Mother’s Day Dessert – Safe for the Whole Family

When I saw the cover of the May 2016 Better Homes and Gardens® magazine, I was inspired!

Mother’s day is right around the corner and what better idea than to make a delicious modified dessert for the mom who’s having trouble swallowing but that the whole family can share and enjoy.

The recipe in the magazine is for “Showstopping Meringue Desserts”. Crispy, marshmallow-y meringues are unsafe to consume for someone on a puree diet because they consist of several different textures and dissolve on the tongue, making it impossible to control the swallow. Add whole fruit and the original recipe is definitely off the list of “okay” foods if you are having trouble swallowing.

So I created a recipe that is every bit as beautiful and delicious.

The whole family can eat this and not feel like they are being cheated…just ask my girlfriends who ate these for dessert at our “girls’ lunch” yesterday!

This recipe is easy to make ahead and scale up or down, as needed.

  • 1 – 8 oz. brick Cream Cheese, softened
  • ½ cup Powdered Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 1 – 8 oz. container Whipped Topping, thawed
  • 1 jar Lemon Curd
  • Seedless Blackberry Jam
  • Blueberry Syrup
  • Mint for garnish, optional

In a large bowl, mix cream cheese with a mixer until smooth. Add powdered sugar and vanilla and beat until smooth. Fold in whipped topping.

Drop rounded half cup portions on a parchment lined sheet pan that will fit in your freezer. Form a well in each mound, making a shell, and freeze for at least 4 hours or overnight.

When you are ready to serve, peel the frozen shells off the parchment and place on individual plates or on a platter. Place the shells in the refrigerator for 20 minutes or allow them to sit at room temperature for about 10 minute so they can soften.

Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of lemon curd to each shell and top with small dollops of seedless blackberry jam and drizzle with blueberry syrup. Serve and enjoy!

Serves 8

The shells can be made ahead up to a month ahead, just freeze them until they are firm before you cover them with plastic wrap

.

If you are concerned about carbohydrates and fat, you can easily substitute Neufchatel cheese and “lite” whipped topping.

Nutritional Info each: 325 calories; 17.25 gm fat; 40 gm carbohydrates; 135 mg sodium; 0.33 gm protein

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“How to Puree Just About Everything” – A How-To Video

Though I haven’t posted recently, I have been busy.

I am in the process of filming cooking lessons on the techniques neccessary to puree almost every food. There will be five lessons in all.

The cooking lessons will be on a DVD that will be included in the purchase of my care manual “Making Every Bite Count”. Because this information is essential to living on a puree diet, I hope to make all the full length videos available to view online for a small fee.

Through these cooking lessons, I will show you how to modify the foods you love so you can still eat them if you are on a puree diet.

First up: Meat

Pureeing meat can be a real challenge! Cooked meats can be hard to puree because meat protein form tight bundles that need can be difficult to chew, let alone puree. When pureeing meat, keep in mind that:

  1. you need to start-out with cooked meat
  2. meats that are easier to chew will also be easier to puree
  3. you’ll need broth or other cooking liquid
  4. you’ll need an instant food thickener to bind the puree into a cohesive mass for safe swallowing
  5. purees don’t have to be soupy
  6. purees can taste great!

This video is just a snap-shot of the full video, so take a look and get some ideas!


Swallowing Problems? What to do about Thanksgiving dinner.

Family eating at the dinner table

Gathering at the holiday table is one way we share our love, show our humanity and honor our cultural traditions. For manyof us, holiday feasts like Thanksgiving and Christmas don’t feel like a holiday without certain well known and loved dishes. Traditional foods and recipes are handed down from one generation to the next, keeping alive our memories and honoring those no longer at the table.

For most of us, feasting with friends and family is basic to our humanity. But when you are having trouble swallowing, the act of eating can be scary, difficult or even dangerous.  Needing to be conscious of every bite you take, how you position your head and thinking through the swallow is no picnic! It can create anxiety, prevent you from being in the moment, taking part in the conversation at the table and enjoying the occasion like everyone else. Those who are recovering from a stroke, are having treatment for cancer or who are living with dementia may already feel isolated.  Not being able to share traditional family meals in a “natural” manner may be frustrating and challenging and can make matters worse.

