Why grain free?
Adopting little George was one of the best things that I have ever done, but it didn’t come without its difficulties. George arrived with us aged 7 months old, very smelly and very itchy. We managed it as best we could with special shampoo, but it wasn’t really getting much better.
It was only a month after George came to live with us that things took a step in the right direction. A woman I had only just met had mentioned in passing that her dog suffered with a yeast overgrowth. She explained that the underside of her dogs paws had turned red from the yeast. I rushed home and looked at George’s paws – sure enough they were red underneath.
The next week I had little George tested for allergies and we found that he was allergic to both wheat and lamb. We had been feeding him both of these on a daily basis. A bit of investigation into grain-free dog food followed and we now have George on a nice grain-free dog food.
Fast-forward nine months and you would never know that George had ever had problems with his skin and coat. He now rarely itches and smells great (or as great as a dog can smell!) and it’s all down to proper management of his diet.
To keep George’s allergies under control, any treats we feed him also need to be grain-free. The shops sell these but they can be expensive. I’m not sure they taste that great either, as Barry turns his nose up at them every time. Over the weekend I decided to try and make my own grain-free treats for the grumble. I was a bit worried about how they would react to the treats because they can be very picky.
Read on for my grain-free coconut bite recipe and the all important taste test by the grumble.
Homemade Grain-Free Chicken and Apple Coconut Bites Recipe
- 175g coconut flour
- 2 medium eggs
- 100g chicken breast, cubed
- 1 bramley apple
- 100g coconut oil, softened
Yield: 50-200 treats, depending on the size of your cutter.
- Firstly you need to preheat your oven to 160° fan/gas mark 4. Get that baby nice and hot!
- Time to peel and chop your bramley into rough cubes about 1″ x 1″ x 1″. It doesn’t matter if your pieces are a bit big or small, we’re going to cook them and blitz them in the blender anyway
- Cook your apple chunks in a pan over medium heat. Add a splash of water to the bottom of the pan to prevent the apples from burning. Once they’re starting to soften, take them off the heat and transfer to a blender. Blitz them in the blender for about a minute, or until the apples have puréed.
- Combine your coconut flour, coconut oil and eggs in a mixing bowl. The mixture will look a little dry at this point, but that’s nothing to worry about at this point.
- Add your puréed apples. I added the apple sauce all in one go, but it might be worth doing it bit by bit as you don’t want to add to much and the mixture get too wet
- Add your cubed chicken breast. You can also use chicken thigh, or any other meat for that matter, if you have no chicken breast handy.
- Knead the dough until it’s at least slightly pliable. It’s never going to resemble a normal wheat dough, but you can probably get it halfway there with a bit of elbow grease. Roll the dough out flat on a piece of grease proof paper or a clean worktop.
- Start cutting your shapes! I used really tiny cutters for these treats as my dogs are very small. It took forever and was very fiddly, so in hindsight I think just cubing the dough would be much more practical.
- Place your shapes on a piece of grease proof paper on a baking tray. Allow at least 1cm space between the shapes.
- Bung them in the oven (middle shelf) for around 15-20 minutes or until they’re starting to turn golden brown on top.
- Once they’re cooked, remove the treats from the oven and leave on the side to cool. That’s it, you’re done!
The taste test
I wasn’t particularly worried about what George would think of the treats because he will literally eat anything. Vegetables, grass, an old shoe. He’s not fussy. What worried me more was Barry and Betty. Betty’s not fussy as far as I can tell in the short time we’ve had her, but I’d like to get her on grain free to clear up some skin problems she has so it’s crucial she enjoys the food! Barry is unfortunately a fussy git. We once bought him a £10 bag of gourmet dog biscuits and he wouldn’t even entertain the idea of eating them.
Luckily all three of the pooches absolutely loved these treats. Betty even decided to sit for one, which is a first for her! It was quite handy that I got so many treats out of the mix (about 200), because I’ve now stored them in some airtight glass jars to serve at a later date. I’m not entirely sure how long these treats will keep for, so I’ll probably keep these treats for the next 10 days to 2 weeks before throwing any remaining treats away.
If you decide to give this recipe a go I’d love to hear whether your pooches loved them too! Or perhaps you would amend my recipe in some way? Either way, I’d love to hear your thoughts on my first attempt at healthy grain-free dog treats.