This is a step-by-step process to make chop, a concoction of ingredients for birds. It is a recent addition to my birds’ wonderful diet and I have been attempting to spread the wealth of information to my customers at work, usually through verbal communication. A lot of them get confused, asking “well how?” which is followed by a drawn out discussion about the preparation of vegetables and grain for the mix. I drew most of my inspiration for making chop from a very active bird group on Facebook in which members post their daily creations. What I noticed throughout the group was that members that posted pictures of their concoctions had greater responses than those who just wrote up what they had made for their birds. I believe that creating visual aid can help people to garner the ideas I am trying to have them apply in their own birds’ life for their health.
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Step 1: Gather Ingredients
Fresh vegetables, fruit, grains, beans, lentils, spices, chia seeds, flax seeds, and anything that may be non-toxic to birds. Thoroughly wash any produce and pick through beans and grains for stones. For this chop, we are using: adzuki beans, orca beans, amaranth, kamut, lentils, quiona, brown rice couscous, black sweet rice, chia seed, flax seed, spinach, fennel, swiss chard, summer squash, snap peas, mango, pink pomello, strawberries, banana, apricots, apple, dried coconut, pecan pieces, almond slices and rolled oats.
Step 2: Soak Beans and Grains
Beans and grains must be soaked for 6-8 hours before cooking. Not only does it cut down on the cooking time, but it is essential in the digestibility for birds. Cover the beans and grains in water, about an inch above the dry ingredients. You may need to stir the amaranth in order to make sure all the seeds get covered.
Step 3: Chop Fruits and Vegetables
Using the fruits and vegetables that you selected, chop them into pinky nail sized pieces or smaller. I like to have a variety of different sizes since I have different sized birds in my flock, but preferences differ between birds.
Step 4: Mix Fruits and Vegetables
In separate bowls for fruits and vegetables, mix them up. Since you will be waiting for the beans and grains to soak, it is best to store them in containers that will fit in your fridge. At this step, I add chia and flax seeds to my fruit mix to absorb moisture.
Step 5: Cook Fast Grains
Any grains or lentils that do not need to be soaked should be cooked as soon as possible. I like to use a rice cooker that allows the grains to fully absorb the water. I use a 2:1 water to grain ratio.
Step 6: Drain and Rinse Beans and Grains
In the morning, drain and rinse the beans and grains that have been soaking overnight. Rinse them thoroughly with a strainer to get rid of excess sugar.
Step 7: Cook Beans and Grains
Cook beans and grains separately from each other since cooking times differ. Cover beans and grains with water plus two inches. Orca bean cooking time=45 minutes, Adzuki bean cooking time=35 minutes, Kamut cooking time=30 minutes, Amaranth cooking time=20 minutes (or until porridge consistency)
Step 8: Drain and Rinse Cooked Beans and Grains
Drain and rinse your cooked beans and grains with cold water and then combine into one bowl.
Step 9: Add Oats to Absorb Moisture
Rolled oats, quiona flakes, and kamut flakes work wonders with absorbing moisture from cooked beans and grains. To beat freezer burn you must have your chop as dry as possble.
Step 10: Mix All Ingredients in a Large Container
I use a large storage container. Add all other dry ingredients at this point such as pecan pieces, coconut, and sliced almonds.
Step 11: Stretch Break!
Step 12: Bag for Storage
By making a large batch of chop, you save yourself time. Bag up whatever your flock will eat in three days, flatten, and put in the freezer. To feed, just defrost the chop overnight.