I guess I could give Soylent a try
March 8, 2015 1:46 AM   Subscribe

My jaw is wired shut for the next 3-4 weeks. I would like to not die of starvation and/or boredom. Give me all your best liquid diet recipes/hacks

So I broke my jaw in two places* and am basically not eating anything that doesn't fit through a straw until April.

The RDN at the hospital gave me some good tips and recipes, but I figure the hive mind has to be a trove of good information as well. She also told me to start out shooting for 1800-1900 calories per day and 60-75 grams of protein, and to adjust to try to maintain weight, and that it would probably be easiest to do this in ~6 meals per day.

In general I prefer savory to sweet flavors anyway, so I'd especially love ideas that don't require committing to full-on getting out a saucepan and waiting for things to heat up to make soup, but that also aren't really on the desserty smoothie/milkshake axis. Omnivorous and no allergies/dietary restrictions, though I usually feel kind of sluggish/bloaty if I have more than about a pint of milk in a day, so I'd prefer to have at least one non-dairy recipe per day.

*protip: if you ever think to yourself "I feel kind of dizzy but I don't want to lie down/put my head down here in case one of my coworkers comes in, how about I walk up the linoleum-floored hall to the bathroom where I'll have a little more privacy," DO NOT LISTEN TO THAT THOUGHT
posted by kagredon to Food & Drink (29 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
One of my favourite soups as a kid, very simple: 2 potatoes, 6 stalks celery, 8 carrots, all roughly chopped and then boiled in enough water to cover them, then pureed, with a ton of butter swirled into it at the end. You could probably top it with 0% plain Greek yogurt for protein (which is a little milder than 2%, ime).

I don't know for sure that it would fit through a straw like that; you might want to add a bit more water (or I guess some stock, if too much flavour would be lost with extra water).

Whoops, sorry. You specifically didn't want soup. Ensure.
posted by cotton dress sock at 1:59 AM on March 8, 2015 [2 favorites]

You might like gazpacho and other cold soups.
posted by neushoorn at 3:00 AM on March 8, 2015

Response by poster: (no, soups are welcome too!)
posted by kagredon at 3:02 AM on March 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

When I (deliberately) get my jaws broken, I wound up getting a lot of fast food shakes and adding protein powder/nutritional supplements to them, simply because it is way easier to add nutritional balance to a calorie-heavy shake than it is to add liquid calories to something savory. It's an easy option for your one-portion-dairy: buy a large shake, drink a (supplemented) half, freeze the rest (will likely have to be reblended) for tomorrow.

I also found that my dairy-heavy diet (I was going to university classes within a week, and milkshakes carry well) made me feel incredibly nauseated by week 3, so good on you for being proactive about this.

Here's my askme about my diet. My dietician covered applesauce, blended eggs, blended/strained oatmeal (with applesauce/honey for flavour)...
posted by flibbertigibbet at 4:57 AM on March 8, 2015

An anecdote from an Italian friend: once his grand-aunt was ill and home alone, she took out a chuck of beef the family was planning to eat for Sunday lunch. She put it in a pot with an onion, a carrot, a stalk of celery and herbs, and browned the lot. Then she added the expensive bottle of red wine which was intended for that lunch (Barolo), and cooked it till the alcohol had evaporated. Then she added 2 pints of water, salt and pepper. And cooked for 2 hours. Out of this came one bowl of thin broth which was really healthy. Auntie recovered. The family went out for lunch.
I think this would be just as healthy with cheap cuts of beef and cheap wine.
posted by mumimor at 4:58 AM on March 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I've never tried this, so who knows if it would even work, but what if you thinned out some hummus by blending it with some broth or vegetable juice? A kind of savory, chickpea-based smoothie? Sounds kind of gross saying it like that, but if I were in your shoes I might try it.
posted by Rock Steady at 6:05 AM on March 8, 2015

Best answer: For savoury I'd look at using coconut milk as a base. Maybe some red or green Thai curry sauces? A little bit of cooking but you can buy pretty good pastes. There is also miso soup for savoury needs. You'd definitely need to supplement with miso to get enough calories.
posted by five_cents at 6:20 AM on March 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

If this was me I'd aim for food that was meant to be eaten this way normally while I pondered how big I could make that straw. Do you have to worry about suction, or just not being able to chew? Because you might be able to work some texture into you diet via rice and other grains.

