We ran across some dried sweet potato treats for dogs at the farmers' market recently. Our boy loved them -- even more than his meaty treats. But they were a bit pricey for regular use. So I decided to try making some for him at home.
After he'd scarfed them all down, I read the label and realized that the ones we bought had sweet potatoes with cayenne, ginger, soy sauce and garlic. I've repeatedly read that garlic and onions are bad for dogs so I went with just the ginger and soy as seasonings. (If I had clued in earlier, I probably wouldn't have fed him the garlic. I've seen it as a flavoring in lots of commercial treats but don't want to give him something risky.)
These are really easy to make, but take a little time. You have to dry out the potatoes, double baking them to get most of the moisture out. I'm sure a straight up baked sweet potato would be fine with him, it just wouldn't keep well.
I washed and then baked organic sweet potatoes and/or yams in the oven. Then I slipped off their skins and puréed them with a little ginger and soy sauce. I spread that out over two half sheet pans as evenly as I could and baked it again, slowly, at a lower temp to dry them out and get the jerky-like texture I wanted.
It worked perfectly. And our sweet boy goes nuts for them. Just the smell of them baking in the oven was enough to get his undivided attention. And when we use these for training, he is completely attentive.
I like feeding him something that's good for him... sweet potatoes and yams are full of vitamins, fiber and potassium. And they're naturally sweet. So he thinks they're candy. The ginger is good for his tummy and compliments the sweetness and flavor of the sweet potatoes. The soy just gives them a little shot of savoriness.
If you want to treat your pooch with something healthy, give these a try.
Sweet Potato Treats for Dogs
4 large sweet potatoes and/or yams
1 tablespoon ginger, peeled and grated
2 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Wash the sweet potatoes/yams. Then poke holes in them with a fork to release steam so they don't turn into bombs in your oven. (You can cut them in half if you like, for faster baking.)
Place them on a silpat or parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 1 to 1 1/2 hours until tender. (They ooze a bit when baking, so don't put them on oven racks alone unless you want to clean your oven.)
Remove from oven and let cool.
Lower oven temperature to 200 degrees.
When cool, scoop out the flesh from the skins with a spoon. Place the flesh into a food processor (or use an immersion blender). Add the ginger and soy sauce and purée until smooth.
With a spatula or spoon, spread out the puréed mixture on to two silpat or parchment-lined baking sheets as thinly and evenly as possible. (This is sticky stuff, so you want a lining to make them easy to remove.)
Bake at 200 degrees for approximately an hour until the moisture and stickiness has evaporated. You want these to be like a chewy jerky. But keep an eye on them during the last 20 minutes or so. The thinner areas may brown more quickly and as the sugars carmelize, it can go too dark too fast.
If they're still pretty sticky after an hour, turn off the oven and leave them in there to dry out some more as the oven cools.
Let cool completely. You can let them sit out for a few hours to dry out further, if you need to -- they're easier to handle and store when not so sticky.
Cut or tear into small bite-sized pieces and store in a sealed container in the fridge. (These would probably be fine out on the counter, but I keep them in the fridge just to make sure they stay fresh.)
How many treats this makes depends entirely on how big you make the pieces. But it should be enough to spread over two half sheet pans.
Jan 23, 2009