So, my dog is a little spoiled...or maybe a lot spoiled. Actually let's rephrase: my dog just so happens to be very well-loved. I like that better. After all, she is a darling little furry friend with a spunky personality and a toothy, underbite grin that keeps everyone around her smiling along. Although more hairy than the rest of us, she's an important member of our family and she certainly eats like one. These real-food based soft chew treats are one of her favorites. Simple to make, these sweet potato treats offer the perfect canine balance of nutrition and good taste, while remaining free from the nasty preservatives and processing techniques used in most store-bought treats.
Treats are meant to be delicious and nutritious. Yet when it comes to dog treats, "nutritious" can be surprisingly difficult to find. Commercially manufactured dog treats are often made from questionable ingredients that authorities and many dog owners find less than desirable. From sugar-based sweeteners to cheap animal by-products and loosely regulated foreign imports, all sorts of funky "feed grade" ingredients can be used for making dog treats. What's more, ingredient safety, manufacturing sanitation and labeling policies for pet foods are often broad and ambiguous, making it very difficult for consumers to sort out truths from marketing gimmicks.
Most dog treat brands found on the shelf today are conveniently bulked up with inexpensive refined grains and excess soy products. While lucrative, these fillers wreck havoc on protein-loving canine digestive tracts. What's more, dog treats contents are often harshly processed, mixed with loads of preservatives and zapped dry at high temperatures. I mean, have you ever looked at the expiration date on a dog treat? Those things last forever! If you ask me, that is just plain scary for something that is supposed to be "made with chicken."
Thus, even though store-bought treats come in cutesy shapes and all sorts of tantalizing bacon-inspired flavors, it is often better (not to mention far less pricey) to cut through the confusion and make treats at home. Baking up dog treats is not difficult, and often serves as a nice bonding experience for you and your furball. Our pup Darci was so excited to eat her homemade treats that she hopped up right on the table when I was trying to take some pictures...
My favorite thing about making these treats is that they use clean, affordable ingredients that are actually healthy for dogs. Nothing fake, nothing processed; just all-organic goodness:
- Sweet potatoes supply a healthy dose of dietary fiber with vitamins B6, C, beta carotene and manganese
- Cold pressed coconut oil delivers heart healthy lauric acid and has antibacterial and antiviral properties
- Organic coconut flour provides beneficial starches and promotes organism balance in the gut
- Raw honey is rich with antioxidants, enzymes and flavonoids
- Sea salt offers a collection of important trace minerals
Grain-Free Coconut Flour Soft Chews
1/2 cup sweet potato, mashed (approx. 1 small or 1/2 large)
3 tablespoons unsweetened apple sauce
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1 teaspoon raw honey (optional)
6 tablespoons coconut flour, sifted
pinch unrefined salt
2. In a medium-sized bowl or food processor combine mashed sweet potato, eggs, apple sauce, melted oil and honey. Sift coconut flour and add to batter slowly, stirring until mostly smooth.
3.Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread mixture onto parchment paper in a layer approximately 1/4 inch thick and sprinkle the top with sea salt.
4. Place in oven at 350°F and bake for about 20 minutes. Remove pan and score treats into small “bite-sized” squares. Place back in oven and bake for another 15 minutes or until outer edges begin to brown. Allow to cool on the pan for 5-10 minutes before transferring to a container.
5. Expect lots of cute begging faces from your dog (as evidenced below). Try not to forget that that treats are all about moderation however, no matter how healthy they may be. Give your dog one or two, and keep a jar in the refrigerator for long-term storage.