It’s the Season for Special Dog Treats

dog treats, pumpkin, cinnamon, apple, dog, fall harvest
It’s the Season for Special Dog Treats

With the fall harvest among us, it’s the season for special dog treats. Some dogs are finicky eaters, while others will eat just about anything you call a “treat.” Bucky was the latter, while Shadow the former. Both of my dogs loved these treats so I thought I would share (my neighbors’ dogs loved them as well!).


Some dogs, like people are sensitive to certain foods. If this is the case with your dog, please use an alternate treat or make an ingredient substitution if necessary.

Cinnamon-Apple Dog Treats
  • Natural Applesauce (or chopped apple) – 1 cup

    dog treats, fall harvest, dogs, treats, healthy
    Bentley — Time for a Special Treat
  • Cinnamon – 1 teaspoon
  • Parsley – 1 tablespoon
  • Cold water – 1 cup
  • Vegetable Oil – 1/2 cup
  • Flour – 5 cups
  • Powdered milk – 1/2 cup
  • Eggs – 2 large
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 
Combine all of the ingredients — add oil or water to the dough if needed.
  • Roll out the dough to the desired thickness and cut into fun shapes using cookie cutters.
  • Bake 20 -25 minutes until browned.


Pumpkins for a Delicious Special Dog Treat
Pumpkins for a Delicious Special Dog Treat
  • Mashed pure pumpkin (NOT the spiced pie filling) – one 15 oz. can
  • Cream of wheat (or rice cereal if wheat-sensitive), dry, uncooked –         3/4 cup
  • Dry powdered milk – 1/2 cup
  • Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

    dog treats, healthy, organic, pumpkin
    It’s the Season for a Special Dog Treat
  • Mix all the ingredients together.
  • Drop small spoonfuls (about half of a tablespoon) onto a lightly greased cookie sheet.
  • Bake at 300 degrees for 15-20 minutes.
  • If you’d like to make training rewards, bite-sized cookies for small dogs, or just little treats, you may want to use a pastry bag and squeeze out rosettes or a freezer bag with the tip cup out to squeeze out tasty bite-sized treats about the size of a dime.
  • These treats are also a great gift idea for the holidays, just make sure you include an ingredient list so the recipient can check for sensitivities.

Do you have a special dog treat recipe to share?

A Healthier You with a Dog’s Magic Touch

dogs, unconditional love, healthier with a dog, "man's best friend"
A Healthier You with a Dog’s Magic Touch
                      Unconditional Love

A Healthier You with a Dog’s Magic Touch kicks off the start of a series focusing on the health benefits provided by “man’s best friend.” From the unconditional love they shower on their owners, to their use by the military to save countless lives, for therapy, in personal service, to detect cancer, as companions, or to provide protection detail, dogs provide that magic touch.

Man’s Best Friend

Studies confirm the fact that dogs are “man’s best friend.” Compared to other animals, research shows that dogs intimately have a greater understanding of specific areas of human nature. (2)

dogs, unconditional love, boy and dog, man's best friend, health benefits of dogs
A Healthier You with a Dog’s Magic Touch
A Boy and His Dog

There are many studies that show positive interactions between dogs and people can provide mutual benefits to both. Interactions such as talking, petting, playing and other pleasurable interactions create an increase in neurochemicals associated with positive feelings and bonding — oxytocin, dopamine, and β-endorphin (beta-endorphin). In essence, interacting with a dog, especially one you know, can have comparable psychophysiological markers similar to those of emotionally attached individuals who spend time together. (1)

Those Puppy Dog Eyes
puppy dog eyes, "man's best friend," health benefits of dog, dogs, comfort
Those Puppy Dog Eyes

Those puppy dog eyes just make your heart melt. But is that all? Studies also show that oxytocin, one of the neurochemicals noted above, promotes maternal bonding, altruism, and trust among people. In these studies, oxytocin levels in the mother and infant increased as they gazed into each others eyes. This has been referred to as the “feedback loop.” Researchers believe this loop is responsible for creating the bond between the infant and mother at a time when the baby is incapable of alternate forms of expression. (2)

puppy dog eyes, recue dog, health benefits, man's best friend
A Healthier You with a Dog’s Magic Touch
Rescue a dog and reap the benefits of puppy dog eyes.

In a 2015 study from Azabu University in Sagamihara, Japan,(3) animal behaviorists set out to determine whether a mechanism similar to the “feedback loop” might be the factor behind the affectionate relationship between owners and their dogs. Researchers analyzed urine samples and found the following:

  • When owners and dogs gazed at each other a lot, both owners and dogs experienced a significant rise in oxytocin — owners had a 300% rise while dogs had a 130% rise.
  • Owners and dogs who did not make this type of eye contact had no increase in oxytocin levels.

Enjoy those puppy dog eyes…. They provide health benefits for both you and your pooch! Do you have a story to share about your special “best friend?”

(C) 2016 Karen Van Den Heuvel Fischer


(1) Hecht, J (2015, April 15). “Is the Gaze from Those Big Puppy Eyes the Look of Your Doggie’s Love?”

