From the Pawsome collection, part one of a five week series.
I’m not a football fan (I figured I should just come right out and admit that), but I actually really look forward to the Super Bowl. And while this is partially because the commercials and half time show are usually quite entertaining, the main reason is that I love the food. My regular readers have likely noticed that I’m not big into creating elaborate meals (although I do like to eat them), but I’ve gotten pretty decent at making simple dishes and snacks. I think is probably why I enjoy cooking so much for Super Bowl Sunday – it’s a day full of snacks and party food. For me, it’s also a day to experiment with traditional game day foods in an effort to come up with unique recipes. And that’s exactly what I did when I combined two of my absolute favorite foods – Mexican food and mashed potatoes. This Mexican style loaded baked potato dip is so good you guys. It’s also incredibly easy.
Game Day Mexican Style Loaded Baked Potato Dip
1 package (3.74 oz) Idaho Spuds Country Buttered Mashed Potatoes
2 cups water, boiling
1-1/2 cups plain Greek yogurt
1 8 oz package of cream cheese, softened
2 cups salsa
2 cups shredded Mexican style or cheddar cheese
1/3 cup black olives, sliced
2-3 scallions, chopped
1 avocado, cubed
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Measure 2 cups boiling water into a large bowl. Stir in entire pouch of Idaho Spuds potatoes and mix well with a fork. Add Greek yogurt, cream cheese, salsa, and a couple of dashes each of chili powder, cumin, and black pepper. Stir until blended. Scoop mixture into a baking dish and top with shredded cheese and sliced black olives. Bake for 20 minutes or until cheese is slightly browned. Top with chopped scallions, cubed avocados, and a sprinkle of chili powder. Serve hot with tortilla chips.
If you’re having a game day party, you have to try this recipe. You’ll be surprised at how simple it is to put together, and your guests will be absolutely wowed. Promise. You’ll never want to make regular loaded baked potatoes or Mexican layer dip again. And thanks to the Idaho Spuds, featuring creamy mashed potatoes as the star of recipe is a snap. Speaking of Idaho Spuds, be sure to go big on game day with the Idaho Spuds Game Day sweepstakes! Choose your favorite Game Day recipe right here, and get a chance to choose your own Boise adventure. Woohoo!
Thank you for supporting the brands that help make Bubby & Bean possible. I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.
We welcome our veterinary overlords! Well, kind of, but not really. Yesterday’s announcement that Mars PetCare acquired VCA for 7.7 billion was a shocker to everyone I know in the pet care industry, which just goes to show you us peons are always the last to know.
Disclosure: I am speaking only for myself here and from my own experiences.
I spent part of my career at Banfield, which is part of the growing Mars empire. That wasn’t the case when I joined, when veterinary clinics were almost entirely veterinarian-owned, including Banfield itself. Scott Campbell, the DVM owner, stood in front of my little group of new hires and promised us with all sincerity that Banfield would never, ever be sold to a corporate entity, a promise he kept for all of four years. It was the first domino to fall in corporate ownership, which many had predicted and he insisted never would.
I left Banfield before the Mars buyout to work in an emergency hospital owned by a husband/wife vet team, and then I came back to Banfield after my second child. In the interim Banfield had undergone the Mars turnover, and to be honest, there was a lot to like. They had implemented evidence-based medicine and were compiling a clinical database the likes of which we had never seen, allowing veterinary medicine to conduct clinical research on a scale that has never been done before. Their anesthesia protocol book is to this day one of my favorite veterinary resources.
The 24 hour emergency hospital I worked at was a bit of a Wild West environment in that we had more leeway and less oversight, in a crazy busy environment; as you can surmise this is both a good and a bad thing depending on who is at the wheel. I learned a ton in a trial by fire way, but I also had little to no safety net. (That hospital was later acquired by VCA, and is also now part of the Mars empire. There’s no escape!) There’s pros and cons to everything, as a client, and as an associate.
Mars: Chocolate and Pets are a Natural Fit
(that’s a joke)
With yesterday’s acquisition, Mars Petcare is now the largest moneymaker in the Mars divisions. After the big Banfield takeover in 2007, things quieted down, but for the last couple of years Mars has been on a tear. They almost doubled the number of hospitals they owned with yesterday’s news, which is the biggest since they bought Iams/Eukanuba off Procter and Gamble in 2014. They own a lot of pet companies.
That’s a lot of pet hospitals, pet foods, labs, and pet foods. What’s more, it’s two of the biggest hospital groups in the country, now under one umbrella. (Note: The affiliation with Western University’s teaching hospital ended at the end of its ten year contract, in 2014.)
