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Author Topic: Using the Alnutrin calculator to make home cooked cat food  (Read 10833 times)
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bug
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« on: November 07, 2011, 12:57:41 PM »

Hey everyone!

Because there have been several people on the forums interested in home cooking using Alnutrin, I've decided to post this email I have sent out a couple of times in hopes that it helps clear up how to use the Alnutrin calculator.

The recipe contains ground chicken breast, ground sirloin steak, chicken hearts, beef liver, egg yolks, pumpkin and Alnutrin.

Attached you will find a screenshot of what my recipe looks like for you using the Alnutrin calculator. Because I'm in Canada, it's in metric, so you'd have to do the conversion if you want to do the exact same recipe in the same quantities using imperial measurement.

Bring up the attachment and follow what I'm writing below:

Most of you in the US will be able to use the calculator on the knowwhatyoufeed.com website. I needed to request a custom one because some of the values for the foods I'm using are different according to the Canadian Nutrient Database and there were some meats that she didn't have in her calculator (bison, ostrich, pork). I wanted to be able to make a blend of meats and the default Alnutrin calculator didn't allow for that either. So, the recipe that I make the most is the one shown in the screenshot. This is how it works:

1. Create your recipe and 2. Read nutrient profile of the diet

In this section of the calculator, you input what percentage of each item you want in the recipe. There is no real rule as to how to go about this but when you enter the numerical information (percentages), you will notice the numbers in the "2. Read nutrient profile of the diet" changing. This is how your recipe is comparing to the AAFCO nutrient profiles. If your recipe is too high or low in one ingredient or another, it will show either a "low" or "high" in the "balanced" column of the calculator. You would then adjust the nutrients until all of the "highs" and "lows" are gone. There are a couple that usually don't go away, though, but this is OK for all recipes. One is the vitamin k value -- it is usually too low unless you're incorporating a lot of veggies. I only use pumpkin and not enough of it to get it out of the "low" range. It's fine because a cat's body manufactures its own vitamin k and we aren't adding fish to the diet which would require more. The other element that is usually out of whack is the methionine. That is also OK because of how their body compensates. The only way I've found to get rid of that high value was to make a recipe entirely our of beef or pork, but then your calcium is way too low and that's more important to balance out.

So you can see in the screenshot that I've used chicken breast (I use pre-ground. Even though my calculator says roasted, ground chicken breast is close in nutrient composition), top sirloin - (seared and ground at home), beef liver (braised lightly to medium-rare), chicken heart (braised lightly to medium-rare) raw egg yolk (tempered with braising liquid), canned pumpkin and Alnutrin. I figured out the right proportions by trial and error and by looking to see if almost all of the highs and lows have cleared. Your recipe always has to equal 100% in the end and you can see mine does. This part doesn't tell you the quantity you need for your recipe yet.

3. Add the supplement

Here, they start you off with a default amount but based on your recipe percentages, you will have to adjust the Alnutrin percent to make sure the "calcium/Phosphorus ratio" section is between 1 and 1.3. You can see that for my recipe, I need Alnutrin to be at 1.35% to get a Ca:Ph ratio of 1.24:1. That Ca:Ph ratio changes as you change the Alnutrin percent number. This is not the amount of Alnutrin you will use in your recipe.

4. Make your cat food

Here is where you will find out how much of each ingredient you will need. All the values you will be using is for cooked weight, not raw weight, unless you are using some ingredients in raw form. So, for my recipe, I cook the ground chicken first and then weigh it. That is what determines how much of the other ingredients I will need. This time around, I had 800 grams of cooked ground chicken and I entered that number in the only field in the step#4 that is editable. Once you enter that number, all the other fields fill in all by themselves and that's how much of the other ingredients you will be needing. For me, all of those values except the sirloin and the egg will be a cooked weight because the egg is used raw (tempered) and the steak is almost raw.

At the bottom, you will notice a conversion calculator, so if you want to do my recipe in pounds, you can enter the amount of grams I used where it says "enter amount in grams" and it will convert that for you.

It's truly a well thought out calculator. Very ingenious and accurate.

----------------------

Tools I use to make this recipe include a slow cooker for all the large quantity cooked meats, a frying pan for the liver and hearts (cooked on low in a very small amount of water), a good food scale that goes to 1 kg, the meat grinder attachment for my stand mixer, a food processor and big bowls.