(2) McNamee, D. (2015, April 17). “‘Puppy dog eyes’ explained by science.” Medical News Today. Retrieved from

(3) Oxytocin-gaze positive loop and the coevolution of human-dog bonds, Takefumi Kikusui, et al., Science, doi: 10.1126/science.1261022, published online 16 April 2015.

The Stanley’s Infamous Room 217 and the Ghost of Mrs. Wilson

Stanley Hotel, Estes Park, Colorado, Room 217, side view of Stanley Hotel
Stanley Hotel Outside Room 217, Estes Park, CO

The Stanley Hotel’s Room 217 is one of the most popular rooms in the hotel, after all, the ghost of Mrs. Wilson will keep your clothes nice and tidy. Four presidents and Stephen King were among the many prominent guests who stayed in that room. Although Stephen King did not pen The Shining there, his stay did inspire it.

Mrs. Wilson
Stanley Hotel, Room 217, Estes Park, Colorado
The Stanley Hotel Room 217

Who is Mrs. Wilson? She was the chief chambermaid in 1911. On the day the hotel opened for the season, the hydroelectric plant went down. By the way, this hotel was the first hotel to have electricity. Mrs. Wilson was lighting the gas lamps when she was almost killed. Acetylene was pumped into the rooms, and in

Room 217, Stanley Hotel, Estes Park, Colorado
Room 217 – Stanley Hotel Estes Park, CO

Room 217 there happened to be a gas leak. When Mrs. Wilson went into the bathroom, it blew out the front of the hotel. She was blown through the floor into the MacGregor Room and survived. Almost forty years to the day, she died of a heart attack in that room. According to the tour guide, Mrs. Wilson is a permanent visitor here who will fold and put away your clothes.

Stanley Hotel, Estes Park, Colorado, Room 217, Bear-Clawed Tub
The Stanley Hotel
Room 217 Bear-Clawed Tub

My husband and I had the opportunity to stay in that room. Except for the bear-clawed tub and the view, it struck me as an ordinary room with an extraordinary history. Shortly after arriving, we had a few visitors just wanting to see it and take photos. We took a few photos of our own. One visitor who was clearly absent was Mrs. Wilson. I had to fold my own clothes and keep them nice and tidy.

Hidden Bloodlines, romantic suspense, Colorado Rockies, Karen Van Den Heuvel
Hidden Bloodlines

You may find some similarities between Room 217 and the honeymoon suite described in my book, Hidden Bloodlines. Check out Chapter 2 of the book and let me know what you think!


(C) 2016 Karen  Van Den Heuvel Fischer

Mr. Bugs Had It Right — Carrot and Cashew Soup

fall harvest, carrots, soup, recipe, ginger, carrot and ginger soup
Fall Harvest — Carrots

Mr. Bugs had it right! It’s the end of harvest season — at least in Colorado, and this Carrot and Cashew Soup recipe is delicious!

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Mr. Bugs Had It Right — Carrots — A Healthy Choice

Before we get to the recipe, check out the skinny on carrots, a very versatile vegetable. It’s commonly eaten steamed, roasted, boiled, raw, and as an ingredient in many stews and soups. They are easy to grow and can be bought canned, frozen, fresh, and pickled.

Carrots – A Healthy choice

The carrot is a crunchy, sweet, aromatic vegetable that is a very healthy, popular vegetable high in Vitamin A (it provides 210% of an adult’s daily needs). Carrots also contain vitamin E, folate, potassium, manganese, magnesium, phosphorous, zinc and fiber. Evidence exists that vegetables and fruits high in antioxidants (carrots included) reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer. Vision will also be restored by correcting Vitamin A deficiencies.

If you have an over abundance of carrots, you may ask, “What should I do?” A neighbor who has a garden of carrots shared a delicious soup recipe — Carrot and Cashew Soup (this is a favorite even of those who are not crazy about carrot soup).

colorful carrots, carrots, Carrot and Cashew Soup, recipe
Colorful Carrots
  • Carrots — 3 pounds chopped.
  • Chopped onions — 1 1/4 cup.
  • Cashews — 3/4 cup unsalted, unroasted.
  • Olive Oil – 2 TBS.
  • 3 crushed garlic cloves.
  • Vegetable stock or water (you may substitute with 3 cups of low sodium chicken broth and 3 cups of water) — 6 cups.
  • Soy milk (or what you prefer) — 2 1/2 cups.
  • Ginger root — 1 Tablespoon grated.
  • Black pepper to taste (optional).
  • Add the water or stock with the carrots to a sauce pan and bring to a boil.
    onions, carrot and cashew soup, recipe
    Onions for Carrot and Cashew Soup

    Cover and simmer for 15 minutes.

  • Sautee the onions, garlic, and cashews in another pan in the 2 tablespoons of olive oil until the onions are soft and translucent.
  • Place the contents of both pans in a blender and puree until very smooth.
  • Return the puree to the saucepan and add the ginger, soy milk, and black pepper.
  • Garnish with toasted cashews, parsley, and yogurt.
Colorado, fall, Karen Van Den Heuvel
Karen Van Den Heuvel — Fall in Colorado

You may salt and pepper to taste (although I avoid the extra salt since Americans consume too much).

Let me know your thoughts after you try this delicious recipe!