You could easily do some curried dals that use the smaller red lentils which can be cooked up like more of a porridge, and eaten at any tempurature. Porridges, like congee or rice pudding, could be another if thinned enough. If you needed something more calorie dense, African Peanut Soup?
posted by squeak at 7:00 AM on March 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

I'm not sure how easy it's going to be to avoid cooking if what you're looking for is liquid that tastes like cooked food. But maybe you just meant easily reheatable, like in a microwave, and not the initial preparation?

Along the same lines as miso, you could make a big batch of tonkotsu ramen broth and freeze it in serving sizes, to be reheated in the microwave as needed. Adding black garlic oil and chili paste to taste.

French onion soup broth cooked way down and then solids strained. You might be able to stir in a little grated cheese and have it melt into the broth to go through a straw (not too much).

Tortilla soup base is another good candidate. Again, straining the solids or just pureeing them in. And maybe thinning with a little chicken stock.

Gazpacho was mentioned and is a good idea.

Beet borsht, pureed after preparation? Stir in a little sour cream (or maybe crema for the thinner texture) at serving time.

And, yeah, if you can deal with eating stews and curries etc through a jumbo straw that opens up more options. Here are big straws meant for boba tea.
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:10 AM on March 8, 2015

Best answer: Hi! I was in your shoes a few years ago. Take my advice with a grain of salt, though, because I wound up losing 10 lbs over those 4 weeks.

Things had to be thin for me to be able to drink them, and I was not able to use a wide straw to suck up... anything, really. I wound up drinking a bunch of meal replacement stuff to be sure I was getting baseline nutrients.

The thinned out dal and curries sound perfect for your needs. Protein was really a challenge for me - I wish I'd had protein powder available to just kick things up a notch.

Good luck! The blender is your friend. (I've heard of people chucking steak into a blender after some weeks because they missed meat.)
posted by invokeuse at 7:31 AM on March 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: My jaws were once wired shut for 7 weeks. I consumed almost 4,000 calories a day and still lost a bit of weight over that period; a healing body is going to demand more energy than a regular one. I mention this in case it's helpful to you to know that you may need lots more than that initial 1800-1900 caloric starting point.

My favorite meal: Tomato soup from a can into which I blended all-dressed potato chips. I was using a huge syringe rather than a straw to get liquids into my mouth, so I didn't have to worry about generating suction. My treat at the end of the day: an entire big plain chocolate bar melted and thinned with a bit of milk to shoot into my hungry, hungry mouth. I got protein from high-protein meal replacement drinks and protein powder - I went through lots of both of those things.

I still wonder if my raging, unending hunger during that time might have signaled that I still wasn't getting enough protein, so I second invokeuse's sense that protein was a challenge.

Good luck, and feel better soon!
posted by Hellgirl at 7:35 AM on March 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I haven't tried this, but I'm thinking maybe pureed soft silken tofu combined with pureed boiled sweet potato, thinned with broth and seasoned how you like it? A white bean puree could work the same way. Maybe add in some melted butter for fat and deliciousness.
posted by lakeroon at 8:11 AM on March 8, 2015

Best answer: My sister ate a lot of baby food when her jaw was wired shut. Even if you had to thin it out a bit, there's little prep and many savory options.
posted by dreaming in stereo at 8:18 AM on March 8, 2015

Best answer: I made beef bone broth for my mother recently when she was recovering from thyroid removal and couldn't swallow anything solid. I put lots of ginger and carrots and onion to make it tasty for her. After skimming the fat off, the cold broth was thick with gelatin. She would microwave a cup to sip during meal time. After a few days we did the same thing with chicken necks. The chicken bone broth was much thinner but still a little gelatinous.

