The Best Vegetables To Feed Your Dog For Optimal Health

* By Jeffery Roberts

Many people make the mistake of thinking that dogs are mostly carnivorous, and therefore do not need to eat vegetables. The truth is that vegetables, and some fruit, are an important part of your dog’s diet and a primary source of micronutrients.

The vitamins and nutrients in vegetables can help your pet live a longer and healthier life. Whether you are feeding a raw diet, and need to add in nutrients, or you are simply looking to supplement your pet’s current food regimen, these are the fruits and vegetables you should be focusing on:

Beets

Fresh, oven-roasted beets are a nutritional powerhouse for your dog. They contain B vitamins and are powerful detoxifiers due to their high antioxidant levels. They may help to reduce allergy sensitivities in your pet and reduce itching. They also fight inflammation and can help reduce the symptoms of arthritis in older pets. Be sure to not overfeed beets because they are naturally high in sugar, and never feed your pet beet greens. The greens contain oxalic acid, which can be toxic in high amounts.

Carrots

Carrots are high in many nutrients including beta-carotene and vitamin A, both of which support eyesight. Vitamin A is also important for the immune system and gives a boost to your dog’s skin and coat. Carrots can also help to improve dental health, acting as a natural toothbrush as your pet chews away. They are also low in calories, which makes them safe to use as treats on a regular basis.

Berries

Berries, especially blueberries, are rich in antioxidants that reduce inflammation and may also help to prevent cancer. They also hinder the growth of bad bacteria and can help to fight infections. Berries are easy for dogs to digest and can be fed regularly in moderation.

Broccoli

Broccoli can be given to your dog either raw or cooked, and should be a regular part of your pet’s diet due to its nutrient-rich super powers! Broccoli helps with detoxification, maintaining skin and coat health and helps protect the heart. Broccoli is high in vitamin C, which helps boost immunity for your pet much like it does for humans, and is also high in fiber.

Kale

Kale helps to prevent heart disease, allergies, arthritis and urinary tract infections. It’s packed with vitamins and nutrients, including B vitamins that help maintain a healthy coat and nervous system. It’s low in calories and high in fiber, making it ideal for regular supplementation to your pet’s food.

Asparagus

Asparagus is another vitamin-packed vegetable that is non-toxic to dogs. Asparagus, unlike some other vegetables, is also high in minerals like copper, phosphorous and potassium. It is also high in B-vitamins and vitamin K. It is known to help with immune health, nervous system function and to help regulate blood sugar, making it great for dogs who are at risk of diabetes. Asparagus is tough when raw, so it is best served to your pup after lightly steaming it.

Pumpkin

Pumpkin is high in vitamins like potassium and iron, and can also offer a great digestive aid for dogs. It can be served raw, cooked or even canned and can help promote regularity if your pet suffers from diarrhea or constipation. Some holistic vets will also recommend pumpkin to aid in weight loss for dogs, by replacing a portion of their regular food with a similar amount of canned pumpkin on a daily basis.

Sweet Potato

Like pumpkin, sweet potato is also a helpful vegetable for regulating your pet’s digestion and can have a soothing effect on the digestive tract. Dogs also love its sweet flavor! They’re also high in vitamin B6, vitamin C and manganese. Sweet potatoes have become common in many reputable dog foods, so check your wet or dry food’s label before adding additional sweet potato to your dog’s diet.

Introducing your dog to new fruits and vegetables

Your dog has a much less varied diet than you do and is likely not accustomed to many new foods. A dog’s digestive tract also functions best with consistency, so practice awareness as you introduce more fruits and veggies into your dog’s diet. It is recommended to introduce each one separately, in small amounts, so that your dog can get acclimated and you can observe to see if it causes any upset to his unique digestion.

Conclusion

Fruit and vegetables provide important nutrients that boost your dog’s health and help to protect him from diseases like arthritis, diabetes and cancer. When introducing new fruits and veggies, start slow to give your pet time to get used to them. Before you know it, your pet will be loving his new diet and be healthier than ever!

 

About the author: Jeffery Roberts

Jeffery is a pet enthusiast and volunteer at his local pet shelter. His passion for animals started at an early age and through his work on becoming a veterinary student he understands and cares for pets of all species. Jeffery currently writes for The Happy Pooch and has 2 cats, a bird and a dog – Lucy.

