Saturday, June 11, 2011

Clean Eating for Dogs and a Recipe for All of Us

Have you ever muttered the words: "I wish I could eat what my dogs are eating" ???

Yeah, me neither. Until tonight:

I should explain... Last night I decided to try and eat before going to bed. Had two slices of white bread and a Coke and felt decent. So I snacked a bit more and did myself in. With less than a handful of my normally-tolerated snacks, I was up all night with the nausea, cramping, hiccups, burping, etc. ALL NIGHT! 

Oh well. At least I got in those extra calories and was able to keep it down.

So today I slept late, since my body didn't stop the involuntary hiccup-heaving til something like 9 AM this morning, resulting in no more than an hour of sleep at a time. Went through the "bad day" cramping, pain, and nausea all morning, as well as feeling all of yesterday's food still stuck in my tummy. Hate that feeling after not having eaten for 10 hours or more...

Despite having loads of errands to run today, I haven't left the house. Just feeling crappy and weak.

Hence the home-cooked dog meal. I forgot I'd run out of food. I should preface this all by saying I've discussed my home-cooking for the dogs with their vet at length. My smaller dog was a rescue and does well with anything you feed her--she's always getting into things she shouldn't and has only gotten sick twice in 6+ years--once from a bird she swallowed whole outside. Totally gross. She can even eat crappy corn-based dog food from the grocery store.

It wasn't until I got my larger dog a year later that I had to start cooking for the girls. The second dog is a pure bred and was left by my ex. She slowly developed weird red rashes on her underside and what looked like mange on her shoulders and back, as well as chronic ear infections over that first year. I took her to the vet and was told I could do two things: Put her on long-term steroids and allergy meds as well as rip up the carpet in my old apartment, bathe her every few days with prescription anti-allergy washes, do ear flushes and prescription drops every night, etc. OR I could just try putting her on an all-natural organic dry food and see how she responded. Sounded good to me!

I couldn't stand to overmedicate this sweet little girl!

So I switched the dogs to a fairly expensive new natural food and also started supplementing it with home-cooked veggies, potatoes, rice, and oatmeal, as per the vet's suggestion. I also occasionally added a scrambled egg, shredded white meats, or some organic beef jerky to chew on. I often drizzle some extra-virgin olive oil on top of their dry food, if nothing else. The vet said this was all great--that she wished everyone did this for their dogs.

I was skeptical at first about it fixing her allergies. I just figured I was spoiling the shit out of the dogs; they sure seemed happy about it. But within a week, my dog's skin problems seemed to be clearing and she was scratching her ears less. Within a month, her fur had grown back and the rashes under her "arms" were completely gone. By the end of two months, she had the most beautiful shiny coat, no grimy crap building up in her ears anymore, and even seemed more energetic and happy. Success!

It's been almost 5 years now and she hasn't had any of her allergies come back. The power of good eating shouldn't be underestimated. Sounds silly, but through feeding my dogs better, I started eating better too. I didn't know how bad corn-based dog foods were, just like I didn't know how bad my diet was for me. I ate lots of processed foods, lots of meat, and fast food a few times per month. I did eat an entire bunch of broccoli every night though, so I figured (like many Americans) that I could eat those other things too. But over time, each of those things started making me sicker and I had to cut them out one by one (even the broccoli--loads of fiber has become a no-no).

It was really something to see my sick animal recover through diet alone. I started cooking for 3 every night, adding in "human" foods like garlic powder, extra salt, cheese, or vinegar after separating my half from theirs. My dog's had a full recovery and gets an A+ from the vet every time I bring her in. I'm still battling my health problems, but if I've learned anything from my dog, it's that eating better can do things that loads of prescriptions often can't.   

So tonight I cooked them some "slop" to mix in with the limited food I had left and a few biscuits to bulk it up. This is a go-to recipe for me (although I couldn't eat tonight). Great for getting a pretty nutritious but soft and soothing meal down. I make this probably once a week. An added bonus: it's pretty hands-free once it's going, done in 20 minutes with little prep, and only uses one pot! I love it sprinkled with a bit of parmesan once it's in the bowl, and I eat it with crusty bread.

Slop with potatoes, carrots, and chopped spinach

"SLOP"  (veggies and rice)

-2 cups broth (or 2 cups water with bouillon)
-1 cup rice
-Seasonings of choice--salt and pepper, garlic/onion powder*, dried herbs (Italian blend is good)
-Handful chopped veggies (frozen work too if necessary)
          --potato, carrot, seeded squash, spinach, green beans, etc.**
-Sprinkle of parmesan (optional)

1. Add broth and rice to a saucepan and bring to boil. Season as desired. Give it a stir then reduce heat to medium.
2. Add veggies depending on cooking time. I typically add a chopped starchy potato and chopped carrot at the beginning, set the timer for 10 minutes, then add in anything else for the last 10 minutes.
3. Once rice is cooked and liquid is mostly absorbed, remove from heat. Let sit covered for a few minutes then plate. Sprinkle with parmesan if desired.

*Their raw counterparts make me sick for days--if you can't do powdered, omit altogether
**Veggies are different for everyone, I know. I usually rely on potatoes and carrots daily, which are both super easy to digest if cooked til soft. Certain green veggies are still okay for me if cooked to oblivion. I usually add a small handful of frozen chopped spinach to this, and I'm okay.

To leave you for the night... My big healthy rascal sitting politely for her plate of slop:

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