Saturday, January 17, 2015

Going to the Dogs

As a continuation to last week's post, 'Sweet Potato or Yam', our canine friends also enjoy this marvelous tuber! If your dog is a fussy eater, has allergies, a sensitive stomach, intolerant to grains or none of the above, they will probably LOVE 'Sweet Potato Chips'. 
This journey began with a gluten intolerance in one of my dogs. My sister had experienced this in the past with one of her horses and her dog. When I asked for help and direction, she sent me a bag of "Crumps' Naturals - Sweet Potato Chews". A great Canadian product  from Ontario, but expensive to use daily with 2 larger dogs. The answer to dog cookies and treats was to make my own version. I have shared this recipe with numerous friends and clients to rave reviews of, "...finally, something my dog will eat!"  and " dog will do anything for a sweet potato chip!"
Bake single layer, DO NOT use any fat
To make your own 'Sweet Potato Chip' dog treats; use the larger, orange, sweet potatoes. They will be cooked first, then dehydrated, so will shrink to about half the size you start with. Either scrub the skins and leave on, or peel. With a large French Knife (my tool of choice is a very sharp, serrated 10" French Knife), slice the sweet potato into rounds. If you don't have exceptional knife skills and a very sharp, large knife; for safety, cut the sweet potato in half lengthwise so you have a flat surface on the cutting board. Then slice on a diagonal to get larger pieces. The slices should be uniform in thickness for even cooking and drying. The photos show my first attempts, the slices were quite thick and took far too long in the dehydrator. I now peel, slice thinner and line my bake sheets with parchment paper.
Dry until pliable, not sticky or wet
Place the sweet potato slices in a single layer on non-stick bake sheets... DO NOT use non-stick cooking spray, oil or fats of any kind... and bake in a 350 F. oven for about 10 minutes. Turn the slices over and bake another 10 minutes or until tender when pierced with a fork. Once they are fully cooked, place slices in a single layer on the dehydrator trays. (I have a friend who does not have a dehydrator but leaves them in single layers on bake sheets in her gas oven to dry slowly.) No fancy or expensive equipment required, I have a small, home version dehydrator and use the setting for fruit and vegetables at 135 F.
Follow the instructions in your dehydrator manual, or dehydrate until the slices are still pliable but not 'sticky' or 'wet' feeling. Check them every few hours; turn the slices over, remove or rearrange as they dry, making sure they do not overlap. They will not all be ready at the same time even if you were diligent at cutting to uniform thickness!
Package with a desiccant
Once they are dehydrated yet still pliable, remove them and allow to fully cool to room temperature. Test again for any that may be wet or sticky. Place them back in the dehydrator if needed. You will get a feel for this by bending each piece and touching the surface. Package the finished treats in a zip-type plastic bag. It is a good idea to add a small 'desiccant package' inside the bag with the chips. This is the small, usually white package marked 'Do Not Eat' commonly encountered in packaged foods to sustain a state of dryness and retain crispness. 
Your dog will love these natural, digestible, no additive, no preservative, homemade treats!

Photos by Sally Rae 

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