Does the thought of pureed food conjure up images of runny green gruel or baby food?
It shouldn’t! There are lots of ways to make pureed meals for the elderly that are delicious and look good at the same time.
Making great tasting pureed meals for the elderly is not difficult. But, there are a few important steps and methods you should know.
In this guide, I am going to teach you how to make purees that look and taste good.
Plus, I have included some great tasting pureed diet recipes and gear recommendations too!
Video Guide: Pureed Food for the Elderly
Why do Elderly People Need Pureed Food?
The biggest reason elderly people need their food pureed is dysphagia.
What is Dysphagia?
The Mayo Clinic defines dysphagia as a persistent difficulty swallowing.
(Note this is not the same as dysphasia which is difficulty speaking. These two terms are often confused.)
Seniors who have pain swallowing, cough or gag while swallowing, or choke often should see their doctor immediately.
The most common causes of dysphagia are neurological damage from stroke, cancer, and multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, and Parkinson’s disease. These diseases and disorders can affect the muscles of the throat and esophagus causing painful or difficult swallowing.
What are the Dangers of Dysphagia?
Familydoctor.org lists the following complications of dysphagia:
- Malnutrition, Dehydration, and Loss of Weight. If you can’t swallow properly, you aren’t able to get the nutrition and liquid intake your body needs.
- Aspiration Pneumonia. This happens when food or liquid enters your airway instead of your esophagus. It can cause dangerous bacteria to enter the lungs and start an infection. Pneumonia is a serious, even deadly, condition for the elderly.
- Choking. If the food isn’t swallowed properly, you can get choked. This could cut off your air supply leading to serious injury or even death.
How Does Pureed Food Help People with Dysphagia?
Pureed food, a variation on the liquid diet for seniors, is softer, thinner, and easier to swallow. Processing and blending the food until it is softer makes it easier to swallow.
Sometimes, the only other option is a feeding tube which is invasive and requires surgery.
Other Reasons Elderly People May Need a Pureed Diet
Pureed food may be necessary if you suffer from:
- Dental problems or lack of teeth
- General weakness from aging
It All Starts With High Quality Ingredients
Before we get into how to puree food for the elderly, let’s talk about what you puree. The ingredients are key!
Good Foods to Puree
Most foods can be pureed including meats, vegetables, fruits, and grains.
But, ingredients that are already soft in their solid form are the easiest to puree. If they aren’t soft when raw, cook them first.
Another trick is to add enough liquid to make the mixture smooth and creamy (without getting watery). Experiment with gravy for the main meal or ice cream or yogurt for desserts. These will add flavor to the food.
- Fruit pies and cobblers puree well for a quick and easy dessert for seniors. Just put a slice in a food processor or blender – crust and all. Then blend until smooth!
- Casseroles can be pureed into a surprisingly good puree. Just make sure the original ingredients are soft enough.
- Most stews and soups puree well. Usually, no additional liquid is needed. If there is meat in the stew, use a food processor for best results. Sometimes, straining is required to get rid of lumps.
- Chicken salad and ham salad make great tasting purees and are quick to make. Just put in a blender or food processor with a little liquid.
- Pasta salads and coleslaws also puree very well!
The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center has a good quick reference chart for purees with even more ideas.
Foods to Avoid When Pureeing
Stay away from foods that are too watery, though. Drain excess liquid when possible because purees that are too thin can also cause choking.
Foods that have skin that can’t be removed or is very dry, will not puree well.
Here are some examples of food that you should avoid in purees:
- Celery: It’s stringy and difficult to prepare properly in a puree.
- Nuts and Seeds: They can easily get missed by the blender blades and cause choking.
- Dried Fruit: These can swell when they get wet, causing lumps, and are very difficult to blend completely.
- Beans: They have tough skins that don’t cook down soft.
- Hard cheeses
Vary Your Ingredients to Encourage Finicky Appetites
Also, create variety by changing up your ingredients.