It really depends on what consistency your cats like, but sometimes I grind the steak (after I sear it) and then put it in the food processor and sometimes I just grind it and leave it that consistency. I find that one of my cats vomits on a coarse texture, so I put the ground mixture through the food processor for him (spoiled brat).

So what I do, I first cook the ground chicken in the crock pot one day, weigh it and then put it through the food processor. Then, it goes in the fridge to cool. The next day, I sear the steak, cut it into strips and put it through the grinder. That is already cool after grinding so no need to put in the fridge. Then, that gets weighed to the same weight as the chicken. I then braise the liver and hearts together and weigh them separately to get to the amount I need. You usually need to have at least twice the raw weight to get the amount of cooked weight you need for the hearts and liver. I let those cool (and don't dump out the cooking water). I then weigh out the raw egg yolks, pumpkin and Alnutrin.

Mix the chicken and beef together in a large bowl until well combined. Weigh all the cooking liquid from all the meats. You'll notice that the recipe has water listed by weight. Add cold water to the cooking liquids to get the amount in the recipe.

Put the cooled liver, heart and some of the cooking liquid in the food processor and blend until you get a semi-thick liquid. Beat the weighed eggs in a bowl and add some of the cooking liquid or pureed mixture to temper them (just in case it's not totally cold so you don't get scrambled eggs) and beat a little more. Pour the eggs into the food processor and add the pumpkin. Pulse until totally mixed. If your puree is totally cold, you can add the Alnutrin at this time to the food processor and blend well. If it isn't totally cooled, refrigerate the puree and once it's cold, add the Alnutrin and blend very well. Pour that puree into the chicken/beef mixture and hand mix it very well. This will give you a coarse consistency. If you want, you can put the whole thing in a big food processor or process in batches if you want a smoother consistency. I've even passed the stuff through a mesh strainer to get the ultimate smooth food, but I don't do it for the whole batch. That would be nuts.

After it's the consistency you want, get a bunch of ice-cube trays. Put the mixture in a big ziploc bag and cut one corner out of it so you can squirt it into the ice cube compartments (like a piping bag). Weigh the amount of one cube before you freeze it so you know how much to feed. I roughly give them about 3/4 of what they would get if I fed them commercial canned because this is way more nutrient dense. They don't eat as much of this as they do the other stuff. I take out about 5 or 6 cubes and put them in the fridge the night before and it defrosts by the morning. Then, I add a bit more water and nuke it for 10 seconds on high. Mix and feed.

I've even tricked Pip into eating it by mixing it in with her favorite Wellness. It's amazing the difference in their coat and how shiny their eyes are. It only takes a couple of days to see the difference.

I haven't done a cost analysis of my recipe, though it will probably be cheaper for you since food in the US is cheaper than here in Canada.

----------------------

I know that's a lot and I may have missed something so please ask if something I've said is confusing or incomplete. It sounds complicated, but once you do it the first time, it's easy after that. You get into a groove and figure out the best way and it becomes easy.


* AlnutrinCustomRecipe.png (252.44 KB, 989x968 - viewed 466 times.)
« Last Edit: November 07, 2011, 01:09:28 PM by bug » Logged

My little babies, you'll always be in my heart. Mom will see you later. Look after each other, ok?
bug
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RIP little angel Katey


« Reply #1 on: November 07, 2011, 01:22:15 PM »

If enough people are interested, in the new year, I can make a video of how I prepare my cat food using Alnutrin. I know seeing how things are done is often the best way to learn. I can also do a live screen tutorial on using the calculator if this might be of help to anyone.
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My little babies, you'll always be in my heart. Mom will see you later. Look after each other, ok?
Angels Mama & Katy Mom Of 1
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Rusty


« Reply #2 on: November 07, 2011, 02:30:48 PM »

Quote
Here is where you will find out how much of each ingredient you will need. All the values you will be using is for cooked weight, not raw weight, unless you are using some ingredients in raw form. So, for my recipe, I cook the ground chicken first and then weigh it.
Quote

Thank you Bug for helping me

I still have to get a scale i have the 5 LBS of Chicken in the oven and the 1 LB of Hearts & Gizzards.The only thing i know to do now is bag up hearts and Chicken separately and then feed them with the canned for now.Then get some(Nu-cat when he's 100% off the canned food) I guess i'll just have to use some Nu-cat until I can get scales to weigh meats and get Alnutrin. This will also give me time to learn how to do all this.