 

Finding Ones Creativity

There are some myths you grow up with you may struggle to accept such as “there is a book inside everyone waiting to be realised” or a song, maybe even a great work of art and all you need to do is release it to the world. I have struggled all my life with this concept as many do I have come to learn. Whatever it is lurking inside me the subject matter eludes me, what story to tell in my book, what lyric or melody for my song or what vista for the picture.

However, one concept I can truly get on board with is that everyone does harbour a degree of creativity within themselves whoever they are. So no book, song or picture but how about a beautifully crafted cake or staged presentation of a meal.

To my surprise, it turns out to be woodworking. I know right, what a showstopper. As you may know, cooking is my passion but my creativity is set free when I am in the workshop. I use the term workshop loosely here as what I really mean is half a dozen simple tools in a shed, but it has become the workshop because I said it is so.

I bought myself an orbital sander for a task I needed and it turns out it was quite therapeutic and immensely satisfying so obviously once finished I cast my eye around for something else to sand, anything to sand, even the dogs started to look nervous. With a constant stream of vocal “NO’s” echoing around the house I was fast running out of options. Not to be defeated I retired to the workshop to sulk and there it was, the key to unlocking my creativity.

Sitting in the corner was an old piece of wood about the size of a chopping board covered in dust and cobwebs and what could possibly be identified as bird droppings. I scraped and scrubbed, wiped and cleaned and soon had something I could pick up without reaching for the rubber gloves. Yes, sorted, back to sanding and oh my, it looked awesome as the grains and character of the wood started to slowly show through.

Beautiful but misshapen, so back to shopping; one saw and one router later I was set. The workshop was now truly a workshop and not a figment of my imagination. So I cut the wood so it was sporting straight edges which I then zipped around with the router to make all shapely. It was surprisingly easy when you have the right tool for the job. A bit more sanding because I could and my board was looking drop dead gorgeous.

The icing on the cake was when I then added some wax to the main surface and polished it up with a soft cloth, the transformation was unreal, and everything just popped. It was one of those moments when you wish life had a pause and rewind button so I could replay that moment again and again.

My project was complete and like a phoenix rising from the ashes my piece of scrap wood that was probably destined for the fire or bin had become my work of art and will probably feature either in the kitchen or as a setting in future blog posts, I just can’t decide at the moment.

The only down side to this journey of self-discovery now that my creativity has been set loose to roam the corridors of my mind is that instead of sleeping when I go to bed I lay there for hours planning my next project…oh well…

Have you ever discovered the joys of woodworking?

How have you realised your creativity?

* This is a collaborative post.

British Food And Current Trends

* by Naomi Powell

How very reassuring it is that the basic humble foods of childhood and indeed often of economic necessity have been making a comeback onto the dining menus even into top society restaurants, though often at not too humble a price.  And how refreshing it is that the humble and recognisable cauliflower cheese, shepherd’s pie and macaroni cheese, to name but a few, are making a comeback as quality sophisticated dishes with simple accompaniments, and hopefully, described plainly on menus by their original specific names.  They appear to be indicators perhaps, of a move away from the elaborate, competitive cuisine of the celebrity-chef schools.

It is thanks in part to the street food markets that these newly exploited food trends are now making a come-back and the simple comfort foods of yester year have now again become an acceptable and healthy food option in many and varied food outlets.

I for one am delighted with this change of direction, since I grew-up with the comforts of uncomplicated food, instantly recognisable by its humble appearance.  It needed no fancy title, or gentrification to make it appetising and memorable.  Oh for the simple meal which is what it claims to be; cauliflower cheese needs little introduction.  A pie was always a joy, as the contents were lovingly revealed.  The new ‘deconstructed’ creation fails to hold the mystery of its predecessor, although it offers an attractive, flavoursome and satisfying menu option.

The food outlets advertising ‘Home Cooked Food’, tend to invite the expectation and assumption that British food forms the basis of the menu and many potential diners would, like me, seek out such an option.  The best of British food is to be applauded and is for me ‘The Best.’  It recognises the quality of British meat, poultry, and fish, the vast selection of home grown vegetables and the specific value of individual herbs and flavourings.  If prepared to traditional British recipes, our national food is exceptional and reinforces the value of tried and tested flavours and accompaniments.

i.e.

horse-radish and mustard with beef.

apple sauce and red currant with pork, and

mint with lamb.  Etc.

