how to cook quinoa for birds

The Incas considered quinoa “the mother grain,” because of its high nutritional value. If you own a parrot, you might have seen this ingredient when searching for new recipes for your pet birds. Perhaps you’re never heard of it before.

Quinoa (pronounced “keen-wah”) is amazing from a nutritional standpoint. High in complete proteins and fiber, and low in salt, quinoa packs a dietary wallop when consumed. Containing higher levels of iron than many other grains, as well as high levels of potassium, riboflavin, magnesium, it has an almost perfect balance of all eight essential amino acids. It is gluten-free and contains almost double the amount of calcium as many other grains. One cup of cooked quinoa has the approximate calcium content of a quart of milk.

Many pet birds find its light, fluffy texture when cooked as appealing as its nutty taste. Quinoa has an outer coating called saponin, a bitter, soapy-tasting outer coating believed to protect the grain from being eaten by pet birds and insects. Most commercially available quinoa has been processed to remove the saponin before packaging, but a thorough rinse with cold water in a strainer will remove any traces of remaining saponin.

Most of the quinoa consumed in the United States is used as a whole grain, such as rice or barley and is served separately or in casseroles or pilaf. Quinoa cooks in about 15 minutes, and can be served to you or your parrots in a variety of ways. Try cooking quinoa and serving it alongside your bird’s regular meal, or add it to chopped vegetables for an enriching and interesting variation on their usual offering. Quinoa is more widely available than ever before and can be found in most health food stores, ordered over the Internet and in specialty groceries stores. For a healthy diet option for your pet birds, consider trying quinoa.

Quinoa originated in the Andes Mountain region of South America and has been eaten by the indigenous people of Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia and Chile for thousands of years. The plants, similar in appearance to millet, survive in even the harshest of conditions.

1. Boil 473 ml (2 cups) of water and add quinoa. After ten minutes of cooking, add the veggies, dried fruit, and cinnamon stick.

2. Cook for a further five minutes, or until the quinoa is somewhat transparent and a small tail begins to emerge. If it dries out too quickly, you might need to add a little more water. Remove cinnamon stick, let cool and serve.

Rachel Forrest is a freelance features journalist living in Belize. She is co-author of Maine Classics: 150 Delicious Recipes from Downeast with James Beard Award winning chefs Mark Gaier and Clark Frasier and Contributing Editor at Eat Drink Lucky. Check-in to for updates and news about some exciting upcoming projects, including “This Belizean Life”, a compilation of stories, audio and video about the wonderful people living in or near Oxmul Kah.

Quinoa’s high calcium, protein, and phosphorus content makes it an excellent food for parrots. They can eat it raw, sprouted and cooked. We use carrots and corn, but feel free to use any vegetables your parrot enjoys.

Author of cookbooks and food and drink articles, Rachel Forrest resides in Oxmul Kah, Belize with her spouse Jim, three dogs, a cat, and a parrot. She is a contributing editor at Eat Drink Lucky, a content strategist for Gannett, and co-author of Maine Classics: 150 Delectable Recipes from Downeast.

Bird Recipe: Quinoa Couscous

Warm, airy, and full of nutrients, quinoa couscous is a recipe that you can easily modify to fit the tastes of your flock. Change up the recipe with other nutritious ingredients to give it a refreshing twist.

  • 1/2 cup of cooked quinoa; cooled.
  • Half a cup of mixed frozen vegetables, thawed and cooked in the stovetop or microwave
  • Two tablespoons chopped mixed nuts (almonds, cashews, walnuts, and Brazil nuts) that are healthy and unsalted
  • 1/4 cup chopped zucchini or other squash
  • Dash of cayenne pepper (optional)

Place cooked quinoa into a mixing bowl. Depending on your pet bird’s preferences, chop or chop the mixed vegetables and add them to the quinoa. Lightly sprinkle with cayenne pepper. Add nuts and chopped zucchini. Mix and serve when lukewarm. To increase the nutritional content of the dish, you can add a dash of flaxseed oil or a sprinkle of vitamin supplement before serving. This recipe keeps well for two days in the refrigerator when covered. Since this is a fresh ingredient recipe, take out any leftovers that haven’t been eaten after an hour or so.


How do you give quinoa to birds?

Place cooked quinoa into a mixing bowl. Chop or cut the mixed vegetables depending on your pet bird’s preferences and add to quinoa. Lightly sprinkle with cayenne pepper. Add nuts and chopped zucchini.

How long to soak quinoa for birds?

Buckwheat: Soaks for 15 minutes and sprouts within 1-2 days. Quinoa: Soaks for 2-4 hours and sprouts within 1-2 days.

Can backyard birds eat quinoa?

Yes, birds can eat quinoa! Birds like quinoa a lot. It is safe and healthy for them. They may even love it in their diet.

How to cook quinoa for budgies?

Boil 473 ml (2 cups) of water and add quinoa. Cook for 10 minutes, then add vegetables, dried fruit and cinnamon stick. 2. Cook another 5 minutes or until the quinoa is clearish and has a tiny tail sprouting from it.