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

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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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Want to make bread, cakes and baked goods safer for those with a swallowing problem? Watch this video!


Thoughts on “Being Mortal”

being mortal

Atul Gawande’s marvelous book “Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End”, is a must-read for anyone who plans to age in the USA. Dr. Atul Gawande is a surgeon, a professor at Harvard Medical School and the Harvard School of Public Health, a writer for the New York Times, and the author of three bestselling non-fiction books on science and public health. He makes difficult subjects interesting and understandable. You don’t have to be a scientist to understand and enjoy his books.

In “Being Mortal”, Dr. Gawande writes eloquently about the history of how we care for our aging population and the importance of retaining the dignity and freedom to be the “authors of our own lives.” In the end, when all else is said and done, that is what matters.

This book has inspired me. This month, I spoke at the Arizona Geriatric Society’s Fall conference. My topic was “Managing Dysphagia Beyond Acute Care”. Once read this book, I reworked my presentation. I made sure to address the joy of eating, the social aspects of sharing a meal and the cultural significance of food. The medical professionals who attended this conference know the science so I shared with them my thoughts on the art and soul of eating.

“Being Mortal” is a call to action for doctors and other medical professionals to expand our responsibilities beyond trying to “fix” what is wrong and embrace the final years of living. This time period should be about living as fully as possible and having the best possible day (week/month/year); it should not be focused on dying.  As we reach advanced age or fight a terminal illness, much of what happens to our bodies can’t be “fixed”. Yes, we can eat right and exercise but there is nothing we can do to stop time.

For many of us, as we age, our ability to swallow can become impaired. Illnesses like oral cancer and dementia can rob us of more than our vitality; they can steal from us our ability to eat and enjoy food. According to the National Institutes of Health, one in six Americans over the age of 60 is having trouble swallowing. In 2013, over ten million Americans had a swallowing assessment.

In “Being Mortal” Dr. Gawande builds the case that “as our time runs down, we all seek comfort in simple pleasures – companionship, everyday routines, the taste of good food, the warmth of sunlight on our faces”. Not being able to eat and drink like everyone else can interrupt our everyday routines, be isolating and can lead to depression. Food and eating is basic to our survival, but is even more important to our quality of life and our joy of living. How we eat and with whom we eat feeds the spirit.

Caring for someone with swallowing problems is about more than the mechanics of feeding. Doing it right is science combined with art. With the right tools, creativity and information, it may be possible for those with swallowing problems to share and enjoy a meal. Diagnoses and food modifications help to sustain the ability to nourish the body but we should acknowledge that we need to feed the soul, as well.


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


Life After Oral Cancer

I recently spoke at a SPOHNC meeting.  SPOHNC is a support group for people with oral, head and/or neck cancer: www.spohnc.org.  I was invited to speak about cooking for someone who is having trouble swallowing and to introduce some food products available for people living with swallowing disorders and to discuss some strategies for modifying foods so that they remain tasty but are safe to swallow.  Properly modified foods can make a big difference in someone’s life.

I thought I was there to share but I found-out that I was really there to receive.

I thought I was there to teach but I really was taught.

I learned that people who are going through treatment for head/neck/throat cancer need support, encouragement and solutions when it comes to dealing with food and eating.

I learned that people could use some guidance on how to manage and modify “regular” food and the social aspects of eating and dining.

I learned that once the body has healed from the surgery and radiation, there is less and less need for pureed/modified foods because the ability to swallow returns.

I learned that when it comes to swallowing: “if you don’t use, it you lose it”.

I learned that it is terrifying to take food and liquid by mouth, especially after radiation. Often, many people just give-up on eating, instead they take nutrition through a PEG tube.

I learned that recovery is possible.

I was struck by the story of one survivor’s seventeen weeks of radiation and subsequent physical manifestations from that amount of radiation. I’ll call her “Terri”. Swallowing liquids and eating has been extremely painful for Terri so she had almost completely stopped eating. But she steeled herself to have a bite of the tomato that I had prepared for safe swallowing. A whole range of emotions crossed her face as her taste buds came alive. Terri hadn’t eaten in months, instead taking her nutrition through a tube. The tears she shed we’re from pain but from relief and joy and pleasure. Seeing someone who hasn’t been able to enjoy food, enjoying something as simple as a tomato brought me pleasure, as well. I’d grown that tomato in my own garden and I was happy to share it.

At that meeting, I was reminded of the human will to live and just how strong and brave so many of us are and need to be. I was humbled…

If you need advice or information about eating, please contact me at: laura@dysphagiasupplies.com

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