Friday, May 1, 2009

Good Enough to Eat!

I’ve been dieting (sort of) for a while now, working to lose the “Sequim Seven” (ok, more like nine!) that I gained several months ago when I took an extended trip to Legacy Canine Training in Sequim, WA to train chickens with the legendary Bob Bailey. Two+ weeks of gloriously catered lunches and social dinner outings left my butt feeling big and my pants feeling small! And so began the ongoing string of Lean Cuisine and Jell-O cups that would become my dietary staples, with frequent treadmill running begrudgingly thrown in for good measure.

I think depravation leads to desperation. Or experimentation. I’m not sure. All I know that is somewhere during this “dieting phase,” I decided it would be a good idea to sample a high-end dog treat. OK. Truth be told, the idea originated years ago, when, on a dare during a dog class at a local
Three Dog Bakery, I ate a dog pastry in front of a shocked seven-year-old! It wasn’t as sweet as you’d expect from a pastry, but you know what? It wasn’t that bad! I later came to find out that I wasn’t alone in my secret acceptance of the Three Dog Bakery products. Turns out, because the products are extremely low in sugar, they have become popular among dieting and diabetic clients! The Lick ‘n Crunch Carob cookies are reported to be the most requested item for sugar-conscious bipedal patrons of the Sherman Oaks store. (Yes, I’ve tried those. I prefer vanilla.)

I’d like to say that my sampling of canine culinary creations is limited to the occasional Three Dog Bakery item when in one of their shops, but, um, it’s not. A friend of mine recently tried a recipe out of Cooking the Three Dog Bakery Way and I sampled (and enjoyed!) it too. But c’mon. Tell the truth. If you saw these ingredients, would you immediately think dog snack?

1.5 cups all-purpose flour
1.5 cups whole wheat flour
1 T baking powder
1 t ground cinnamon
.75 cup honey
2 cups unsweetened applesauce
.5 cup canola oil
2 large eggs
.5 cup skim milk

With those ingredients, it sounds more like something that would be offered in a high-end, health-conscious human eatery like Whole Foods, doesn’t it? They’re really good, especially if you warm them up and add a dab o’ butter. Perfect with your morning coffee! Go ahead: plate ‘um up, grab your canine companion and enjoy some muffin-merriment!

The concept of being good enough to eat has been gaining in popularity within the pet industry for some time now. Pet owners are demanding better than “supermarket slop” for their four-legged family members. Walk into any mainstream mega-store and you’ll quickly find that keywords like “holistic” and “organic” now adorn a large portion of kibble and treat offerings.
The Honest Kitchen, manufacturer of a dehydrated raw food diet for dogs, produced in a human-food plant that’s FDA-inspected, even has humans regularly taste the food as part of its quality control process! Dick Van Patten’s Natural Balance Eatables line is also manufactured in a USDA plant. I remember when this product was first launched. Sales reps set up simmering Crock Pots of Hobo Chili and Irish Stew and encouraged store patrons to taste it. I’m a sweet-tooth kind of girl. I politely declined.

Most recently, curiosity got the better of me when it came to the all-natural, cage-free chicken strips my dogs were enjoying. No hormones. No antibiotics. No fillers. No byproducts. I’m not talking about the assorted chicken strips that were largely recalled throughout 2007 and 2008. My strips in question are made by
Dogswell and their products were never included in the chicken strip recall. The ingredients? Chicken (I like chicken), flaxseed (that’s good for me!), vitamin E (that’s useful!) and vitamin A (not sure what that does, but it’s an “A” so it must be good, right?). The package even says they help maintain eyes, skin and coat. I’m all about protecting my eyes (‘cuz only one works, anyway), my skin is a little on the dry side and my coat, er, hair, can always use a little extra care.

I broke off a piece of the chicken strip and ate it. Yes I did. My dogs looked at me expectantly, waiting for THEIR chicken strips. If they could’ve spontaneously generated cartoon thought bubbles over their heads, I’m certain they would’ve both been saying, “BITCH! Are you gonna eat that whole thing?!?”

It wasn’t bad. Chicken jerky. Anyone who has been subjected to my cooking in the past has probably choked down a chicken dish of similar texture. I wouldn’t hunker down with a bag and a beer while watching 24, but in the event of an earthquake, sure, I might ask my dogs to share. And it looks like it would be safe, too. A quick look at the Dogswell website uncovered the following comforting facts:

The DOGSWELL® facility is specifically designed to prevent any cross contamination. Salmonella is one of the easiest contaminants to prevent. Salmonella is killed after 23 seconds at 160 degrees. DOGSWELL® cooks all of our poultry jerky products at 160 degrees for ten hours. While some manufacturers choose a quicker “flash cooking process” to irradiate their products, DOGSWELL® has chosen the slow-cooking method to provide a clean, safe treat.


DOGSWELL® facilities are designed to prevent cross-contamination. They meet the highest and most strict sanitary conditions to ensure raw meat and raw juices or contaminants do not come into contact with cooked meat at any time during the cooking or packaging process, thus, eliminating the possibility of any type of salmonella infection.

Unfortunately, however, it also revealed that each chicken jerky slice only has 20 calories. I’d likely burn more than that attempting to chew the darn thing, so I’m not sure how long they'd really sustain me in the days immediately following a natural disaster. Oh well. At least I won’t get salmonella.

I was actually starting to concern myself a little bit, until I saw this story on the
CBS News website, which confirmed that, perhaps, I’m not alone:

Dog Food Tastes Just Like Pâté -- High-End Dog Food, Suitably Blended, Isn't Much Different From Pork Liver Pâté, Working Paper Suggests.

The article talks about a study conducted by the American Association of Wine Economists that basically found that, when elegantly presented, study participants couldn’t distinguish between high-end dog food and pork liver pate! You can read the full article and
find a link to the paper here, but basically, the authors conclude that, "Although human beings do not enjoy eating dog food, they are also not able to distinguish its flavor profile from other meat-based products that are intended for human consumption."

You often hear that people begin to look like their dogs. Apparently, we sometimes eat like them too. It must be working: eight down and one to go!


  1. By the way, if you want to try the Three Dog Bakery muffin recipe, here's the baking instructions:

    Preheat oven to 350. Grease 12-cup muffin pan with nonstick spray. Stir together flours, baking powder and cinnamon and set aside. In separate bowl, whisk together honey, applesauce and oil, then whisk in eggs one at a time. Ad milk and continue whisking. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir until just combined. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full. Bake for 30 mins, or until toothpick comes out clean.

  2. Yes,now I can use "anonymous"! I know I have a sign on name because I think it works on Bill's or Vee's blog but I never know what to sign in under. So lately I've just used anonymous.
    All the best on your dog blog, Steph!

  3. Okay the chicken jerky REALLY gave me the willies; I don't even give them to my dogs! I want my chicken cooked at a LOT higher temp than 160. And I want it human grade, not a dead one found smoldering somewhere.
    Good luck on the blog! (Going to brush my teeth on general principle.)