My grandmother who tries to avoid too much dairy and sugar drinks warm gelatin sometimes as a protein supplement.
posted by Swisstine at 8:20 AM on March 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

Seconding tomato soup from a can as a base. Also, V-8. Simmer it on the stove with some parmesan rinds which you can often get from whole foods or heck, just dump in some parmesan. Dry cheeses like that won't give you that yuck-dairy feeling so fast. You can also use half juice, half broth. For umami with no dairy, try nutritional yeast.
posted by BibiRose at 8:36 AM on March 8, 2015

People think I'm crazy for drinking this, but I swear it's good: 2-3 fresh tomatoes, a chili pepper or a little hot sauce, and a cup of plain yogurt. Remove seeds, dice, combine, blend. It's delicious but it looks ugly.
posted by blnkfrnk at 9:10 AM on March 8, 2015

One of my quirky kids is actually into Soylent. This isn't savory, but we've found that if you blend it with pineapple and some vanilla, it's quite edible and nutritious.
Said kid also went on Amazon and bought 40 lbs of canned pineapple, which is now stacked in my garage. I'd offer you some pineapple, but I see from your profile that you live 3000 miles away from me. Good luck.
posted by islandeady at 9:24 AM on March 8, 2015 [3 favorites]

zomg I forgot - that carrot soup needs a couple of tomatoes, as well.
posted by cotton dress sock at 9:53 AM on March 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

A Vitamix can do a trick where it heats up the soup through friction so you can make hot soup from cold ingredients in about 5 minutes. It's not going to substitute for lovingly sweating shallots and mincing garlic, but if you've ever wanted an excuse to buy one I'd say this is a great one. Refurbished ones are $300 and less if you use 'friends and family' codes.
posted by ftm at 11:06 AM on March 8, 2015

My best friend spent six months with her jaw wired shut after some specialized reconstruction surgery. They gave her a rather interesting recipe book, the main point of which seemed to be, ANYTHING will go in a blender.

I really recommend NOT trying the hamburger or hot dog ideas, unless you're really, incredibly, possibly insanely desperate. We tried it for laughs... and got even more grossed out than we expected. There *were* a handful of recipes in the book she had that made edible creations, but most of them took more work than a high school junior in a hurry wanted to deal with.

This was back in the mid-90s, when we were 17 or so. Her preferences at the time ran to yogurts, puddings, milkshakes, juices, and smoothies.
posted by stormyteal at 11:13 AM on March 8, 2015

I know applesauce is the most boring answer ever, but I'm just saying that if I were you, I'd cook up a big pot of homemade sauce and keep it in the fridge for a quick snack. Homemade applesauce is super easy and so so so tasty. Lots of recipes online but let me say this: cinnamon sticks, cloves, lemon juice. Throw in a handful of berries or canned pears or peaches to change things up a bit.

Nthing mixing in tofu for the protein. Also for protein power: peanut (and other nut) sauces and soups. Mmm, peanut butter and coconut milk...I'm hungry.
posted by hannahelastic at 12:42 PM on March 8, 2015

Best answer: When I had orthodontic jaw reconstruction surgery 10 years ago, I ate just about everything blended. After a couple weeks, soups and smoothies just get so boring.

My favorite thing to eat ended up being chili(canned or homemade), thinned down with milk or half-and-half just enough to make it through the blender. I'd mix in a generous amount of a flavorful cheese - usually a sharp cheddar, heat and drink from a tall mug. Looks terrible, but was amazingly delicious and got a lot of calories in.

Getting enough veggies was tough. I had a lot of veggie juice and veggies in smoothies.

