What is Chop?
You might have heard of “The Chop Concept.” It is a method of feeding your birds that frees you from chopping vegetables twice a day as well as allowing you to incorporate a vast amount of other nutritious ingredients in their bowl that you simply couldn’t include every day without an enormous amount of waste. Not only do you make a big batch all at once, you freeze it in meal-size portions and need only take it out the night before to thaw in the freezer for the next day’s meals for your entire flock.
It’s not unlike making a large batch of spaghetti sauce and :freezing it for later use. If you’re going to make it, you might as well make a lot of it.
Thousands of people all over the world have begun using this method and it truly has become “The New Black” in feeding parrots.
It’s quite similar to a method of cooking called “Once-a Month-Cooking” where you prepare all of the components of your month’s meals and then freeze them.
Each morning and each evening, “Chop” is easy, quick, convenient and extremely nutritious for your birds. It is as nutritious and healthy for them as the ingredients you choose to put in it. The wider the variety and the more nutritious the ingredients, the better it will be for your flock.
You simply have to set aside the time to make a big batch of it, bag it and freeze it. Depending on how big the batch is and how many birds you are feeding, it should last a while.
With the help of many people, I once made 250 pounds at one time for a fund raiser. But I generally make up to 40 or 50 pounds at a time for my three Greys as well as supplying my friends with it
But What’s In It? That’s entirely up to you. If you do your research on healthy food for your species of parrot, you’ll learn what is healthy and nutritious for them. But for the most part, Chop is made up oflots oflea:fy green vegetables as well as cooked brown or wild rice, some cooked whole wheat pasta, cooked quinoa soaked and cooked beans, root vegetables, squash and other healthy ingredients. Adding dry ingredients such as raw uncooked oatmeal, wheat grass powder, healthy seeds such as hemp seed and flax seed, coconut chips, Twin Beaks Herb Salad even tiny uncooked orzo pasta will keep the Chop drier which aids in a better frozen product. You want it on the dry side.
I’ve found that making Chop over a two-day period is the easiest method. On the first day, your cook the pasta, rice, beans and other items that need cooking and refrigerate them. On day two you shop for the fresh vegetables and prepare those, adding them in a big container to your cooked items.
Adding healthy toppings such as fresh fruit, a drizzle of flax seed oil, or extra seed such as milk thistle seed will get them interested in the Chop as well as changing up the look and flavor of it.
How Do I Prepare It?
Cook your ingredients that require cooking. Then using a food processor, roughly chop your vegetables and add them to the cooked food and dry ingredients. Mix it well, place in zip-loc bags and store in the freezer until ready to use. Do not over process the vegetables. You want them appropriately sized for your flock, but you don’t want “mush.” Pulsing the food processor is the easiest way to ensure you get a nice rough cut on the vegetables.
What Ingredients Should I use?
That’s entirely up to you, but here are some suggestions:
Vegetables and Greens Suggestions for Your Chop:
Carrots with tops, broccoli rabe, celery with leaves, acorn or other orange squash, green cabbage, purple cabbage, kale, beet tops, sweet potatoes, green pepper, collard greens, watercress, zucchini, yellow squash, red pepper ginger root, nori, (Japanese seaweed), broccoli
slaw, jalapeno peppers, poblano peppers, cooked beans, lentils, unsweetened coconut turnips, parsnips, jicama, dandelion greens, Swiss chard, asparagus, cilantro daikon radish, jicama, Brussels sprouts.
Grains and Seeds:
quinoa, brown and wild rice, dry oatmeal, whole wheat pasta, hemp seed. rape seed, flax seed, wheat grass powder, spelt, celery seed, amaranth, boiled popcorn, Twin Beales Aviary “Herb Salad.”
Sometimes cooked beans are just the perfect thing to make for your pet bird in order to supply her with some much needed vegetable protein. Aside from the protein, they contain phytochemicals. (Phyto is Greek for “plant”) The phytochemicals found in beans are antioxidants which help protect your bird’s system from free radicals damaging cellular structures and shields DNA.
Many beans all look different from one another.
There are beans of different sizes shapes and colors but despite these cosmetic appearances, the nutrition of beans is pretty much the same in every type.
Beans are also loaded with both soluble and non-soluble fiber which is beneficial to the digestive system. Fiber aids the absorption of the nutrients and then helps the waste pass quickly through the digestive tract. This rapid passing of waste helps prevent constipation. One cup of cooked beans contains about 12 grams of fiber. My African Greys get them daily in various recipes I prepare for their twice daily meals. Some of these recipes include Chop, Teeny Weenie Beanies, Grain Bake and other healthy and nutritious dishes. I prefer to begin with the bags of dry beans in the bags you’ll finding the pasta and bean aisle of the grocery store. They don’t contain salt like many canned beans do and they are far less expensive than the canned variety. I’m also able to control the texture by ensuring the cooking time is long enough to remove the toxins from the beans, yet not so long that they turn to mush.
If you prefer to use canned beans, you can. Just ensure that the beans you select are sodium-free and rinse them in a colander thoroughly with fresh water before using them.
The reason you need to soak the beans and change the rinse water often before boiling is to remove a protective toxin found in beans. Nature sometimes installs protective toxins in plants to protect them from creatures eating them or somehow destroying them. Poison Ivy and poison oak are two common plants containing toxins. And beans are another.
The toxin found in beans is phytohemagglutinin (PHA), and it is a one of a very common class of proteins called lectins. In tJ,is case, the PHA they contain is probably employed by Nature as an insecticide as this lectin has insecticidal properties.
Once you soak the beans and change the rinse water a few times to keep the beans immersed in clean water and then boil them, beans are safe to eat. Not only are they safe for you and your birds, they are very nutritious.
I’m sure you’ve heard that beans give you gas. Perhaps
you’ve experienced this yourself. That is because beans contain
oligosaccharides, a type of sugar. The human body does not produce the enzyme
that breaks down these oligosaccharides and it causes gas as it passes through
the digestive system. I have found no research about a bird’s digestive system
being able to break it down so I think it is best that we follow human protocol
and soak and cook beans to remove both the toxins and the sugar. Better safe
This is how I soak and cook beans for my parrots. It’s a safe and efficient method of ensuring that they are not only safe, but delicious and ready to use in any food recipe you care to dream up for your flock:
Place beans in a pot and pick through them to look for any mutant beans or the occasional pebble sometimes found in a bag of dried beans. Once you cover the beans with water, discard the “floaters.” I don’t know why they are floating so I get rid of them.
Add enough water to cover the beans completely.
Soak beans for at least 8 hours or overnight. I soak during the day so I can change the soaking water frequently as well as rinsing the beans often during the soaking process. You end up with a clean and beautiful product this way.
Drain beans, discard soak water and rinse beans with fresh, cool water.
Fill the pot of soaked beans with enough fresh water to cover the beans.
Bring to boil and boil and cook in rapidly boiling water for at least 15 to 20 minutes.
Remove from heat and drain the water.
Let them cool and add to any bird food recipe requiring the beans or simply serve with cut-up vegetables.
They are usually a tasty ingredient to add to many recipes for your flock’s diet. Once your bird learns how tasty they really are, you will have added another protein-packed nutritional Item to add to their diet!