SOME OF MY RECIPES FOR MY PARROTS OVER THE YEARS
By Sally Blanchard
INGREDIENTS I USUALLY USE
Many of the ingredients I use in these recipes are similar because they are nutritious and can be combined together in a variety of forms. You can be creative with these ingredients. Some of them are fairly expensive but last a long time. The major ingredients I use include (but are not limited to):
>Sweet potatoes/yams (Organic is best ...garnet and jewel yams: the more orange color in the flesh, the more vitamin A)
>Winter Squash (Acorn, Hubbard, Butternut are some but there are more)
>Almond butter (more nutritious than peanut butter). I prefer organic chunky with no added salt. It is expensive but one jar lasts a long time - ONLY AS A TREAT
>Cooked Quinoa Seed
> Organic waffles with flax, or other healthy ingredients such as chia, quinoa, amaranth, etc.
>Plain Low-fat or No-fat Yogurt (without sugar or sugared fruit)
>Shredded well-cooked chicken (or turkey) white meat
>Peppers - hot or bell peppers
>Collard greens (high in vitamin A, low in oxalic acid)
>Kale (high in vitamin A, low in oxalic acid)
>Almond cheese (preferable white Monterey Jack or Mozzarella type)
>Cooked Brown Rice
>Whole grain tortillas/wraps
>Fresh made salsa (without sugar or a lot of salt)
>Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acid (Hemp Oil, Flax Oil, Coconut Oil)
>Whole-grain Sprouted Bread (I use Ezekiel Sprouted Breads but there are other brands that are good)
>Green Tea (caffeinated is fine as long as the tea is not brewed too long)
>Flax Seed Meal/Flax Seed Oil
I ENCOURAGE YOUR CREATIVITY
I am what could be called a "mad scientist" when I cook for my parrots. I just combine the various healthy fresh ingredients listed above to create a curiosity stimulating variety for the parrots in my home. I don't really use measurements that I can share.
One of the best things about feeding parrots a varied, nutritious natural/fresh diet is they don't have a lot of preconceived notions about what goes with what. For example, it would never occur to me to eat a combination of broccoli and almond butter, but my parrots love it that way. Years ago when I first introduced this combination to their diets, they just picked the almond butter off of the broccoli. Once they got used to it that way, they started eating the broccoli with equal gusto. Trying an unusual combination that may sound kind of yucky to us may actually appeal to your parrots and get them to eat new foods. This is especially true if you are combining something nutritious that they won't eat with something they love. There are several articles on my website that discuss getting your parrots to eat a healthier, more nutritious fresh diet.
SALLY'S FAMOUS PARROT GLOP
The following recipe feeds Sally's parrots of various sizes and appetites for their morning meal. ''Glop'' also makes a great hand weaning food to finger feed your baby.
1 small jar or package of baby food carrots, sweet potatoes, or winter squash (I use organic sweet potato baby food most of the time but there are also organic baby foods that have high vitamin A vegetable varieties with chicken and turkey. I occasionally use apricot, peach, or papaya baby food.) You can also use baked yams, winter squash or cooked mashed carrots.
2 slices of coarse whole grain crumbled toast (I vary the bread but use the healthiest bread I can find that has no sugar or excessive salt.) I particularly like Ezekiel organic sprouted whole grain bread because it is a complete protein but there may be similar bread in your area if you can't find it.
2 to 4 Tablespoons of nonfat plain yogurt
a sprinkle of a hemp or flax seed oil
Place ingredients in a large bowl and mash together until toast is saturated with baby food and yogurt. Everything should be evenly mixed. Consistency can be changed according to your parrot's preference. Mine like the toast chunky and the mixture thick - about the consistency of turkey dressing. ''Glop'' is ready to feed - it does not have to be cooked. It can be placed in ice cube trays or baggies and frozen in portions for your birds to be heated fed later.
