I’m always looking for crafty and interesting ways of delivering a good, healthy, nutritious product to my birds. I think about it almost constantly. Well, it gives me something to do when I’m driving to the airport in the morning and between flights. I do a lot of reading and research and I have an extensive collection of books about food, restaurants and food writing in general. You never know when the next great idea is going to come and you never know where it’s going to come from.
Some of my ideas came right from Martha Stewart herself and then adapting the concept to suit a parrot? particular needs. Grain Bake was simply jiggling around my Mom’s tuna noodle casserole. And Chop? Well, Chop was simply desperation.
I then came up with the idea of nutritional layering. It was something I did anyway and it? more of a concept really than a method.
It’s a way of boosting the nutritional value of food by “layering” healthy ingredients into a recipe.
Nutritional layering occurred to me during a phone conversation with biology teacher and zoo consultant Jason Crean. We were going over some things for our co-presented talk at the Midwest Bird Expo. I was trying to talk through some ideas I had on how to incorporate his side of the talk (tea), with my side of the talk (feeding chop) when I somehow got onto the idea that if you brewed a healthy non-caffeinated tea and cooked a healthy pasta in it, that would incorporate the antioxidants found in the tea right into the pasta that was going in the Chop. Jason thought it was a cool idea.
Then, during the conversation I said, “Jason, what if I used the essential oil, coconut oil, and tossed some coconut oil into the drained pasta to coat the pasta? Wouldn’t that also layer the nutrition of the oil right on top of the pasta?” Jason thought that would work as well.
And the idea of “layering” additional nutrition onto already nutritional food in order to boost and widen the nutritional spectrum of the mixture came into play.
I’ve noticed that in many ways the large food manufacturers are now doing this in their own fashion. Take pasta for instance. You can get plain old white pasta. A few years ago that was about it unless you ran across whole-wheat pasta somewhere. Now you can get vegetable pasta, rice pasta, oat bran pasta and barley meal pasta. Some juices some with chia seeds in them. Now that’s some layering going on right there in the grocery aisle.
There are many ways you can boost your parrot’s nutrition by using this technique.
It can be as simple as drizzling a bit of flax seed oil onto your bird’s food in her bowl, to jacking up their morning oatmeal with healthy chopped-up vegetables.
When you make bird bread, you can use an essential oil such as coconut oil as the shortening. This way they are getting the value of that omega-3 fatty acids right in the bread. By using almond milk instead of cow’s milk in a recipe, that improves the situation by adding the goodness of the almond milk.
That idea of using healthy decaffeinated tea that adds antioxidants into their diet instead of water to cook a vegetable pasta is a great example of layering.
If you’re making a baked product like a small cookie using sweet potatoes for instance, using quinoa flour instead of plain white flour works the concept to a T. And rolling the baked cookie in ground flax seed before you bake it makes it even better.
I’m even going to try and make my own sodium-free vegetable broth and use that in Grain Bake instead of water. I’m pretty sure that would boost the value of the dish even more.
The entire idea is extremely simple. And if you think about it, more and more ideas will occur to you. I’d love to hear your ideas for ways of nutritionally layering your bird’s food.
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