Soft food tips from Kristine Benishek

Tips for preparing soft foods

• When baking, a little applesauce can be added to almost any quick bread, muffin or cake recipe to add moisture and softness.
• Because soft foods are lacking the texture of crunchy and chewy foods it is important that they have great flavor. Experiment with new spices and flavors to add variety, and invest in quality spices to ensure great flavor.
• When using your best loved family recipes, look for soft alternatives to ingredients. For example, if a recipe calls for pickle relish, try pickle juice to get the same flavor. If even finely chopped onion is difficult to chew, try onion powder. Spice stores usually carry powdered versions of common ingredients such as onion, garlic and celery. You can also use a grinder to make your own powdered ingredients from dried foods, such as dried tomatoes or dried peppers.
• Getting enough protein into a soft diet can be a worry, as meats typically require a fair amount of chewing. Finely chopping the cooked meat, or using ground meat, and then putting it into a sauce usually makes it soft enough. Benishek also purees cottage cheese and puts it into everything from pancakes to corn bread, adding both moisture and protein.
• Keep small cans of your favorite soft vegetable on hand to add to plain soups, such as tomato soup. This adds nutrition, flavor and substance.
• If you have specific health issues, such as diabetes or heart disease, you may need to make changes to the cookbook’s recipes such as using low-fat ingredients or eliminating the salt.
• Chewing can be painful when you have an injury, or tiring for the elderly who have lost chewing strength. Be sure to take small bites and eat slowly. Put your spoon down and rest every few minutes, if needed, to be able to continue eating. Benishek notes that “you need those nutrients” so it is important to eat enough, even when eating is difficult.

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