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any recommendations for tasty foods to eat on a soft mechanical food diet?

Unfortunately, my mother has become very sick and due to the risk of pneumonia from aspiration of food/liquids, she has been put on a diet of thick nectar and soft mechanical foods. As a former gourmet chef, devoted foodie and lifelong hater of anything with the texture of oatmeal/cottage cheese/bananas, this has been somewhat devastating to her. Does anyone know of any tasty soft mechanical foods or a good resource for recipes and such? Thanks.

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  1. You'll probably want to pass any suggestions through the dietitian/doc, as her individual needs/tolerances may vary, but here are some suggestions to get ideas flowing:

    -vichysoisse, blended gazpacho or any pureed vegetable soups (strained and/or thickened as needed)
    -Pappa al pomodoro
    -Ribollita
    -risotto
    -polenta + sauce/gravy
    -soft scrambled eggs
    -mashed potatoes
    -grits + sauce/gravy
    -corn pudding/custard (with pureed corn- whole kernels might be challenging)
    -jook/congee
    -soondubu jjigae (sp? Korean soft tofu stew)
    -palak paneer
    -dahl (lentil soup) or kitchari (lentils and rice cooked together, can be made softer by increasing water in recipes if too firm)
    -panna cotta
    -any kind of ice cream, sherbet or sorbet her heart desires :)

    You may also get some ideas from the thread .for eating with wisdom teeth surgery (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/276325) and/or posting to the "special diets" board of Chowhound. Wishing you and your family the best...

    1 Reply
    1. re: 4Snisl

      Sorry I'm 2 months late with this, and I hope your Mom no longer needs it, but just in case....

      When my husband had 2 different gastro surgeries last year, we lived on...

      soup (obviously there are a zillion gourmet ways to play with that)
      scrambled eggs
      hummous (butterbean was our favorite variety, roasted red pepper also good)
      yogurt
      mashed potatoes (or cauliflower, or sweet potatoes)
      popsicle (blackberry mint was good)

      you know, honestly I rather liked the way that diet made me feel...you never had that heavy I'm-digesting-now feeling. Not sure if it was the smooth textured food or just the lack of meat.

    2. My FIL went through radiation and could only eat soft foods. Egg based foods were the best for him--he needed high calories so I'd use mostly egg yolks and cream. Crustless quiche, flan/type desserts were great. Add eggs to oatmeal to give them an extra creaminess. Rice pudding, rice porridge were good, with various types of rice.

      This thread might be helpful, too:

      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/744332

      Best wishes to your family.

      1. orzo or pastina
        soft poached fish
        poached and shredded chicken

        1. I see this is an older post, so I hope I'm not too late with this, but first I want to extend best wishes to your mom and to your family. I hope things have resolved with her. I went through something similar last year, and some things that worked were:
          Any poached, pureed fruits
          Any cooked, pureed veg - broccoli, spinach, cauliflower....zillions of choices
          Soups - "cream of," for calorie-density reasons: Any vegetable. Really, any soup
          Tuna salad, egg salad
          Mashed potatoes - you can mince meat into it.
          Any small pasta cooked in chicken broth, with minced meat and vegetables. This one is actually pretty good.
          Puddings, flans, custards
          Scrambled eggs, poached eggs, eggs eggs eggs
          Finely chopped Asian-style dishes went down well most of the time
          Cottage cheese
          Baked potato with cheese, mashed

          What we found out is that the best choices are things that are soft by nature, that already have a very light texture. Dense foods didn't work - I mean, nobody wants pureed Prime Rib, right? Stick to things that you don't have to change too much, texturally speaking. Best of luck to you and yours.

          4 Replies
          1. re: mamachef

            Unfortunately, my mom has a chronic illness which continues to progress so the mechanical soft food diet is likely long-term, so I appreciate your suggestions. In the past few weeks, we have been able to figure out some ideas, but she greatly misses many of the old favorites. I will definitely pass on your wonderful suggestions to her and either way it's always fun to experiment in the kitchen soft foods or not.

            1. re: fldhkybnva

              My nana is on a mechanical soft diet also. We came across a snack that we both enjoy and can be made into a thick drink or a "pudding". If you use orange jell-o it tastes like an orange dreamcicle!!!! Depending on her caloric need you can use whole milk cottage cheese and ice cream and regular jell-o or reduced fat cottage cheese, frozen yogurt and sugar free jell-o.

              1/3 cup Cottage Cheese
              1/3 cup Ice Cream
              1/4 cup of any flavor prepared jell-o
              Put all of this in the blender and it becomes a thick drink. It can be stored in a sealed container in the fridge.

              I did not read the instructions as carefully as I should have and this is how I ended up with the "pudding":

              1/3 cup cottage cheese
              1/3 cup ice cream
              1/4 cup any flavor jell-o powder
              2 cups very hot milk
              Blend the first three ingredients till thick. Add the hot milk and blend well. Store in a sealed container in the fridge. If the mixture separates when cold, return it to the blender to re-mix.

              1. re: fldhkybnva

                I purchased a book called Soft Foods for Easier Eating Cookbook. Authors Sandra Woodruff, RD and Leah Gilbert-Henderson PHD. You might want to check this cookbook out excellent.
                http://www.amazon.ca/Foods-Easier-Eat...

                1. re: fldhkybnva

                  a food processor and immersion blender can be really helpful. i'm sure you've probably cycled through most of the recipes that are designed to be the right consistency. but you can puree a surprising number of foods to match the consistency safe for people at risk of aspiration.

                  pumpkin / squash is very good pureed. you can puree soups (like tofu / miso soup) to get the right texture.

                  i've made chestnut puree by mashing chestnuts and adding milk to get the right consistency, then adding a bit of sugar

                  you can actually chop up meat & fish in a food processor to get small enough to consume safely. you would then add enough sauce / liquid to get the right consistency. it's not exactly like the original, but it could bring back some flavors that your mom may have missed.

                  powdered gelatin really helps as a binder when blending. it can thicken pure liquid and make sure the food has the right viscosity.

                  so my suggestion would be to think of this backwards -- instead of looking for recipes that have the right texture, think about the foods your mom wants to eat - and then figure out how to break it down to get the right texture so your mom can enjoy the flavor.

              2. Tofu can be a great nutrient delivery device, since it has virtually no flavor of its own, but can carry other flavors nicely.