Author Archives: Laura Boisson

Happy National Cake day everyone! I love that this year it falls right in line with the Thanksgiving holiday week. Every year, around this time, the pet care community starts to share information online about what foods are safe to feed your pets at the Thanksgiving dinner table. Well, this time around you can make a cake for your fur babies to enjoy for dessert. I’ve tested out two very easy and simple recipes; both are meat free and you can taste them yourself. I did!

About five or six years ago I had to revamp my whole lifestyle and diet. After suffering from very intense migraines, I switched my diet to exclude gluten, while decreasing sugar and dairy significantly. Before all of this, I enjoyed baking cakes for friends’ birthdays and special occasions. I would make elaborate cakes into fun shapes or with three tiers, and then decorate them with edible sparkles and diamonds on top of fondant. It didn’t help that there is an amazing cake supply shop in Manhattan (I was living in Brooklyn), so self control was challenged the moment I stepped foot into the baker’s paradise. Once I had to reevaluate my diet, my cake production slowed dramatically. Making gluten free cakes is not as fun for me! It’s more difficult and more expensive; plus it’s just better for my health if I don’t eat so much cake, I guess. (sigh) 

I have experimented with simple ingredients, to make pet-friendly baked goods and treats since then, however. So for Cake Day, I’ve tested out two cake recipes for this article. They are both meat free and gluten free. The first one uses egg and dairy (can easily be made dairy-free), while the second one contains no dairy or eggs. You can also tweak these to fit your pet’s needs if they cannot have something that I used. Let’s get into it!

Cake #1

This recipe uses only seven ingredients, most of which I already had in my kitchen. 

Ingredients

Cake

  • 1 cup flour (I used almond flour)
  • ¼ cup peanut butter
  • ½ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • ½ cup pumpkin puree
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ⅛ cup vegetable oil (I used olive oil)
  • 1 egg

Frosting

  • ¼-½ cup Primal goat’s milk
  • ¼ cup peanut butter

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a bowl, combine pumpkin, applesauce, peanut butter, and vegetable oil.
  3. Once smooth, mix in the egg. Add the flour and baking soda into wet ingredients.
  4. Bake in a greased pan for 25-30 minutes.
  5. Mix together ingredients for frosting. Once the cake is cooled, frost and decorate! 

You can use any flour or vegetable oil that suits you. If it were summer, I would probably have used coconut oil because it is cooling for the body and adds a nice sweet, nutty taste to the cake. I already had Almond flour, but any flour would work fine. I would strongly advise against using bleached white flour, however. That isn’t good for anybody.

The peanut butter I used does not contain any added sugars or palm oil. Consequences of palm oil production include deforestation, destroying habitats for a number of animals, as well as causing harm to animals living in those forests. Always check the ingredients if you’re buying peanut butter! The ingredients in the peanut butter I bought are roasted peanuts and salt. That’s all you need. Similarly, the applesauce I picked up is unsweetened and has no added flavors or sugar. 

As for the pumpkin puree, you can find canned pumpkin in the baking aisle, but only use the pure canned pumpkin. Please do not feed your pets pumpkin pie filling. You could probably find canned pumpkin at your local pet supply store! Weruva makes packets of pumpkin. I always keep a packet or a can of pumpkin in my home. Pumpkin is a great source for beta carotene (vitamin A), vitamins C and E, high in fiber, antioxidants and other nutrients. It’s wonderful for skin and coat; it’s also my go-to fix for upset tummies. That includes constipation and diarrhea, just FYI.

To make the cake, set your oven to 350 degrees. While the ovens warmed, combine the dry ingredients in one bowl; and then in another bowl mix together the pumpkin, peanut butter, applesauce and vegetable oil. Whisk these ingredients until you have a smooth texture, then add the egg into the liquids. From there, combine the dry and liquid ingredients together. This recipe makes one 8” cake. You can double or triple it if you want to have multiple layers to your cake. After about 25-30 minutes, check that a toothpick inserted is clean when removed. Allow the cake to cool before frosting it.

