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What's Cooking? - Posted January 26, 2018 9:22 a.m.
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Photos by Shannon Richardson

Doggie Treats

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By herself, Audra Rea might never have discovered what was so special about organic or all-natural foods. To her, food was food. “People have been eating food for years,” she says, laughing. Then her German shepherd, Cadence, was diagnosed with immune mediated muscle deterioration, a canine form of multiple sclerosis (MS). After Cadence was prescribed a cocktail of steroids and antibiotics, Rea needed a healthy way to administer the medicine but didn’t want to introduce any additional chemicals to her dog’s diet. She began researching the best natural foods for dogs – and decided to make those treats herself.

“My dog had to get sick for me to figure out there was a better way to do things,” she says. Cadence passed away in the spring of 2017, but Rea’s small business, Cadence’s Canine Creations – which was a popular vendor last summer at the Amarillo Community Market – is the dog’s legacy.

For this issue, Rea shared with us a few of her favorite homemade, organic dog treats, including gluten-free apple-banana treats (colored with beet juice for Valentine’s Day), veggie delights (which are ideal for hiding pills), and delicious “moon-pups” with yogurt and peanut butter filling.


Veggie Delight Treats
1 cup organic pumpkin puree
¼ cup organic, no-sugar-added peanut butter
2 large organic free-range eggs
½ cup organic old-fashioned rolled oats (more if needed)
3 cups organic whole wheat flour (more if needed)
1 organic carrot, shredded
1 small organic zucchini, shredded
1 cup organic baby spinach, chopped
Herbs of choice (rosemary, basil, parsley, fennel)
Bone-shaped cookie mold
Organic coconut nonstick spray

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray mold with coconut oil. Place carrot, zucchini and spinach in food processor. Pulse until mixture has coarse chunks. Using stand mixer with paddle attachment, beat pumpkin puree, peanut butter and eggs on medium-high speed until well combined, about 1 to 2 minutes. Gradually add oats and flour at low speed, until dough comes together and is only slightly sticky. Add vegetable mixture. Mix until combined. Press dough into molds. (It will be rather wet.) If you want to roll dough out, you may need to add more oats and flour to achieve correct consistency. Knead with hands. Using rolling pin, roll dough to ¼-inch thickness. Using cookie cutter, cut out desired shapes and place onto prepared baking sheet. If in mold, bake for 20 to 25 minutes then turn out onto cookie sheet and bake an additional 5 to 10 minutes. If rolling and using cookie cutter, bake until edges are golden brown, about 20 to 25 minutes. Cool completely on racks. Stores well in refrigerator for 10 days to 2 weeks. Also freezes well.

Makes approximately 4 dozen 3-inch treats


Carob Pup-cakes
2 tablespoons organic carob powder
½ cup organic brown rice flour
1 teaspoon organic baking powder
1/3 cup organic coconut oil (liquid)
1/3 cup organic plain Greek yogurt
1 organic free-range egg

Frosting:
3 tablespoons organic plain Greek yogurt
1 ½ tablespoons organic, no-sugar-added peanut butter

Heat oven to 350 degrees. In small bowl, add first three ingredients and stir together. In another bowl, mix remaining three ingredients. When liquid mixture is well combined, add flour mixture and stir until mixed together. Spoon mixture into mini-muffin tin and bake for 12 minutes. While cakes are baking, mix frosting ingredients together. After pupcakes cool, pipe frosting on top. Stores well in refrigerator for 10 days to 2 weeks. Also freezes well.

Makes 12 mini-pupcakes, 6 regular-size pupcakes or 24 heart-shape moon-pups (Cut each heart in half and frost between layers – shown.)


Apple Banana Treats
4 cups organic brown rice flour
½ organic apple
½ organic banana
1 cup organic pumpkin puree
¼ cup organic coconut oil (liquid or melt the solid)
¼ cup organic beet juice (more or less to desired color)
¼ cup water (if too dry, add more water, ¼ cup at a time)
2 tablespoons organic honey
2 organic free-range eggs

Puree apple and banana in food processor. Add pumpkin, oil, water, honey and beet juice. Process until mostly smooth. Transfer to bowl of stand mixer, and slowly add flour in batches. Turn out dough onto floured surface and roll to 3/8-inch thickness. Cut with cookie cutter and place onto cookie sheet. Bake for 2 to 3 hours in 250-degree oven until thoroughly dry. These can also be made in a mold. Stores well in refrigerator for 10 days to 2 weeks. Also freezes well.

Makes approximately 3 dozen treats

Meet the Cook: Audra Rea of Cadence’s Canine Creations


When Cadence, an 8-year-old German shepherd, was diagnosed with the canine version of MS, her vet prescribed steroid injections. “Cadence had so much hair and was just hot all the time,” says Audra Rea. “I was looking for ways to cool her down. I knew she was dying but I wanted her to have a quality life in that time frame.” Rea began buying peanut butter-flavored Frosty Paws frozen dog treats from Walmart. “At one or two per day, those aren’t cheap. I’m a pretty good cook – for humans – so one day I was getting one out of the freezer and thought, ‘Maybe I can make this.’”

Rea looked at the Frosty Paws ingredients and didn’t recognize any of them. “There wasn’t anything normal-sounding on there,” she says. Researching ways to make a similar treat using all-natural ingredients, she began experimenting and soon was preparing Cadence a homemade version of Frosty Paws – complete with antioxidant-rich cranberries and blueberries. “It helped keep her cool and I didn’t feel guilty about giving it to her,” Rea says.

More medication followed, and Rea just couldn’t see herself hiding Cadence’s pills in chopped-up hot dogs, day after day. “I got a bone-shaped silicone mold so I could stick a pill down in it and she would have no idea,” Rea explains. She made treats that included organic spinach, zucchini and carrots, which provide nutrients dogs need. “She was having to be pumped full of all of these medications. I just didn’t want to add any further chemicals in there.” Plus, Rea says, “it tasted good and she loved it.”

But the medication was expensive, and Cadence had required veterinary visits and procedures that cost several hundred dollars. The dog had belonged to Rea’s son, Matthew, who serves in the Army. “She was my baby. She was what I had left of him here in Amarillo,” Rea says. She was determined to take care of Cadence and cover the vet costs.

That’s when she had the idea to sell the homemade dog treats that Cadence already loved. “All I needed was enough to pay off the existing vet bill,” she explains. “But would people really be interested when you can get Pup-Peroni at Walmart for three dollars?”

As it turns out, the answer is yes. Starting on Facebook, Rea sold her dog treats to friends and coworkers at Panhandle Community Services, where she works as the assistant director for development. Over the summer, Rea set up a booth at the weekly Amarillo Community Market and developed a loyal following among local pet-owners.

Cadence didn’t survive her illness – she passed away this past March – but her legacy lives on. “It’s been fun,” says Rea. “And it’s good therapy. It’s helped me continue to feel connected to Cadence.”

by Jason Boyett

Jason has written more than a dozen books and is the host and creator of “Hey Amarillo”, a local interview podcast. Visit heyamarillo.com and jasonboyett.com.
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