Grocery stores are looking very different from 25 years ago. It seems that a wider variety of different foods are available these days and many of them are foods we never even heard of back then. Who knew about quinoa even a decade ago? It wasn’t available in most stores in the United States. Now, it’s everywhere.
Quinoa is just one example of a terrific food that is absolutely loaded with calcium, a very valuable mineral our birds need. Now you can find it in most stores and in different varieties as well. And hemp seed? Chia seed? Yes, both of these are fairly common in the grocery stores aisles. Both are flying off the shelves and being mixed in with oatmeal for breakfast and blended into smoothies and power shakes.
It’s a new era with more and more variety available to the consumer. This variety is also valuable to your parrot. While 50 years ago, the only lettuce you could find was iceberg, you now have a myriad of choices available for your salad bowl. And most of these choices are far more nutritious than iceberg lettuce.
Here are some of the tastier selections you can choose for your bird to try that might interest her. Try these for a change of pace in flavor and some new textures.
You can find radicchio in many grocery store produce sections. It’s brightly colored, with veins of purple and white that indicate a lot of nutrition. It looks like a small and tenderer head of purple cabbage, but it has a stronger and slightly bitter taste. It’s filled to the brim with polyphenols. Polyphenols are a micronutrient that helps out with preventing disease. It’s related to the chicory plant.
2. Swiss Chard
Swiss chard is an absolutely gorgeous and colorful green that my African greys seem to relish. That bright color once again indicates a highly nutritious vegetable. It’s been found to be high in the polyphenol department with 13 different polyphenols. Polyphenols are a naturally occurring chemical that are antioxidant, which help rid the body of free-radicals. Swiss chard also goes a long way in preventing diabetes. You can find different varieties of Swiss chard that range from yellow to red to purple stems. But the deep green color of the leaves remains a constant in all of the varieties.
3. Chinese Cabbage
It’s not just for stir-fries anymore. Chinese cabbage may be a paler green than Swiss chard, but don’t let the color of this “green” fool you. Used extensively in Asian dishes, this crunchy green is really good not only for you, but for your flock. It has highly bioavailable iron and calcium and it has hit more than one “Super Foods” list. What I like about it is the versatility of it. You can serve it raw, steam it, use it in Chop or you can cut it up in chucks and put it on a skewer. The fact that it aids in preventing inflammation is something to take note of. You also can find it labeled as Napa or celery cabbage.
Watercress has become my “go to” vegetable of choice when it finally began showing up in the grocery produce section. I’ve heard of it decades ago when I was reading books about it being served in little sandwiches at teatime in statelier households of England, but I’ve never seen it in stores and had certainly never tried it. When I saw it being sold, I did some research on this delicate green and the nutritional information knocked my socks off. Watercress has become the hottest super food to be listed on those “Power Food”lists and has managed to dethrone kale as the nutritious green of choice. Research indicates that two cups of this tiny green a day can reduce DNA damage by a respectable 17 percent. DNA damage is linked to cancer so that 17 percent is very helpful. It contains a large amount of vitamin A and vitamin K, both valuable vitamins for our birds. It has a bitter taste not unlike arugula and my birds seem to enjoy this taste. That bitter taste puts a snappy edge on the taste of anything you add it to. You don’t really need to cook this green. Simply snip it into pieces with scissors and add to your bird’s bowls. I have found that my African greys are attracted to that strong bitter taste. You may find it tied into bunches and sold much like parsley or cilantro or bagged up like microgreens. Either way, watercress is a powerful and nutritious green that is a must-try for your birds.
5. Daikon Radish
This mild-tasting and large vegetable is a very tasty addition to your bird’s food bowl. It has a very crunchy texture and is one of the newer foods now available in grocery stores. It contains many enzymes that help with fat and starch digestion and it rocks in the phytonutrient department, which fights cancer. Science has also discovered that it boosts immune systems as well as kidney function. It also has respectable levels of vitamin C, potassium and phosphorus. Slice it up in sticks and watch your birds crunch away! And save some for yourself because it’s delicious in salads.