Ideas for pureed food for a 30-something who is really picky
August 24, 2008 1:19 PM   Subscribe

Help "a meat-atarian" nourish herself post-jaw surgery. She needs ideas or recipes for pureed-consistency foods "that aren't gross". (Her words in quotation marks - she's very picky about food.)

Posted for a friend, who once had a metafilter account, but then had to write a thesis. (She finished, it's all good.)

"I just had jaw surgery. My jaw isn't wired shut, but I have a splint in my mouth and elastics holding the mouth closed-ish. I can open it a little but not enough to put a spoon in. I can stick my tongue out and lick a spoon with food on it. I am not allowed to use a straw and liquids are do-able but not ideal (I actually can't close me mouth to a seal, either). I am not allowed to use a straw. Basically I eat purees. This will continue for 6 weeks and I need to eat in the meantime.

So far I've been eating pureed fruit (apple sauce, apple sauce with other stuff, and frozen pureed watermelon (yum..the best)), pudding, and yogurt. I tried a little babyfood (strawberries great, ham dinner - wierd and gross). It seems to be the case that stuff that's meant to be mushy (apple sauce, yogurt) works a lot better than pureering things that are meant to be solid. Pureed chicken in broth may taste the same as solid chicken, but somehow it's just wrong.

I need to get a little more variety and in particular, get some protein and calories. Basically I'm eating full time and I doubt I'm getting 500 calories a day and most of what I get is sugary.

When I'm not mouth-ally disabled. I'm basically a meat-atarian, though I'll tolerate a side dish to fill me up (not mashed potatoes, don't even go there!). Meet with bread or rice is a staple. If I go out its either for fast food or Asian food (sushi, chinese, thai, dim sum). I realize these aren't options for the next six weeks, but I just mention it to give you an idea what I like to eat.

I'm looking for recipes or food ideas. I'm open to both things meant to be mushy or puree-ing solid foods, presuming you have reason to believe that this would be other than gross. Bonus points for finding a way to make meat edible and delicious."
posted by jb to Food & Drink (32 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Thicker but not chunky soups might be a good choice- something pureed but hearty like potato-leek or carrot based soups. I'd mix in a little protein powder, too, since she's not going to be getting much from other sources for now.
Baby food might not fly just because it's not really made to taste like a mushy version of the adult stuff- it's very bland.

Can she take a multivitiman or drink something like ensure while she heals to make sure she's not vitamin-deprived while her diet is so restricted?
posted by Kellydamnit at 1:26 PM on August 24, 2008 [1 favorite]

(woo hoo! question 100000!)
posted by crapmatic at 1:33 PM on August 24, 2008 [2 favorites]

When I was in a similar predicament I ate a lot of beef stew, which isn't too horrible when you puree it (if everything in it was falling-apart tender anyway). Also tomato soup (with bread and other vegetables so it has some texture, not from a can) and leek and potato soup that's heavy on meat flavour. A hand blender on a stick is useful to have, because you can watch the consistency of the thing you're blending and stop before it gets too liquidy. Also, if she gets nauseous or dizzy from not having eaten anything real in a while, a package of Jell-O dissolved in about three cups of boiling water and drunk before it starts to set is kind of disgustingly sweet but gives you a little energy and helps with the nausea.

Protein shakes, too, if she can choke them down (I couldn't).

Good luck!
posted by bewilderbeast at 1:44 PM on August 24, 2008

Yes, soup. And ice-cream.

I have a texture-phobia--I like food to be either solid or liquid, thank you.

Now is the time to have all the lobster bisque, butternut-squash soup with real cream, and potato-cheddar soup you might skimp on otherwise to avoid a cholesterol meltdown.
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:50 PM on August 24, 2008

Scrambled eggs.

Overcooked mac and cheese.
posted by The corpse in the library at 1:52 PM on August 24, 2008

I remember drinking a lot of Yogurt Smoothies and eating a lot of mashed potatoes.
posted by meta_eli at 1:55 PM on August 24, 2008

Thick cream of mushroom soup with bacon, crumbled fine.