For the frosting, I combined peanut butter with goat’s milk from Primal Pet foods. The amount of goat’s milk will vary depending on how thick you like your frosting. Primal’s goat’s milk contains healthy probiotics, turmeric, ginger, and cinnamon. All of these spices do wonders for inflammation in the body, digestive health, and they are warming for fall and winter.

Get creative with your decorations too! I sliced some apples and added a dollop of pumpkin to top off my cake. I sampled a piece before I frosted the cake, and it tasted pretty good. I would make this cake for myself!

Cake #2

Ingredients

  • 1 cup almond flour
  • ½ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 mashed banana
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ cup water

Frosting

  • ¾ mashed banana
  • ¼ cup pumpkin puree

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix together the mashed banana and applesauce. Then stir in flour and water.
  3. Grease pan with oil and bake for 20-25 minutes.
  4. Mix together mashed banana and pumpkin for frosting.
  5. Once cake is cooled, frost and decorate as you prefer!

Like I said, I wanted this cake to be a little more minimal, and with ingredients that are likely to be found in your kitchen already. You can certainly play around with this one, like adding apple chunks. It tastes good and is very moist, but the texture of the finished product was not as firm and baked as I would prefer. Once cooled, it firmed up a little, but it doesn’t have the same fluffy cake-texture that we all love. Your pups probably won’t care as much about that as I do. 

If I were to try this one again, I would either add oats or pumpkin to the cake batter. Better yet, mixing up a “flaxseed egg” or adding chia seeds could have solved my issue to help bind the ingredients together well. The frosting came out like more of a pumpkin banana glaze, and then I topped it with apple and banana slices, and peanut butter drizzle. As long as there are not sensitivities, you really can’t go wrong with peanut butter!

There are so many options when making cakes for your pets! Plus, with these recipes you can enjoy a piece with your fur baby. If your concerned about your pets having sensitivities to the ingredients of their treats, we can provide you with some answers. At 5 Strands Testing we provide hair analysis to help you find clarity. Food and environmental intolerance tests are available through our website. 

For those out there that would prefer not to do the cooking and would rather buy from a pet bakery, you’re in luck! Pet bakeries are becoming more and more popular these days. Here in the Atlanta area we are lucky to have Three Dog Bakery. There are locations around the country, however, and you can search the nearest bakery on their website www.threedog.com. The closest location to Atlanta is in Grayson, GA, where they make a wide variety of cookies, cakes, cupcakes and baked goods for your pets! There’s still time to get treats for all the pets at your Thanksgiving holiday party. Remember to research what is safe for your pets to eat from your plate this holiday.

Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Feeling Melan-collie? Just Pug-get About it!

I don’t know about you but anytime someone talks about dog shows I immediately think about one of the best dog movies of all time: Best In Show. It is because of this movie that every time I see a bloodhound I blurt out “How you doin’, hound doggy?” in my best ventriloquist impression. If you haven’t seen the movie yet, I suggest you do so before The National Dog Show Presented by Purina airs this coming weekend of November 16-17th on NBC. You may find some difficulty discerning between the movie and real life! 

Earlier this year, Purina conducted a survey of pet owners to generate a list of the fifty most popular dog breeds in America. I am not going to cover all fifty breeds and their rankings in this article, but I would love to point out which breeds were found on the list. 

Ranked at the 50th most popular breed in America is the Bloodhound! “How you doin’, hound doggy?” Okay, I’ll stop. The Bloodhound is descended from European (Belgium, UK, France, Scotland, and England) hounds and were originally bred for hunting. Starting in the Middle Ages, Bloodhounds were employed to track people by scent. A secret to their strong sense of smell? Their extra skin folds help trap scents from the ground up to their noses! 

Another very intelligent and active dog is the Collie, which is ranked as the 40th most popular breed in America. There are two types of collies out there; the smooth coat and the rough coat (think Lassie). Collies are known for their high intelligence levels, but did you know that we can trace the lineage of modern collies back to one dog? Now you know.

I know I made an assumption that you would be familiar with all the dogs that made the top 50 list. However, this breed may be one of the few that you haven’t heard of or met before. The 30th most popular breed is the Vizsla. They look like a golden version of Weimaraners, if that helps. These tan, short coated, and sporty dogs are descended from dogs in the Austro-Hungarian empire. Vizsla typically become very attached to chosen individuals.

