Zoe & Gracie (our dogs) Like Pumpkin, Too!

img_0896After last weeks article, “Remember National Pumpkin Day,” one of our readers sent an email with some very interesting information.

She informed us that pumpkin is good for dogs for both weight control and improved digestion.

This information really peeked our interest.  We have several pumpkins (the combined weight of which exceeds 100 pounds) which we will be processing very soon.  That is quite a bit of pumpkin, but our residents will enjoy it.

Given that bit of information, we did a little experiment.  Sr. Christina cooked the pieces that had been cut out to make jack-o-lanterns and mashed them up.  We found that both Zoe (our Havanese Bichon) and Gracie (our yellow lab) really enjoyed it.

In recent weeks, Sr. Rebecca has discovered that Zoe also enjoys other cooked vegetables, such as carrots and beans.

Now, when we freeze the processed pumpkin, we can add a little extra to each bag.  Once we’ve measured what is needed for cookies or muffins, any extra can be used as a healthy treat for our four-legged friends.

In doing a little more research on feeding pumpkin to dogs, we found that it is good for digestive health, urinary health and weight loss (throughadogsear.com).  According to the Morris Animal Inn Blog, it is also good for adding bulk to a dog’s food and making them feel full. This probably ties in with its usefulness in weight control.  This same article shares its value as a source of important vitamins.

According to Pet360, pumpkin is also good for a dog’s skin and coat:  as well as fighting fur balls and parasites.  Even the pumpkin seeds are claimed to have benefits.

So, all the work of cleaning, cutting , baking and peeling our pumpkins is worthwhile, not only for humans but for our pets as well.

Remembering National Pumpkin Day

IMG_0896.JPGWe missed it here at St. Anne’s, but did you know that yesterday (Oct. 26) was National Pumpkin Day?

This observance hits close to home around St. Anne’s.  It seems that every year someone(s) thinks of us when they have extra pumpkins.  We use them to decorate in early fall, carve them for Halloween jack lanterns, and finally, cut them up and bake them for use in pumpkin treats throughout the coming months.

It seems that Native Americans had a somewhat related idea long before European settlers ever cam to this continent.  According to All About Pumpkin, they “roasted pumpkin strips over campfires and used them as a food source.”  This source further explained that “[p]umpkins helped The Native Americans make it through long cold winters.  Another interesting fact they provided is that native peoples actually made flour out of dried pumpkin and dried the shells to make containers for grain.  The blossoms, according to this same source, were added to stews.  We have not gone that far here at St. Anne’s.

This year, someone ‘donated’ two large pumpkins so that our residents (and staff) could have the fun of guessing the weight.  It was a bit of a challenge to get them onto the nurses’ scale, but we discovered that they weighed 34.1 lbs. and 56.6 lbs.

So what will we do with all of that pumpkin weight, you might ask.  In the past, we’ve cut the pumpkins into strips or pieces and steamed them in our convection oven.  We then let them cool, peel them and mash them before putting them in freezer bags.

Our residents really enjoy the homemade pumpkin treats that we are thus able to provide throughout the year.  Especially popular have been our pumpkin oatmeal cookies.  When making these from frozen pumpkin, we’ve learned that it’s best to strain the excess water off the pumpkin first.

We just used up the last of the 2015 pumpkin supply about a month ago.  It’s a good thing we have an abundance of apples to fill in until we bake up our giant pumpkins out front after Halloween!