Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Burdock: cooking for dogs

Autumn is the perfect time to include Burdock root in your dog's food, and if you can get it fresh, all the better (check at your local health food store or asian grocery).

Burdock root is a wonderfully nutritive medicinal food. It's very safe to use whether fresh, powdered, or as a glycerin tincture. I try to make time to prepare it fresh when it's most needed, but especially in Autumn.

Burdock root strengthens the kidneys and liver, helping to clean the blood of toxins and metabolic waste. It is particularly indicated for chronic skin problems ranging from dandruff to hot spots to general inflammation (some dogs' fur feels sticky, that's Damp Heat). You may notice a slight diuretic action from eating the fresh root. It's considered cooling in Traditional Chinese Medicine, and helps to relieve Wind Heat and counteract Heat and Damp.

It can be fed regularly and does it's best work over a longer period of time (rather than as a quick fix). 

Adding the fresh cooked root to your dog's food is a wonderfully direct way to give it. It takes a little more time than dishing out a powder or opening a tincture bottle, but I encourage you to take the time to familiarize yourself with the fresh root, if not for your dog's dish then for your own.

The root grows deeply into the ground, so you'll usually find that they'll be broken in the stores simply because it's so hard to get it out in one piece. Be sure to feel the fresh root and for one that's firm, not squishy.

Peel the dark outer skin off, and grate by hand or pulverize it in a food processor. I made this small batch by hand and was reminded of why I usually do the dog's veggies in a big batch with a food processor; once I got down to the nub I had to chop the stronger fibers. You'll notice in the photos that the root oxidizes very quickly.

You don't need to grate it for your own use, but dogs' digestive systems aren't designed to break down such sturdy roots (and we know they don't chew).

Put  the grated root in a pan, cover with water, and simmer for 10-20 minutes to break down the fiber. You are essentially decocting the root as if you were making a tea, but instead of straining the root out of the liquid, just add your meat to the pan  of grated root and water, cooking (or not, the cooked root can be used with raw meat) as you normally would. 

I added a six-inch root to two pounds of food that was already 25% veggies. For general good health add an amount similar to any other root vegetable you'd add to your veggie blend (says the person who uses mostly aboveground greens). That is, there's no need to go overboard, it's about quality and steadiness of use. 
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