This next breed, ranked at the 20th position on the list, surprised me. Being surrounded by dogs all the time, I would have guessed that Shih Tzu would be higher up on the list. I suppose my point of view would be biased working in grooming facilities, since they need that regular maintenance. The name Shih Tzu means “little lion,” and actually originated in Tibet (not to be confused with Tibetan Terriers, but you can see the similarities between them). In my experience, most Shih Tzus have wonderful and funny personalities, with very expressive faces.

Number 10 on the list is the German Shorthaired Pointer; yet another very smart breed often employed for hunting. GSP are great bomb sniffing dogs as well, just as the US Air Force, who utilizes their skills. This breed is a result of a combination of multiple breeds. It is difficult to pinpoint the exact lineage, but it is believed that they originally derived from a German bird dog. Other breeds believed to have contributed to the GSP include the Spanish pointer, English pointer, the Dalmatian, the Weimaraner, the tracking hound, and the Vizsla. That’s a pretty impressive heritage!

I think we can all agree that the top 5 breeds have definitely earned their positions. Coming in at number 5 is the English Bulldog. We’ve all seen the videos of bulldogs riding on skateboards, but the origins of this breed are a bit more gruesome. They were bred for bull baiting in the UK from 1206-1835. Being low to the ground gave these dogs an advantage at grabbing the bull’s snout. Many dogs were injured or killed while this sport was still legal. Once it became illegal, however, the Bulldog almost faced extinction. In more modern times, bulldogs are great for apartment living and require little exercise.

There’s no better breed to follow up the Bulldog with than the French Bulldog, at number 4. Also, very popular in city settings due to their small size and low energy temperament. This breed actually originated in England, and were bred as companion animals. Created out of the Bulldog breed, the sole reason for the French Bulldog is to love us! They make wonderful babysitters and are actually very sensitive to the way humans speak to them (i.e. criticism vs upbeat tones). If you plan on taking your Frenchies out on the lake with you, make you to equip them with life vests, because this breed cannot swim.

For years, Golden Retrievers have been consistently ranked in the top popular breeds and this time around is no different. At number 3, this breed has a reputation for being family-friendly pups and natural athletes. Golden Retrievers are well-rounded dogs, being great companions, hunting partners, travelers, and swimmers. They are able to adapt to any adventures their human counterparts take them on!

Growing up with a former police officer, my father insisted that the only dog we would have in our family was the German Shepherd. Ranking as the 2nd most popular breed in America, this breed is known for their intelligence, loyalty, protection, and playfulness. When I was young and both of my parents worked, I would often go home from school to my favorite babysitter; our German Shepherd, Roxie. I always knew I would be safe with her. World War I brought this breed West from Germany, and are dedicated workers. Depending on the region they were bred in, there are five different types of German Shepherds; each having their own body structure and coat conditions.

This leaves us with the number 1 most popular dog breed in America. By process of elimination, I’m sure you’ve figured out by now that this position goes to the Labrador Retriever. The original purpose for breeding this dog was for fishing. Most labs love swimming so this shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone. They are typically very fast dogs, with very happy personalities. They live to make us humans happy. Perhaps this contributes to their long lives that Labrador Retrievers often reach. In fact, the oldest recorded Labrador Retriever was 29 years old. Great with families and highly adaptable, we could all learn the key to happiness from Labradors!

Like I said, these breeds are already familiar to most of us. As much as I love all the different breeds out there, the thing I look forward to most when it comes to The National Dog Show is the more rarely seen breeds out there. The dogs shown have worked their way up to this competition in the name of their breeds. I skimmed through the full list of the breeds that we will see in the upcoming dog show, and have selected five that I think are uniquely beautiful.

The first on my list is the Xoloitzcuintli, or Xolo for short. If you can pronounce that without looking it up please send audio clips. The Xolo is also known as the Mexican Hairless Dog. Yep, hairless. If you’re thinking of a Chinese Crested in comparison, the Xolo has even less hair! They were bred for hunting, and require application of sunscreen outside. Like most hairless breeds of animals, they typically also have specific bathing needs. 

