Monday, September 8, 2014

Paw-sitively Fabulous: Home Cooking for Newbies with Emma of Queeniechi!

Hello Darlings,

I am so excited to share this post today. As you might know from reading the blog, I have been home cooking for Holly in recent months under the suggestion and supervision of our vet. Since the diet offers more wiggle room than a standard kibble-in-bowl routine, I am always on the lookout for new recipes or foods I might try for Holly. That's why I was so thrilled to meet Emma of Queeniechi through Facebook; as a Chihuahua mama herself, she home cooks for her own animals and also is a professional Canine Chef/Nutritionist who creates bespoke menus for clients based on dietary needs. Knowing that I had a lot of questions when I made the transition to home cooking (and still do), I asked Emma if I could pick her brain for some of her professional expertise. She very kindly agreed, and I hope her answers help those of you thinking about consulting your vet about home cooking consider taking the plunge!

Emma cooking in her fabulous kitchen--check out that wallpaper! Image courtesy of Queeniechi Cooks.
Little Holly's Big World: As I have started my home cooking journey, I have read a lot about supplementing home cooked meals with things such as bone meal in order to make sure they are getting enough calcium and vitamins. Have you found such supplements to be necessary, or are you able to achieve this balance through ingredients alone? 

Image courtesy of Queeniechi Cooks.
Queeniechi: No, it's not at all necessary to add bone meal or vitamins to a home cooked diet, here's why: I have Home Cooked for my 18 dogs for 10 years, I have never needed to supplement their diet with commercially produced vitamins etc. I practice 'Balance Over Time' much in the same way that we feed ourselves. The practice consists of feeding a wide and varied fresh diet, therefore over time you will eat all the required nutrients. Commercially produced dog food is looking at everything needed in that one meal, even though the dog may not need it in their diet on that particular day. It's a bit like buying a months worth of shopping, and trying to make one meal out of it.

Image courtesy of Queeniechi Cooks.
LHBW: If you do use a supplement, do you have a particular one that you recommend, or one that can be made at home? Since some bone meal can be sourced from China I try to steer clear!!

QC: I don't use commercially produced supplements, however you can make calcium from egg shells, if you have your own organically fed chickens even better. The egg shells must be no older than 5/7 days old and must be organic otherwise they are full of far too many impurities to be of any nutritional value. Here's how: dry the discarded shells in the open air or in low oven, once they seem brittle crush them with a pestle and mortar into a fine powder. This can be added to your dogs main meal 1/8th TSP per 4lbs of body weight. This can be sprinkled on the food directly, however fine the powder is it will still add a grittiness to the food. Fresh Kale is an excellent source of calcium, vitamins and B vitamins. We can add lots of lovely things to our doggies diet, fresh root turmeric, Spirulina, chia, wheatgrass, flax, coconut oil the list is fabulously endless! 

Yummy & sparkles? Even better! Image courtesy of Queeniechi Cooks.
Some food is staged better than I do for myself! Image courtesy of Queeniechi Cooks.
Yum-this looks like a meal I would want to try too! Image courtesy of Queeniechi Cooks.
LHBW: Your website includes recipes with green beans, apples, carrots, broccoli, and even parsley! What unconventional ingredients are people most often surprised can be a part of their dog's diet, and what should people avoid?

QC: I think most people are surprised that dogs really like to eat salad, I feed mine hot peppery rocket salad, watercress, baby spinach leaves as a snack.... Just scatter the leaves onto a clean floor and let your dogs forage! Dogs love to forage, my garden has vegetables, herbs and salad leaves so that the dogs can help themselves to. They love to munch on little new shoots and tasty roots, so don't be too hasty to have the perfect lawn or stop your dog foraging when they are at the park, it's their absolute right of passage. I personally believe that we as a society believe that feeding a commercially produced dog food is the best thing to feed your dog, words like BALANCED, COMPLETE & SPECIES APPROPRIATE are the buzz words to make you doubt that anything else can be fed. Commercially produced dog food didn't used to exist and nor did Canine Obesity! I have a comprehensive list of foods,it's best to avoid the amounts and reasons why on my website. Here is a short list of foods to avoid: 

Xylitol (editor's note: this is fake sugar, often found in sugar free products like jam or gum)
Apple pips
Cooked bones
Macadamia nuts
Rhubarb leaves
Yeast dough

Delish and dog-friendly dessert! Image courtesy of Queeniechi Cooks.
LHBW: With a full time job and a long commute, it can be daunting to come home and face cooking for yourself, let alone your pup. Do you have a favorite recipe that you can make ahead and freeze for these situations?

QC: My recipes come with bulk cooking guides, it's your choice to cook daily as my mum does, she is retired and has one chihuahua and it's part of her daily routine. I myself have 18 chihuahuas, a family and a busy home so I cook in advance. The recipes will give you, daily, weekly,fortnightly or monthly cooking guides. All of the recipes can be cooked in advance and frozen.

