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10 Best Pureed Foods for Elderly: How to Make Them
Dr. Shaina McQuilkie, DC

Fact Checked

By Dr. Shaina McQuilkie, DC, Licensed Chiropractor

Last Updated on February 8th, 2024

Geriatric Nutrition

10 Best Pureed Foods for Elderly: How to Make Them

It’s hard to enjoy your food when you have swallowing difficulties. Or eat healthy! Eating should bring you pleasure. But when you have swallowing problems, each bite becomes a meticulous task. You might find yourself analyzing the texture of your food and calculating the safest way to eat. 

More than 20% of people over 501 and most people over 802 have problems swallowing, so you’re not alone. 

Problems with swallowing can negatively impact your health. They can cause dehydration, malnutrition, choking, aspiration pneumonia, and mental health3 issues, including depression and lower self-esteem. 

Luckily, you can easily modify your diet to help you cope with your swallowing difficulties. Enter pureed foods! They are soft, making them easy to swallow and digest. They also provide you with optimal nutrition to help you stay healthy.

In this article, we’ll discuss the role of pureed foods for older adults and how you can make them at home with some basic tools and ingredients. We’ll also give you tips on where to buy ready-made pureed foods. 

Why Do Some Older Adults Need Pureed Foods?

When the muscles and nerves involved in swallowing are not working correctly, it results in swallowing difficulties, a symptom known as dysphagia

Various medical conditions4 can cause dysphagia, including:

  • Stroke

  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Cancer

  • Dementia
  • Dental issues (poorly fitting dentures, missing teeth, etc.)

Pureed foods for the elderly are soft, making them easy to swallow and digest and providing optimal nutrition.

Inappropriate Food Textures Pose Health Risks for Older Adults with Swallowing Difficulties

Dysphagia makes it difficult to chew and swallow. Eating foods with inappropriate textures, such as hard and chewy, poses serious health risks, including:

  • Choking
  • Aspiration pneumonia
  • Malnutrition
  • Dehydration

Pureed foods for older adults can help to prevent these health risks because they are easier to swallow and digest, making you less likely to choke or aspirate. They also provide you with adequate nutrition and hydration. 

What Do You Need to Prepare Pureed Foods at Home?

Making a small investment in a few small kitchen appliances and gadgets5 makes preparing pureed foods at home simple. 

  1. Blender or liquidizer – helps to make purees, sauces, and soups. 
  2. Hand blender – helps to make sauces, soups, and stews. 
  3. Food processor – helps to make purees with fruits, veggies, meats, dairy, and grains.   
  4. Sieve – strains your pureed foods to give you a smoother consistency. 
  5. Masher – mashes softened food by hand. 

5 Tips to Help You Prepare Pureed Foods at Home

Preparing pureed foods at home may seem daunting, but with the right tools and ingredients, it doesn’t have to be. Below, we’ll provide tips on preparing pureed foods for the elderly at home.

1. Incorporate key nutrients for older adults –  proper nutrition6 and hydration are important for healthy aging. Incorporating essential nutrients and vitamins, such as fiber, calcium, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin B12, and folate, from various foods can ensure that you’re getting proper nutrition. 

2. Balance taste and health – adding herbs, spices, and safe condiments can help to improve the flavor of your pureed foods while maintaining their nutritional value. 

3. Retain nutrients while ensuring a smooth consistency – to avoid choking or aspirating, ensure your pureed foods are smooth. To achieve a smooth consistency, you’ll need to mix your food with a liquid. However, too much liquid can dilute the taste and nutritional value7 of your pureed foods. To avoid this, use liquids high in protein and calories, such as milk or yogurt. 

4. Find creative ways to make pureed meals visually attractive –  the look of your food affects your appetite and enjoyment, so your food must look good. To enhance the look7 of your pureed foods, try the following:

  • Use different colors of foods and avoid mixing them.
  • Use different piping methods and food molds to recreate the original look of the food.
  • Use colorful plates and dishes that contrast with the color of your pureed foods.
  • Use edible garnishes, such as gravy, salad dressing, and whipped cream, to improve the look and taste of your pureed foods. 

5. Address common issues like lack of appetite or resistance to texture changes – many things, including dementia, sensory changes, or depression, can cause a lack of appetite or resistance to changes in food texture. To encourage eating,8 try some of these tips:

  • Offer more frequent, smaller meals throughout the day rather than three large meals. 
  • Offer a combination of flavors and foods at each meal. 
  • Serve both hot and cold pureed foods. 
  • Establish an eating routine.
  • Eat together to make mealtime a more social time. 
  • Allow enough time for eating. 
  • Remove or limit distractions, like a TV, phone, or newspaper. 

Below are some nutritious pureed recipes for older people with swallowing difficulties.

Fruit Puree9

Ingredients

  • 1 pound fresh or frozen fruit from these combinations:
    • Cherry and mango
    • Apricot and strawberry
    • Peach and blueberry
    • Nectarine and strawberry
    • Apple and pear
    • Banana and pear
    • Peach and apricot
    • Plum and apple
    • Mango and apple
    • Peach and mango
    • Blackberry and strawberry
  • 2 tablespoons honey or sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice

Instructions

  • Combine fruit, sugar or honey, and lemon juice in a blender.
  • Puree for about 30 seconds. 
  • Use a sieve to strain before serving.

Rich and Creamy Tomato Soup10

Ingredients

  • 4 tomatoes – peeled, seeded, and diced
  • 4 cups tomato juice
  • 14 leaves of fresh basil
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • ½ cup butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Place tomatoes and juice in a stockpot over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Cook until tomatoes have softened, about 30 minutes.
  • Remove the pot from heat. Add basil leaves to the pot.
  • Use an immersion blender to puree the soup until smooth.
  • Stir in heavy cream and butter.
  • Cook and stir over medium heat until butter is melted, about 5 minutes. Do not boil.
  • Season with salt and pepper.

