Many kinds of birds come and go from The Landing, our adoption and education center in the Asheville, NC area. Therefore, we feed foods that can be enjoyed by a diverse group, but still ensures that each bird is eating a healthy variety of whole foods to complement their pellets, fresh fruits, pumpkin bread, nuts and treats.
Some birds come to us that have not been on a healthy diet or learned to eat fresh foods. Getting them to try new things can be a challenge, at best. Feeding a MASH has many positive attributes:
* You can hide things a bird might not eat otherwise by chopping it very small.
* For convenience, you can make large batches, and freeze it in portions.
* Mashes allow you to be creative, adding more or less of certain things to meet your bird’s needs.
* Most importantly, you can cover all the important food groups in one recipe, knowing that your bird will probably be eating the variety needed for a complete meal.
We have had huge success converting birds to better diets using a mash recipe, so we wanted to share it with you here. We complement this mash with an assortment of fresh fruits, pumpkin bread, and a small amount of egg cooked in coconut oil. The birds at the adoption center eagerly await their breakfast every morning, often shuffling back and forth on their perches in adorable anticipation.
THE LANDING MASH (more or less….). Be Creative!!
2.5 cups Kamut
Also good: oat groats, buckwheat, brown rice..
A heaping teaspoon of turmeric
1 cup quinoa
Shredded carrots, pulsed in the Cuisinart until very fine
Broccoli, pulsed in the Cuisinart until very fine
1 sweet potato and/or butternut squash, cut into 1/2″ cubes (or other winter squashes)
16 oz package organic mixed veggies (peas, corn, carrots)
Fresh greens,pulsed in the Cuisinart until very fine (don’t let them get too wet) or
16 oz package organic mixed greens (kale, collard, mustard greens)
1 cup or more pepitas (raw pumpkin seeds, great Omega 3’s!)
1 can garbanzo beans, drained
6 oz Eden small vegetable shells, whole grain
1/2 cup chopped dried apricots, cherries
1/2 cup dried cranberries, or add fresh cranberries 5 minutes before grains cooked
(Any dried fruit should be unsulphured, with no processed sugar)
Raw oats to soak up any moisture
If you don’t have much freezer space, or a small number birds to feed, proportionally reduce these quantities. If you decide to make the recipe using these quantities, then you’ll want to start with a big soup pot.
To start: bring the large pot of water to a boil. Add the Kamut, other grains (brown rice may take longer) turmeric and cinnamon. Stir well. When the water starts to boil again, lower the heat to medium. Cook for 15 minutes.
Add the quinoa and sweet potato or squash. Stir well. Cook another 15 minutes.
Turn off the heat. Drain or add some cold water. You don’t want the Kamut to cook much more, birds really enjoy it slightly crunchy.
When the grains are drained and a bit cooled, put these in a super-sized mixing bowl. Add the remaining ingredients (frozen vegetables, pepitas, garbanzo beans, pasta shells, dried fruit). Stir together. If it is still wet, add raw oats to soak up the moisture. Divide into storage containers. Freeze in 2-3 day portion sizes. As you finish one container, take one out of the freezer to defrost.
This recipe is versatile. Add and subtract other things that your bird may enjoy (e.g. broccoli, coconut, fresh carrots, other grains, walnuts…). If your bird is reluctant to eat a mash, find the ingredient that is their favorite, and put extra amounts to pique their interest. After they are eating it regularly, you can change the proportions to insure that they are eating the variety intended.
Thanks to Leigh Ann Hartsfield for her recipe “Franco’s Favorite Breakfast” in the Nourish to Flourish cookbook. We started with this recipe, and the adoption center birds really enjoyed the addition to their breakfast meal. Then Mary Ault discovered that undercooked Kamut was very appealing to the birds, because they use their hookbills as nature intended, and crack open the grains. The Landing Mash continues to evolve as we add new things or change the proportions. And with spring on it’s way, we will take full advantage of the fruits and veggies of the seasons.
