Monday, October 25, 2010

(Cook)Book Review

I must admit, I love love love reading cookbooks. I think it must be an inherited trait from my grandmother. Oddly enough, I also hate following recipes, either for baking or cooking, but there ya go. Both of these details apply to parrot food as well, although parrot cookbooks are few and far between. In fact, I only know of 2 cookbooks, and just a handful more that include a recipe or two among other information. One of those cookbooks I consider fairly useless, the other, which came out last December, I consider simply amazing.

I had been waiting with great anticipation once I heard Phoenix Landing was publishing a cookbook, Nourish to Flourish, and I was not disappointed. It is a lovely size, and spiral bound in wipe-able pages, which is very important both for a cookbook and for something that parrots might (will) be around. It is wonderfully organized into sections, with great information in the front, followed by veggie, fruit, grain, legume and protein sections. It has not just great information, but also great and very healthy recipes, and a wide variety of them at that. Truly something for everyone, and I will most definitely be recommending this book for anyone in the future that adopts a bird from me, or in fact anyone that doesn't, as well.

Despite my overall raves about the book, I would be quite disappointed in myself if I did not mention a few facts I find confusing or misleading.

-One, couscous is treated a a grain in the book. While that in itself is not bad, as it is in fact a grain product, people need to realize that couscous is simply a type of noodle. It is often times made with a different kind of wheat, but if you are buying standard couscous in the store, it is the same as buying standard white noodles. However, don't despair quite yet, couscous lovers! Just as there are a healthy types of noodles, there are healthy types of couscous. I have found whole wheat couscous to be readily available, though I myself, due to Chester's wheat allergy (and my own gluten issues), stick with organic brown rice couscous made by Lundberg Farms.

-Two, some fish is mentioned as being healthy as an occasional treat for parrots. Again, that in itself is not bad. However, one of the fish mentioned is tuna. Never, ever, ever, ever feed your parrot tuna. Ever. First of all, some types of tuna are sorely over fished, but ignoring that, tuna is very high in mercury. In fact, almost any large ocean (or river or lake or pond or...) fish is high in mercury, as such contaminants are always concentrated the higher up the food chain you go, as the larger fish have absorbed all the contaminants from the smaller fish they have eaten. With all the potential toxins our parrots put up with daily in our households, mercury has no need to be one of them.

-This a small detail, but one I find important. Some of the stock pictures included in the book are those of dried fruit that is as brightly colored as fresh. Please be aware that if your apricots are still yellow/orange instead of a dark brown red, they are treated with sulfur, whatever the package does or does not say. The same applies to other dried foods. While some parrots may not have a problem with sulfur as a preservative, many do. It was definitely a problem for both Frank and Claudia. I had gotten a very popular parrot food for them that contain dried fruit and did not list sulfur. In fact, it is touted as all natural, nothing added food. If you talk to the company, however, as I did when I almost immediately noticed problems, you discover that they can make these claims because they do not add the sulfur, they buy the fruit already sulfured. Yes, that is correct. They can sell it without listing it as long as they did not add it, even though they know full well it is there.

Now, back to the things I like! The wonderful folks at PL did a great job of explaining about the different types of foods, and the different ways to serve them. They also place emphasis on avoiding many foods that are commonly fed by well meaning parrot caretakers, such as white flour and jiffy mixes in birdie breads. And if you don't believe jiffy mixes should be avoided at all cost, just read the label!

Nourish to Flourish, Phoenix Landing Press

P.S. It is worth buying alone for the oh-so-adorable pics of parrots eating. Seriously.


Elizabeth said...

I've been replacing cous cous in recipes with bulgar and quinoa because, as you say, regular cous cous isn't particularly healthy. If you're going to use a tasteless grain, it might as well include fiber!

Meg said...

Exactly. With all the really healthy grains out there, why stick with wheat and rice? Quinoa is very popular here, and what I mostly use, as well! Although I have noticed no one turns down that ever present staple, oats.....