LHBW: Piggybacking off that last question, are there meals that you make for your pups that humans can share as well?

QC: Yes, everything can be shared with your pup, you may want to add some seasoning to your plate, or a dollop of Mayo ..... Hmmm yum!

I certainly wouldn't mind sharing a meal like this! Image courtesy of Queeniechi Cooks.
LHBW: A common concern with home cooking is that it will be much more costly than commercial dog food. I say you can't put a price on your pet's health, but I understand budgetary issues can always be a concern. What are some money saving tips to keep costs low and still give your pet the benefit of a home cooked diet?

QC: I feed my dogs a healthy fresh, balanced, complete, species appropriate diet everyday for (16pence) 27cents per meal per dog per day. If your going to use chicken in your dogs diet, it's always best & more cost effective to buy a whole chicken, using all the different meats,breast, leg, thigh, belly etc mixed together will give your dog different nutrients from the meat from different parts of the body. Be thrifty, find the pattern in your local supermarket when they reduce meat. My local supermarket is a high end store they reduce the meat every Tuesday at 8.15am like clockwork! Guess what... I'm there! I purchase the very best highest quality meat for a fraction of the cost. Buy reduced vegetables, ask your friends to freeze their table scraps, never, ever throw any food away even if it's a wilted lettuce, cook it with some bulgar wheat... Delicious! When you have stripped all the meat off the chicken, put the bones into a heavy bottomed cooking pan, crush up the bones as best you can using a pestle or end of a rolling pin, the idea is to release the bone marrow in the  brittle cooked bones, pour over fresh cold water add a few herbs if you have them, bring to the boil and and simmer for around 1 1/2 hours. Drain off the liquid and let it cool down, you can either cook in some carrots, celery, and tiny pasta shapes for a soup to share or let the mixture set into ice cube trays store some fresh it will become like jelly when cold or freeze, this makes a wonderful tasty addition when added to rice or used as an ice pop or a warming stock on a cold day.

LHBW: There was a huge issue in the past couple years with non-FDA regulated jerky treats causing severe health issues for pups. What's your favorite home cooked treat recipe so we can ditch the commercial concerns all together?

QC: I don't feed treats as I feel my dogs eat so well that it's not necessary, they aren't salivating when I'm eating as they are satisfied with their own food, however snacks do have a place in the canine diet. A super duper easy to make snack is Popcorn! With goats butter... Here's how: 

LHBW: Some readers might not be ready to take the fully home cooked plunge, but I know many people will cook the standard chicken and rice recipe for when their pups get an upset tummy. Do you have any secret recipes for settling an upset stomach that you can share?

QC: It would really depend on what the symptoms are, if it was vomiting every hour, if it was vomiting and diarrhea or just diarrhea. If your dog had a temperature, if you felt your dog had eaten something bad or had picked up a bug? As a general rule of thumb, I would feed plain boiled white rice, with an egg yolk stirred through and a little plain chicken or ham mixed through. Cottage cheese & live goats yoghurt are good tummy settlers too.

LHBW: Finally, your YouTube and website mention Vet Approved, Bespoke meals for pups with all kinds of issues (or who just want to be healthier)! Where can I send my readers for more information or access to more of your fabulous recipes? 

QC: My website look under the RECIPE pull down menu or the YOUTUBE menu. I'm in the process of finishing my cookery book, but in the meantime I am more than happy to answer dietary questions or tweak existing recipes until it suits your dogs needs. Other areas of interest to me are dogs with cancer, epilepsy and obesity. Obesity often arises as a secondary problem due to the medications the dog has been put on or due to being unable to exercise due to a complication like a collapsed trachea due to obesity, that was initially due to the first illness. My BLUBBER BUSTER diet is great at shifting those pounds whilst maintaining a balanced healthy and most importantly satisfying diet. This diet is not readily available as I would need to have a little information about your pup first, your readers are welcome to contact me for more details:

I also run a CANINE DIETRY CLINIC where you can ask any dietary advice on my community page: (wherever you are in the world) everyone is welcome (NOTE: the next clinic will begin September 19th at 12pm and close September 20th at 6pm, so definitely check it out!).

Beginning in October, Emma will also be launching the Canine Cookery Club, a private members login for a subscription fee that allows a more in depth, holistic look at your pet's whole health. Also be sure to keep checking back to her website for her fabulous Celebration Cake recipe, and some holiday (Thanksgiving/Christmas) meals for your pup as well! Yum!

Thank you so much to Emma from Queeniechi for all the amazing advice! Even if you think Home Cooking is too big of a stretch for you to do full time, I definitely recommend checking out her website & YouTube for ways to bring a little home cooked flair to your own pup's diet. Though your vet can help you decide whether switching to completely home cooked is the right move for you (it was for us!), having a resource like Emma in your back pocket will make any amount of home cooking you decide to incorporate that much easier and more delicious!

Until Next Time, Darlings!

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