Tips on preparing puréed meals
Here at Wiltshire Farm Foods, we know it can be challenging to prepare safe and appetising meals at home if you have trouble swallowing food. That’s why we’ve put together this handy guide to offer advice on safely preparing puréed meals at home, and provide some ideas for puréed food recipes.
Why do I need a puréed diet?
You may hear a puréed diet be referred to as a ‘Soft food’ diet. In this guide, we will be referring to a soft diet as puréed, in line with current guidelines from the NHS.
A puréed diet is usually required as a result of dysphagia, otherwise known as swallowing and/or chewing difficulties. You can read about the symptoms of dysphagia here. Dysphagia can arise secondary to conditions such as stroke, dementia, or multiple sclerosis.
When your swallowing or chewing is weakened, modifying the texture and consistency of food can help to overcome any weaknesses and make food easier and safer to swallow. This reduces the risk of choking, or in some instances, inhaling food or fluid into the lungs – known as aspiration.
If you are having difficulty chewing or swallowing, it may be suitable to request a referral from your GP to see a Speech and Language Therapist who can assess your swallow and recommend a suitable textured diet if required.
Preparing puréed meals at home
Puréeing at home can be tricky at times, not to mention the washing up. However, we have 5 tips to help you purée more effectively at home:
1. Have the right equipment
It may sound obvious, but having a good quality blender or liquidizer will be essential. Further to this, a sieve will help to remove any lumps of food that could pose a hazard if you require a puréed diet.
2. Use the right liquids
Many different types of foods can be blended, however commonly these require the addition of liquids to aid the process. It is important to consider the nutritional content of liquids added. If you were to add water, you may increase the portion size of your meal and effectively dilute the nutritional content per mouthful. However, if you were to use full-fat milk, cheese sauce, cream, gravy or other appropriate sauces you will be fortifying your meals with vital calories and protein.
3. Some foods are easier purée than others
When selecting a meal you would like, it’s worth considering how easy it will be to blend to a puréed consistency. For example, a steamed white fish is going to be much easier to purée than a sirloin steak. Further to this, items such as boiled potatoes are much easier to blend than bread. This also translates through to vegetables, with a well-boiled carrot being easier to blend than a stringy green bean.
4. Some foods are naturally puréed
- Smooth, thick yoghurt (opt for full fat options)
- Smooth Mousses
- Puréed Fruit (ensure there are no ‘bits’ in)
- Thick custard
- Crème Caramel
- Instant porridge with no lumps
- Thick soups with no chunks of veg, noodles, meat or croutons (may need to be thickened)
5. Some foods should be avoided all together if you have swallowing difficulties
- Mixed consistency foods – these are any foods with more than one texture or consistency that can prove challenging for someone with dysphagia. E.g. cereals that do not blend well with milk, minced meat with a gravy that is thin, bread that has been dipped in soup.
- Food that contains husks (husks are the dry outer covering of some fruits or seeds) - e.g. granary or other multi-grain breads and vegetables such as sweetcorn.
- Foods with a fibrous or ‘stringy’ texture - e.g. celery, green beans, melted cheese or pineapple.
- Fruit or vegetables with thick skins, seeds or pips - e.g. baked beans, peas, grapes and tomatoes.
- Crunchy and crumbly items such as toasts, biscuits, crackers, crisps, pie crusts.
- Hard foods – sweets, tough meat, nuts, seeds.
- Bread is usually only recommended to be safe on a case-by-case basis as per guidance from your Speech and Language Therapist.
How do I know whether my food is puréed to the right texture?
Current guidelines on texture modified food outline that a puréed meal should hit the following criteria in order to be safe:
- Usually eaten with a spoon.
- Food falls off the spoon if tilted.
- Food holds its shape on a plate (does not spread out or slump).
- Liquid must not separate from solids – the food should be one consistent texture.
- Shows some movement under gravity but cannot be poured or drunk from a cup.
- The food should not be lumpy or sticky.
We have a handy video that shows you some simple tests you can do using cutlery to assess if your food hits these criteria and is safe to eat for a Level 4 puréed diet.
How Wiltshire Farm Foods can help
If you’d like to take the hassle out of dining with swallowing difficulties, then our award-winning Softer Foods range can help. We have a variety of dishes to suit a Level 4 puréed diet; from our warming Cottage Pie to our Friday favourite of Fish and Chips, we’ve got it covered. We even have a great range of Purée Desserts, Snacks and Sandwiches for in between mealtimes – so if you fancy a delicious Hot Chocolate Cake with your cup of tea, we’d love to help.
We believe that dining with dysphagia doesn’t mean compromising on flavour. That’s why our award-winning Head Chef, Phil Rimmer, has ensured every mouthful is as delicious as possible. We also believe that puréed food should look equally as appetising, which is why our Softer Foods range is moulded to look the part too.
When it comes to nutrition, our meals are second to none. For example, our Purée Petite range contains at least 500 calories and 16 grams of protein in a portion size that is 40% smaller than our Puree Classic range, for when you need more but want less.
Often, the hardest part of living with dysphagia can be the constant challenge of making meals at home when it comes to pots, pans, liquidisers and blenders - not to mention the washing up! Our meals are delivered straight to your freezer by one of our friendly, local drivers and they can be cooked simply in the microwave or oven. They’re there when you need them, and on ice when you don’t. Why not take a look at our Softer Foods range here or request your free brochure?