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Bland But Strongly Flavored Foods

I know, it's a bit of an oxymoron, isn't it? But bear with me, I'm taking care of someone who's not very well, and running out of ideas of what to prepare. In a nutshell, the requirements are:

-she needs to gain weight while not ingesting a lot of fat

-meals must be prepared in small quanities, as she only eats a very small amount at a time. And when I say small, I mean a quarter slice of toast and a slice of fruit with three tablespoons of soup sometimes.

-strongly flavored, but with only very basic one note flavors like salt, beef, miso, or the fragrance of fresh bread. Nothing that involved combining a bunch of different things into one pot and letting it all stew together.

-no poultry. Eggs are okay but the sulfury smell sometimes is offensive

-no solid meat though broth from meat is fine.

-milk, yogurt and cottage cheese are okay but stronger cheeses are offensive.

-dishes must be relatively quick to make, both because when she has appetite I want to get it to her as soon as possible, and because I don't have time to be cooking all day.

-warm, savory foods are more appetizing than cold or sweet. She's sick of eating fruit and steamed vegetables, and who can blame her? Plus, those things aren't going to put on any weight.

-pretty foods, because the appetite often starts with the eyes, right?

So far, some of the things that are regularly tolerated are:

-good toast with jam
-gazpacho, in very small amounts
-scrambled eggs with a little butter, but only about half an egg at a time
-2% milk
-yogurt with fresh fruit
-Richer Asian bakery items, in very small amounts
-kabocha squash steamed in ginger sugar water
-multigrain rice porridge with dried gojiberries and jujubes (Chinese health food)
-fresh vegetable juice (carrot/apple/broccoli most of the time)

I'd really like to see more calories and meat in there, but it's hard to do it without adding fat or creating too many flavors. What do you feed someone who's naseous and has little appetite?

Today I'm trying a beef stew where we can have dinner and she can drink the stock or eat some soft vegetables, and tomorrow I might do a simple marinara on some very soft pasta.

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  1. Could she tolerate some chicken noodle soup, perhaps with whole wheat noodles for better nutrition?

    1. What about grits or polenta? Both are warm and good bases for savory additions if she can tolerate them. Or maybe a savory rice pudding or mashed/baked sweet potatoes.

      1. How about avocado soup with some sour cream/yogurt? It's actually high in good fat and quite easy to eat in the summer.

        may be some creamy oatmeal for breakfast?

        What about cream soup like cream of mushroom, or lobster bisque (wich is just creamy without the meat?)

        And if possible, make some steamed egg custard like chawanmushi?

        1. How about roasting some veggies -- that gives them lots of flavor without adding a lot of fat. You can make them in advance and reheat them before serving. Potatoes and beets would be good, and a little higher in calories. Then you can flavor them however you like, drizzle them with yogurt, etc. Roasted meat, too, since you said beef is okay.

          It's really hard to gain weight without a lot of fat. You might want to experiment with adding some kind of nutritional supplement (protein powder, etc.) to up the calorie count and provide more nutrients. Something like horchata with protein powder might be good. You might want to see if you can find some discussion groups for people undergoing chemo and some of their ideas for what to eat.

          1. I'm cooking for a ill person myself and can sympathize with your plight. A mild "guacamole"(omitting offending ingredients) or really good nut butters on toast is easy and quick and rich. Bread puddings of sweet and savoury flavors might be good. I'm making an apple bread pudding right now. Homemade broth has been a life saver here lately but really good "bought" stock or broth is also available. Sweet potatoes have a lot of good stuff in them.And if you keep some steamed vegetables ready to go, you can blend them up with good stock and maybe tofu for a nice soup and the colors are bright and appetizing.

            1 Reply
            1. re: WCchopper

              Oh would congee work? That may be what you meant by multi grain rice porridge. But we are eating congee regularly at our house.

            2. Egg drop soup.
              Lentils simmered with some curry powder and onion. You could serve this with some rice for complete protein. Lentils are the quickest cooking beans.
              Tofu in broth with soy.

              1. First, let me tell you how great of a caretaker you are, to take time doing some research for these kind of meals.

                When I went through chemo, aside from all the pills and what not that I had to take, I was stunned on such restricted diet (and the nausea, and all icky things) - was not even allowed fresh fruits/vegetables. Anyway, I saw that you already try porridge, I liked mine with meat broth and super very finely shredded chicken. Also, creamed corn soup with broth.

                Mashed sweet potatoes. At time, I really like ginger - it helps with nausea and I literally put it in lots of things. Steamed taro with some soy, and sometimes with very mashed up ground chicken. I also loved mashed up carrots with porridge! It's weird, but it was pretty good. Oh, and tofu (though it has very low calories, so probably not what you are looking for).

                Best wishes!

                1. The low fat restriction is really hard isn't it? I am cooking for someone with cancer right now, with many complications. The patient doesn't want meat, finds strong smells disgusting, and needs to consume about 90 grams of protein a day. However, her doctors are not concerned with fat content, only calories right now.

                  We do whey powder. There is simply no other option. 90 grams of protein is huge when the person can not manage more than about 6 bites per serving.

                  We are doing really well with smoothies and with soup. Sweet potato/ginger soup has been a hit. Other successes have been hummus, carrot soup, veggie broth, smoothies with frozen fruit [since they have been blanched],

                  Good luck.... this is really hard work.

                  1. Thanks, everyone, for the advice and well wishes. With what I have in the fridge, I think I'll try some pumpkin/carrot/ginger soup tomorrow and then try to work in some taro. And keep the ideas coming! I might as well keep myself amused in the kitchen while I'm here.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Pei

                      How about ....

                      1. Glutinous rice cooked in beef broth and topped dates and goji berries
                      2. Guacamole in flour tortillas
                      3. Tofu in ponzu sauce
                      4. Mochi balls?

                    2. I did this with my sister. She liked spicy foods even when she could barely eat. Some of the foods she could/would eat : sorbet or low/nonfat ice cream; deviled eggs; applesauce; salsa and chips; grilled pork tenderloin, frozen grapes; veggies stir fried in broth; pasta with veggies in light tomato sauce; shrimp stir fried and grilled; peanut butter on toast; angel food cake.

                      Hope this will help