding the dog, but it will be much healthier than what is on most people's plates.  And once the bowls are empty, that's it!
If your dog is used to homemade diet, have fun and be creative as you indulge him in his Thanksgiving feast.  Oh, and for dessert?  Instead of apple pie a la mode, how about some sliced apples with a "scoop" of mashed potatoes, and maybe some applesauce on top?  Pumpkin is also very good for a dog's diet, but make sure it's real pumpkin, and not the filling that is loading with sugar and fat.
Thanksgiving dinner should be fun and fulfilling - a special treat on a special day.  By carefully preparing your dog's meal, the holiday can be enjoyable for every member of the family, even the furry ones!
Lasting Leftovers Recipes
The-Day-After Turkey Omelet
         1 egg
         1-2 tbsp. mashed potatoes
         1/2 cup diced cooked turkey meat
         1/2 cup cooked vegetables, chopped
         1/4 cup desired cheese, grated
         Heat a medium-sized pan with a small amount of olive oil.  Whisk together the egg and potatoes.  Spread in pan.  Place turkey and veggies on top in even layers.  Cover; simmer until egg cooks and the mixture is warm.  Sprinkle cheese on top, then cook a few more minutes until cheese is melted and egg is golden brown.  Let cool.  Cut into wedges.  Store in refrigerator.
Turkey Balls
(These are so good you may want to try them yourself!)
         1 loaf uncooked bread dough or pizza dough
         1/4 cup turkey broth
         1-2 tsp. flour
         3/4 cup cooked turkey, cut up small
         1/2 cup cooked vegetables
         1/4 tsp. garlic powder
         1/4 grated cheese
         1/4 cup sesame seeds
         Roll out the dough and cut into 3 inches circles with cookie cutter.  In a saucepan, combine the broth and flour, stirring until flour is dissolved and mixture thickens.  Add the turkey, veggies, and garlic powder.  Cook until mixture is heated through.  Let cook a bit.
Spoon one to two teaspoonfuls of the turkey mixture onto each circle.  Fold up the sides and pinch shut.  Roll into a ball shape.  Mix the cheese and sesame seeds in a small bowl.  Roll or sprinkle each ball with the mixture.  Arrange the balls on cookie sheets.  Cook in a preheated 375 degree oven for 10-15 minutes, until they are golden brown.  Let cool.  Store in the refrigerator.

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