The modern and growing trend to add strong and often quite inappropriate flavours to simple food/dishes is not only unnecessary, but in my opinion, a sin.  Garlic is the worst culprit and much over used in so many restaurants.

I was utterly frustrated and not a little critical of this lack of subtlety when, having selected what appeared to be a really well thought through and appealing main dish – built around rack of lamb – arrived and I could instantly detect a heavy waft of garlic; and was horrified to realise that it came from the lamb on my plate.  There had been no mention of garlic on the menu.  The chefs had taken the liberty of disguising the lovely delicate flavour of English lamb with an over powerful dose of continental flavour.  I complained and sent it back, only to have to re-order, but the waft of garlic still hung in the air and completely ruined what had started out as a promising evening meal.

Another striking food fad, but much more worrying, is the annoying present tendency to serve very undercooked meat.  Not only is it mostly unpalatable, but looks distinctly unappetising, with uncooked white fat and oozing blood.  Undercooked egg look equally unpleasant, and without any apology I add these culinary crimes to my list of frustrations.  British food can be the best when properly cooked, but can be dreadful when not.

I can’t clearly define when food and menus began to be ‘gentrified’ and often unrecognisable, but the trend has gradually crept into our modern food-obsessed lifestyle and become well established.

Complex food technology and artful preparation have possibly encouraged some of the more elaborate and often misleading meal descriptions.

Very often unsuitable and over-fussy vegetable accompaniments produce unnecessary and confusing flavour combinations. This of course can encourage disappointment and dissatisfaction with the meal however well presented. Understanding the menu therefore, can present a challenge and for me, total frustration – which was the very starting point of my book ‘Taking the Mystery out of the Menu.’

One only has to watch Master Chef to realise that until the finished meal is actually presented, it is often difficult to perceive what is being cooked-up, or indeed what it will look like on the plate.  Even then the complexity of presentation often needs masterful explanation.  I applaud quality cuisine, artistic presentation and superior flavours, but I am exasperated when something quite simple is described beyond its merits.

So, listen up chiefs: There are plenty of people out there like me, who love eating out.  They enjoy personal service and exciting menus, but also need a clear idea of what you are offering, what the main ingredients are and the flavours to be expected.  Be creative and adventurous but simplicity very often steals the show, and leads to greater satisfaction!

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The post above is a guest post by Naomi Powell, author of Taking the Mystery out of the Menu, as a part of her week-long book tour.

Sunflower Seeds – The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Sunflower seeds – small, tasty and healthy; eaten as a snack or as a part of a proper meal this fruit of the sunflower has a lot to offer us but just like most things in life, even sunflower seeds have to be consumed in moderation as too much simply isn’t good for us…

Some countries are much bigger on sunflower seeds consumption than other. I’ve read that in Russia for example, you can simply ask a friend for a handful of sunflower seeds once you run out, just like you would bump the proverbial cup of sugar from your neighbour in the UK; they are just so common and everyone eats them. I personally love sunflower seeds, to the point that Mark thinks I should look like a parrot by now. Anyways last night whilst multitasking (re-watching season 4 of House MD and playing Jelly Saga bubbles on my phone at the same time), I heard the episode with the diagnosis – B6 toxicity as a direct result of excessive sunflower seed consumption… well, this caused me to stop nibbling and got me thinking, so here I am sharing with you the headlines from what I have been researching for the last few hours 🙂

Sunflower seeds are an excellent source of polyunsaturated oils; they are rich in Vitamin E, copper, Vitamin B, manganese, selenium, magnesium, folate and almost 70 other nutrients.

The main health benefits of eating sunflower seeds:

  • Weight control – due to their high levels of oil they will quickly take care of any hunger pangs, thus making a perfect snack.
  • Some anti-inflammatory and cardiovascular benefits due to their high levels of vitamin E.
  • They help lower cholesterol levels.
  • Anti-depressant – high level of magnesium can help with low moods, as well as help calm muscles and ease blood vessels.
  • Antioxidant – the selenium in sunflower seeds can help with thyroid health and help to repair any damaged cells within our body.

