Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Steamed Acorn Squash for Dogs

Autumn has brought colorful leaves and cooler weather, which Chewy thoroughly enjoys...

...but Autumn also means lots of winter squash is available! The supermarkets, farm stands and garden centers are teeming with all kinds of squash, from acorn, to butternut, to miniature & giant pumpkins. Chewy would like to eat them ALL.

The most notable health benefit of winter squash for pups is the high soluble fiber content, which promotes good digestion. Winter squash is also high in Vitamin C, beta-carotene, and potassium, among other nutrients.

Cooking winter squash makes it more digestible for dogs (and humans). STEAMING winter squash is easy, relatively fast, and can preserve more nutrients than other methods, such as boiling or roasting.

All you need is some kind of steaming apparatus that will keep your food out of the water that's producing the steam, while still allowing steam to reach the food. There are all sorts of gadgets available on the market for steaming food, from pots with special inserts, to steamer baskets, to fancy steam ovens. If you don't have one of those, you can make a makeshift steamer using a pot with a lid: simply place a heat-safe plate on top of a small wire rack or even atop a few crumpled up balls of aluminum foil (don't use a non-stick pot for these- it'll scuff up the coating!).

I used acorn squash here, but the same principles can pretty much be applied to any kind of edible winter squash.

Waiting is the worst part for a Chewy

After steaming, you might see some spots of white goo on the surface. It is nothing to worry about- just some starch rising up and getting cooked.

Steamed Acorn Squash for Dogs

Step 1: Get your steaming equipment going so that it will be steamy by the time your squash is prepped.

If using a pot (with a lid), you want the water level to be high enough to not dry out during cooking, but low enough to not come in contact with your squash.

Step 2: Wash the squash, scrubbing gently with a veggie brush to remove dirt and other impurities.

Step 3: Use a sharp, sturdy knife to chop the squash in half. Cutting to one side of the hard stem will make it easier.

Step 4: Using a metal spoon and a some muscle, scrape out the seeds and stringy bits. Discard them or save the seeds to roast for human consumption. If your steaming pot is small, you might need to cut the squash into quarters to fit.

Step 5: Steam on medium heat for 15-20 minutes, until squash is easily poked with a fork and appears somewhat translucent.

Step 6: Scoop out the flesh of the squash and discard the skin. Let cool completely before serving. Serve small chunks or purée (use a food processor or blender).

Gimme gimme gimme

Squash purée

Store leftovers in the refrigerator, or use the squash purée to whip up some doggy treats!

As with all other treats, feed steamed winter squash with moderation, in addition to a healthy, balanced doggy diet.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Pineapple Harvest!

Chewy and I LOVE pineapple. Did you know that you can grow new pineapples from the tops of the fruit? Although they are tropical plants, they do well in pots and therefore can theoretically be grown anywhere in the world (with some effort and much patience). Googling "how to grow a pineapple" will bring up plenty of instructions, tips and tricks.

Two years ago, I prepared a bunch of pineapple tops for planting, and this spring one of them flowered! It looked like a miniature pineapple, but covered in little purple flowers. After flowering, pineapple fruit takes about 6 months to mature.

A few months later, it looked like this:

Green pineapple

And another month later, it was pretty much yellow all around:
Yellow pineapple!

After 2+ years of waiting, our pineapple was finally ready to eat! You could smell it from about a foot away, but of course Chewy had to get his nose way up close:

 Chewy, being the food fanatic that he is, was very excited.
Can we eat it now?

You can see just how tiny our pineapple was compared to Chewy! Sorry I don't have any pictures of the inside of the pineapple...we were too busy eating! But it was wonderfully golden, sweet, and DELICIOUS!