Monday, March 26, 2012

Powder Up!

With the approval of Chester-the-sun-loving-jester

I love fruit and vegetable powders, which, for those who do not know, are fruit or vegetables that are dried and then ground to a fine powder. If food is dried at a low enough temperature, it can still be considered raw, but even food dried at "higher" temperatures is still hardly cooked. It is incredibly, incredibly versatile. Does your bird really like toast and little else? Sprinkle a small bit of powder on the toast! Because the powder is so concentrated, even a tiny amount packs a powerful punch. It makes it extremely easy to add nutrients to anything, which is particularly important for birds that do not have a varied diet. For instance, if a parrot eats any plain cooked grain, or plain baked items, you can add the powder to them while you work on getting them to eat actual fruits and vegetables. You can get garbanzo bean flour, coconut flour, quinoa flour, etc, mix in some of the powder, an egg, and maybe some mashed banana or pumpkin and have a very healthy treat! It will be quite dense, though, so please, don't let your parrot get overweight!

I love making greens powder. I have a small dehydrator  and simply fill it up with whatever greens I have on hand, drying them at a very low temperature for around 30 hours ( I put it in one day and turn it off next, but usually it goes longer than 24, you want them really crisp) to preserve all the nutrients. Right now it is a mix of kale and collards; I remove the stems, as they stay hard and make crumbling the final product much more difficult! Besides, those are happily eaten raw, so nothing goes to waste.

If you do not have a dehydrator, you can dry greens without one. Many people dry them just with the air, and I have done this myself in the past. For a smaller amount it is a great way to go; I have so many birds now I just need to do huge batches! You can go fancy and get one of these, but you could also just get a large cookie sheet, lay the greens on that, and leave them somewhere safe such as on top of the fridge, until they are nice and dry. And yes, I am sure mold is possible, but I formerly lived in the very humid south (supposedly the mountains are better, although still the south) where chopped vegetables smelled in half an hour and steel often rusted in a couple of months.... and I have never seen moldy greens. Air drying has been used for who knows how long for various green foods (think bundles of herbs hanging form the rafters) so the odds are in your favor, at the very least. Why not try it and see? Once the greens are quite dry, I just take them out, and crumble by hand or with a small coffee grinder if I want a finer product. And there you have it, a very easy method to add greens to anything!

Some powder I also buy. Avian Organics, for one, has some lovely organic powders- blackberry, blueberry, carrot, and apple. Obviously, blackberries and blueberries have lots of antioxidants with not too much sugar, and carrots lots nutrition and vit. A (although much more sugar!) but her apple powder is also quite good, being made only with the peel of the apple, where most of the nutrition is. If your parrots are anything like mine, they eat the apple and leave the peel (same for anything, even fresh corn is peeled) which makes this powder quite useful!


Peachfront said...

Meg, if you have any experience with tart cherry powder, I'd love to hear about it. Thinking about trying it...

Meg said...

No, I have never tried it, although I imagine it would be very good. I used to have a sour cherry tree, so we had plenty of those to enjoy!