I also want you all to keep an eye out for Dandie Dinmont Terrier. Just saying that breed aloud will most likely make you smile, but once you see one you will definitely smile. Another hunting breed (primarily otters and badgers), Dandie Dinmonts look like a combination of a Bichon Frise and a Corgi, with some Schnauzer sprinkled in there somewhere. They are great companion animals, but are typically not pack dogs so they prefer people over other dogs.

I’ve been told stories in my family about the next type of dog I want to point out. I’m combining the Puli and Komondor into the same category here, only because they are both known for their high-maintenance dreadlocks (corded hair). The Puli is smaller and bred as a herding dog, while the Komondor is larger and employed as a livestock protector. My great-grandmother has a Puli, so my mother has told me about how much work it was keeping up with their grooming needs.

Cirneco dell‘Etna is the next breed you should all look up. This is one of the world’s oldest dog breeds; with an Italian name and very Eqyptian-style look. It is believed that these dogs were brought from Northern Africa to the Mediterranean by the Phoenicians. There is Sicilian currency from the 5th and 2nd centuries that depict the Cirneco on coins. The Cirneco is a breed that has survived purely from natural selection. Everything about this breed intrigues me.

Finally, the last dog breed I’m going to discuss is the Leonberger. If Shih Tzu means “little lion,” then Leonberger has to mean “big cat,” according to my own opinion. These massive dogs can be very intimidating, but are usually big sensitive pups. They have a lot of talents, including great therapy dogs, as well as search and rescue dogs. They originated in Germany, and almost became extinct due to World War I. The revival of the Leonberger is credited to two breeders who managed to find the last remaining 25 dogs, of which only 5 were able to reproduce. Another impressive background story!

Well, there you have it. I’ve given you plenty of information about a number of dog breeds, as well as a lot of homework for you all. So, while you’re watching Best In Show you can get your phone out and start searching google for pictures and facts about the above breeds, before The National Dog Show airs. While, I don’t typically encourage paying such high prices from breeders because there are thousands of homeless animals in shelters, if you have a purebred dog you know that they can be susceptible to health issues. If you think your dog is dealing with food or environmental sensitivities, we specialize in hair analysis testing at 5 Strands Affordable Testing. We also have tests that help determine nutritional deficiencies, metals and minerals tests. All we need is a hair sample to test and you will get answers.

I look forward to viewing The National Dog Show next weekend with you all!

We just released a Pet Treat Test that tests for over 60 items. Check it out: https://www.5strands.com/product/affordable-pet-treat-test-50/

Did you hear about the guy who threw a bottle of omega-3s at his wife? Her injuries were only super fish oil.

When it comes to healthy lifestyles, we have numerous options for what that means to the individual. I’d like to believe that I lead a healthy life, and I am very careful about what foods I consume. It’s important to know the sources and quality of our foods. With that said, this transition into fall season has been a rough time period for my allergies. In the last month or so, I’ve been sneezing a lot and finding myself feel a bit winded at random moments. I just thought my body is still adjusting to Georgia’s pollen and environment. As a child I had terrible seasonal allergies with allergy-induced asthma. I recently bought local honey, hoping that will help build up my immunity, but I wanted to know what else I could do to support my body. It turns out, omega-3 fatty acids could be the answer!

I tend to rotate my supplements, depending on the time of year and what my body needs at the time. Even if I stick with the same supplement, I order a different brand to keep the strains diverse. The most consistent supplement I’ve taken over the years is algae, which I have not taken in a couple of months. In fact, I hardly ever get sick and I haven’t had a cold or the flu in years (I’ve never had a flu shot) and I always credited it to the algae supplements! I keep telling myself that once I finish my Vitamin E, I’ll order more Chlorella or Spirulina. Now, I realize I should order it sooner than later. I’d love to share my findings about omega-3s that led me to this conclusion.

 

What are omega-3 fatty acids?

