In May of 2018, I had a major health scare. I landed myself in the hospital after sustaining a head injury and experiencing a seizure for the first time in my life.
Immediately before the head injury, the left side of my face started spasming uncontrollably. The spasms moved into my throat, which prevented me from breathing. I panicked, thinking that I was truly about to die, proceeded to pass out, my head went through a wall, and I started convulsing.
(Thank god my husband was home at the time.)
One minute I was in the kitchen preparing lunch and, the next minute, I woke up in an ambulance, only to lose consciousness again and re-gain it in the hospital.
Unfortunately, that wouldn’t be my last seizure. I had 3 more after that incident.
I had multiple tests done – bloodwork, CT scans, an MRI… my doc even arranged for an ambulatory EEG and EKG, where electrodes were stuck to my head and chest to monitor brainwaves and heart rhythm 24/7 for a week.
Most of my tests came back normal, with the exception of some of my bloodwork, which showed electrolyte imbalances. My doc, of course, didn’t have a clear answer for my seizures, but I strongly suspect that chronic stress/anxiety and nutrient deficiencies were to blame.
Let’s Get a Dog!
3 months after my first seizure, Penny entered my life.
This was after years of wanting a dog but never pulling the trigger because it wasn’t the right time (plus, you know, finances). Admittedly, it also took a fair amount of convincing to get my husband on board, since he’s never been a dog person (or so he claims… I have pictures to prove otherwise, despite what he might say 😂).
August of 2018 felt like the right time to get a dog as my husband had received word from his employer that he would be moving from part-time to full-time (finally!). Even though this change in employment was a good thing, we knew that his hours would be drastically different than what they had been up until that point… and I couldn’t help but think of how isolated and alone I’d feel (especially since I’m a work-from-home solo business owner).
As luck would have it, Penny came home with us about a week before my husband went full-time.
My Dog Changed My Life
Since Penny came into my life, things have drastically changed.
I’ve found a great deal of comfort in her desire to be close to me, I’ve found that her exuberance makes my heart flutter (in a good way), and I’ve found that she’s amazing at keeping me grounded and in-the-moment.
Whenever I’m feeling stressed or anxious about something, she helps snap me out of it, whether it’s by plopping down in my lap, nudging me for a walk to get a dose of good ol’ vitamin D ☀️, or instigating a play sesh.
I truly feel unconditional love from her.
And, in many ways, I feel like I’m a better person because of her.
(Just to keep it real, though, I certainly had my fair share of oh-dear-god-what-did-I-get-myself-into moments in the beginning stages of her training – my ferocious little monster certainly had a destructive streak! R.I.P. cozy slippers, socks that were left on the floor, and old flip flops. 😂)
As of now, I have been seizure-free for around 9 months <knock on wood>… and in many ways, I feel like Penny’s presence in my life has played a big role in that because of the reduction in stress and anxiety that I’ve experienced.
(Of course, I did also add in some high quality supplements to address underlying nutrient deficiencies, which seemed to help.)
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Since Penny’s birthday is June 24th, I decided to make the day extra special for her as a way to help show my appreciation for the many ways that she’s enhanced my life.
I purchased a couple of new squeaky toys so I could retire her old ones, which were barely holding on by a thread. Apparently I did good because she is OBSESSED with her pizza toy and fox toy from Chewy.
I took her for a nice, leisurely stroll and gave her ample time to stop and sniff all the things.
I gave her extra belly rubs and head scratches.
And I wanted to make a special treat for her based on several of her favorite foods.
I had a short list of demands for the treats: they needed to be safe for dogs (duh!), I wanted them to be grain-free, and I didn’t want them to be loaded with a bunch of refined sugar. Bonus points if extra treats could be frozen for later nom noms.
In thinking about the foods that Penny pesters us for the most, I knew that eggs, cheese, and bacon had to be involved, which immediately made me think of egg muffins. Egg muffins checked all of my boxes:
- dog-safe ✅
- grain-free ✅
- free of refined sugar ✅
- freezable ✅
To make them appear more like a cupcake 🧁 (or, in this case, a pupcake), they needed some sort of “frosting” to finish them off and make them extra special. But what could I use that was still dog-safe and wouldn’t require adding tons of sugar?
My solution: mashed sweet potato… with a sprinkle of finely chopped bacon to top it off. Voila! C’est magnifique!
These pupcakes were clearly a hit with Penny as she devoured one in all of 2.5 seconds. 😂😋
I made enough to create leftovers, which I stuck on a tray and placed in the freezer, then transferred to a freezer-safe bag after they were frozen through. They will last for a few months in the freezer and they can be reheated in the microwave, oven, or just left out to thaw on the counter and eaten cold.
Grain-Free Pupcake Recipe
- 1 tsp coconut oil or 5 paper muffin liners
- 4 eggs
- 4 strips of bacon
- 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- 1 small sweet potato
- 1 Tbsp milk or heavy cream
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 5 cups of a muffin tin with coconut oil (or use muffin liners).
- Peel the sweet potato and cut into 1-inch cubes. Either boil the cubes in water or place in a steamer basket and cook until the cubes can be easily pierced by a fork, about 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, cook the bacon and chop into small pieces.
- Place the eggs in a bowl and whisk until smooth. Stir in cheese. Add in all but 1 Tbsp of the chopped bacon - set the remaining 1 Tbsp of bacon aside for garnish.
- Divide egg mixture equally among the 5 prepared muffin cups. Place in preheated oven and bake for 20 minutes, or until egg mixture is set. Let cool for a few minutes, then remove from pan.
- Place the cooked sweet potato in a bowl and beat with an electric mixer until smooth. Mix in milk or heavy cream.
- Spread or pipe the mashed sweet potato on the egg muffins. Sprinkle remaining bacon pieces on top.
- Serve. Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge (use within 3-4 days) or frozen for later enjoyment.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 178 Total Fat: 11g Saturated Fat: 5g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 6g Cholesterol: 201mg Sodium: 298mg Carbohydrates: 7g Fiber: 1g Sugar: 2g Protein: 12g
I hope your precious pooch loves this grain-free pupcake recipe as much as Penny does – let me know in the comments below! 🐶
Amanda Austin is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified LEAP Therapist who approaches health and wellness from an integrative and functional perspective. She loves a good DIY, making a mess in the kitchen, and working up a sweat. She’s also obsessed with her incredibly spoiled fur-babies, which includes a rambunctious Boston Terrier, 2 cranky house cats, and 3 boisterous chickens.