Budgie Bread Experiment
January 23, 2012 § 6 Comments
My budgies are generally great eaters, but they are quite picky about some things: they only like their greens fresh and whole, hung as entire leaves in their cage (they will not eat them chopped, frozen, steamed, cooked, or any other way); they only like baby carrots fresh and whole, wedged in between the bars of their cage (they will not eat full-sized carrots, which I never figured out, since they are technically the same thing, nor do they like carrots steamed, cooked, or even skewered); they only like Good Stuff bird bread. Now, I am happy to oblige them, as long as they are eating well, but unfortunately, Good Stuff went out of business several months (has it already been a year?) ago. Thankfully, I found out soon enough to buy all of the bird bread I could and froze it all, which lasted us quite a while. But my stash had to run out sooner or later. And it did. And the budgies have not been happy.
Although Lola absolutely adores Avian Organics bird breads, all of which are fantastic combinations with excellent ingredients lists, the budgies are more picky about their grains: I think they don’t particularly like kamut, for whatever reason, and it’s a staple in all of the Avian Organics bread mixes. They also don’t care for larger seeds like pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds, so a lot of the goodies in their mixes go uneaten by the little ones. So, I set out to create my own bread mix that they’d eat. I based it loosely on the Good Stuff ingredients list, but also made a few changes, substitutions, and additions that I thought might help to entice my little ones that much more.
When I finally decided on an ingredients list of my own, however, I realized that the ingredients were not so easy to find! I went to several different supermarkets and two health food stores in my neighborhood looking for the different types of flours I’d decided on, and the only one they had was organic spelt flour, much to my surprise. So I purchased the spelt flour, and had to resort to going online for the rest of them. It was my first type buying any “grocery” type item online, but I found a great site called Fields of Grain. Not only did they carry everything I was looking for, but they also specialize in a lot of certified organic products, non-GMO products, and products grown in the USA and Canada only. Finally, everything was also very affordable, which is always a big plus.
From them I purchased organic corn flour, organic quinoa flour, organic garbanzo bean flour, and organic millet flour. My order was processed extremely quickly, and they were kind enough to include a free package of organic brown lentils as well! If you’re ever looking for odd flours or grain products that you can’t find locally, I highly recommend them.
As soon as my flours arrived, I got to work. I ended up using all four flours as well as the spelt flour. I’m not a big fan of using corn products, but I know that the budgies really adore it and it’s a big plus in terms of taste for them, so since it was organic and non-GMO, I used just a little to entice them. They’re also crazy about millet and quinoa, which I feel are healthier grains, so I used those both as well. Finally, the garbanzo bean and spelt flours were both ingredients in the Good Stuff bread, plus they are healthy additions, so in those went too.
In case you are wondering, this isn’t in recipe form because I don’t really have a recipe. I pretty much eyeballed everything, and as you will see from the photos below, it was all very un-scientific and random. Experiment with what your birds like! I like to think of it as “custom” bird bread.
Next I added the rest of my dry ingredients (all are organic). Of course it needed some aluminum-free baking powder, and some spices (like cinnamon, mmm!). I added some of the wonderful dried veggies from the Avian Organics “Cazuela” mix, which includes green peas, carrots, red chili peppers, dandelion, and alfalfa leaf. I also tossed in some Totally Organics Napoleon Seed mix, a combination of oat groats, millet, flax seeds, sesame seeds, and buckwheat, because I know that they enjoy picking those out. I may have added extra ground flax, but I can’t remember. I feel like I’m forgetting something, but I can’t tell from the photo…
As for the wet ingredients, I took a different approach from my usual. Typically, I chop up a ton of greens and throw them in, but I realized that for the budgies, they really don’t need the greens seeing as how they eat them so readily and so much of them on their own. (It’s really Lola that’s slightly more reluctant about the healthy stuff, but that’s another story.) Instead, I really wanted to get a lot more of the Vitamin A-rich fruits and veggies into them that they miss out on because they aren’t huge on eating those, and some fruit as well. So, I very finely chopped some red, orange, and yellow sweet peppers, some fresh papaya, and even half of a banana, and threw all of those in. I added some sweet potato baby food (organic and non-fortified with nothing added), and finally, a beautiful, large, farm fresh, organic egg.
Next I mixed it all up: because I used so many juicy fruits, I didn’t have to add any water, juice, or other liquids. I like to use wet fruits and veggies because unlike juice, they contain all of the fiber, and a lot more health benefits than, say, water. When everything was combined I was a bit worried as it looks nothing like what the usual Good Stuff bird bread mix looked like, but I did make some changes, and it actually still smelled like the Good Stuff mix, so I was happy with it.
I lightly greased the pan with some organic, virgin coconut oil, evenly spread the mix out, and into the oven it went! I debated adding some hemp seed oil to the mix, but I figured that I could also add it after the fact on top and let it saturate the bread. I’ve read conflicting opinions on whether or not hemp seed oil loses all or most of its nutritive properties when cooked or heated, so I’ll play it safe and add it after cooking, just in case.
It baked until a skewer pushed into the center came out clean and it looked fully cooked. It baked into a beautiful, brown with red and orange hues, thanks to the papaya, sweet potato, and peppers. It smells great, actually, and it’s currently sitting on the counter top, cooling. Once it has rested and fully cooled, I will cut it up into individual-sized little squares, set aside enough to last 2-3 days, bag the rest, and freeze it. Every few days I remove a few squares from the freezer and let them defrost in the refrigerator, that way I don’t have to use the microwave and “cook” the bread a second time, unnecessarily nuking more nutrients out of the bread.
I have no idea if the budgies will like it or not, or if it’s close enough to their original favorite recipe for them to be willing even to try it. I really hope so! This is, I believe, the first time I’ve made bird bread from scratch rather than from a mix, and I’m pretty proud of my efforts. Hopefully I will be able to share some photos of them enjoying it. But if I don’t, you know what that means… back to the drawing board!