Anything that is nutritious can be added to the ''Glop'' for variety in texture, color, and shapes. I will feed it plain or mix one or more of the following: finely chopped collard (mustard or turnip) greens, kale or broccoli flowers, grated carrots, wheat germ, oat bran, sugar free breakfast cereal, flax seed meal, Quinoa flakes, almond cheese, non-fat cottage cheese, chopped nuts, chopped very hard-boiled egg, whole grain pasta, brown rice, well cooked chopped or shredded chicken, or if I have them powdered Totally Organics pellets.
QUINOA ALMOND BUTTER BALLS
My Parrots absolutely love these both as a meal and as a treat depending on the size. I microwave quinoa, broken (about 2" long) quinoa spaghetti, and grits with just enough water so the mixture cooks up to be quite thick. Water should cover the dry ingredients by an inch or two depending on the width of the bowl. The grits add to the thickness and help it set up better as it cools. About halfway through the cooking process, I add some grated garnet yams or carrots. When it is still warm, I thoroughly stir in almond butter. The almond butter makes it even thicker as it cools. I prefer almond butter because it is healthier than peanut butter. Once it is all mixed together and cools, I roll it into balls of different sizes depending on the size of the bird who is going to eat them. Feed the balls when they are cool and refrigerate or freeze them depending on how long you want to keep them. I set two aside to give to my small dogs. They obviously don’t enjoy them as much as the parrots because, of course, they inhale them. The birds relish them! You can also add hot pepper flakes if your parrots like hot stuff (don't feed them to the dogs! I know people like ingredient details like how much of this and that. Every time I make them, they turn out a little bit different. If the mixture isn’t thick enough roll into balls, I add more almond butter or quinoa flakes to thicken it before I roll them into balls or I just serve it as glop. They love it that way too!
SIMPLE PARROT CARROT, APPLE & ALMOND BUTTER TREAT
Yesterday I wanted to give my parrots a healthy treat in the afternoon. I looked to see what I had available. I had organic carrot slices, an apple, and some almond butter. I made two Carrot treats. I smashed up a small slice of apple with almond butter, hemp hearts, a small number of quinoa flakes, and a sprinkle of cinnamon. I put it on two carrot chips and then squished another carrot chip on the top of each one. The almond butter held the chips together. I put the two carrot parrot treats in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes and then fed them to my two appreciative parrots.
PARROT WAFFLES I
I buy whole grain organic flax waffles and toast them. Then I mix some almond butter, baby sweet potato, chopped nuts, some Quinoa flakes, a bit of low-fat yogurt and a splash of orange juice into a mash and spread it on one waffle. Most of the time I put grated carrots into the mixture and sometimes I spread a thin layer of pure fruit jam (without sugar or artificial sugar or any other additives) on the top half and then squish the two halves together and cut them into appropriately sized portions each of my parrots. I like to add the protein of Quinoa flakes to anything that I feed to my parrots that is high in carbohydrates because it creates a better balance in the diet.
FRUITY PARROT WAFFLES II
In this version, I used Nature's Path Organic Chia Plus Quinoa & Amaranth frozen waffles. I toast two waffles and spread almond butter on one. Then I take a baked sweet potato, remove the skin and smush it with real black cherries (or blueberries, blackberries, etc.), chopped pecans, and Hemp Oil (for Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids) and sprinkle it with cinnamon. Then I put the two sides together and cut it into sizes appropriate for my parrots.
I usually split this with my parrots because it is so yummy. I put an organic tortilla (you could use a Spinach wrap) flat on a plate. I place about an eighth of a cup of shredded almond cheese on the entire tortilla. I put about a teaspoon of Quinoa Flakes over the cheese for quality protein. I add some finely chopped broccoli florets and grated carrots. Then I place chopped peppers (bell and hot of several types - I don't use the really hot ones because I am a sissy when it comes to really spicy foods but you can if your parrots like it that way) I put some spices over the almond cheese and chopped peppers (I like to use fennel, turmeric, and cinnamon). Then I add about a teaspoon or more of organic salsa (again the spiciness depends on what you or your parrot likes). Then I add a little more shredded almond cheese. I place the plate in the microwave for about 10 seconds to soften the cheese a bit so the veggies stick to it. Then I fold one half of the tortilla onto the other half. I heat a frying pan with either coconut oil or olive oil and place the stuffed tortilla in the pan. I fry it on one side until it is golden brown and then on the other side. The almond cheese should be melted so it holds together. I put it on a paper towel to drain some of the oil. Then I cut it into parrot appropriate sizes and let it cool so it is still warm and crispy but not too hot for the birds. You could also add a bit of very well-cooked shredded chicken.
