October 17, 2013

Eating chips for dinner | Leftovers | Dogs that eat pumpkin


My husband picked up a couple of necessities on his way home from work the other day — almond milk, canned pumpkin for the dog*  — and a bag of tortilla chips, and salsa. Tortilla chips. It was dinnertime, and now all I could think of was tortilla chips. We still had a big box of salad mix, an avocado and olives — all we needed were beans and we could make taco-salad bowls. Taco salad is always a good excuse to eat chips. I wanted pinto beans but they were the only beans we didn't have in cans, and no one had soaked or cooked dried ones. I wasn't in the mood to cook beans so I introduced my husband to the technique I'd learned more than 25 years ago from my friend Claudia, for cooking pinto beans in less than an hour using a pressure cooker. He did it by himself, proving it's easy and foolproof. Just wash and sort the beans, place them in the cooker with about three inches of water above them, and bring the cooker up to full pressure. Cook one minute, then let the pressure come down. Drain the beans and start over. When they come to pressure again, turn off the heat, bring the pressure  down, and your beans are cooked. I forgot to tell him to save the final cooking water for soup, but you should save it for stock. When the beans were nealy ready, I started making a cheesy sauce.


The evening before, we had split a hefty baked delicata* squash as part of our meal, and I could only finish half of mine, so there was 1/4 of a squash in the fridge. Banana squash is probably my favorite winter squash — it bakes up so sweet and creamy it's almost like eating a silky pie. Even the skin is edible. Delicata squash doesn't store all that well, so they're only available for a short time, and you have to use them pretty soon after buying them. Don't expect to store them like acorn or butternut — you'll end up with rotten squash.

Anyway, I like finding uses for leftovers, and I turned the squash into a cheesy topping by whizzing it in the blender, including the skin, (I used a Vitamix) with cashews, nutritional yeast, water, garlic, salt, chipotle chili powder, salt and a little fresh rosemary. The taco bowl had a generous base of salad greens, topped by seasoned beans, chips, olives, shredded carrot, salsa and avocado and cashew-squash sauce. What a great way to justify chips for dinner! (The chips we used were 365 Organic Lightly Salted Tortilla Strips, from Whole Foods. We no longer use our old favorite chips since they were bought out by General Mills and are now made from GMO products. We really like the 365 tortilla strips.)

*delicata squash. I originally misnamed the squash a banana squash when I should have said delicata. Just corrected it. 


The next day, I took some leftover roasted Brussels sprouts, doused them with leftover cashew sauce, heated them and ate them for an afternoon snack. I love leftovers.

*Why my dog eats pumpkin

This is rather unappetizing but if it halps one dog and its human companion, it will be worth it. Dogs have anal glands that are naturally kept in working order each time the dog defecates. Some dogs have issues with this process, and develop blocked or even impacted anal glands, causing them to excessively lick the area, and also to scoot on the floor or carpet to relieve the pressure. Anyone who has seen this behavior in their house will understand how icky it is. The dog is uncomfortable, and expensive vet visits are in order much more frequently than most people care to visit with their dog's veterinarian. Feeding a dog about a rounded tablespoon of pumpkin each day bulks up the stools, and keeps everything in better working order. Pumpkin aids in both constipation and diarrhea in dogs, and Callie has been much better since I've started giving her pumpkin every day. After opening a can of pumpkin, I freeze it in ice cube trays until it's solid. Then, I transfer the cubes to a plastic bag and store in the freezer. I take out one cube each day, nuke it in her bowl then add her canned food. She eats it right up.

UPDATE: In the ongoing battle over dog anal glands, I'm sorry to say that pumpkin isn't enough to insure complete health. It helps, but just isn't enough. I've had surprising success by changing the diet and feeding pattern of my dog. She now eats Petguard organic vegan formula canned food and a 50/50 mix of V-Dog and Acana chicken and potato dry food. She used to get 1/4 can plus pumpkin in the morning, and 1/2 cup of dry food at night. She still had anal gland issues but less frequently. Then I started giving her the canned food and pumpkin plus 1/4 cup of dry food in the morning, and 1/4 cup of dry food at night, and her problems seem to have disappeared. Even the discolored fur around her butt has gone away, and she seems perfectly normal.

Yesterday, our grandson was here, and when he dumped his lunch onto the floor, Callie the dog ate a bunch of green peas. This morning she produced a huge, very firm poop, which is exactly the goal in this situation. So, now I'm experimenting with giving her peas with her breakfast. Whatever it takes, I'm there.

The reason Callie gets the Acana is because she won't eat the V-Dog without it. She even will pick V-Dog out and drop it on the floor. She will go for days without food rather than eat only V-Dog, but she loves the Petguard. When the V-Dog is gone, I'm going to try another brand, if I can find one with ingredients I think are healthy for dogs.

33 comments:

  1. So much to comment on - what an awesome, and might I say, helpful post! Chips for dinner, yes, sister, you're calling my name! I have a salt tooth, and chips is my most grabbed-for prey. I love taco and tortilla salads. And that sauce: what can I say? You've got to right down the recipe for that - it sounds so good. How creative of you. I've never had banana squash - is it common? And the doggie with pumpkin love? Oh, yes, I will be doing that. Mindy, GR's pup, has had the anal blockage thing for several months. GR has been expressing them herself, much to her horror, but I'm going to suggest the pumpkin to her and see if that makes a difference. Thank you for that tip!

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    1. I think banana squash is common in early fall, but because it doesn't store well, it disappears from farmers markets and stores quickly. I don't know what fall is like in Calif., or how winter squash fits into the picture. It's cylindrical, and comes in several variations. I should have snapped a photo.

