tasty and nutritious puree food for seniors

Tasty and Nutritious Puree Food For Seniors

puree food fun for seniors according to a registered dietitian

Welcome to an enlightening exploration of tasty and nutritious puree foods for seniors, guided by the nutrition expertise of Julie, a qualified, credentialed registered dietitian.

 In this article, we will dive into what exactly is a puree diet, who may benefit from it, setting the environment for an enriching puree meal experience, and of course, providing a sample meal plan. From knowing how to prepare and cook puree foods to providing recommended kitchen equipment, we delve into practical tips and tricks for seamless meal preparation. 

Join me as we navigate all things puree diet, where nutrition meets joy, and every spoonful strives for nourishment and satisfaction.

PS. If you'd like some. help taking the thinking out of what puree foods to make, feel free to subscribe to Dental Meal Plans here and receive a sample puree food meal plan and a few recipes PDF right to your inbox!

Puree food is a culinary adaptation that transforms solid foods into a smooth, creamy texture, making them easier to swallow and digest, particularly for individuals with swallowing difficulties or other oral health challenges. 

Puree food is solid foods that are transformed into a smooth, creamy texture that eliminates any coarse, skin, stringy, lumpy, or solid particles making them easier to swallow and digest and minimizing choking concerns. 

In general, puree foods can be eaten with a spoon and are of a pudding-like texture that cannot be sipped through a straw.  Puree foods should not be sticky nor solid or liquid like a juice.

Modifying the texture of foods into this type of consistency ensures that individuals who need to adhere to a puree diet can consume tasty palatable foods with essential nutrients while reducing discomfort and increasing meal or snack time happiness.

As an FYI, all puree food reasoning, diet protocols, guidance, information, and directions should be followed under the guidance of a professional healthcare team which may include a speech language pathologist.

The key difference between soft foods and puree foods lies in their consistency, texture, and level of chewing required to digest the food.

Soft foods maintain some texture and structure, often requiring minimal chewing but still retaining recognizable shapes and pieces. Depending on the level of soft food diet a person is on, the soft food may have some strings, minced nuts, seeds, and/or some food skins. They are typically tender and easy to break apart with a fork or spoon.  Think shredded, or finely chopped chicken smothered in gravy with mashed potatoes.

If interested in learning more about soft foods, particularly for seniors, please refer to Dental Meal Plan’s article Soft Foods For The Elderly.

In contrast, puree foods undergo more thorough processing, resulting in a smooth, uniform texture devoid of any solid particles or lumps.  As previously mentioned, purees are blended to a homogeneous consistency, resembling a thick, creamy paste or sauce. 

soft food and puree food differences

Unlike soft foods, which may still contain small pieces or fragments, puree foods are entirely smooth and uniform throughout, making them suitable for individuals with more severe swallowing difficulties or oral sensitivities. Think boneless, skinless chicken blended into a pudding consistency soup meal.

It’s no secret as we age our bodies change.  One change we may need to make to our diet whether for the short or long term is the consistency and texture of food. A senior may have to go on a puree food diet for some reason.  Typically, the reasons fall into one or a few categories of chewing, swallowing, or cognitive issues.

The first part of digestion starts in the mouth with chewing.  If a senior has missing teeth, loose or ill-fitting dentures, refusal to wear dentures, tooth pain, or gum disease one or a combination of these may interfere with the ability to chew food.

A senior may have weakened throat muscles or could have throat, neck, or gastrointestinal surgery that may impact the ability to swallow.  As noted earlier, a speech language pathologist, as well as medical care providers, are the professionals trained to conduct swallowing assessments.

Another reality of aging is that a senior may experience cognitive issues. Medical issues such as a stroke, Parkinson’s disease, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease can reduce a person’s ability to swallow and/or chew

If you are on a puree food diet or caring for someone on a puree food diet and are responsible for getting or preparing the food, puree foods require some ingredients and prep methods that are not usual for typical cooking methods.  However, fear not, with some planning and preparation making yummy, pureed foods can be easy and fun!  

Before cooking up puree foods and getting all the ingredients, you’ll want to make sure you have the appropriate kitchen equipment.  

Most likely it will be important to have a:

  • food processor and/or blender 
  • food chopper/dicer

Depending on what is being made the following are not as crucial, but are nice to have:

  • microwave
  • stovetop 
  • oven
  • saucepan

Once you do an inventory of these items, then I would suggest going over the puree recipes you plan to make and assessing which cooking equipment you have and which cooking items you need to acquire.

The general prep method for pureeing foods is to cut the food into small pieces put it in a food processor add liquid then puree until a smooth, pudding-like consistency and texture.  Now, depending on what is being pureed will depend on the extent of the preparation and cooking process.

If pureeing vegetables, in any form (fresh, canned, or frozen) to make blending easier first steam, bake, or microwave the vegetables to soften them.  If the vegetables have a skin on them remove the skin.  Then chop or use a food chopper/dicer to cut the vegetable into small pieces.  Then, add to a food processor or blender with liquid to puree.

If pureeing fruits, in any form (fresh, canned, or frozen) to make blending easier, first bake to soften the fruit.  Then, remove the skin if the fruit has that and chop via hand or food dicer to cut the fruit into small pieces.  Add to the food processor or blender with a liquid to puree.

