And so the month of dieting, and best-selling diet books, begins. Judging by the stacks on our desk, this year's back cover theme is the anti-diet, with books like The Parisian Diet: How to Reach Your Right Weight and Stay There promising a “sensible and holistic approach … not a flash-in-the-pan fad [but] a new approach to food and a way to celebrate life, helping you look and feel your best.”

The socially conscious theme is also a common thread, with books like The Clean Plates Cookbook touting “sustainable, delicious and healthier eating for every body” (recipes include the raw cauliflower tabbouleh from M Café). For added effect, the glossary includes a list of movies to download, like Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead, presumably for those nights when you're considering chucking the diet and calling Domino's. Oh, the late night dieting fun.

The recently updated version of Better Food for Dogs is a handy way to focus your 2013 diet resolutions on your dog rather than yourself (and get plenty of “exercise” by cooking). It sounds like any dog lucky enough to be put on this diet is going to eat a lot better than their owners most days. Get a treat recipe for your dog — and who knows, maybe yourself — after the jump.

Homemade Dog Treats; Credit: Flickr user StacyLynn

Homemade Dog Treats; Credit: Flickr user StacyLynn

The book is written by veterinarian Grant Nixon and David Bastin and Jennifer Ashton, who once owned a bakery for dogs. Their back cover diet pitch is a familiar one, whether you have two legs or four:

People want their dogs to have happy, healthy and long lives, and providing them with nutritious food is an important step toward achieving this goal. The problem is, most of us aren't nutritionists, and there are so many conflicting opinions about dogs' dietary needs that feeding your dog can become an overwhelming challenge.

The authors promise to deliver “tasty recipes, tested and approved by dogs.” Not just basics like meat and rice or vegetable blends, though those are here too, but Texas-style chili, steak, eggs and hash browns, red snapper stew, lamb Souvlaki (!) and blueberry banana biscotti. The sort of dishes you might be thrilled to whip up for yourself on any given January diet night. Scan the recipe ingredients and you very well may decide to join in the “divine dinner burrito” dog bowl fun (ground turkey, garlic, chili powder corn, tomato, bell pepper, brown rice, whole wheat tortillas and potassium chloride as a salt substitute).

Practical tips abound, as when Dr. Bastin reminds pet owners to keep their fasting regimens or strict vegan diets to themselves (“Dogs belong to the carnivore group”); toxic foods are also listed (avocados, Macadamia nuts, etc.). Familiar diet book triumph stories accompany the diet overview and recipes, like one for blueberry peach and flax “cookies” that the authors say lured a shy stray dog to their bakery that later became their pet.

As for the recipes, they are divided by weight class, so your 5-pound Chihuahua gets the right amount of cottage cheese, fruit and toast for breakfast and your 150 pound Mastiff's power lunch of chicken and vegetable pasta will fill him up. Or just whip up a batch of these peanut butter “dog cookies” for them all, big dog or small. Because everyone, including dogs, appreciates a good homemade cookie. More so when on a diet.

Peanut Butter Dog Cookies

From: Better Food for Dogs

Makes: About 1 pound (500 g) of cookies.

Note: You can also a use a docking wheel to aerate the dough rather than a fork. Recipe header: “Before David and Jennifer started baking their own cookies, their dog Harris turned his nose up at most treats. They were pretty sure he would like these, as he loves peanut butter on toast. They were right.”

1 cup + 1 tablespoon (265 ml) water

1 cup (250 ml) smooth natural peanut butter

1 large egg

1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla

4 cups whole wheat flour

½ cup cornmeal

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, whisk together water, peanut butter, egg and vanilla. Stir in flour and cornmeal until well incorporated.

2. In the bowl and using your hands, knead until dough holds together. Transfer to a lightly floured surface. Using a rolling pin, roll out dough to about 1/8-inch (3 mm) thickness.

3. With a fork, poke holes all over the surface of the dough. Using a pizza cutter or sharp knife, cut dough into bite-sized rectangles or squares. Place about ½-inch (1 cm) apart on non-stick baking sheets.

4. Bake in preheated oven, in batches if necessary, for 18 minutes or until firm. Place pans on racks and let cool completely. Reduce oven temperature to 300 F. Bake for 20 minutes longer or until hard. Transfer cookies to a rack and let cool completely. Store in a tightly sealed container for up to 30 days.

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