      Expressing anal glands is not for the feint of heart, and it has to be done right to be useful rather than harmful. There's a youtube how-to video, which maybe you've seen. My vet described the process and how long it takes to train his techs to do it right, and I declined to try it myself. Yuck. You can also try adding some high fiber canned dog food to the pup's diet.

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    2. The squash was actually a delicata. My bad.

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  2. my vet even recommended pumpkin for cats for similar reasons. it's a good veggie.

    I like chips. that sauce sounds amazing.

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    1. Pumpkin seems to be an all-purpose food for pet digestive health. I wonder if it works for humans.

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  3. Great looking taco salad & I love that you used the leftover squash to make a cheesy sauce. It sounds great!

    Pumpkin is such a great food for dogs. Our girls remind us if it gets too late and they haven't had theirs yet. I'm really glad it's helped Callie!

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    1. It seems to be helping her a lot, though it didn't seem to do much for our last two dogs.

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  4. we give all our pets pumpkin too! we started giving it to our big dog, Dottie, to help with urinary health... but then I figured it was probably good for all of them. They all love it - except for our new cat Francisco, who seems to have no interest at all. Hm!

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    1. I feel like I should be popping one of the frozen pumpkin cubes onto my plate each day, too. :)

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  5. I could eat taco salad every day. Yours looks perfect. Thank you for the pumpkin tip - I can't even take it when they do the scoot on the carpet thing, and now I feel bad thinking about them feeling pain or discomfort. I just thought they were cleaning themselves.

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    1. I think they're trying to clear the blockage Eeewww. Callie hasn't scooted at all since I started remembering to give her pumpkin every day. She's also prone to intestinal infections so we'll see if that changes, too.

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  6. Andrea, I'm so glad the pumpkin is working for Callie. I'm not sure if I mentioned it initially, but don't be afraid to buy the pumpkin pie mix version, as the spices are beneficial to our pooch friends, as well.

    And now I want nachos for dinner.

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    1. We found cases of organic pumpkin at Costco for a very good price, and stocked up. I used to give my previous dogs pumpkin but it didn't seem to have much effect, but Callie has been responding well to it. I'm remembering to give it to her every day which probably helps. I've also started giving her a probiotic.

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  7. I've been trying really hard to break my chip eating habit and then you go and post a super yummy looking taco salad. :-) I'm not familiar with banana squash but it sounds great, I'll have to look for it at the farmer's market. And yay for pumpkin! Who knew it was so good for cats and dogs.

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    1. Sorry, sorry. I don't like to have chips around the house but my husband brought them home and what could I do? About the banana squash — I screwed up since it was really a delicata. I'm going to change that in the post. Bad blogger.

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  8. I don't believe I've ever had banana squash. Hopefully Whole Foods will have some next time we take a trip down there within the next couple of weeks. Our local grocery store is not very adventurous in their produce stocking. Your cheesy looks sounds delicious! It has that perfect creamy yet not too thick consistency that I love.

    Sweet Callie! My mother in law's pup has that problem too. I'll let her know about the pumpkin fix - thanks for the tip!

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    1. It was actually delicata squash — I must have been 'tired' when I wrote the post. haha.

      The goal with the dog-thing is to bulk up the poop with more fiber. She also gets a serving of vegan canned dog food plus 1/4 cup of water mixed with the pumpkin because I don't think she drinks enough water.

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  9. Delicata is my favorite winter squash too! So good. I love that you can eat the skin. Probably because I am lazy and don't like to peel squash :-) Your taco salad looks phenomenal!

    Courtney

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    1. We share a lot of favorites! Maybe the thin skin on the delicata has something to do with its short shelf life. Acorn squash is practically encased in armor.

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  10. The taco salad looks incredible and I love the idea of that sauce! So smart to blend the squash in.
    I also didn't realize delicatas go bad more quickly than other squashes; good to know, though I don't usually buy those.

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    1. Thanks. You should buy one and bake it before they disappear from the markets.

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  11. The taco bowl looks so good with everything else and a bit of crunch from the tortillas and the creaminess from the cheesy squash sauce. I had a vegan wrap the other day and the pumpkin had a skin on :) I was surprised it tastes soft and edible. Mmmm I want some of that cheesy squash sauce, so creamy and yum! Thank you for the awesome tips about the benefits of feeding pumpkin to dogs - I'm glad Callie has been better after eating pumpkin!

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    1. It's amazing how a little crunch can make everything taste better! The sauce added just the right amount of cheesy flavor with a bit of sweetness.

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  12. The sauce sounds wonderful! And look at that cutie canine! My dogs love pumpkin (any squash, really, and REALLY love sweet potatoes), too! :)

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    1. The canned pumpkin is pretty bland so I'm surprised she likes it so much, but I can see why the pups would like squash and sweet potatoes.

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  13. I came here to learn why dogs lick. one of my cats loves the batter for pumpkin muffins. Your dog companion is one heck of a cutey and deserves all that pumpkin.

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    1. She is a little piece of sweet pumpkin pie! We got very lucky the day we adopted her.

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  14. That looks too delicious to be so simple! But the brussels and cashew cheese sauce got me in particular - a couple of my favourite foods of all time there!

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    1. I could go for a big plate of roasted Brussels sprouts and cheesy sauce right now. Some leftovers are better than the original incarnation.

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  15. I am not sure how it will taste but the combination of roasted brussels sprouts, doused them with leftover cashew sauce, heated them and ate them may be odd for me. I am actually interested for traditional indian food recipe ideas but this will also work well.

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    1. I just got a new South Indian cookbook but haven't used it ye. We'll see ...

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    ReplyDelete
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