I promised tips and suggestions for pureed, soft foods and smoothies and here they are! We learned a lot the past few weeks during Dave’s recovery from surgery. The meal below, was his first meal at home after leaving the hospital. What you see are peas, mashed potatoes and roast chicken with gravy. Making the plate as pretty as possible helps stimulate the appetite! The other foods that pureed well included pot roast, carrots, butternut squash, roast pork tenderloin and Swedish meatballs. There was no need to make separate foods for our dinner, although I had to restrict my mashed potato and gravy consumption!
I am not listing specific recipes, as they are all included in previous posts.
The Must-have Blender
I had been gifted a Nutri Ninja Blender System with Auto IQ, last year. Honestly, I had not used it much until Dave’s surgery. It has not left the counter since August 10th. This system has pre-programmed times/power levels for smoothies, puree’s, grinding meat etc…. and is amazing! There is a large food processor type bowl, a traditional blender container and multiple containers for making individual drinks, shakes, smoothies. This is one of the most powerful kitchen tools I have ever used! I highly recommend this blender, as you will not get the same results with a “bullet” or “traditional” type blender.
I stocked up on all the typical soft foods before Dave came home. Applesauce, pudding, jello, popsicles, ice cream. We learned the bumps in tapioca pudding and the rice in rice pudding, were too much for the first few days. We also learned that chocolate kind of burned his throat.
In the hospital, mashed potatoes and gravy were some of Dave’s first foods. Making gravy at every meal can be a lot of work. I promised shortcuts and here is one of my favorites! You will need Bisto! Bisto is a British product used to thicken gravies and sauces. I have used it for years. You can find it at Amazon or in the British/Irish section of many grocery stores. It comes in multiple flavours, although the “beef” or brown product works well with chicken, turkey and beef stock. During Dave’s recovery, I made gravy and kept it on hand to warm up and serve with potatoes, at any time.
Laura’s Short Cut Gravy
One carton (32 ounces) stock – chicken, beef, or turkey
3 Tablespoons of Bisto
Bring the stock to boil in a saucepan. Let it simmer about 5 minutes to intensify the flavor. Whisk in the Bisto granules. Continue to stir until gravy reaches desired consistency. If it is not thick enough, add a little more Bisto. There you go! You just made “homemade” gravy. Store it in the fridge in a covered container and warm up in the microwave in whatever portion you need.
Laura’s time saving mashed potato tip
If you have a Trader Joe’s nearby, you must pick up their frozen mashed potatoes! The potatoes are prepared with butter and cream and then frozen into individual discs, about the size of a prune. You can heat one, two or the entire package in the microwave, in 4-5 minutes, and then stir with a fork. These potatoes are smooth and lump free! Since Dave needed extra calories, I added additional butter and cream. I am very picky about mashed potatoes, and I challenge you to find a difference between these and “made from scratch” potatoes.
*If you do make mashed potatoes from scratch, do not run them through a blender or food processor. You will be left with a pot of “glue”! Use a ricer and then “mash” with a potato masher and add butter and cream to make them extra smooth.
Pureeing Meat, Poultry, and Fish
You can easily puree any roasted, poached, broiled meat, poultry, fish, meatball or sausage. Depending on the persons swallowing ability and soreness in the mouth, you will need to adjust how smooth you puree the foods, to meet their specific needs. Add gravy, broth, cream or butter to soften the foods and increase flavor. Serve with additional gravy. Gravy is like a lubricant, that helps make things easier to swallow.
Steam the vegetables first. Add them to the blender jar and puree with butter and cream and a little salt and pepper. Dave especially liked sweet corn, peas, butternut squash and cauliflower prepared this way. Trader Joe’s has a riced cauliflower that cooks quickly and blends up smoothly. Add a little butter, cream and parmesan cheese for a great side dish!
One thing I learned for sure, it is not the right time to introduce “new” foods or flavors. I thought some of the creamy soups in the cartons would be a win. I heated, pureed, served and dumped three different ones, one afternoon. What did work was warming and then blending Dave’s favorite canned chicken noodle soup. Beef barley and split pea also worked well. Adding a scoop of protein powder and a little cream increases the calories and nutrition.
You would think scrambled eggs would not be a problem, but they were the first week. I made the eggs as normal, added grated cheese and ran them through the blender for a few seconds. Again, adding extra cream and butter during preparation helps increase the calories and the softness.
There are hundreds of smoothie recipes out there, so I am not going to go into detail. I went with Dave’s favorite foods to find one he liked. I used vanilla ice cream, a frozen banana (peel, chop and freeze bananas for ready use), a scoop of whey protein powder, a large tablespoon of peanut butter, and a little cream to make a high calorie, high protein shake.
Today marks three weeks since Dave’s surgery. I am happy to say, he had his favorite pizza and salad last night! Though his throat is still a little sore, and there is a little difficulty swallowing, he is now able to enjoy a few of his favorite foods. Our next challenge will come when radiation and chemotherapy begin on September 14th. The treatments will cause a change in the taste of foods, a very sore mouth and difficulty swallowing. I will keep you all posted on what works and does not work. Our goal in sharing this story is to help others who may be going through something similar.
We thank you for your support and encouragement.
Have a great evening,