It’s the holiday season, and the mealtime camaraderie of family and friends is a treasured tradition for many of us! People with swallowing disorders often consume restricted diets which interfere with full participation and enjoyment of the festivities. A family member’s “temporary oral stage dysphagia” due to a dental procedure two days before Christmas offered me first-hand experience with meal preparation for multiple dietary needs. Recovery orders were to consume soft foods only, so our planned fare of Caesar salad, standing rib roast, and Yorkshire Pudding was a bit unfortunate.
Daytime sustenance was easily managed. Soft eggs for breakfast, fresh oysters, and smoothies worked nicely. I was determined to provide a fresh, flavorful, healthy meal for our “patient” while preparing the planned dinner menu for the rest of our guests. I tend to be a cook who throws together what I have fresh in the fridge, especially when making soup. I came up with the following two all-in-one meals:
Christmas Eve: Pureed Potato, Carrot, and Kale
2 small potatoes
3 miniature carrots (probably one regular sized carrot)
1 stalk of kale leaves (torn from stem)
1 small-to-medium clove of garlic (pressed flat with knife and chopped)
I boiled all ingredients until soft, blended to puree consistency and added salt and pepper to taste. The finished product was a hit!
The special diet was still needed on Christmas Day. I was out of potatoes and chicken broth by then, so I varied the recipe a bit.
Christmas Day: Pureed Rigatoni, Carrot, and Kale
Rigatoni (I didn’t measure — just tossed in what looked about right)
3 miniature carrots
1 stalk of kale leaves
1 small-to-medium clove of garlic
Low sodium beef broth
Again, I boiled all ingredients until softened. Unfortunately, all the liquid was lost in a “kitchen disaster” with my food processor. (For the record, at least one such episode is obligatory when I cook major meals!) After clean up, I pureed it to a thicker consistency than the Christmas Eve meal and served with Yorkshire Pudding and pan drippings from the standing rib roast to add flavor and a bit of moisture. My efforts were pronounced tasty and pleasantly filling!
I threw together the above recipes on the spur of the moment. The results were a hit, but according to one particular family member, the visual appeal was lacking. The kale overpowered all other colors, rendering the finished product a brilliant green. This was no problem for those of us who like veggies, but our meat and potatoes guy was seriously grossed out! It is his opinion that consumption of green food is typically unacceptable unless it’s the color of beer on St. Patty’s Day.
I enjoyed this exercise in creative problem solving and was happy with our outcomes, but it helped me understand how difficult and time consuming it is for busy, stressed families to address multiple dietary requirements daily! If you don’t mind the work, you can find a variety of relatively easy recipes for tasty and visually pleasing pureed fare on the Web. Maria Quici’s website Appetizing Options for Pureed Diets is one of my favorites. Maria advertises no more chicken in a blender. Hmmm….. Might have averted disaster if I’d visited her site for recipes!
If it all seems like way too much bother, there are products on the market that can ease the burden. My next blog post will be a promised and long overdue review of three different product lines for people on pureed diets. Stay tuned!
Cynthia “Cyndee” Williams Bowen, MS, CCC-SLP owns Bowen Speech-Language Therapy, LLC in Clearwater, FL. She provides quality, creative, collaborative treatment to adults and adolescents with communication, swallowing, Parkinson’s, and related disorders.