All is good in the world of sunflower seeds that is until we eat too many of them… Well, one might ask how many it too many… apparently, a single 1oz serving per day is the magic number… eating more can lead to several undesirable effects and contribute to:

  • Weight gain! Yes, the same seed which promotes weight loss in moderate amounts when eaten uncontrollably (the habit of nibbling them is very addictive) will inevitably lead to way too many calories and fats and undesirable weight gain.
  • Excess salt, especially if you snack on the salted version of the seeds.
  • General mouth and dental problems due to cracking too many shells.
  • Stomach problems due to high levels of fiber from eating both shelled and unshelled seeds.
  • Vitamin or/and nutrients overdose. All those good nutrients which were highly beneficial in a small amount can lead to problems when over consumed, especially manganese, selenium or B6 (just as House said).

I still love sunflower seeds but I might stick to a serving of roasted seeds as an addition to my salad from now on and lay off snacking my way through a 100g pack of it every other day.

Do you like sunflower seeds?

Have you ever considered that something can be beneficial in a small amount yet can be harmful when over-consumed?

Moving Abroad – Do’s and Don’ts

For some moving abroad might be out of necessity for others a planned choice. For some, it may feel like a nightmare, for others an adventure, a new beginning yet whatever your reasons or feelings there are some basic DO’s and DON’Ts which will apply in any situation.

DO your research

Even if it is only basic research, as some is better than none. Moving abroad on a whim isn’t a good idea, no matter how adventurous you are. A good basic knowledge about your new country, its people, traditions and customs is a must before you pack your bags.

DON’T talk, do

I know quite a few people who talk and talk about making a move but never actually get around to the moving part… Well, we’ve been there… we talked for three years or so before we actually took the plunge but we did do it. If you want something, take a deep breath and act on it. Life is way too short to just talk about the changes you want.

DO invest in a lawyer and /or translator

All countries are different and some can be vastly different to what you are used to. They will have their own laws and procedures and without a person on the “inside”, it can be really easy to get caught out with something you will come to regret in the future. Even if you do extensive research beforehand and you really know all the basics, you will not possess all the knowledge about local unwritten laws, laws which are in use but can’t be found within any written Acts. Getting the proper legal advice is really important, it will give you piece of mind and potentially save you a lot of money. DON’T skip it.

DON’T forget about your income

When moving abroad especially to a cheaper country a lot of people forget that they still need money to live off… yea life may be more affordable but it isn’t free; even if you decide to live off grid you will still need some cash. Depending on your abilities you might move and think about work later but if you don’t have any transferable skills, it might be hard or nearly impossible to find work, so DO remember to find a realistic plan on how you can feed your bank balance.

DO pick the right place to move to

I am not talking about the right house, I am talking about the right part of the country, district or even street. When we were searching for our house, some offers seemed too good to be true… well, once we actually visited the once in a life-time deal we would discover why… the house was just as advertised, borderline perfect but no one mention anything about its neighbourhood, or the giant factory just across the street or the subsidence, the mildew and damp etc.

DON’T remodel your house right away

The chances that your new place will be perfect are slim. Once you move in or even before you move in, most people feel the urge to make it feel like theirs, renovating before actually living in and bonding with the house never works well. All that painting, decorating and putting your own mark on the place hardly ever works in the long run. Move in, live in the house for a few months, get a feel for it and then make more informed decisions about what or how things need to be changed – this approach will save you a lot of nerves as well as money.

DO insure your new house

House insurance is always a controversial topic; if you are buying a house and you have a mortgage you have no say in that matter, insurance is a must but what about buying it out right? A lot of people don’t pay for building insurance thinking that nothing will ever happen to them… well, in 8 years in our old house in the UK, we claimed house insurance twice – a burglary and a leak in the roof… needless to say, our monthly payment for house insurance paid off.

DON’T be a hermit

You moved to a new country so go mix with locals and become a part of your new community. It’s quite scary to see Brits living here for 5+ years with no real abilities to communicate with their neighbours or having any local friends. I know people are different but I personally don’t get it. Why move 1000 miles away and mix only with other expats?

Oh and most importantly DO enjoy yourself!

Have you ever considered moving abroad?