Another favorite was milkshakes. I had a chocolate or peanut butter shake with some protein powder added in most every day.

Try to go for calorie dense foods, and don't be afraid to add in half-and-half or even cream. I'm not sure how many calories I took in each day, but it seems like a LOT, and I still ended up losing over 30 lbs.
posted by Orrorin at 12:56 PM on March 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

Also - I found using a straw to be pretty uncomfortable, and kinda gross for dealing with hot meals. Syringes were OK but felt so..medical. I pretty much ended eating everything out of mugs.

And it's probably worth investing in a decent blender. The motor of my cheapo blender crapped out a couple weeks into my recovery.
posted by Orrorin at 1:02 PM on March 8, 2015

Best answer: Searching for "savory green smoothie" recipes might return some suitable ideas. Here are a few:
spicy vegetable green smoothie
spicy tomato-parsley green smoothie
savory garden green smoothie
paleo green smoothie
15 green smoothies in 3 minutes
hot and spicy vegetable smoothie
savory green smoothie
posted by Lexica at 1:11 PM on March 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

Can you get to a Trader Joe's easily (or have someone go for you)? They have lots of good soups in those cardboard boxes that should be tasty and relatively cheap if you're looking for a super low prep option. I remember the tomato soup being pretty good, and I've heard great things about butternut squash soup as well. I think both of those should be broth without solids, but you could always thin them out with some water/stock.

If you do go the smoothie route, I would be inclined to use greek yogurt for your dairy smoothie, because it is high in protein. (Also go for full or at least not nonfat since it will fill you up for longer if it has some fat content.)

Green smoothies with spinach are good too, although I think you're not supposed to combine green smoothies and dairy because the iron interferes with calcium absorption (or maybe it's the other way around). Almond butter and avocado are two other things which would be good to throw into a smoothie for added fat and protein.

I also like carnation instant breakfast when I'm looking for incredibly low hassle calories. (There's also ensure, but I prefer carnation chocolate powder mixed with milk for taste reasons.)

And maybe this will by too "grainy" but what about Cream of Wheat? Throw in some cinnamon and cooked with milk (as opposed to water), and it can be pretty tasty.

I'm not sure what kind of blender you have (if any), but if you had some money to throw at this problem, you could consider getting a vitamix blender. I don't personally own one, but I do know other people who have them, and apparently they can purify just about anything, and they're good for making soups not just smoothies.
posted by litera scripta manet at 2:24 PM on March 8, 2015

You could add protein powder to your liquid diet. Collagen hydrolysate (basically broken down gelatin) doesn't taste like anything. I add it to my morning coffee. Coffee gets thicker but really doesn't impact the flavor.
Plus you'll need the protein to help you recover.
posted by Neekee at 5:28 PM on March 8, 2015

Porridge, perhaps.
posted by aniola at 5:36 PM on March 8, 2015

I thought I didn't have anything to add but it turns out I do: full-calorie meal-replacement Ensure tastes less like vitamin tablets and wet cardboard if you chill it, but the thicker texture of cold Ensure is not universally appealing. Actual food, however blenderized, is a less demoralizing way to get your nutrients but Ensure has its place, particularly when you're tired (healing can take a lot out of you.)
Savory dips like hummus and baba ghanouj might be a nice break from soup, and both have a fair bit of fiber. Syringe, I think, rather than straw for those.
posted by gingerest at 9:34 PM on March 8, 2015

Best answer: If you like Indian food you could try different Indian "gravy" recipes, which are really mother sauces which get their body from pureed onions and tomatoes. Typically they are then used to finish cooking other ingredients like paneer cheese or garbanzos or koftas, but the gravies on their own are highly savory and satisfying and can be fortified with plenty of butter and cream if you're looking for more calories. Here's a good place to start.
posted by werkzeuger at 9:26 PM on March 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

« Older Maybe it's just called "Being a Jerk"   |   What's going on with my knee and how can I make it... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.