It is understandable when those with swallowing problems may be tempted to “cheat” during the holidays and eat foods that are not part of their eating plan. Sharing traditional foods with family and friends is how we celebrate! Platters get passed and everyone takes a little bit of this and maybe a whole lot of that. Traditional foods have a special place at the holiday table but if those foods are the wrong texture, they can be a problem for someone who is at risk for aspiration. Aspiration is when a small particle of food or liquid enters the trachea (a.k.a. the airway or windpipe).  Aspiration can cause choking and aspiration pneumonia, both of which can be life-threatening.

Whether your family celebrates a holiday dinner with roast beef, turkey or ham, it is possible for someone with dysphagia to eat almost everything on the dinner table with a few modifications.

If you are on a Mechanical Soft Diet, remember to take small bites of soft, well-cooked foods. Add gravy and sauces to your foods to make them moister and easier to chew and swallow. Dark meat turkey is often more moist and tender so choose thigh meat and cut it into small pieces. Be mindful when eating foods with mixed textures. Avoid foods that aren’t easy to chew like nuts and raw vegetables. Stick with roasted vegetables and stay away from the crudité plate. Have the pumpkin pie instead of the pecan pie.

If you’ve been prescribed a puree diet, you’ll need a make a few additional modifications to many foods to make them the right texture for you.  To puree a single serving or two, you will find that a powerful mini food processor will become an invaluable tool.  Full-size food processors and blenders won’t work because they are too big to efficiently puree one or two portions to the correct texture. You will also need an instant food thickener like ThickenUp Clear® or ThickIt®.

Here is a puree plan for most traditional foods:

Turkey

Roasted Turkey/Beef/Ham/Brisket

  • In a mini food processor, place cooked a 2 – 3 oz. portion of cooked meat and process until finely chopped. Add 2 tablespoons of broth and process again until very finely chopped. Add 1 scoop instant food thickener and puree until smooth. The texture should be as thick as mashed potatoes. For visual appeal, place the meat in the corner of a quart-size zip-top bag and seal. Snip off the corner with the meat, and pipe the puree onto a plate in the approximate shape and size of a serving of meat.

Mashed Potatoes & Gravy

  • No modifications needed, just make sure the potatoes and gravy are lump-free and the potatoes are firm (not soupy).

Stuffing

  • Avoid stuffing. Try slurried dinner rolls (below) which taste a lot like stuffing.

Sweet Potatoes

  • Mash with lots of butter.

Green Bean Casserole

  • No mushroom soup allowed. Instead, puree a portion of well-cooked green beans and fried onions in a mini food processor with a small amount of cooking liquid. Add 1 scoop of Instant Food Thickener (I like ThickenUp Clear) and blend until smooth. You are looking for a texture like smooth mashed potatoes.

Dinner rolls

  • Use only soft dinner rolls. NO SEEDS OR WHOLE GRAINS! Make a slurry with ¼ cup of chicken broth and ½ scoop of Instant Food Thickener (ThickenUp Clear) and mix until it thickens. Pull apart the roll and cover with the slurry. Set aside for about ten minutes, until the roll has absorbed the slurry. Reheat as needed.

Cranberry Sauce

  • Canned smooth, jellied sauce is okay.

Pumpkin Pie

  • Filling only. No crust.

Apple Pie

  • Puree the filling in a mini food processor. No crust.

If you crave apple pie a la mode, check-out the archived recipe on this blog.

With a few modifications, you or someone you love can safely enjoy a holiday feast!


Autumn Pie Smoothies

apple drawing

Autumn is in the air and apples and pumpkins are in season.