A pureed diet can get old quick, so adding different spices and seasonings, or even new syrups or sauces, to traditional dishes can make a world of difference in a senior’s pureed food diet.
Instead of using water for every meal, mix it up with some milk to add protein and calcium, or fruit juices to add some vitamins and an energy boost.
You can also add liquids like aloe if they have inflammation, or nut milks to add healthy fats to the diet.
Always add some fruits and vegetables to every puree, if you can. Dysphagia patients get their vitamins and nutrients only from what they eat since they can’t necessarily swallow pills.
How to Puree
Learning to make a good puree takes practice. When you are done you should have a thick, smooth paste that has no lumps.
But, don’t be afraid to experiment!
Step 1: Chop
Chop up all of the solid ingredients first for the best results.
Any solid chunks leftover in the puree are very hazardous for a person suffering from dysphagia. Make sure all parts of the mixture are chopped up as small as possible.
Cook firmer foods first to make them softer.
Step 2: Puree
After your ingredients are all set, throw them into your pureeing appliance of choice and puree away!
Pro tip: Start on a low/slow setting on your device. Then gradually work your way up to the puree setting.
This lets the solid chunks get mixed, chopped, and sliced even smaller before being blended into a smooth consistency.
What Should a Puree Look Like?
- Have a smooth texture.
- Have a similar texture throughout with no obvious lumps.
- Be moist and cohesive, but not dry, sticky, crumbly, or rubbery.
- Require no chewing.
- Easy to move or slide to the back of the mouth, even with a weak tongue.
- Does not clump into large sticky chunks that could cause choking.
One more technique tip that I personally find very helpful is the spoon test.
When you think you’ve gotten your desired texture out of the puree, grab a spoonful and tilt it over. If the puree spills right off, the mixture is probably too runny for the senior to enjoy, but if it stays on and is a bit sticky, this might be too thick for them to swallow. You want a happy medium, where the puree easily slides off of the spoon but doesn’t spill like a soup.
You can read more about these tests at the IDDSI website.
Step 3: Strain
You want to be really careful about solid chunks in the final puree. Push the mixture through a fine mesh strainer with a silicone spatula to make sure the food is super smooth and free of lumps.
Step 4: Serve
As the patient eats the puree, make sure it’s eaten slowly in small bites so that their system doesn’t get overwhelmed.
Also, make sure they are sitting entirely upright during the meal and for at least 30 minutes afterward. This ensures they have properly digested the food.
You can read more dysphagia feeding tips at AusMed.com.
How Should a Puree Taste?
A puree should be flavorful. It should taste as fresh as the ingredients used to make it.
Unless there are medical reasons not to do so, don’t be afraid of adding spice or a little salt or sugar to a puree.
If a puree tastes bland or watery, you need a better recipe. Scroll down for some of my favorites.
Step 5: Store
To make your life easier, consider making large batches of the senior’s favorite pureed dish. Then, store it in containers for future meals.
To re-serve, heat the food back up and blend it again to reconstitute it.
How to Puree Vegetables
Most vegetables puree well and there are tons of recipes for them. Veggies are the main ingredients for pureed soups, creamed soups, and standard purees.
Here’s how to get good pureed veggies:
- Rough chop the vegetables while raw.
- Pre-cook before pureeing. Cook in hot liquid such as chicken or vegetable stock or even milk. Don’t use water – it adds no flavor or nutrition to the dish. Or, saute them in a little butter first until they begin to soften. But, make sure they don’t brown or form any crust on them
- Once they mash with a fork they are ready to puree.
- Drain the veggies from the cooking liquid BUT keep it in case we need to add liquid later.
- Remove all the seeds and skins before blending so there are no lumps.
- Puree them in a food mill, food processor or blender.
- Add back some of the liquid. Gradually add the retained liquid back a few spoonfuls at a time until you end up with a smooth, consistent puree. You could also add butter, hot milk, gravy or other smooth sauces for added flavor.