If you try this recipe for your birds, let us know how it goes!
I’ve taken the edamame out of the mash recipe, after an extremely informative event with Dr. Fern Van Sant last weekend. She believes that edamame is hard for birds to digest, has no vitamin A or other valuable mineral, is a high calorie, and a phytoestrogen (which can lead to plucking/hormonal issues). May not be worth the risk for some birds!
I have never made this exact recipe – it’s next on my list!! Thanks again for a WONDERFUL and WONDER-FILLED Step-Up Training Class!! I could not have asked for a more pleasant weekend!
I am sorry to hear that about edamame, my two cockatiels absolutely love them and I always felt good they were eating something so healthy. Hmm.
I like the MASH recipe you’ve posted. I feed a variation of it with cooked Chick Peas, Mung and Adzuki beans plus lentels with sprouted grains. This is bright, colorful and definitely worth a try!
Great suggestion about making and freezing it, too! Since I never know how many I might be feeding, what with foster birds and those in transit to different homes, I always make HUGE amounts, divide them into containers and freeze it.
Hi Ann! We finally made this wonderful recipe for the orange wing Amazon seed junkie we took in a year ago. She has abnormal fat deposits and just wasn’t in that great shape. We tried to convert her to Harrison’s many times. Finally, we gave her this mash and she loves it! She eats the whole thing every day.
We also put the pudgy macaw and the 29 year old Moluccan (from PL) and her 19 year old Moluccan friend and 17 year old ringneck on it too. It is a huge hit and I feel just great feeding this to them. And the best thing is that the new Amazon now loves the low fat Roudybush pellets too which she tried after having them sprinkled on the mash. This mash will be a staple from now on! Thanks so much for posting about it!
Patti, thanks for the great news! The more good things you add to the mash, the better. Make it finer or chunkier depending on your parrot. And like you say, use it as the conduit for other good things they need to eat too, like the pellets etc. Thanks for your wonderful feedback. Ann
I have two parakeets that were abandoned with a big trash bag full of bird seed. Fortunately, we found each other as fate would have it.
When I found your recipe I couldn’t wait to try it.
Freezing their food always works best. I found king size ice cube trays.
Excellent! Each cube is a meal for my kids.
They are very quietly stuffing there faces .
Thanks for the great recipe!
What a wonderful story, Barbara, so glad you shared it with us. Kamut is a special favorite for all birds, parakeets to macaws. And of course, all the other items are nutritiously scrumptious as well!
The instructions state: ” bring the large pot of water to a boil” only the recipe doesn’t say HOW MUCH water. I have several sizes of soup pots, so if I fill each one there is a vast difference. Thanks in advance for clearing this up for me.
Hi Cindy, good question! Just added 2-3++ times as much water as the grains. Personally, I like to add enough water to ensure that the grains must be drained. That way there is no concern about burning.
In the mash recipe, are the pasta shells supposed to be cooked first? It doesn’t say to cook them.
You can do it either way, Carla. I usually lightly cook the pasta when I use it, VERY al dente. I also like the very small vegetable pasta letters or shells from Eden, not only because these are a healthier choice, but the pieces are really small so that pasta is only a minimal part of any bite.
Funny how everythign that goes around comes around again: long ago, John Stoodley started feeding a “mash” and ABRC also used their version: I will say over the years it has continued including healthier options than it started with: then again, it’ alo so easier to find healthier foods nowadays. BTW, rice cookers are handy for cooking grains, and I’ve also found that letting most any grain (or mix) soak for an hour or so before cooking dramatically cuts down on the cooking time and the “mush” factor. (I do grains/beans, and vegetables/fruit/pasta seperately, so the chunkier birds can get more veggies, less grains, and vice versa.)
OMG….my parakeet LOVES this! Thanks so much for the wonderful recipe!! I had trouble finding Kamut, so I substituted Farro. I also, added the pasta to the boiling mixture for the last 5 to 6 minutes. I had my 11-year-old daughter pretend to eat it, so my parakeet would want to join in. She commented that it looked really good, so I scooped some into a separate bowl for her. She LOVED it! So this is great for humans as well as birds 🙂
We have made this and our two conures really like it.
