By Doreen D. Carlson
What can we do with leftover homemade chicken noodle soup, beef stew, turkey, or deli meat that is one or two days past expiration? Do you throw away organ meats bagged inside whole poultry? And how can you prevent the garbage disposal and septic system digesting your food dollars?
Applesauce, canned pumpkin, or mashed potato flakes as needed
Greens such as parsley, spinach, or mint– optional
1 tbsp bacon grease – optional
Step 1: Put 2-3 cups of your leftover entree into the blender or food processor to chop up large pieces. As needed, add applesauce, canned pumpkin, or sweet potato, 1/4 cup at a time until the puree is a batter texture. For soups, add mashed potato flakes as needed to thicken puree to a batter texture. Tuna or white fish can be pureed for feline feasting as well.
Tips: If a handful of fresh parsley, greens, spinach, or mint is added to freshen breath and improve dental health, that is ideal. A tablespoon of leftover bacon grease kept in the refrigerator can be added to poultry puree to enhance flavor.
Step 2: Spread puree onto parchment sheets or drop spoonfuls for individual patties. Dry in your dehydrator until crispy and completely dry.
The finished product is “bark” when broken up into pieces appropriate for the size of your pet. This Chicken Noodle Bark is for our labrador, Molly.
Our stringent panel of taste-testers chose homemade over commercial treats. The store-bought heart treat (left) is wheat flour, corn syrup, palm oil, honey, yogurt, and five artificial colors. The homemade bark (right) is organic turkey, applesauce, and sweet potato with parsley. Just like people snacks, the commercial product is empty calories while homemade is full of nutrients.
Note: Exercise caution, using only slightly outdated food, whole foods rather than processed food, general table scraps, and very little dairy for dog treats. Use little or no baked goods, refined flour snacks, bones, raw eggs, or dessert foods. Don’t think of it as the “kitchen sink” but rather an extended use for whole food entrees that would otherwise be discarded. And set the dehydrator on the highest temp (around 160 degrees) so the meat content is completely dried – like jerky – and will not spoil.
Creative packaging and plastic containers contain pet treats without refrigeration for months. Share with pet-loving friends for simple holiday or hostess gifts. You will be a popular visitor if you arrive with a batch of Ham Pumpkin Bark in hand.
About the Author:
Doreen Carlson completed a PhD in nutrition in 2006 and founded The WellFarm in Goshen, Kentucky. She uses Excalibur dehydrators to create whole food recipes for special diets and nutritious snacks that don’t spoil or require refrigeration. The WellFarm organic garden and resident critters provide fun and recreation year-round, now that the Carlsons are empty nesters.