This is similar to the Birdie Burrito but with different ingredients. This one is a little higher in protein. If I have cooked a chicken breast for myself, I shred some of it and cook it a little longer so it is very well done. Then I mix it with grated low-fat, low-salt white cheese or almond cheese. I bake a sweet potato and chop some other high vitamin A veggies - mostly peppers (hot or bell) in this particular recipe. If I have some brown rice, I add that too. I mix all of it together with a little plain nonfat yogurt and put it on a vegetable wrap or tortilla, roll up the wrap, and heat it in the microwave for a minute or less. Then I let it cool and cut it into appropriate portions to feed to my parrots.
I like to experiment with healthy foods to give my parrots variety in their diets. One of there favorites is the Birdy Burritos that I make them. The filling is whatever nutritious foods I have handy. Usually, this consists of grated and/or finely chopped veggies such as carrots, sweet potatoes, winter squash, and collard greens or kale. I mix this up with some non-fat yogurt, and a small amount of almond butter to hold it together. Sometimes I put a little low salt white cheese into the mix (cheese should be limited in a parrot diet). Then I put it in the center of a whole wheat tortilla or a spinach wrap and then cook it into the microwave for 45 seconds or so. I let it cool and then slice it into appropriate portions to feed my parrots.
I cook about 1/2 cup of quinoa pasta and drain it. While it is still hot I stir in about a teaspoon of coconut oil, shredded almond cheese, and about a quarter cup of an organic salsa (no sugar little salt). To that, I add some cinnamon, a little chili powder and sometimes, a sprinkling of hot pepper flakes. Sometimes I add chopped veggies, especially broccoli florets. I stir it all up and wait a bit for the sauce, etc. to soak into the pasta. While it is still warm, but not hot, I put it in birdie bowls and give it to parrots.
OMELETS FOR PARROTS
Eggs should only be fed in moderation and should be very well-cooked because of the potential of salmonella. Every once and awhile I overcook (as to my taste) a small flat omelet in olive oil and put a mixture of chopped veggies and plain yogurt inside. Sometimes, I add a bit of salsa to it to spice it up. Then I cut it into size appropriate portions for my parrots and they love it.
JAZZED-UP PARROT OATMEAL OR QUINOA
I have made 'jazzed up" oatmeal for my parrots for many years. I use quality oatmeal (Red Mill makes one) that needs to be cooked (not instant oatmeal that is full of stuff I don't want my birds to eat). I used to put raisins in it but with new information about Iron Storage Disease, I try to mix another fruit into the oatmeal ... dried cranberries (without sugar) work well so do goji berries if you can find them When the oatmeal is cooked but still warm, I put about 1/2 teaspoon of Coconut Oil or Hemp oil and sprinkle cinnamon into the oatmeal. Sometimes I chop apples up and add them after the oatmeal cooks. I will either add baked sweet potato bits or an Organic sweet potato baby food. One food item that I add to many of my recipes is Quinoa Flakes for a quality protein. Most health food stores carry this now. It is easier than cooking quinoa although you could. If I have it, I will add a tablespoon or so of organic applesauce (one without added sugar). The one I like is Santa Cruz Organic Apple Peach Sauce. It adds a bit of healthy sweetness to the oatmeal. I often add chopped pecans or almonds. My parrots love their breakfast of warm "Jazzed-up" Oatmeal. I also use cooked quinoa to make the warm breakfast cereal.