Pureed Chicken Salad11

Ingredients

  • 1 chicken breast cooked
  • 2 Tablespoons plain Greek-style yogurt
  • 2 Tablespoons Light Mayonnaise
  • ⅛ teaspoon celery salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon onion powder
  • pinch of black pepper

Instructions

  • Place chicken breast into a food processor.
  • Grind chicken until it is a fine consistency.
  • Stir in yogurt, mayonnaise, celery salt, onion powder, and pepper.

The Benefits of Ready-made Pureed Meals

There are various benefits of ready-made pureed meals. They include the following:

  1. Saves you time and effort – this means less time peeling, chopping, cooking, and blending. You simply buy the ready-made pureed meal, open, heat, and serve. 
  2. Provides optimal nutrition – they meet the specific dietary needs of older adults with dysphagia. 
  3. Provides appealing flavors and potions – they offer an appropriate portion size of flavorful food to appeal to older adults’ preferences. 

Where to Buy Ready-Made Pureed Foods for Older Adults

Several brands provide ready-made pureed meals. A couple of our favorites are: 

  1. Mom’s Meals12 – this company offers pureed meals that meet the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics for Dysphagia. They offer online ordering for breakfast, lunch, and dinner options.

2. Multigen Purees13 – this company offers a variety of pureed meals that are all-natural, gluten-free, and vegan. They offer easy online ordering.

You can also buy ready-made pureed foods in most grocery stores. 

Reading Labels 

If you’re going to buy ready-made pureed foods, it’s important to read labels for several reasons:

  • To make sure it’s nutritious.
  • To avoid allergens, artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners, and preservatives.
  • To make sure it isn’t expired or close to expiring. 

Takeaway

If you have swallowing difficulties, pureed foods can provide optimal nutrition to stay healthy. 

Investing in a few small kitchen appliances and gadgets can help you make delicious and nutritious pureed foods at home. However, if you’re looking to save some time, ready-made pureed meal options are available online and in most grocery stores. 

Pureed foods don’t have to be boring. Being creative with preparation and presentation can help enhance the appeal and taste of pureed foods. 

Sources

    1. Aging and swallowing. ENT Health. December 12, 2022. Accessed October 6, 2023. https://www.enthealth.org/conditions/aging-and-swallowing/.

    1. Leonard R. How aging affects our swallowing ability. National Foundation of Swallowing Disorders. Accessed October 6, 2023. https://swallowingdisorderfoundation.com/how-aging-affects-our-swallowing-ability/.

    1. Swallowing disorder basics. National Foundation of Swallowing Disorders. Accessed October 12, 2023. https://swallowingdisorderfoundation.com/about/swallowing-disorder-basics/.

    1. Swallowing disorders. Johns Hopkins Medicine. Accessed October 12, 2023. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/swallowing-disorders.

    1. Patient information puréed diet – Royal United Hospital. Accessed October 12, 2023. https://www.ruh.nhs.uk/patients/services/clinical_depts/dietetics/documents/Pureed_Diet.pdf.

    1. Support EW. Nutrition for older adults: Preventing malnutrition as the body ages. OSU Extension Service. June 15, 2023. Accessed October 12, 2023. https://extension.oregonstate.edu/catalog/pub/pnw-767-nutrition-older-adults.

    1. Rippon E. Improving pureed meals. Eat Well Nutrition. July 22, 2020. Accessed October 12, 2023. https://www.eatwellnutrition.com.au/international-dysphagia-diet-standardisation-initiative/improving-smooth-puree-meals.

    1. Bursack CB. Losing the ability to swallow: How to help someone with dysphagia. How to Help Someone With Dysphagia Eat and Drink Safely – AgingCare.com. November 1, 2021. Accessed October 12, 2023. https://www.agingcare.com/Articles/dysphagia-how-to-help-a-loved-one-eat-and-drink-safely-187010.htm.

    1. Small L. 6 simple yet delicious pureed food recipes. Elder Guru. September 29, 2020. Accessed October 12, 2023. https://www.elderguru.com/6-simple-yet-delicious-pureed-food-recipes/.

    1. Rich and creamy tomato Basil Soup. Allrecipes. Accessed October 12, 2023. https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/13113/rich-and-creamy-tomato-basil-soup/.

    1. Pullman J. Pureed chicken salad for bariatric surgery patients. Bariatric Bits. February 13, 2022. Accessed October 12, 2023. https://bariatricbits.com/low-fat-chicken-salad-puree-recipe/.

    1. Moms meals. Accessed October 12, 2023. https://my.momsmeals.com/NewOrder/Create.aspx.

    1.  Multigen purees. Multigen Purees. Accessed October 12, 2023. https://multigenpurees.com/.

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Dr. Shaina McQuilkie, DC

Written By

Dr. Shaina McQuilkie, DC

Licensed Chiropractor

  • Dr. Shaina McQuilkie is a licensed chiropractor based in Stoney Creek, Ontario. She has a doctorate in chiropractic, a bachelor’s of kinesiology, and certification in writing. She is a practicing chiropractor and freelance medical writer with 12 years of writing experience in the healthcare industry. Shaina is passionate about writing and specializes in creating accurate, clear, and concise content for various audiences, including physicians, patients, and the general public. In addition to running a private practice, she is a freelance medical writer. Dr. McQuilkie has experience writing on various topics in the healthcare domain. You can reach out to her at (289)439-1606, shaina@formeclinic.ca

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