- Thicken the puree if needed. The puree can be thickened by adding more veggies, a little flour, or a commercial thickener
How to Puree Potatoes
Pureed potatoes are a staple of a pureed diet. Here’s how to get the best results:
- Peel potatoes completely before cooking and dice into 1″ cubes.
- Cook them in broth or even milk instead of water.
- They will mash easily with a fork when ready to puree.
- Add butter, milk, or smooth gravy to the potatoes before pureeing for added flavor.
For the best texture, puree the potatoes with a food mill or potato ricer. A hand mixer or potato masher can also work with some effort and enough liquid.
How to Puree Meats
Protein is an important part of our diet. But, pureed meats have a tendency to be dry and unappealing. Here are a few tips for making pureed meats that are moist and look a bit more appetizing.
- Choose a Tender Cut. It’ll be harder for your blender to puree your meat if the meat is tough and hard to cut outside of the blender. This means boneless chicken breast and higher quality cuts of meat are best.
- Remove Bones and Visible Fat. Chewy chunks of fat do not puree well and could cause choking.
- Slow Cook the Meat Whole. Next, slow cook the meat in its original, whole form. This will help it retain moisture and flavor. Use a cooking method that keeps the meat moist such as boiling, steaming or stewing. Add any appropriate spices or flavorings including salt and pepper.
- Allow it to Cool. Then, once it’s completely, thoroughly cooked, chill the meat for at least 2 hours or until entirely chilled. This makes it easier to chop up and blend.
- Chop it Up! Cut up the meat into small pieces before pureeing. This gives you a more consistent puree.
- Pulverize the Meat. Use a blender or food processor until you get a grain-like, almost powdery texture.
- Add Hot Liquid and Reblend. Then add your liquid of choice (broth, milk, gravy, etc.) but be sure to heat it up first so your puree doesn’t get cold. You’ll need about a quarter cup of liquid for every cup of meat. Add a little at a time to make sure you don’t get it to thin.
How to Puree Soups
Pureed vegetable soups are a main staple of a pureed food diet. They are also easy to make with just a few ingredients. Here’s how to make great tasting pureed soup at home.
- Choose fresh, high quality ingredients. Generally, pureed soups are made by cooking a single vegetable or a combination of vegetables in a fat – usually butter. Just cooking a few ingredients that taste good and have strong flavors in broth or milk can make a very flavorful soup
- Once the vegetables become tender, liquid is added and the vegetables are allowed to simmer until soft. Broth is the most common liquid used for these simple soups. Chicken, vegetable, and beef stocks are available at every grocery store. Most every home cook also has these in their pantry. Milk or cream is another good choice.
- Once the vegetables are soft, it is time to puree. You can check for proper softness by using a fork. If the food mashes easily with a fork but the grain of the veggie still shows, it is time to puree. Vegetables that have overcooked and are too soft can still be pureed. The final soup, though, may need thickening.
- Strain the mixture through a sieve or a colander into a large bowl or pan. This way, you can keep the flavorful cooking liquid to add back as needed. Then, add the solids and a small amount of the retained liquids to your puree machine of choice.
- For a smooth puree, strain the puree to remove lumps and larger particles. Most kitchen strainers are fine enough to use with most pureed soups. Although, fine mesh strainers are best if you want a really smooth soup.
Is the Puree Too Thick?
If the soup is too thick after pureeing, add more liquid like cream, milk, or broth. (Don’t use water – it just dilutes the puree and doesn’t add any nutritional value.) you might need to put puree in a pan and simmer for a few minutes to reconstitute everything.
Is the Puree Too Thin?
Thin, watery soups aren’t filling or appetizing for most people. People suffering from dysphasia can even get choked on soups that are too thin.
Here are ways to thicken a pureed soup:
- Flour. Simply whisk flour into an equal amount of hot butter until combined and add to the soup. Then whisk it into the soup while simmering. This will thicken the soup as it cooks just as it does when making gravies and roux. The drawback for flour though is it may change the color depending on the veggies being used. It can also lead to a glue-like consistency or top coat as the soup cools. Using flour to thicken pureed soups is the choice of most home cooks. Everyone has flour in their kitchens, so it is quick and easy to use this method.