I don't know when i'll be able to get a scale with Christmas right around the corner or even much about scales at this point.Maybe after Xmas there will be some great sales!

 Now i have the chicken & hearts & i have to figure out how i can keep them fresh till i can use food processor tomorrow. I have things i must do this evening and by the time the 3 hours in oven is up it will almost be time to leave and i have only quart bags unless i use aluminum foil to wrap it in. sorry i'm going on just a little frustrated right now.  Thank you again Bug for your help!  amkm1
« Last Edit: November 07, 2011, 02:32:37 PM by Angels Mama & Katy Mom Of 1 » Logged

Angels Mama & Katy Mom of 1
bug
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RIP little angel Katey


« Reply #3 on: November 07, 2011, 05:48:18 PM »

Using NuCat is a good idea until you can get things sorted out. The scale I bought does grams in .1 gram increments which helps with the Alnutrin measurement.

« Last Edit: November 09, 2011, 08:48:26 AM by bug » Logged

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petslave
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« Reply #4 on: November 08, 2011, 08:04:02 PM »

Thanks for that great post, bug!  I'd love to see that video if you ever have time to make it.  I worked with that calculator for an hour, then just emailed Marta my ingredient list and said, HELP!!  She ran the numbers for me, adjusting the Alnutrin till it all came out okeydokey.  So if anyone is intimidated by the calculator or can't figure it out, just email your recipe in.

For storage of the cooked meats, and the processed cat food, I use those cheap plastic snap lid containers.  The grocery stores all carry Glad, Ziplock and store brands, which are the cheapest.  Glad and the store brand I use say Made in US, Ziplock hasn't had that listed for awhile so you might want to look it up before buying them.  BTW, Rubbermaid containers are now all "made in US of global componants".  Anyway, the cheap containers work great and last a long time.  Buy the size that will hold a few days of food for the number of cats you have.  That way you can thaw one container in the fridge while feeding the current thawed container. 

I usually cook, process and freeze the food within a day or two of buying the meat.  I just find it easier than cooking the meat, freezing, thawing, then making the food.  But there may be times you just want to stock up on meat, then make the food later.  You'll find your own best methods as you get used to making it.  At first it seems like a ton of work and complicated, but it gets easier and more a part of normal life after awhile.

Remember, you can go ahead and make a recipe without supplements just to try it out and see if your cat will like it!  I wouldn't feed more than a few days worth of food unsupplemented, but it won't hurt them to eat a few meals without the supplements.  Especially if you're still feeding some commercial cat food every day too.  It will give you chance to run through all the processing steps before you get your alnutrin order in.
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mels
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« Reply #5 on: November 09, 2011, 08:24:46 PM »

Bug put me on the list for both the video and calculater help.
I'll take all the help I can get.
Thanks
mel
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JoMax
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« Reply #6 on: November 10, 2011, 06:36:31 AM »

bug, that's really brilliant - that is roughly how I go about it which has reassured me a whole lot - even down to your comments on vitK & methionine levels which matched my conclusions.

Just to add a note on the way I tend to do it :
Because I'm cooking everything through well since over here meat is so expensive, I end up having to buy the special offer/reduced stuff (not ideal but still way better than what ends up in canned).  Also means I can't know exact quantities of each type of meat I'm going to end up with after cooking until I'm doing it.

So I braise everything separately in a couple of pans, reusing the cooking liquid for the next items (chicken breast, thighs/drumsticks, beef/lamb heart/liver, etc). I then use c. half the liquid to cook some rice in - this is what seems to make them eat the whole thing, I think because the rice holds the stock and keeps everything moist & tasty. 
I then debone chicken parts as necessary (my least fav part) and weigh the result of each type and sit down with the calculator tweaking %ges to get the resulting weights corresponding to what I actually have. I balance out against any high/low values by adjusting quantities of rice, plus adding boiled eggs (usually 2-3), also some of the cooking water.  Then use the Ca:Phos ratio inidicated to get the amount of Alnutrin.  Not as difficult as it sounds once you get the hang of it - you see how the %ges affect the weights quite quickly.

