Bland nursing home food.

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This is really just a whine I need to get off my chest. Mom is on a pureed diet... I'm over the despair about the texture but am still feeling angst about the actual food that is served. No matter what is on the menu in the end what is served will invariably be a daub of pureed meat, mashed potatoes , a vegetable, and the ubiquitous "bread pudding" that is part of every meal. Oriental beef stir fry with rice and pineapple becomes pureed beef, mashed potato and mystery veg, no pineapple in sight. Bbq pork ribs with sweet potato fries and mixed veg? Pureed pork, regular mashed potatoes and a mystery veg (this one was bright mustard yellow but tasted of something cruciferous, any ideas?). No, there was no bbq sauce available on the side, I asked. In my recent discussion with the dietary director she was proud of the fact that they didn't smother everything in sauces and gravy, and while I agree that constant over use is a bad thing I couldn't get her to see that judicious, appropriate use is the thing that takes a meal to the next level. Yes, to extra barbecue sauce! Gravy when appropriate. Cheese or butter sauce for the veg! Pickles, mustard, ketchup relishes, chutneys, hot sauce, herbs and spices....

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What does your mom think of the food?

My mom was also on varying level of chopped and pureed meals in the 4 years she was in the nh. At times she was on regular meals.

I never once heard her complain about the food!

And she complained plenty when she was in Independent Living! Overcooked string beans, waiters who didn't know the menu and on and on.
CWillie, this is I think one of the hardest things about pureed food - making it appetizing and varying it. It does sound as if either the dietician or the chef isn't very innovative.

Do they serve Magic Cups? They're like the old Dixie cups; Dad loved them. Even if the meal wasn't visually appealing, those Magic Cups made plowing through the bland meals worthwhile.

I found them through Gordon Foods; I could buy a case for about $48. That's the smallest size sold. Imagine eating $48 worth of ice cream puddings!

One of the sites I found which addressed dysphagia diets sells molds in lovely shapes, for families that want to add a bit of art to the boring pureed meals. I don't think facilities would use those though.

Now that I'm getting the hang of all this, I'm starting to think of some ways to snazz up Dad's meals. I might put a sprig of parsley on something (he probably would eat it anyway), make some pancakes in the shape of animals as Mom and Dad did when we were kids.

This is a real culinary challenge. I wonder if the culinary schools ever consider that the drama they create in foods could benefit people on boring dysphagia diets.
CWillie, this is I think one of the hardest things about pureed food - making it appetizing and varying it. It does sound as if either the dietician or the chef isn't very innovative.

Do they serve Magic Cups? They're like the old Dixie cups; Dad loved them. Even if the meal wasn't visually appealing, those Magic Cups made plowing through the bland meals worthwhile.

I found them through Gordon Foods; I could buy a case for about $48. That's the smallest size sold. Imagine eating $48 worth of ice cream puddings!

One of the sites I found which addressed dysphagia diets sells molds in lovely shapes, for families that want to add a bit of art to the boring pureed meals. I don't think facilities would use those though.

Now that I'm getting the hang of all this, I'm starting to think of some ways to snazz up Dad's meals. I might put a sprig of parsley on something (he probably would eat it anyway), make some pancakes in the shape of animals as Mom and Dad did when we were kids.

This is a real culinary challenge. I wonder if the culinary schools ever consider that the drama they create in foods could benefit people on boring dysphagia diets.

I'm wondering about adding ground herbs; they'll at least add flavor, and they're healthful.
I for one hate sauces especially cheese sauces on vegetables! Does the nursing home have a registered dietician on staff or use one to plan the menu? I would ask who they use while recognizing that nursing homes are constrained from using salt, herbs, and spices due to blood pressure, allergies, and general preferences. Maybe bring your mom some condiments like chutney when you visit?
First, my apologies for dual posts.

Second, NYDIL, I wasn't aware that herbs couldn't be used. That's interesting, and too bad b/c they're a lot safer than sauces and healthier. But I understand the justification.

I'm with you on cheese sauces; Meals on Wheels menus include these. Sometimes I just have to throw that food away b/c it's impossible to eke out all the melted cheese. I've also found that they use breading a lot.
I think the critical thing here, cwillie, is what your mother's preferences and attitudes are. Does she complain about the food? Has she lost weight she can't afford to lose? How important is food to her in the scheme of things?
Cwillie
Mom has been on a puréed diet since she came out of the hospital last month and she doesn't like it - and yes I've seen that bright yellow gunk
She usually eats her soup and her ice cream and some of the purée

The food at hoca is so inappropriate anyway - even staff won't eat it - and they wonder why residents get diarrhea after polish sausage at dinner

I leave a bunch of bananas on her nightstand so she gets one at breakfast and At least once a week I do get mom real food - turkey dinner but it's a slow process - little bites and she can't use her one arm much - she likes her treats from Starbucks too

At night I give her a little piece of Halloween candy to wash down the crushed Tylenol which is yucky tasting


My mom's nh used those molds ( made peas look like peas, etc) when she was on a pureed diet.
Good morning, thanks for all the comments!
Mom doesn't complain about anything, ever, but I do know what she used to enjoy. Mom can't see the food so the appearance is my own issue, and I know the flavour of the food is usually fine, it is the sameness that gets to me. As I look ahead to thanksgiving and christmas I envision another plate of pureed turkey, mashed potato and a mystery vegetable, your choice of pureed fruit or cake for dessert (pie once a week). Tasty enough, nutritious enough, just.... sad.
CWillie, one of Dad's speech pathologists suggested using gravy to flavor the food. I don't necessarily like salty foods, but at his age and with his weight loss I'm more flexible. I also use OJ and cider to puree complimentary foods, so there's at least some good taste.

I've been thinking about the holidays too, and think I might get some of those fancy molds. I've been wondering whether cookie molds could be used, but the puree is too soft to hold a shape. I do have some plastic molds that I used decades ago when I made candy, but the designs are quite small.

What I have found that seems to be a real game changer is pumpkin. Dad loves it. Thus far I've just bought the pies on sale, scooped out the pumpkin and puried it a little bit, then added a bit of French vanilla ice cream.

Interestingly enough, Dad loves the pumpkin and is eating more of it. Since it's a good fruit/vegetable (apparently nomenclature is still undecided), he gets A and C vitamins, but most importantly is that he loves it.

I've also found that he'll cough on ice cream alone, but not with pumpkin. So thoughts of pumpkin pie with French vanilla ice cream are an incentive to finish mushy meals.

He also adds unsweetened applesauce to meals. It's great - I don't even have to puree it!

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