Kwanzaa is a celebration of unity and life, and it’s the perfect time of year to gather with your family, friends, and community – including furry family members.
Food is one of the most important parts of Kwanzaa because of its symbolism and ability to bring people together. While there are many delicious foods to prepare and eat for your Karamu feast, many of these may be toxic to share with your four-legged friends.
Read on to learn what traditional Kwanzaa foods you can share with your pets, and which are best left on your own plate.
Kwanzaa Foods to Share with Your Pets
These Kwanzaa treats are safe to share with your furry friends:
1. Black-Eyed Peas
Black-eyed peas are a symbol of good luck, and luckily, you can also share these tasty legumes with your pets in moderation.
Black-eyed peas are a great source of protein, fiber, and vitamins, making them an excellent snack to add to any balanced diet. And they’re also low in calories and cholesterol. These beans are only safe, however, when they’re unseasoned and made from dried beans.
Canned beans are full of sodium, preservatives, and additives that can cause digestive issues, and many seasonings can also be toxic to your pets. If you’re preparing dishes for Kwanzaa, set aside a scoop or two of unseasoned black-eyed peas to share.
2. Cooked Plantains
Plantains contain many vitamins and nutrients that are great for your pets. These banana-like fruits are rich in fiber, as well as vitamin C, potassium, and magnesium – all of which are essential to your pet’s health.
Because of the high fiber content, too many plantains can be too much for your pet’s digestive system, leading to diarrhea. They also contain a high amount of natural sugar, making them best served in moderation.
Raw plantains are too tough for your dog to chew and digest, making them a choking hazard. Instead, you can roast or steam the plantain and peel off the outer layer before serving to your dog.
3. Cooked Sweet Potato
Sweet potatoes are tasty snacks for your pet – as long as they’re served in small quantities.
Sweet potatoes are rich in vitamins and nutrients, like vitamins A and C, calcium, beta-carotene, and more. They’re also a great source of fiber that can help keep your pet’s digestive system healthy.
However, sweet potatoes are high in sugar, which can contribute to obesity in pets and be dangerous for those with diabetes. New research also shows that pet foods that have sweet potatoes and other potatoes, legumes, peas, and lentils as a main ingredient may contribute to canine dilated cardiomyopathy.
If you feed your pet sweet potatoes, do so in moderation and make sure they’re fully cooked. Raw potatoes of any kind can be poisonous to pets. Steamed, boiled, or dehydrated are great ways for your pet to enjoy this vegetable, but always make sure to prepare them plain with no seasonings, syrups, or other additives.
4. Collard Greens
Collard greens symbolize good fortune, and your pet will feel extremely fortunate to snack on this tasty vegetable. Like other ingredients on this list, these vegetables are best served in small quantities, but they do contain many beneficial vitamins and minerals.
Collard greens are a great source of vitamin K, folate, protein, and riboflavin, all of which contribute to your pet’s healthy bodily functions. They’re also a great source of fiber, which is great for your pet’s digestive system.
Too many collard greens can cause disruption to your pet’s digestive system, however, and lead to an upset stomach or diarrhea. The high quantity of calcium oxalate can also cause kidney stones if your pet eats too much.
Always remove the stem from collard greens and never feed them to your pet raw, as they’re too tough for them to digest.
Chicken is one of the primary ingredients in many pet foods, and for good reason. This poultry is a great source of protein and Omega-6 fatty acids, but it’s important that the chicken is prepared in a safe way before you feed it to your pet.
Always cook the chicken, and make sure there are no seasonings, butter, oil, or other additives being used to cook it. Remove the skin before serving, as chicken skin is high in fat, and always remove the bones.
Seasoned and fried chicken is too high in salt and fat to feed to your pet, and the cooked bone can splinter and cause injury if consumed.
Okra is full of vitamins and minerals to support your pet’s immune system, metabolism, muscles, and more. Nutrients like vitamin C, potassium, calcium, and folic acid also help strengthen your pet’s bones, regulate their blood sugar levels, and even prevent cancer.
This vegetable can be served to your pet raw, but may be tough for them to digest, so always monitor your pet while they’re eating. You can also cook the okra, but only steamed or without oil.
Never serve your pet fried okra, as the high fat and salt content can damage their liver and lead to pancreatitis.
Shrimp is a great protein option for your pet, and it’s rich in vitamins and nutrients, including vitamin B12, vitamin B3, and phosphorus. Shrimp is also low in fat and calories, which can make them a great choice for pets that are already overweight.
However, shrimp are high in cholesterol, so they should still only be fed to your pet in moderation. Like chicken, shrimp should also be prepared unseasoned and without any oils and butter.
Eggplant is rich in vitamins B6 and K, as well as many other nutrients that help protect your pet from disease and boost their immune system.
Eggplants are also rich in fiber, but low in calories, making them a great option for pets on a diet. This means your pet will feel fuller for longer while still staying within their recommended calorie range.
While you can feed your pet raw eggplant, it’s easier for them to digest cooked eggplant that’s been cut into bite-sized pieces. Like other foods, prepare the eggplant without any seasonings or use of fat for cooking.
Celebrate Kwanzaa with Your Furry Family Members
Your pets are your family and including them in your Kwanzaa celebration is a great way to honor the bond that you share.
While they can’t enjoy all of the delicious food you prepare for the harvest feast, there are many staple Kwanzaa ingredients that can be shared with your pet to make them feel extra special.
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