This may sound imprecise but once I'd done it 2-3 times I get to know the approximate quantity ratio of types of meat to buy so the use of the calcultor is just fine-tuning.  I too got a custom version for the types of meat common here. I work out the portions according to the calories the calcultor comes up with - usually 50-60g/portion for my 12lb boys. (3 portions/day)

The accuracy may be off a bit since I'm using the stock too, but I reckon it's still healthier than tinned and they seem to go for it (apart from Miss Tortie of course!).  Trouble is it takes a lot of time - and doing a big enough quantity makes mixing hard (I have 2 washing-up bowls I bought for the purpose).  Used to chop by hand, now I have an electric mincer which I use on the coarsest setting. Even so I only end up with c.6Kg finished food which I then freeze in day portions of just over 300g.  So what takes me 4-5 hours (including cleaning up after) will feed them for about 3 weeks. Ok when I'm not working full-time, bit of a drag when it's almost half the weekend gone.

I think the calcuator is brilliant, and they were so helpful - I can save my last combination and retrieve it next time, so it's getting better tuned all the while. It doesnt even cost me too much to get Alnutrin shipped to me over here.  It certainly gave me the confidence to try home-cooking.
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"I can think of many ways in which I would become a better person if I were more like my cats. But I cannot think of a single way in which my cats would be any better for being more like me."  A.N.Wilson
bug
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RIP little angel Katey


« Reply #7 on: November 10, 2011, 07:27:04 AM »

bug, that's really brilliant - that is roughly how I go about it which has reassured me a whole lot - even down to your comments on vitK & methionine levels which matched my conclusions.

Glad you find it helpful and that it confirms the method you're using

Quote
Just to add a note on the way I tend to do it :
Because I'm cooking everything through well since over here meat is so expensive, I end up having to buy the special offer/reduced stuff (not ideal but still way better than what ends up in canned).  Also means I can't know exact quantities of each type of meat I'm going to end up with after cooking until I'm doing it.

That's the same for me, JoMax. I base all my other amounts on the quantity of my main meat, chicken, but I don't cook any of the other meats until I know how much cooked chicken I have.

Quote
So I braise everything separately in a couple of pans, reusing the cooking liquid for the next items (chicken breast, thighs/drumsticks, beef/lamb heart/liver, etc). I then use c. half the liquid to cook some rice in - this is what seems to make them eat the whole thing, I think because the rice holds the stock and keeps everything moist & tasty.  

That's a good idea -- to get as much flavor in everything as you can.

Quote
I then debone chicken parts as necessary (my least fav part) and weigh the result of each type and sit down with the calculator tweaking %ges to get the resulting weights corresponding to what I actually have. I balance out against any high/low values by adjusting quantities of rice, plus adding boiled eggs (usually 2-3), also some of the cooking water.  Then use the Ca:Phos ratio indicated to get the amount of Alnutrin.  Not as difficult as it sounds once you get the hang of it - you see how the %ges affect the weights quite quickly. This may sound imprecise but once I'd done it 2-3 times I get to know the approximate quantity ratio of types of meat to buy so the use of the calculator is just fine-tuning.  I too got a custom version for the types of meat common here. I work out the portions according to the calories the calcualtor comes up with - usually 50-60g/portion for my 12lb boys. (3 portions/day)

There's nothing wrong with doing it the way you're doing it. I don't see how it's going to be imprecise because you're weighing your cooked ingredients and just adjusting the amounts so they all balance out. Because I use more than one "main" meat in a recipe and the beef is pretty much rare, I need to know how much of it to cook and grind. No point in doing too much because it's expensive. My chicken/beef recipe is always the same (30% chicken, 30% beef, 5% liver, 5% heart, 2% egg, 5% pumpkin, 23% water). I know that the cooked weight for the organs are 50% less than raw, so if the recipe tells me I need 133g cooked liver, I make sure I cook double that amount. Sometimes it doesn't lose as much water as other times depending on how long I cook it, but it's better to have some leftover of that stuff and freeze it for next time. Raw egg yolks are always fun to weigh out.

Do you process the food into a puree or do you serve it chunky style?


Quote
The accuracy may be off a bit since I'm using the stock too, but I reckon it's still healthier than tinned and they seem to go for it (apart from Miss Tortie of course!).

I don't know that it would be inaccurate because you do have to add the amount of water/liquid the recipe states. I use the broth as well and top up the quantity with water if I need to.

Quote
Trouble is it takes a lot of time - and doing a big enough quantity makes mixing hard (I have 2 washing-up bowls I bought for the purpose).  Used to chop by hand, now I have an electric mincer which I use on the coarsest setting. Even so I only end up with c.6Kg finished food which I then freeze in day portions of just over 300g.  So what takes me 4-5 hours (including cleaning up after) will feed them for about 3 weeks. Ok when I'm not working full-time, bit of a drag when it's almost half the weekend gone.