It seems that everywhere you look, there are pumpkin-spiced lattes, pumpkin bagels, pumpkin cupcakes, pumpkin pancakes not to mention apple pie, baked apples, apple cider, apple this and apple that! Both fruits (and yes, pumpkin is technically a fruit!) are full of vitamins, fiber, phyto-nutrients and other goodness. Because pumpkin is full of Vitamin A and fiber, it is a super-food. Combine pumpkin with a powerful anti-inflammatories like cinnamon, ground ginger or other warm spices and you have an especially delicious super-food!

The old saying: “An apple a day keeps the doctor away” is grounded in truth…though the saying does not include the all-American apple pie…which is too bad! The good news is that an apple pie smoothie can be just what the doctor ordered when you have trouble swallowing and can no longer eat a traditional apple pie. This apple pie a la mode smoothie recipe includes great anti-inflammatory spices (cinnamon and ground ginger) that boost overall health and is so delicious that you won’t miss the crust.

These autumn-in-a-glass smoothies are delicious and nutritious…even if you are not having trouble swallowing!

 

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

 ½ banana, chopped (and frozen is possible)

1 container honey Greek yogurt

4 ice cubes

½ cup canned pumpkin

1 cup orange juice

½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (or cinnamon)

1 teaspoon finely ground flaxseed meal

1 tablespoon honey, maple syrup or brown sugar (optional)

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until perfectly smooth. If too thick or chunky to drink, add more juice and re-blend until smooth. Taste and adjust spices and sweeten, as needed.

Makes one generous serving

Nutritional Info:

375 calories, 12 gm protein, 4 gm fat, 73 gm carbohydrate. 388% RDA Vitamin A, 88% RDA Vitamin C, 30% RDA Calcium, 13% RDA Iron.

 

Apple Pie a la mode Smoothie

 ½ banana, chopped (and frozen if possible)

1 container vanilla Greek yogurt

4 ice cubes

½ cup canned apple pie filling

1 cup apple juice or apple cider

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon finely ground flaxseed meal

1 tablespoon honey, agave nectar or brown sugar (optional)

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until perfectly smooth. If too thick or chunky to drink, add more juice and re-blend until smooth. Taste and adjust spices and add sweetener, as needed.

Makes one generous serving

Nutritional Info:

475 calories, 12 gm protein, 4 gm fat, 103 gm carbohydrate, 6 gm fiber, 103% RDA Vitamin C, 28% RDA Calcium


Nourishing Independence with Mom’s Meals

Recently, I worked with a client who had just returned home after six weeks in hospital and rehab. “Irene” had been a vital, active 78 year-old woman before her stroke. More than anything, Irene and her husband “Bob” want to get their lives back to normal.

Since Irene has arrived home, Bob has been working overtime managing all of the activities that come with recovery from stroke including: scheduling doctor’s appointments then going to the appointments, ordering and receiving a hospital bed and wheel chair, juggling therapy visits, picking-up prescriptions, making the house wheel chair friendly and opening all the mail that accumulates while you are occupied away from home, just to name a few.

Bob asked me to help him learn how to cook for and feed Irene. Before the stroke, cooking was Irene’s job in the family but Bob will do anything it takes to care for his wife, including learning how to cook at 78 years-old! Being a bit overwhelmed, Bob has no time to cook for himself, let alone cook and then puree meals for Irene. I’m glad that there are foods like Mom’s Meals – Purees to recommend to him.

Mom’s Meals is an online supplier fresh-cooked, ready-made refrigerated pureed meals. Each meal has a main dish, vegetable and dessert. Their menu consists of comfort foods like:

  • Scrambled Eggs with Brown Sugar Pork Loin Bacon, Bread and Applesauce
  • Roast Beef with Gravy, Mashed Potatoes, Brown Sugar Glazed Carrots, Vanilla Pudding and Applesauce
  • Pork with BBQ Sauce, Cheese Mashed Potatoes, Green Beans, Fruit and Chocolate Pudding
  • Roasted White-meat Chicken with Gravy, Mashed Potatoes, Green Beans and Carrots, Fruit and Vanilla Pudding
  • Pasta with Marinara Sauce and Broccoli, Blueberry Applesauce and Pudding

You order online (or by phone) and Mom’s Meals ships directly to your home. The meals have a 14 day shelf life and are easily reheated in the microwave.

