‘Blenderized trail mix with coconut milk,’ I answered, with a bit of pride shining through over my latest puréed invention.
The little boy looked at me in confusion.
‘I don’t see the raisins in the trail mix. How boring! What’s the fun of eating trail mix, if you can’t pick out the good stuff?’
And the little boy was half-right—purée can be boring if you let it.
When we started out on our blenderized diet journey, Mia was still at the typical age for eating purées.
I balanced her meals between the store bought luxury of jarred baby food and making homemade versions.
Then she hit the age of two and she still could only handle the jars marked at the store with the six-month label.
Between the limited variety in the store versions and the rut that I was in with the homemade varieties, I realized that Mia’s meal plan was just plain old boring!
Due to the fact that Mia was thriving with the combination of blenderized diet and nighttime tube feedings, we had been given a lot of free rein by the nutritionist to give Mia a variety of foods, as long as she tolerated the ingredients.
So I set out with a new mission to make Mia’s life tasty, colourful, and nutrient dense.
Here are my top five rules that guide my personal purée philosophy:
1. I will blenderize anything once!
Why should my daughter miss out on trying foods, just because the particular food needs to be chewed?
If I can figure out a way to purée something, then it will be beaten to a pulp.
Sometimes it takes just a bit of inventiveness such as soaking overnight or steaming to get the mushy results I’m after, and so far I haven’t failed yet.
2. Mix it up!
Once I set out to make Mia’s life tastier, it became quite clear, that my little blender was not really cutting it.
I made the investment in an industrial-grade blender and have never looked back.
Depending on your child’s diagnosis and your insurance coverage, you may even be able to have a high-end blender paid for by your insurance, or receive a tax credit for the purchase.
3. Quality is key
I look for high quality, organic, real food ingredients whenever I’m shopping.
Quality is often synonymous with expensive, but it doesn’t have to be.
If there is a sale, I stock up.
If there is a surplus in the garden, I freeze or can.
Eating a blenderized meal is a huge undertaking for someone with dysphasia and feeding issues.
By focusing on the quality and nutrient value of foods you can make every single meal and every single bite count.
4. Get creative
I strive to offer a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, seeds, along with plant and animal protein sources at each meal.
Sometimes this means mixing things together that sound a little weird, but actually taste good and have a pleasing texture.
This allows me to fit in some raw vegetables with a sweet afternoon snack.
Breakfast often has some sort of starchy vegetable in the mix.
A dose of the ‘green smoothie’ philosophy works well when you are trying to pack a vitamin punch in your special blend.
5. Keep it simple!
I’ve adapted a cook ahead for the week strategy that allows me to have a refrigerator full of cooked basics for the week ahead.
Not only does this mean that I’m cooking less during the week, but the variety allows me to truly ensure that Mia’s diet is colourful and tasty.
Many meals that I make for our family are appropriate for Mia to eat also, this means a serving for me, a serving for my husband, and a serving in the mixer with liquid for Mia—voila!
Other meals I use the basics to concoct a special mixture for Mia, but the prep time is minimal, since I’ve done the heavy lifting during my cook ahead session.
I obviously enjoy the task of sourcing and preparing quality food for my daughter.
It has become a one of the many ways that I express my love for my little girl, who has proven to be quite the gourmet.
But even if cooking isn’t your thing, with a little creativity you can take boring puréed meals, even those from a jar and mix up some magic with a dash of love.