I make the whole quantity and then freeze in ziploc bags for 3 days worth each.
I’ve been feeding my Budgies this recipe for awhile now . It has come to my attention that they don’t touch their greens. Please tell me ,should I blanch the spinach and collards? I don’t want to interfere with the nutritional value either. The only greens they ever loved we’re Swiss Chard. That is another recipe also a cooked recipe. But they gobbled them up. Please tell me what to do.
Concerned birdie mom
Hi Barbara, I like to use VERY dry greens, and pulse them in the food processor until they are very small. Don’t let them get wet or mushy, because then you’ll have mushy, wet mash.
The other option is to dry greens in the dehydrator or oven until they are crispy and very dry. Then put them in small processor and turn them into powder.
In both cases, the greens will blend with the mash in a way that they will get some in most bites without even realizing it.
Budgies might enjoy small containers of organic wheat grass, just place the container in a bowl on the side of the cage. Or, big wet leafy greens that they bathe and nibble on works for some too.
My favorite greens to use are: dandelion, kale, collard, and mustard. I use spinach and chard more sparingly because it can inhibit calcium.
I’ve been trying some new ways of tricking my budgies into eating their greens.
After reading your suggestion to give them dry greens I decided to give it a try. Well there are these dehydrated green they sell at WF Market called Brad’s Raw Leafy Kale. They are organic so I put them in the coffee grinder with a tablespoon of their dry food.
Just thought I would share that with anyone who can’t get their birds to eat their greens.
Do lentils and dry split peas need to be cooked?
Yes, legumes (beans) should always be fully cooked, some can be toxic otherwise. Except for garbanzo, mung, lentil, adzuki and green peas – these can be safely sprouted.
I have a Red bellied and a Senegal and for close to a decade I have fed them pellets (small with a few Harrison’s on top), a small dish of chopped veggies at lunch time and a small dish of seed they can have access to for an hour or two in the evening.
A couple of months ago, I took them in for check ups and my vet found my Senegal was protein deficient and also overweight – the latter being a common problem with Senegals. She recommended cutting back on the veggies and introducing more lentils, legumes etc.
My challenge is that I run two small businesses and need to be very efficient with my time. I was delighted to find this very healthy looking mash recipe but have some questions.
If I make the mash, could I also prepare the fresh produce ahead — finely chopped kale, carrot, etc., could I mix both the fresh chopped veggies and mash together in ice cube trays and just defrost a cube to share between them each day? Or is there a reason the fresh veggies shouldn’t be frozen in with the mash?
Also, is the mash ALL that you feed your birds or do they get pellets as well?
I have never made a mash before. Are there some legumes I should make sure I include and others I should avoid because they can be toxic?
My apologies for so many questions, but I clearly have a lot to learn and this seems like a good place to start!
Thanks so much!
Hi Wendy, I hope you’ll find this recipe helpful, and learn to be creative as well. You can stir in all kinds of extras before serving. These can be added health items, or just things that make your bird more interested in eating it. Certain “condiments” like a sprinkle of seed or crunchy healthy cereal can motivate a bird to root around and eat more of the mash.
You can certainly add plenty of veggies to the mash before freezing too. I recommend putting frozen things last since you’ll be putting most of it right back into the freezer and you don’t want things to defrost. Also, I think birds prefer non-mushy mash, so I don’t over-stir or over-pulverize anything. You can add some rolled oats at the end to soak up any moisture too.
Except for the smallest birds, we always leave a healthy pellet in the cage as well (TOPs or Harrison’s usually).
Regarding legumes, garbanzo beans work best in mash in our experience.
The recipe mention cutting the sweet potato into 1/2″ cubes. Is that just for cooking? Do they get mashed prior to being put into the mash?
Can this recipe be frozen for 30 days or just 3 days. Thanks