Tuna out of a can, especially the cheaper stuff, is quite puree-y. Is that out of the question? There's lots of spices and stuff you can add, and hot sauce or lemon juice for flavor.
posted by nasreddin at 2:00 PM on August 24, 2008

Carnation Instant Breakfast is delicious.
Jamba Juice is epic.
posted by knowles at 2:04 PM on August 24, 2008 [1 favorite]

Oh lord, do I remember those days -- I had jaw surgery in 2004, and was banded shut for about 6 weeks or so, and spent another 4-6 weeks learning how to chew again after the bands came off.

Are mashed potatoes really not an option? I ate a ton of 'em, thinned out and flavored with various amounts of butter/chicken stock/herbs/cheese for flavor and calories.

What about soups, with tofu blended in? (The tofu won't alter the flavor -- it just adds protein and calories.) I found this worked best with cream soups (butternut squash and roasted red pepper were my personal favorites), but also could be made to work with heartier "textured" soups like lentil, chowders, etc. And what about blending some chili? (Throw in some ripe avocado, cheese, and/or sour cream if you're so inclined.) A stick blender works best for all of these, in case you're not using one already.

I also relied on a lot of milk shakes and smoothies -- again, with extra stuff blended in so that I could increase calories and flavor. My stand-by was a chocolate milk shake made with ice cream, chocolate sauce, heavy cream, frozen cherries, and a packet of Carnation instant breakfast. (Believe me, a single serving of that will have way more than 500 calories.) And if you're not on heavy-duty painkillers and care to imbibe, blend in a little Bailey's for extra calories/flavor too.
posted by scody at 2:07 PM on August 24, 2008

oof. I'm undergoing similar procedures in the next few months and have been doing some research.
Here are a few useful AskMe threads I've found useful:1 2 3.

Protein-wise, stews and other simmered-until-falling apart meats might be the best bet; I'm thinking something like braised lamb shanks with wet polenta. On the Asian cuisine front, there're things like this. It's not a full-blown puree, so there's still some meat texture there and the long cooking time teases out the gelatin and collagens and enhances the mouthfeel.

Other ways to add protein come from dairy foods; smoothies with yogourt or soft fruit with soft cheeses; I bet that you could make a pretty and delicious dessert with some sweetened pureed cottage cheese or a yogurt panna cotta as a base for the frozen watermelon puree.

good luck, and keep us updated!
posted by heeeraldo at 2:07 PM on August 24, 2008

You mentioned pureed chicken in broth already but I’ll throw in my two cents…when I had my wisdom teeth removed, my mom pureed chicken soup and it was absolutely awesome. The secret was to use larger portions of meat and veggies than normal. She also threw in a matzo ball or two. If you’ve ever eaten matzo ball soup, the consistency was pretty much the same except a lot more chicken-y.

I loved it so much I made it on my own a few times after I was healed. Mmmm.
posted by Diskeater at 2:08 PM on August 24, 2008

I am not allowed to use a straw.

Oh, and if you're not allowed to use a straw because sucking on it will cause damage (this was the case with me, too), check with your doctor to see if you can use Zip-n-Squeeze. They're bags with a straw attached, but you don't suck on the straw -- you basically just squeeze the food into your mouth. This may make it easier to eat liquid foods like milkshakes and soups.
posted by scody at 2:12 PM on August 24, 2008

Chopped liver or some sort of meat pâté.
posted by needs more cowbell at 2:17 PM on August 24, 2008

Just as a way of getting more calories and protein in, how about those canned protein drinks that they sell for body builders?

Or "instant breakfast"?
posted by Class Goat at 2:20 PM on August 24, 2008

Seconding pates. Pates and terrines sound like they could really work here.
posted by peacheater at 2:48 PM on August 24, 2008

I have a lap band and whenever I have it adjusted, I have to revert to no solid foods for a few days, so I can completely sympathise.

Chicken salad pureed to a pate consistency is always yum. I just do a couple cans of Trader Joe's chicken in water - don't laugh, it's good - with some TJ's mayo, black pepper, some grapes, some Fuji or Gala apple slices and a few dill pickle slices then pulse a little tiny bit at a time. It thickens as you refrigerate it.

