Little did I know when I, as the Maryland Education Coordinator for Phoenix Landing, scheduled Patricia Sund, author of the blog Parrot Nation, to come do her Chop presentation how much it would change the way I feed my birds. Originally I thought this would be wonderful information for other bird owners, but not me. Ok, so I’m a food snob, I admit it. I feed freshly chopped foods everyday, I have a large organic garden and grow most of the produce I feed, and often pick fresh right before chopping. And I grow fresh sprouts everyday.
And though I did see the benefit of having frozen food on hand for times when I was ill, or if I had to go out of town and leave my husband to feed the birds, I still didn’t think Patricia’s style of Chop would work for me. I had read Patricia’s articles and watched her videos on the Chop made by various groups and at various events, the pastas, the cooked grains and beans, mixing cooked and raw, that was just not the way I feed my birds. Because I have Amazons who are prone to weight issues, and a Macaw struggling with feather plucking issues, I use large amounts of dark leafy greens, no wheat or corn, and the few grains and legumes I use are spouted not cooked, only raw food is fed in the morning (except eggs which are fed on weekends), and when cooked food is fed it is in the evening and only available for a short period. So I had come to the conclusion that Chop did not fit within my feeding philosophy.
Then Patricia came. After picking her up at the airport, and having lunch, we went shopping for the ingredients that we would be using to make Chop for the Phoenix Landing class. As we explored the local Wegman’s grocery store, Patricia kept asking me what I wanted to use, and I kept stumbling over the answer, as I didn’t really feel this was for me, but for the general parrot owner. Patricia kept saying the same thing over and over “Your Chop Your Way! If you don’t like it don’t use it”. I gave in and told her what I don’t feed and some of my reasons why, she said that was fine, just be prepared in the class to explain my reasoning for the choices we made to the class. I did compromise, we cooked the ancient grain kalmut, and pseudo-grains buckwheat and quinoa, as well as some veggie and quinoa pastas, but no cooked beans. And the veggies were all used raw. We added many dried herbs. And I had dehydrated over half a dozen zucchini. For the first time with any of the Chops Patricia’s made we added lots of sprouts.
The class was a tremendous success! Everyone had a wonderful time, learned lots of information and we all took some chop home with us.
Now I will admit, I wasn’t sure I was actually going to feed this to MY birds, remember I am a food snob, but I tried it. I mixed half chop with half sprouts (I really do feed LOTS of sprouts) and all the birdies accepted it fine, and WOW what a time saver it was in the mornings. I mixed chop into eggs before scrambling, another success. I mixed chop into freshly cooked quinoa for dinner, again quick and simple.
Hummm, there might be something to this whole chop thing… Then my samples from the class ran out, well fine, who needed chop anyway? Me! I had been converted. I missed having that quick ready to go healthy mix of foods to give my parrots. So I set about preparing to make my own batch of Chop, and this really would be “My Chop, My Way”.
Now, I still go out into the garden most mornings and pick fresh things to chop fresh and mix with a fresh batch of sprouts, but I also add a little frozen Chop in. And some days, if I don’t feel well, or it’s raining, or I’m running late, I just mix the frozen Chop with sprouts.
Yes, you read that right, I said frozen Chop. During my time with Patricia, we discussed the complaint I have hear over and over from people who make Chop, that it gets mushy when defrosted, Patricia explained that the solution to mushy Chop is having a dry blend. When I made my Chop, I went very heavy on dried ingredients, especially since I knew I would be adding it to sprouts. I found that even when frozen, my mix had such a low moisture content in it that it did not stick together and would simply crumble with very light pressure. It defrosts very quickly in the food bowl. Using frozen Chop allows me to use just the amount I need at that particular moment and keep the rest fresh for later.
Here’s what I used to make My Chop My Way.
The Dry Mix made up about 1/3 to 1/2 of total volume of Chop
Dried Cherries, Dried Goji Berries, Dried Acai Powder, Dehydrated Blueberries, Dried Chili Peppers
Bee Pollen, Primal Defense by Garden Of Life, Sulferzyme by Young Living
Cayenne Pepper, Celery Seed, Sesame Seed, Fennel Seed,Chia Seed, Golden Flax Seed, Hemp Seed, Pumpkin Seeds (hulled), Milk Thistle Seed
Dried Lavender Flowers, Dried Rose Hips, Dried Yarrow Flowers, Dried Red Clover, Dried Hibiscus Flowers, Dried Blueberry Leaf, Dried Raspberry Leaf, Dried Chamomile Flowers, Dried Hawthorn Berries, Dried Seaweed (Laver), Powdered Kelp
Kalmut Flakes, Quinoa Flakes, Puffed Quinoa, Millet, Ezekiel Golden Flax cereal
Dehydrated (from my garden) Cucumber, Dandelion, Broccoli Leaves, Kale, Kolrabi Leaves, Mustard Greens, Collard Greens, Plantain Leaves
The Fresh Mix
Sweet Peppers, Carrots, Kale, Broccoli Rabbi, Water Cress, Purple Cabbage, Garlic, Ginger, Frozen Peas
(from my garden) Collard Greens, Broccoli Leaves, Mustard Greens, Kolrabi Bulb and Leaves Dandelion Greens, Plantain Leaves, Parsley, Basil, Chamomile
This might give you a few ideas of what to include when you make Your Chop Your Way. Let me know how it goes and how you use your Chop.
Awwww Laura, some of us know you aren’t a food SNOB, you just want the best for these birds sentenced to live their life in our world. We count on you to keep us educated to their diverse dietary needs. And it really was not a difficult challenge for Patricia (I think I still need to pay her off too) but we CHOP DIVA’s are happy to have you share your nutritional knowledge of plants, herbs and elixirs with us in your “ABBL” posts. I never stick to recipes so my CHOP comes out different for each batch. However to change it up daily for my flock I always change the toppings to change the values. Some cinnamon and fennel mixed in one day. Then milk thistle and flax seed with a pinch of hemp seed. crushed cloves and chia. If I didn’t have kamut when I mixed the CHOP, I cook and add it when I serve it.
Keep us on our toes girl!
I love your lengthy list of dry ingredients! I am always feeling like I am in a rut with my dry stuff, now I have a ton of new ideas. I too have found that when you have the dry:wet ratio right the chop is crumbly when frozen, not mushy and thaws super fast, it makes feeding so much easier and my birds eat it better that way.
Emily, I am currently drying lots of greens from the garden, and thinking about making a totally dehydrated chop mix.
I have been wanting to do that too!!! I have so many project I just haven’t gotten to it yet lol, soon.
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