Sam's a "big boy" and doesn't like to eat baby food. He wants to eat whatever I'm eating. This is a bit of a problem because I like to chew and he can't. He has dyphasia (swallowing problems) on top of that. When he gets too much food in his mouth, or hoards food he can't chew in his palate, it produces an amazing amount of saliva which goes up his nose. When he swallows liquid that's too thick, it clogs his nose and he just about suffocates. We ordered him a milk shake once and I thought we'd lost him. Not going to repeat that experiment. He does like Wendy's Frosty with a spoon. If it's too thin, it comes out his nose when he swallows. Sometimes the food that is just right only goes half way down his throat and a couple of minutes later it comes out his nose. Sigh.
Numerous swallow studies have not really given us a solid picture of what is going on or how much this is related to his ever diminishing lung capacity, but it's a pretty safe bet that something that isn't supposed to be there is getting into his lungs and clogging them up.
So I have to feed him very carefully, but it has to be attractive, nutritious and taste good. Culinary challenge they don't often cover on the food network! One bonus: calories and fat are not an issue with this boy. I'm always trying to keep his weight UP.
Of course calories and fat are a huge issue for his mom who knows how to chew! So my grocery cart is a very peculiar mix of high and low fat stuff.
But over the years I've discovered a lot of things that work for Sam. Some things I can serve to everyone as is (which thrills him) and some things require some last minute adjustment for Sam, but still are essentially the same thing we are eating. Sadly, most of the time he just has to put up with purreed whatever we are eating because I just don't have the time or energy to make it special. But I try to make him food he enjoys.
If I'm having a sandwich for lunch, I put the same stuff in the food processor, meat (or baked tofu or whatever), tomato, pickle (lettuce doesn't work very well). Then I add a goo factor. He likes Kraft Olive Oil reduced fat mayo or that Italian sandwich mix (gardineria?) or ketsup. (I like fancy mustard.) I put in one slice of bread and mix it for 30 seconds. It turns into a kind of sticky glop that holds it's shape. Then I make breadcrumbs (often toasted) of the other slice of bread. I roll tbsp bits of the filling glop in the bread crumbs and shape them into little rectangles. Voila! Finger sandwiches he can eat with me.
Really fluffy pancakes can be eaten just cut up (not pureed) if they have enough syrup on them. Cheese cake is the ideal desert. Cake is not very smart as it crumbles and chokes him, BUT if you add some cream or other liquid it becomes Dulce de Leche and very soggy. Perfect for Sam to consume with a spoon. Looks like cake but doesn't crumble! If you take Starbucks Classic Coffee Cake and pour mocha frappicino over it, you get something similar to Tiramisu! (Be sure to ask the Starbucks Barrista to give you the cake on a plate!)
I recently tried a Butternut Squash Soup with variations that was a huge success. I got the recipe from someone named Gabster Roolz on Cooks.com. Here's my variation:
1 chopped sweet onion
4 cloves garlic
tsp dried basil (or thyme)
Some fresh ginger (about 1/2 a thumb's worth)
1 cubed butternut squash
1 C chicken stock
3 C water
1 bay leaf
2 medium sweet potatoes
1 pt heavy whipping cream (NOT Whipped Cream)
You don't have to chop the garlic and ginger very much since it will all get pureed. Just peel them and chop coarsely. Saute onion, garlic, ginger and basil in the evoo (extra virgin olive oil). Add squash, stock, water, bay leaf, pepper and sweet potato. Boil 20 minutes. REMOVE BAY LEAF. Puree the rest. At the last minute add the cream. The whipping cream adds a lovely bulk to this soup and makes it exactly the right texture for proper swallowing. BIG hit.
The chef Simply Ming says that heavy whipping cream is different from heavy cream because they add something to it to make it whip up better. I don't know but I did love the way the heavy whipping cream bulked up the puree and made it gorgeous. Of course, I suppose I should have the soup without the cream and just add it to Sam's portion...
Here's another thing, I've been reading labels and Carnation Breakfast Essentials has pretty much the same nutrition as Ensure or Boost. It also tastes a LOT better and is MUCH cheaper. You have to add a bit of Thicken or Thick-it to make it the right consistency, but it's still cheaper. Sam consumes 3 or 4 nutrition drinks a day so this is really good news.