We hear a lot about foods being rich in omegas, but what exactly does that mean? There are three fatty acids that fall under the category of omega-3s. To simplify this explanation, those three fatty acids are ALA, DHA, and EPA. You may have heard of one or all. I know I’ve seen these specifically important for brain development in children, or cereals being fortified with them. 

Our bodies do not produce these omega-3s naturally, so we must turn to food and diet for sources. Foods rich in omega-3s are fish (including fish oils), walnuts, algae, flax seeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, leafy greens and soybeans. I would also like to point out that ALA is the most common omega-3 fatty acid found in the foods I just listed – primarily plant-based sources, while the other two are mostly found in fish and algae or microalgae.

I would guess I’m most likely deficient in DHA or EPA, or both. The best way to determine this would be our 5 Strands Nutritional Deficiency test. It’s been almost a year since I had myself tested for deficiencies, and I would have definitive answers by testing my hair sample. The inquisitive part of my brain really wants to test my hair for these deficiencies before and after taking this new batch of algae supplements. If I follow through with this, I will update you all. Our nutritional deficiency test checks for over one-hundred and fifteen nutrients vital for the human body, including omega-3! 

 

Is it possible to be sensitive to omega-3s?

This was one of my first questions when I began researching omega-3s. I’m sure it isn’t impossible for someone’s body to have issues with omega-3s – maybe too much for what their body needs, but I really couldn’t find much information out there about someone being intolerant or sensitive to omega-3s specifically. However, you can absolutely have an issue with a food that contains omega-3s. Fish and nuts are common foods that cause reactions ranging from full blown allergies (often life-threatening) to intolerance symptoms. 

If you find that you need to detox because of a food sensitivity related to any source of omega-3, don’t panic about falling into a nutrient deficiency. You may experience some of the symptoms associated with omega-3 deficiency, but as long as it’s a short-term period of time then you have nothing to worry about. Omega-3 deficiency may result in dry skin, dandruff, itchy eyes, fatigue, and irritability among other symptoms. While you may be uncomfortable feeling some of these things, you never want a nutrient deficiency to become a chronic issue. This is the perfect time of year to incorporate more omega-3s into your diet, with cooler and dry weather in the forecast. 

 

Usually, as soon as people find out that I do not eat meat (yes, fish included) I hear the typical questions. Where do you get your protein? Do you get enough vitamins? You don’t even eat fish? Do you miss bacon? It’s been over 12 years and I’ve never had a serious nutrient or protein health issue. It is very easy to have nutritional deficiencies as a vegetarian or vegan, because of processed foods with little nutritional value, but those who primarily eat meat and little vegetables also risk missing out on vital nutrients. 

When it comes to omega-3s, the best plant-based sources are leafy greens, algae, walnuts, flax seeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, and soybeans. That gives us a lot of options! I think it’s more realistic to conclude that most people are lacking some omega-3s, not just those who don’t eat fish. The reality is that fish don’t naturally produce omegas. Guess where fish get their omegas from – yep, algae! I like to skip the middle-man and go straight to the source.

Omegas help stimulate protein formation from amino acids in the body, which is important for recovery from physical activity. Outside of athletic performance, studies have found that omega-3s also help prevent many health conditions, including stroke and heart attack. They’ve also been shown to reduce blood pressure, and slow the development of plaque in the arteries. If you suffer from anxiety, depression, or attention-related issues, omega-3 may be able to help with that! Not to mention benefiting skin hydration levels and in my case, help with itchy eyes and nose, and other symptoms associated with seasonal allergies. Omega-3s are clearly great for your immune system, so I will be making sure I order mine pronto, especially during these cooler months when everyone starts to get sick. 

If you think you may be having symptoms associated with food sensitivities or nutrient deficiencies in relation to omega-3s, our hair analysis tests can help determine what may be causing such issues. Luckily, there are options for everyone to find sources of omega-3s, because we all have our own specific needs. At 5 Strands Testing, our results help sculpt your diet and lifestyle choices to your unique requirements. 

 

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/what-are-omega-3-fatty-acids#types

https://omegavia.com/deficiency-symptoms/

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/17-health-benefits-of-omega-3#section5