Ricotta cheese mixed with a couple spoons of whatever marinara sauce you like is surprisingly satisfying and has quite a bit of protein in it.

You can hard boil eggs then force them through a fine mesh colander with the back of a teaspoon till they're almost a fine powder and eat them that way (another easy source of protein).

Soups. Any of the 'heavier' soups (butternut squash, potato leek, cream of mushroom) as PPs mentioned. You can also do an onion soup made with a beef broth base and puree the onions. It will give it a thicker texture, and the beef base will satisfy you (if you want it even thicker, you can puree a piece of bread right in with the onions).

At the other end of the spectrum is cold cucumber soup, or a really thinned out gazpacho (I have a really good recipe for a mango gazpacho if you want it - memail me). When I get sick of trying to become creative, I honestly just drink a lot of those Campbell Soup at Hand soups. They're actually pretty good, and you can find them everywhere. The cream of chicken one is really yum.

Fage Plain Greek Yogurt takes on the the taste of just about anything you mix with it. I HATE yogurt, but one of my fave hacks with this stuff is to take two small containers of the Fage 2% plain yogurt, mix it with one package of Knorr veggie soup mix and then let it sit for about a half hour in your fridge. You would swear that you're eating veggie sour cream. Really, I kid you not.

I puree oatmeal all the time and have no problem eating it. Mix it with whatever.

Pastina boiled in chicken broth is good. You can make it egg-drop soup by mixing up a couple of eggs and drizzling them in the last minute.

If you want to try protein shakes, Muscle Milk Chocolate ones (I actually did the Muscle Milk Lite ready to drink chocolate) really aren't bad at all. I got mine at GNC.

One thing that I can absolutely recommend to you is that you get little spoons to make your life a little easier (if you haven't figured this trick out already)Take and Toss spoons (you can find them by the baby food at Target or wherever) are worth the $3. They're reusable and can go through the dishwasher. A toddler toothbrush will probably be a big help, too. I had my mouth partially wired after a particularly nasty wisdom tooth adventure and I recall these two items being quite helpful.

Good luck and feel better!
posted by dancinglamb at 2:52 PM on August 24, 2008

what about scrambled eggs? scramble them with cheese and/or sour cream for lots of calories and protein.

ricotta or cottage cheese are good.

i bet you could probably do pancakes soaked in butter or syrup. likewise, toast soaked in broth or tomato or onion soup might be palatable.

quiche filling might be doable if you chop your fillings finely enough (or puree them and mix them into the egg/cheese/milk batter. you can skip the crust.

what about mashed carrots? turnips? peas? eggplant?

pureed bean chili would be good, i think, or pureed minestrone.
posted by thinkingwoman at 3:14 PM on August 24, 2008

Seems like cream cheese could be helpful here. They sell tubs of garlic-and-herb cheese, which is really tasty and isn't really sweet. It's thick enough so it doesn't feel liquid, but should be soft enough for you to eat, especially if you add a bit of water to it to thin it down.
posted by Class Goat at 3:34 PM on August 24, 2008

Any kind of sandwich filling would probably be good. You can make chicken spread, devilled ham, egg salad, or tuna salad with a really creamy consistency naturally, so I imagine pureeing wouldn't change the taste too much.
posted by platinum at 3:48 PM on August 24, 2008

Maybe something like meatloaf, which is already soft, but minced up? Or sandwich fillings (egg salad, tuna salad), or even salmon mushed up in cream cheese?

Cottage cheese has a ton of protein, and it's good with spices (like seasoning salt or curry powder.)

Soft casseroles (like lasagna) that have been further mushed with a fork might work, and not be too far off the original texture.