I usually do it over the course of two days. One day I just do the chicken. Cook, cool, puree. The next day I grind the beef and do the slurry of all the other ingredients, cool and add Alnutrin. Then I mix the two together very well. It does take some time but if you make enough, it lasts. I usually make a recipe that results in about 2 kg of product. I start with about 1.5 kg each of the main meats. Ground chicken breast is so easy, I don't think I'd do that stuff any other way.

Quote
I think the calcuator is brilliant, and they were so helpful - I can save my last combination and retrieve it next time, so it's getting better tuned all the while. It doesnt even cost me too much to get Alnutrin shipped to me over here.  It certainly gave me the confidence to try home-cooking.

Yeah, I agree. I don't think I would have done this, either, if I had to go out and buy all the different vitamins and minerals and weigh out each one. That would take, like, four days, lol!

« Last Edit: November 10, 2011, 07:28:35 AM by bug » Logged

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JoMax
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« Reply #8 on: November 10, 2011, 09:33:30 AM »

Quote
Do you process the food into a puree or do you serve it chunky style?

I mince the cooked meats as coarsley as I can and mix with the rice & chopped egg.  I used to chop the meats up in very small bits (they did seem to slightly prefer it like that but luckily my sister gave me an electric mincer for my birthday which has taken over an hour off the process  Grin)
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"I can think of many ways in which I would become a better person if I were more like my cats. But I cannot think of a single way in which my cats would be any better for being more like me."  A.N.Wilson
bug
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RIP little angel Katey


« Reply #9 on: November 10, 2011, 10:23:37 AM »

Lucky you, JoMax. I have to puree mine or two of them vomit the chunks. Oh, to have low-maintenance cats...
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My little babies, you'll always be in my heart. Mom will see you later. Look after each other, ok?
5CatMom
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« Reply #10 on: December 01, 2011, 04:54:58 AM »

If you need to freeze larger portions, muffin pans (with liners) work well.

Also, you can place a piece of freezer paper on a cookie sheet and use a measuring cup to portion the food.   

Place the muffin pans or cookie sheet in the freezer for a couple of hours, and then remove the little mounds of food and place in freezer bags.

This storage technique works great for cooked food because it keeps its shape, but not so well for raw.  Sure beats washing all those plastic containers, and you can wash and reuse your freezer bags a couple of times.

Yeah, Marta's the greatest!  Bless her for helping us feed our kitties.`
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bearbearcat
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« Reply #11 on: December 11, 2011, 06:39:29 PM »

Strange when I use the calculator, top sirloin does not show up as a choice for me.  If I used the braising liquid for the water, do you think that would be okay?  Or would it change the values slightly due to nutrients leeching into the cooking liquid?
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lesliek
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« Reply #12 on: December 11, 2011, 07:47:19 PM »

Go with the closest meat choice to what you are using. It never hurts to add the liquid back, if using stock from slow cooking bones, drop the added calcium slightly. Marta is very good about answering questions, so you might want to email her.
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5CatMom
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« Reply #13 on: December 12, 2011, 05:40:48 AM »

Strange when I use the calculator, top sirloin does not show up as a choice for me.  If I used the braising liquid for the water, do you think that would be okay?  Or would it change the values slightly due to nutrients leeching into the cooking liquid?

Bearbearcat,

The Alnutrin calculator can be customized to include top sirloin, or other choices.  You'll need to contact Marta at Alnutrin and ask her to create a custom version for you.
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What is man without the beasts? If the beasts were gone, men would die from a great loneliness of spirit. For whatever happens to the beasts, soon happens to man. All things are connected - - - Chief Seattle

We are the caretakers of our creatures . . . the peacekeepers of our planet
bug
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Posts: 4905

RIP little angel Katey


« Reply #14 on: December 12, 2011, 09:42:31 AM »

Yes, bearbearcat, this is a customized calculator. I knew I would be using certain ingredients and because I'm in Canada, I wanted the nutrient profile to reflect the Canadian Nutrient Database. I sent that information to Marta and she customized the calculator for me. Mine also includes bison and ostrich. I have also used lean ground beef, but you have to cook that all the way through to ensure safety. Steak is nice because you just sear in on the outside so it's still raw inside and grind it yourself. You don't have to be as concerned about pathogens this way.
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My little babies, you'll always be in my heart. Mom will see you later. Look after each other, ok?
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