These bottom fish -- mackerel, anchovies and the 11-plus species that are packaged as sardines -- are not only cheap due to thriving populations, but are nutritionally stellar. Oily fish are high in omega 3 fatty acids, are a great source of protein, and the inclusion of soft, edible bones makes them particularly high in calcium. Sardines also contain plenty of Vitamin D and phosphorous, which aid in calcium absorption. Plus, because they feed on algae and plankton, they tend to have much lower mercury levels than larger fish.
When it comes to dog treats, sardines make the ideal ingredients by virtue of their intense flavour. Choose plain, unflavoured sardines packed in oil or water and don’t worry about going for cheaper varieties, which tend to be larger and fishier tasting. If you don't have a food processor, mash them with a fork, your dog won’t be concerned about getting chunks of fish in his or her treats!
1 cup (120 g) Sardines packed in oil or water, undrained
1/2 cup (125 ml) Water
1/4 cup (60ml) Canola or olive oil
2 cups (500 ml) Whole wheat flour
3/4 cup (185 ml) Cornmeal
Preheat oven to 350F.
In the bowl of a food processor, combine the undrained sardines, water and oil. Pulse until well blended and smooth. Add the flour and cornmeal and pulse a few more times, until the mixture is blended and crumbly. Turn onto the countertop and mix with your hands until you have a soft dough.
Roll the dough into walnut-sized balls and place on an ungreased cookies sheet. Press each one down with the back of a fork, like a peanut butter cookie.
Bake for 15-20 minutes, until firm. If you like, turn the oven off and leave them inside to cool down as the oven cools: this will make a slightly firmer cookie.
Makes about 18 cookies. Store extras in an air-tight container, or freeze.