TWICE-BAKED SWEET POTATOES
Another of my parrot's favorite foods that I fix for them. I look for a long, fairly plump garnet yam and bake it until it is soft. Then I cut it in half and scoop out the insides and put them in a bowl. Then I make up a mix that varies according to what I have available. I usually put grain in the bowl like cooked quinoa, quinoa flakes, brown rice, or whole wheat spaghetti. Then I mix in a bit of low-fat yogurt and a splash or two of orange juice. I might add some grated carrots, chopped collard greens, and/or broccoli. I will occasionally add a glob of almond butter or some grated almond cheese to bind the mixture together. Then I stuff the empty skins with the mixture and bake for about 20 minutes or so at about 325o. Once the potatoes cool off, I cut them into size appropriate portions for my parrots. I also bake acorn squash and fix it in this manner for my parrots.
I was at a Chinese restaurant a few days ago and got their chicken lettuce wraps (Yum!) ... I thought it would be fun to make something like that for my parrots. I mixed up a concoction of baked garnet yams and while they were still warm I mixed in about a teaspoon of coconut oil, non-fat plain yogurt, cinnamon, grated carrots, and finely chopped kale. Then I cut 4 kale leaves into about 4" squares and spread almond butter on the leaves to make it all stick together. Then I added the mixture to each leaf and then rolled the ingredients and each leaf up so the birds could actually pick them up with their feet. The almond butter kept the ingredients rolled up tightly in the kale. At first, my parrots looked at me like I was crazy but within a few minutes they chowed down. Two held it in their feet, while the other two picked it apart in their bowls. The trick is to mash everything together so it is difficult for them to pick their favorite thing out. Though they didn't eat every bite of the kale wrapping, they ate enough of it because of the almond butter to make me happy. (My dogs usually get what the parrots won't eat after about 2 hours and are quite happy with that.
I make Green Tea and add a little bit of cinnamon and a slice of moderately hot pepper and put this in the water bowls once or twice a week. Green tea is a powerhouse of nutrition and something that parrots can drink in moderation. It is rich in a powerful antioxidant called catechin polyphenols. Green tea also contains vitamins A, D, E, C, B, B5, H, and K, as well as amino acids, protein, caffeine, folic acid, and fluoride. It does contain some caffeine but far less than black tea and coffee. There are those that believe that giving parrots - particularly macaws - green tea a few times a week can work as a preventative so that they don't develop Iron Storage Disease. This is because the tannins in the tea help to prevent the absorption of iron (see Iron Storage Disease in the Companion Parrot Online Glossary for more information) Green tea also helps create adiponectin, which is the fat burning hormone so it can cut down on the fat that their body stores.
STUFFED FRUIT TOAST
I make a mixture of different fruits in the food processor including various berries, apple, a slice of an orange or a clementine, chopped carrots, and cinnamon. Once this is mixed, I smush it into some Almond Butter. Then I toast two slices of a quality sprouted whole grain bread (my choice is Ezekial because it is a healthy complete protein but there are others that would be similar). Once the toast is crispy, I spread the mix on one side of the bread and put the other slice making a sandwich. Then I cut it into appropriate portions for my parrots. If I am particularly lazy and want to fix this, I use a jam without sugar - especially no artificial sweeteners. I have also made a French toast version of this by soaking the bread in egg, yogurt, and cinnamon and then cooking it in a pan with coconut oil. I fix this for myself but I put the syrup on mine and not on the portions for the birds.
My Birdie Bread never comes out quite the same. Sometimes it is firm and other times it is almost a pudding. Doesn't matter to the parrots, they love it anyway. I make a fairly large batch and then cut it into appropriate portions for each bird. I save out a two day supply and freeze the rest in freezer baggies. I start with Red Mill Corn Bread mix.
STUFFED ACORN SQUASH
You can fix the Twice-baked Sweet Potatoes above the same way with acorn squash.