On the one hand, when you consider there’s about 29,000 veterinary clinics in the US, the total now owned by Mars seems like a drop in the bucket. Around 7%:
On the other hand, I’m not naive enough to think this trend stops right here. That’s probably what optometrists and pharmacists said way back in the good old days, too.
So What Does This Mean?
I wish I could tell you, but just like everyone else, I can only guess and postulate. Let me be clear: I am 100% neutral on this. I am Corporate Switzerland. When I had two young children, working for Banfield offered me the most stable hours and a good salary in an environment where I was able to practice very good medicine. I always felt empowered to do what was best for my patients, including referring to outside hospitals, deferring vaccines, providing the best pain management I had access to, scripting out meds. I never felt obligated to recommend Mars-owned pet foods and felt free to discuss any brand prescription diets I wanted to.
I know there’s lots of horror stories out there too, and I don’t imply they don’t exist. Asses are everywhere, and they are asses because they are asses, not because of where they work. They spread their miasma wherever they go, and I’ve encountered it in environments corporate and private. The veterinarians you will encounter in a corporate practice were educated in the same places, cry the same amount in frustration, care the same way, stand up for the patients, and occasionally prove themselves poor examples of the profession, in exact same proportions as vets in privately owned practices.
To the same extent corporate ownership increases bureaucracy and headaches, it pumps much needed investment into failing businesses, brings in better medical oversight, and can offer more diverse opportunities for employees and customers.
It also provides more leverage for buying power and advertising, which often squeezes out mom-and-pop operations without those same advantages. I can understand why so many business owners are worried. It’s a valid worry.
Bottom line: As a client, I don’t think you’re going to see big changes, at least not in the short term. If you have concerns, talk to your veterinarian. We’re all trying to sort out what this means too- as far as I know we all found out this morning when you did too.
As a veterinarian: Buckle up. I anticipate much hand waving in the near future. Do we welcome our veterinary corporate overlords or join the rebel alliance?
If you have any insight from the trenches, please do comment.
A Tennessee woman left her estate to homeless pets.
Glenda Taylor DeLawder, a citizen of Carter County, Tennessee, bequeathed her $ 1.2 million estate to help care for the county’s shelter animals.
DeLawder, who had worked as a telephone operator for AT&T in Washington D.C., passed away at age 72. She left a gift of $ 540,000 to the Elizabethton Carter County Animal Shelter, which plans to use the money to expand the dog and cat holding areas and to purchase a van for transporting animals to adoption events and to spay and neuter clinics. Plans for the shelter also include setting up a Veteran Companion Animal Program.
Carter County Mayor Leon Humphrey announced the gift on the county website. “The shelter is truly blessed and honored to be given such a tremendous gift,” Humphrey wrote, “one of the largest private gifts ever given to the County for our citizens (human, feline and canine).”
The generosity of Ms. DeLawder will help countless pets find their new families. It truly is a gift that will keep on giving for years to come. This is the kind of philanthropy Halo understands so well, partnering with Freekibble.com, the Greater Good and the Humane Society of the United States to help animals in shelters make the best possible transition to a new life.
Tracie Hotchner is a nationally acclaimed pet wellness advocate, who wrote THE DOG BIBLE: Everything Your Dog Wants You to Know and THE CAT BIBLE: Everything Your Cat Expects You to Know. She is recognized as the premiere voice for pets and their people on pet talk radio. She continues to produce and host her own Gracie® Award winning NPR show DOG TALK® (and Kitties, Too!) from Peconic Public Broadcasting in the Hamptons after 9 consecutive years and over 500 shows. She produced and hosted her own live, call-in show CAT CHAT® on the Martha Stewart channel of Sirius/XM for over 7 years until the channel was canceled, when Tracie created her own Radio Pet Lady Network where she produces and co-hosts CAT CHAT® along with 10 other pet talk radio podcasts with top veterinarians and pet experts.
Tracie also is the Founder and Director of the annual NY Dog Film Festival™, a philanthropic celebration of the love between dogs and their people. Short canine-themed documentary, animated and narrative films from around the world create a shared audience experience that inspires, educates and entertains. With a New York City premiere every October, the Festival then travels around the country, partnering in each location with an outstanding animal welfare organization that brings adoptable dogs to the theater and receives half the proceeds of the ticket sales. Halo was a Founding Sponsor in 2015 and donated 10,000 meals to the beneficiary shelters in every destination around the country in 2016.
Tracie lives in Bennington, Vermont – where the Radio Pet Lady Network studio is based – and where her 12 acres are well-used by her 2-girl pack of lovely, lively rescued Weimaraners, Maisie and Wanda.
As in many parts of the country, there’s a saying in Texas that “if you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes.” This past week has been the perfect example…after…
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