Refried beans, with lots of spices and onions and whatnot added. Mmmmm.
posted by peggynature at 3:49 PM on August 24, 2008

Refried beans have a lot of protein.
The yolk of a boiled egg, maybe deviled egg style?
Congee (Chinese rice porridge) with shredded dried pork is good, but you'd have to eat a lot of it to be full. You can get the shredded meat in plastic tubs at a Chinese grocery store.
Really thick lentil soup or split pea soup.
posted by hooray at 3:50 PM on August 24, 2008

I had jaw surgery in 1992, when they wired you completely shut for 8 weeks with splint. I lost ten pounds in four days but I was only 13 years old. Not ideal. However, my mom put soy protein in absolutely EVERYTHING that I consumed. My favorite was Carnation instant. Yummy soups worked pretty well too. You might consider a juicer. Juicing carrots, ginger and spinach gets you a lot of that iron and potassium without the weird texture. Add some protein powder and there you go. I mostly forewent (is that a word?) a lot of meat because of the texture situation; there was no recipe of soup or whatnot that I could stand the pureed texture of it. Cottage cheese was a big one back in the day. Good luck!
posted by cachondeo45 at 4:04 PM on August 24, 2008

What about Congee? It's Asian, meant as a convalescent food, and can be made with a variety of different savory ingredients.
posted by spinifex23 at 5:03 PM on August 24, 2008

Homemade cream soups would be ideal for you, and they're pretty easy to make. Saute a little garlic and onion until they're soft, add some chopped root veggie (if potatoes are out, what about sweet potatoes or carrots or some butternut squash? They work well too) and some beef, chicken, or veggie broth. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for about 45 minutes. Let cool a bit, then add the mixture to a food processor or blender and blend in batches. Return to the pot, add salt/pepper to taste, and then add some milk or cream.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 5:26 PM on August 24, 2008

Eckrich makes a selection of "smoked sausages" that are skinless: kielbasa, regular smoked, jalapeno cheese; they can be sliced and chopped so thinly that they don't need chewing. The texture is roughly that of a hot dog. Frozen meatballs can be cooked in water or broth and mashed or chopped finely.

Chicken pot pie, if the vegetables (which become completely chicken-gravyish) don't put you off. Ditto salisbury steak or hamburger steak, very easy to make from scratch if you like, and mashed down to particles, basically. They're meant to be soft, so the particulate format should be less off-putting.

Also, chili. It's not meant to be chewed, anyway.

(I myself survived shorter periods of orthodontia-induced chewlessness by living on Chef Boyardee Mini Ravioli, knife-and-forked to near paste. There's something deeply salty and satisfying about it, and while not something I would suggest for years of sustenance, it'll do you in a pinch.)
posted by Lyn Never at 7:09 PM on August 24, 2008

Braunschweiger, woooooo! I like mine with cream cheese (on a bagel, but obviously you can just do it without).

Greek yogurt is especially good with honey.
posted by Madamina at 8:02 PM on August 24, 2008

Oh, oh! Just left a backyard party to come here and remind you about the delicious wonders of guacamole and hummus! I could eat a bowlful with a spoon. In fact I'm going back to do that right now!
posted by platinum at 8:17 PM on August 24, 2008

Hachis Parmentier is your friend, basically mashed potato with beef.
posted by SageLeVoid at 9:04 PM on August 24, 2008

I was wired shut for 4 weeks about 6 months ago. I was on a total liquid diet (it all had to fit through a syringe) so it was a little different, but nonetheless I sympathize with your friend, and wish her the best.

I also craved meat and had a lot of trouble satisfying my cravings. Tomato sauce with meatballs blended together was yummy, and hearty canned soups blended and strained were icky but filled me up. If it's the flavor you're after, I found cooking a corn chowder with some ham or bacon satisfying, but if it's the protein, Instant Breakfast (tasty) or Ensure (nasty) should do the trick.
posted by i_am_a_fiesta at 9:49 PM on August 24, 2008

It is possible to reduce cooked meat to a purée in a blender. It is also better not to eat it without coloring it because it is gray and makes oatmeal look like gourmet food. It could be thinned , and colored!, with consommé or tomato sauce or soup.
posted by Cranberry at 10:53 PM on August 24, 2008

TUNA SHAKE!!!! Seriously, I know some people that really like sounds pretty gross to me, but they swear by it. Might be worth a try...
posted by btkuhn at 12:01 AM on August 25, 2008

Trader Joe's Eggless Egg Salad is smooth and creamy, and much healthier than regular egg salad.
posted by radioamy at 7:43 PM on August 25, 2008

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