Every day, hungry, health-conscious humans and dogs face the samedietary dilemma. We all love sinking our teeth into a nice, satisfying, high-carbohydratesnack – but we don’t love the unfortunate consequence of oversnacking, i.e. being overweight and feeling sick to our stomachs. Still, there are only so many carrots and celery stalks one may ingest before one is tempted to leap off the wagon and dive into a giant bowl of crunchy crackers.
Of course, the main reason to cut out carbs at snack time is to avoid gluten, the protein found in many grains, including wheat, barley, rye, oats, spelt, and kamut. Gluten is whatgives chewiness to bagels, bread,and pizza. It’s the Latin word for glue, and that’s literally what it is: the sticky stuff that bindsstarchy,toothsometreats and makes them almost irresistible to anyone with a pulse. (Just consider how it feels to catch a whiff of warm bagels, or observe how hard and fast your dog pulls on his leashthe next timehe spies a fallen pizza crust or animal crackersin his path; enough said.)
Yet gluten is alsothe culprit of many gastric disturbances. If eaten regularly by people and dogs who are sensitive or allergic to it, gluten creates inflammation throughout the entire body. And that inflammationtriggers chronic health conditions, including – as studies have shown – an increased risk of getting lymphoma.
It’s not always easy for humans to avoid gluten at mealtime, especially when dining out, because it turns up as a stabilizer in the mostsurprising places: ice cream, beer, ketchup, salad dressing, soup, even vitamins. If you’re a vegetarian or vegan,avoiding glutengets even trickier, as the imitation meats (mock duck) and other non-meat protein sources (seitan) used heavily in those cuisines are made of wheat gluten,because of itsfirm, convincingly meat-like texture.
Dog food is often a gluten trap too. Pet owners who’d like to avoid feeding their dogs gluten need to read ingredient panels carefully, as it’s often added to pet foods to boost the protein content. The safest way to avoid gluten in dog food is to seek out atrustworthy brand that proudly states “no wheat” on the package. If your dog has ever had a bout with cancer, avoiding gluten is critical to help prevent a recurrence.
Strangely, when it comes to snacks,going gluten-free is a no-brainer. There really is such a thing asa healthy snack, for people as well as pets. Gluten-free (GF) humans enjoy munching out on crispy, savory wafers by Mary’s Gone Crackers and indulging in sweet temptations by BabyCakes, the justly renowned GF bakery with outposts in in New York and Los Angeles,where the coconut frosting is the creme dela creme and the doughnuts are divine. Gluten-free dogs, meanwhile,have a sweet indulgence all their own: Biscuits by Lambchop.
These truly tasty treats were developed by New Yorker Annette Frey, whose mixed-breed boy dog, Lambchop, was experiencing serious gastric issues and food allergies. Frey lovingly prepared home-cooked meals for her beloved “Lamby,” yet – like all of us – he still craved between-meal snacks. So she set about creating a treat Lambchop could safely eat, free of gluten, wheat, corn, rice, dairy, eggs, and nuts. Four-footed fans of thesemouthwatering morsels include my dog Tiki and Martha Stewart’s pair of French Bulldogs, Francesca and Sharkey.
Biscuits by Lambchop come in two flavors: Choppers (the original recipe), whichare banana-vanilla-coconut cookies in the shape of a lambchop; and Starlets, the new formula, made with apple, honey, and cinnamon. Both are gluten free,but Choppers are vegan, while Starlets – named for Frey’sgirl dog, Starr – are vegetarian (because of the honey, a product of bees, they’re not vegan).
Once her awareness of gluten and its pitfalls was raised, Frey began to limit her own consumption of the stuff. “I’m largely gluten-free,” she says, “but not strictly – I’ll still have pretzels, and I do love my bread. I’ve yet to find a really delicious gluten-free bread. But I try to stay away from white flour, and I’m exclusively gluten-free with desserts, because they’re healthier so you can indulge in them more! I eat BabyCakes or bake my own – they’re tasty and actually nutritious.”
To order Biscuits by Lambchop, go here.