Growing up in Toronto, I acquired a taste for novel proteins and exotic foods early in life. I remember sharing snails with my dad before I was ten years old. For me, they held a lot more allure than chicken and turkey.
In 1990, Chef Mark McEwen opened the doors to North 44, his first restaurant. There was always something new and exciting to try, and some of those taste sensations never left me.
What I learned back then has helped me significantly over the years when developing nutritional plans for dogs with special dietary needs. My experience with exotic foods has become even more helpful since the pet food recalls five years ago forced us all to rethink what we were feeding our dogs. Many people have taken the opportunity to experiment with novel proteins, including wild game. That trend continues as recalls keep happening, particularly involving poultry products from faraway places.
If you haven’t already, why not try some of these novel proteins? They can be prepared in a variety of ways, and will provide your dog with a powerhouse of nutrients.
- 1 pound buffalo, sliced into strips
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, finely minced, or 1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 2 teaspoons rubbed oregano
- 1 teaspoon thyme
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 cup grated sweet potato
- 1 cup grated yam
- 6 tablespoons filtered water
- Greek yogurt for garnish
Instructions Choose organic ingredients whenever possible. Place olive oil in a large pan. Turn heat to high. When you see the first bubbles appear on the surface of the oil, add the sliced buffalo strips. Turn down the heat to simmer. Add all spices. Using a wooden spoon, gently turn pieces of buffalo until all the pink is gone. Remove pan from the stove. Allow the buffalo strips to cool, and then remove to a plate or bowl.
You should be left with a beautiful golden sauce. Take your grated sweet potato and yam and add it to the pan along with the filtered water. Turn the heat to medium high, and gently combine all ingredients together. As soon as bubbles appear, turn the heat down to simmer, cover your pan, and allow to simmer for 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the stove and let it cool.
Serve this dish at room temperature to your dog (serve hot for human family members), and add a dollop of Greek or goat yogurt just before serving.
Duck with quinoa
- 2 pounds duck, e.g., legs
- 1/ 2 cup (6 to 8) dried Shiitake mushrooms
- 3 strips Kombu kelp
- ½” to 1” piece fresh ginger
- 2 star anise
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 5 cups filtered water
- 1 cup quinoa
Combine all ingredients except quinoa in a big pot. As soon as you have a rolling boil, turn heat down to a medium simmer, and continue to simmer until the duck meat begins to fall off the bone. Don’t worry about watching the pot. Leave it for 1½ to 2 hours. Then remove the meat from the bones, and return meat to the pot. Discard the bones.
Take 1 cup quinoa, put it in a strainer and rinse well under filtered water. Put in a small pot and add 1¼ cups filtered water. Turn heat to high. As soon as bubbles appear, turn heat down to simmer, put a lid on the pot, and time for 12 minutes. Turn heat off. Using a fork, “fluff” the quinoa then leave it for five minutes. Serve at room temperature.
Ostrich or kangaroo feast
- 1 pound ostrich or kangaroo, ground
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 small garlic clove, minced, or 1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 tablespoon rubbed oregano
- 2 cups tomatoes, diced, or 1 can tomatoes, with juice
Place extra virgin olive oil in pan. Turn heat to medium high. Add ground ostrich or kangaroo. Gently mix with the olive oil, and add spices, continuing to stir. As soon as bubbles appear, turn down heat to simmer, and continue to stir until there is no pink remaining in the meat.
Add the tomatoes and combine thoroughly. Put a lid on the pan and simmer for 20 minutes. Cool to room temperature before serving.
Quacking great bone booster
- 1 to 2 pounds duck, e.g., legs (use only certified organic, with no hormones or antibiotics)
- 2 small cloves garlic
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar or juice from 1/2 lemon
- Filtered water
- 1/2 cup fresh parsley
Place the bones, vinegar or lemon juice, and garlic in a large pot or crock pot. Cover with filtered water. Bring the mixture to a boil, skimming the “particulates” and foam that rise to the top, then turn down the heat to a low simmer. Leave the bones to simmer all day or night. Add the parsley just a few minutes before you drain the broth from the bones. Discard the bones, but keep all the meat and cartilage to add to your dog’s regular meals.