My friend Samantha Wyatt at Pure-A Foods asked me to conduct a taste test of three different pureed diet product lines and write a blog about my findings. It has taken me several months longer than anticipated to do so, but my Puree in a Pinch experience piqued my curiosity. I wanted to know how these commercial products compared, so I ran the test over my Christmas holiday.
Parameters Assessed: Appearance, Consistency, Ease of Preparation, and Taste.
Likert Scale Scoring: 0 Unfavorable, 1 Mostly Unfavorable, 2 Tolerable, 3 Neutral, 4 Favorable and 5 Highly Favorable
Consistency: Meats 3, Fruits 1, Vegs 1 (Average Score 1.67)
Ease of Preparation: 5
Taste: Meats 3, Fruits 4, Vegs 2 (Average Score 3)
ThickIt Average Score: 2.67 (Tolerable to Neutral)
Thick & Easy
Ease of Preparation: Meat 0, Vegs 0, Fruit 5 (Average Score 1.67)
Taste: Meat 3, Vegs 2, Fruit 5 (Average Score 3.33)
Thick & Easy Average Score: 3.75 (Neutral to Favorable)
Ease of Preparation: 5
Taste: Meat 3, Vegs 3, Starches 3, Desserts 4.5 (Average Score 3.38)
Pure-A Average Score: 4.47 (Favorable to Highly Favorable)
As you can see, Pure-A holds the top spot by a slight margin, but I must be honest and say my opinion isn’t highly favorable for any single brand line. Each had pros and cons.
Con: Appearance is unappealing. Meats are very reminiscent of dog food, but they do present as a puree consistency. Other items are a bit too thin. The fruit had separated into a thick nectar with large clumps of thickener. The unthickened nectar was tasty, but it was not appropriate for a pureed diet, in my opinion. Chemical after taste was a problem.
Thick & Easy
Pro: Appearance. All items are molded to look similar to the natural, unprocessed item. For example, corn looks like a small half-cob of corn; meats look like serving slices; green beans look like a mound of the vegetable (although my trial didn’t hold its shape through the cooking process for some reason). Puree consistency was good for all items tested. The fruit was served unheated and was delicious, visually pleasing, and could also provide a bit of thermal stimulation when served before it fully thaws. Meats were average in taste. Of the chicken, turkey, and roast beef samples provided, I preferred the taste of the chicken.
Con: Preparation is a huge drawback. Items are heated in their plastic containers, and cooking time can be as long as 90 minutes if you cook from frozen state. Heating time is shorter if you think ahead and take it out to thaw for 12 hours before preparing. The Ease of Preparation score for Thick & Easy was elevated somewhat because fruits are thawed without heating and in a relatively short time in the packing. Chemical after taste was a problem.
Pro: The Pure-A samples were very easy to prepare to proper consistency across all trials. Appearance and taste were above-average. Dessert items were very tasty, especially the Strawberry Shortcake. Banana Crème Pie was good but a bit sweet for me. This would probably not matter to people with declining sense of taste.
Con: Again, I found that most food items had a chemical after taste.
Conclusion: Pure-A Foods won my taste challenge with an average score of 4.47 . Their products are convenient, easy to prepare, and maintain a puree consistency. Chemical after taste was a problem for me, but it might not matter to people with reduced gustation.
To be perfectly honest, I prefer home made vs processed puree. It may be “chicken in a blender” and the work involved is less than realistic in care facilities, but during gatherings of family and friends home made allows people on restricted diets to enjoy the flavors and aromas offered to guests consuming regular fare. If limited to processed puree, I think I would want to create a menu by combining the best items from different product lines. Just my humble opinion.
In closing, you might want to follow this link to read another speech pathologist’s similar review. Tiffani Wallace conducted a much more detailed taste test a few months ago and posted her findings on her Dysphagia Ramblings blog. She was fortunate to have family members who were game to serve as guinea pigs. My family said “nooooo waaaaay!”
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.
Full Disclosure: I have known Samantha Wyatt of Pure-A Foods for several years; however, I am in no other way connected to or employed by the company. Pure-A provided the products I evaluated, but I was not compensated or unduly influenced by them while making this comparison. Cyndee Williams Bowen, SLP