I sampled four meals and I found them delicious and hearty. At between 600 and 700 calories per meal, they are ideal for helping to rebuild your strength. With four breakfast menus and eight lunch/dinner choices, you have some ability to eat a variety of foods. If you like home-cooking, Mom’s Meals purees will appeal to you, as they did to Irene and Bob.

Each full puree meal is $7.49 plus shipping. Shipping is $14.95 regardless of the size of your order.

And if you are too busy to cook, like Bob, check-out their regular meals, as well!

To order from Mom’s Meals purees visit their website: http://www.momsmeals.com/independent-at-home/pureed-menu/.

If you need advice, please contact me: laura@dysphagiasupplies.com or 480-266-5622.

moms meals


Finally, a new Care Manual!

A care manual for living with swallowing problems.

A care manual for living with swallowing problems.

I’ve developed a tool for living with a diagnosis of dysphagia, it is called:

“Making Every Bite Count”

Cooking for Someone with a Swallowing Problem

This care manual helps you how to manage your condition and

keeps your information and research organized

It includes:

• Basic nutrition and how to make every bite count for someone who is having trouble getting enough to eat and drink by mouth.

• How to incorporate the standards of the National Dysphagia Diet into your normal eating habits.

• “How to Puree Just About Everything” – a cookbook with simple techniques on how to modify common, everyday foods.

• Delicious, easy recipes that the whole family can enjoy.

• Updated lists of regular, pre-made modified foods found in most grocery stores.

• Reviews of protein-calorie enhancers, specialty nutritional products, kitchen equipment and more!

• A swallowing screening tool.

• Pre-punched pages for monthly updates.

• Pockets and sleeves for keeping your paperwork and doctors’ orders in one place.

The purchase of this care manual also includes a monthly email update with seasonal recipes, advice, new product introductions and the latest information on webinars and support groups for living with or caring for someone with swallowing problems.

For more information or to order this care manual, please visit my website: http://www.dysphagiasolutions.com


Finding the “New Normal”

Years ago, when I brought home my newborn son, I stumbled as I tried to find my “new normal”. Major life events mean that life has to change in a big way. The “normal – normal” seems to no longer exist.

Those first few weeks of caring for a totally dependent new life were exhausting, scary, “real” and totally overwhelming. Days were measured by feedings, naps and diapers. Since eating is such a basic part of living, I expected that feeding my son would come naturally. It didn’t. We had challenges. I met with Lactation Specialists in the hospital. I read everything I could get my hands on. What helped me most was reaching-out to other moms and getting advice.  Slowly, as I became more comfortable and confident in my role as mommy/care-giver and after my son started eating regularly, the days started to make sense.

I like to compare my experience as a new mom to what families go through when a loved-one is sent home from the hospital after a stroke or other debilitating illness. Care-givers are thrust into roles they’ve probably never before navigated or at least have never practiced on their wife or husband or parent. Many people are often unprepared for the realities of managing the demands of cooking for someone with a swallowing disorder. Unfortunately, the “old way” of preparing meals won’t work anymore and the transition can be difficult. There are no “pureed diet” cooking shows on the Food Network. No famous chef has written a book about how to make pureed foods and beverages safe, nutritious and delicious…but I have.

I have dedicated my life to helping people eat, drink and return as close to “normal” as possible, as they navigate the road to recovery at home. During the ten years I spent working with staffs in hospitals, rehabilitation units and long-term care facilities, I taught many people how to properly manage foods and beverages for their patients with dysphagia. What I teach isn’t difficult or expensive but it can be critical to caring for someone who is living with a swallowing disorder.

The “new normal” will come with time and with a little instruction, a dose of creativity, and the right products. You can help restore the joy of eating and drinking to someone who is living with dysphagia.

If you need help or assistance, please contact me: laura@dysphagiasupplies.com

 

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