For meats, first, cook the meat.  Then ensure any skin, fatty, stringy, or extremely chewy pieces are removed.  Next finely chop or shred the meat.  After that, add liquid and puree.

Most dairy is already soft, except for hard cheeses.  If using hard cheese heat to soften first.  Then, if dairy requires chopping, cut it into small pieces and blend with desired liquid.

Of course, not all puree foods need to be classically healthy, part of health is enjoying soul-nourishing foods too.  If pureeing cakes, crustless pies, or baked goods.  First ensure there are no nuts, seeds, or crusty pieces.  Then cut the food into small bite-size pieces and add liquid to puree.

This is not an inclusive list of food groups or food items and how to prepare and cook them for a puree diet, for specific questions and guidance consult with a professional in the care of the person on a puree diet.

Not all food is great for pureeing as some foods are just too hard, grainy, and/or coarse to fully conform to a puree consistency for safe consumption.  So, while getting a grocery list together for puree food and snacks, try to avoid these foods:

  • Dried fruits
  • Whole nuts
  • Whole seeds, such as flaxseed or sunflower seeds
  • Hard crackers 
  • Hard candies
  • Breads with nuts and seeds on and in them
  • Uncooked pasta
  • Dry rice
  • Raw, uncooked fruits and vegetables especially with skins and/or seeds on them
  • Crispy, fried foods
Foods To NOT Puree

Of course, this is not an all-inclusive list of foods to not puree, please follow the guidance of the healthcare team. If you’d like more details, please refer UVA Nutrition Pureed Diets article or see additional information in the resources section

Provided below is a list of some quick, grab and go style puree food ideas. Some of these items can be purchased pre-made and some can be made within 10-15 minutes. Please ensure the consistency and texture of the food adheres to the puree food guidelines!

  • Applesauce with cottage cheese
  • Drinkable yogurt or kefir
  • Pureed fruits
  • Pureed vegetables, such as, carrots or peas
  • Canned and blended refried beans
  • Pudding
  • Milkshakes
  • Pureed cooked rice
  • Pureed cooked oatmeal

Here are some meal and snack ideas. The time it takes to create these foods can vary and may depend on the recipe. If time may be less available later in the week or you don’t feel like cooking, some of these ideas can be made in bulk and enjoyed over the next few days!

  • Puree scrambled eggs with pureed skinless peaches and pureed skinless sweet potato
  • Pureed Greek yogurt mixed with pureed skinless softened fruit
  • Pureed smooth skinless mashed potatoes with pureed, blended cooked chicken
  • Greek yogurt and skinless seedless softened smoothie
  • Blended, pureed spinach and avocado
  • Blended, pureed cheesy grits

Provided below is an example of a one-day puree food meal plan.  Remember to follow puree food preparation, cooking and blending instructions to ensure the foods are pureed to a consistency that has been advised by the care team. If you’d like a PDF of this sample meal plan along with a few recipes, please subscribe to Dental Meal Plans and receive the PDF right to your inbox!

Breakfast• Puree, blended Greek yogurt with nut butter
• Puree butternut squash, apple and rice
Mid-morning Snack• Puree egg salad
Lunch• Spinach, cauliflower white bean puree
• Pumpkin spice banana ice cream
Afternoon Snack• Ricotta and blueberry puree
Dinner• Blended chicken soup
• Blended spinach and Greek yogurt
Evening Snack• Silken chocolate tofu puree pudding

No matter the reason you or someone you are caring for is on a pureed diet, how the food is plated and the eating environment can set the dining experience, mood, and attitude.  

Having health issues can lead to all sorts of emotions, then add having to feel restricted by being on a puree food diet and it can damper a person’s mood.  However, there are a few things that can be quickly implemented to help make the puree food-eating experience one of joy and positivity.

presentation matters for puree food, create an uplifting environment and delectably plate food

If possible try to create an environment that makes the person eating a puree food diet excited to sit down and dine.  The environment and what the person enjoys may vary, here are some suggestions to try to create a jovial dining experience:

  • Clear the room and dining table of clutter
  • Reduce distractions such as turning on the TV, podcasts or music so food can be the focus
  • Create theme nights and decorate the table and room according to the theme
  • Set the table with an everyday centerpiece such as flowers, candles or decorative item
  • Invite friends and family to join for meals
  • Occasionally, create a meal menu and place it on the table
  • Bring out each dish one at a time, creating a multicourse meal experience

Just as the environment matters, how the food is plated and presented also matters. If feeling down about being on a puree food diet, to get a person or yourself amped up to enjoy it, try one or some of the following suggestions:

  • Put the food in a bowl or plate of the person’s favorite color or design
  • Plate the food in a decorated or fun shaped bowl or plate
  • Add decorative garnish or squiggles using pureed food to the dish
  • Set the table with multiple spoon options per dish

Puree food doesn’t have to feel limiting, bland, boring, or restrictive.  Through some learning about puree food diet, curating puree food recipes, grocery shopping and meal prep, this diet can be fulfilling both nutritionally and emotionally.  For more information about puree foods in general or for seniors, please see the links in the additional sources section.

As always, hope you found this article useful.  As a registered dietitian, I specialize in all things nutrition and truly enjoy helping people with a modified texture and consistency navigate their diet.  Any questions, to chat or inquire about services please feel free to reach out via any method on the contact page.

Cheers To Tasty, Nourishing Puree Food For Seniors

tasty and nutritious puree foods for seniors

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