Preparing puree meals for adults is an art and a science. We need to consider nutrition as well as appearance, taste and flavour. Most of all we need to ask: is this food that I would enjoy eating?
Most of us have some experience with feeding babies. We blend together a mixture of bland foods and baby hungrily eats up. When it comes to feeding adults it is a different story altogether. What suits baby will not please most adults! First of all, adults have different nutritional needs to babies. Secondly, as adults we are used to more complex flavours in our food. Eating a puree diet as an adult should not equal plain tasteless foods. A pureed diet can and should be rich in nutrients, colour, taste and flavours. In this blog we show you that this IS possible!
Reasons for requiring puree diets are varied and complex. In the short term, a soft or puree diet may be helpful for someone having jaw or major dental surgery. Or, a Speech Language therapist may prescribe a puree diet for someone with a swallowing problem who is at risk of aspiration or choking. If you’re the patient, life isn’t over just because your meal texture needs to be modified.
If you’re the cook make sure that the puree meals you serve are nutritious, delicious and uphold residents’ dignity as an adult. The tips below will help you make tasty and appealing puree meals for adults.
1. The basics…There’s no reason to puree all the food together. This creates a grey or brown slop, with a cacophony of flavours. Unless it’s a casserole, puree each meal component separately. This means keeping the meat separate from the vegetables and the starch and so on. Gravy should preferably be poured over at the time of service.
Puree meals should never look like this!
2. Colour…We all ‘eat with our eyes’ and this continues when you’re on a puree diet. Colour is important in stimulating the appetite. Aim for as many different colours in the puree meal as you can. Vegetables like beetroot and pumpkin are great for using as a base for sauces and add extra colour. Puree fruits such as berries and mangoes to garnish milk puddings and ice cream.
3. Shape…Puree foods don’t need to be sloppy, or served up with ice-cream scoop mounds. Using a variety of moulds we can create life-like pureed foods. Think puree peas shaped like whole peas, pureed beef in the shape of a steak, and milk puddings can be set in fun moulds. The limit is your imagination. Moulds and piping bags are helpful tools to have around when plating puree meals.
4. Nutrients… A poorly managed puree diet can be the start of a slippery slope to malnutrition.Many puree meals are low in protein, vitamins, fibre and calories. Often people on puree diets eat poorly because their food is not appealing. So they’re not getting the energy and nutrients they need. Some cooks use water to puree the meal. This not only waters down the nutrients but also the taste. Choose a liquid high in nutrients if you need to add liquid. Think milk, yoghurt, gravy or a rich sauce. If the person is losing weight your dietitian may suggest adding extra cream, oil or nut butters. Contact a Dietitian immediately if a person on a puree diet begins to lose weight.
5.Menu Planning … don’t forget the puree meals when planning your aged care menu. Often these are just an after thought and adapted from the main menu. This can mean that the person on the puree menu misses out. Although most foods can be pureed, some foods won’t work as well. Puree meats work best when they have been slow cooked until tender. The liquid from the cooker can be used to puree it. Specify the puree meal and snack items. If you get stuck a Dietitian can help.
6.Snacks … older people enjoy (and need) their mid meal snacks. However, snacks typically served in aged care facilities are not suitable for people on puree diets. These include pastries, cakes, scones, slices and sandwiches. Milk puddings and dairy products can make good snacks and can be an important way to get more protein into the diet. Other options are nutritious smoothies, gelled cakes and sandwiches. to find out more come to our workshop.
7.Dignity… Always think about the dignity of the resident. Many residents needing a puree diet also need feeding. Put yourself in their shoes and think what it would be like to be fed as an adult? Feeding older adults is a skill. Help them freshen up before the meal. Say grace if that is their custom. Be patient. Take your time. Talk to them. Explain what is on the plate. Gently encourage them to eat. Provide the opportunity to eat at the table with everyone else.
8.Learn More… Aged Care Dietitians is running a workshop with an emphasis on Soft and Puree meals. We will cover everything from – reasons for a puree diet, nutrition, planning the menu and practical tips to preparing and serving the food. For more information contact us today!