- Cornstarch / Arrowroot Powder. Either of these ingredients can be made into a thin paste with water then added to the pureed soup at the end. Keep the soup hot and whisk the paste into the soup just before you serve it. Be careful: if you don’t whisk it, it will clump up into very unpleasant tasting lumps. These thickeners won’t change the color of the soup though.
- Potatoes. If you know ahead of time that the soup will be thin, potatoes can make a great thickener. Simply peel a potato, dice into cubes, and add to the vegetables while they are cooking. Then, simply puree the potatoes with the vegetables. Cooked rice can be used in the same way. This method also adds nutrition and texture to a soup. And, most potatoes are mild enough to not alter the flavor of the final puree.
- Bread. This is a common practice in fine french cooking. To use bread as a thickener, cut the crusts off and saute the bread (both sides) in butter until it is lightly toasted. Then, float the bread in the liquid, before it is pureed, for a few minutes until it is soft. Finally, puree the mixture with the bread.
- Egg Yolks are also used as a thickener. But, this is one of the more difficult ways. The scrambled egg yolks must be tempered to avoid ending up with scrambled eggs in the soup.
How to Puree Fruit
Pureed fruits are often used as a dessert or a quick snack. Both fresh fruits and canned fruits make good tasting purees.
- If using fresh fruit, remove all skin, seeds, pits, and cores.
- Make sure fresh fruits are very ripe.
- Fibrous fruits (pears, apples, peaches) may need to be cooked first. If so, cook them in apple juice or other fruit juice for the best taste.
- Canned fruits should be drained very well before pureeing.
- Frozen fruits should be thawed completely and also drained well.
- Puree the fruit in a food mill, food processor, or blender until smooth.
- If the puree is too thick, add back some of the original juices or use apple juice or other fruit juice.
- If it is too thin, add more fruit that has been squeezed or drained. Commercial thickeners are also available.
How to Puree Bread
Did you know you can puree bread? It is for sure one of the more difficult foods to puree and make taste and look good though. Properly pureed bread looks a bit like pudding.
The general process is to convert the bread product to crumbs, add warm liquid to it, and then puree together.
Don’t use crusty breads – they don’t puree as well and will leave lumps.
Try different combinations like bread crumbs with warm milk or graham cracker crumbs soaked in coffee.
Pureed Meals for Elderly with Protein
When we think of purees, our mind goes to smoothies, soups, and simple liquid foods. But high protein foods are an especially important part of a pureed diet because it is filling and necessary to our survival.
- Beef. Tender top cuts of beef are best for puree. They are softer than other cuts and will mash up faster and easier.
- Chicken/Turkey. Chicken and turkey are lower fat sources of protein if you’re craving meat. Just make sure that you’re getting boneless, skinless cuts so that none of it gets into your puree.
- Fish. Fish is potentially one of the healthiest sources of protein derived from meat, because it comes with all kinds of other nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids. Soft fish like white fish or salmon will work best in purees. Canned fishes like tuna is another option. .
- Milk. Milk of all kinds is packed with protein. Depending on your dietary needs, you may want to go for whole milk for a creamier, fattier texture to your pureed soup. You can also use skim milk for a thinner mixture with just as much protein. Also check out soy milk for slightly more natural, healthy proteins and fats. Nut milks like cashew or almond have a delicious, light flavor.
- Yogurt. Again, depending on your needs, you can get yogurt with all kinds of varying levels of fats, but you’ll usually get about 10-15 grams of protein per serving of yogurt. Yogurt is particularly great because it comes in all kinds of delicious flavors – there’s one for everyone!
- Cheese. While not the healthiest source of protein, certain types of soft cheeses, like cottage cheese or ricotta, are good sources of protein. They also add a rich, creamy texture to any puree.
Eggs are another awesome protein source, giving you an average of 6 grams per egg. So 2 or 3 eggs in a sitting can give you a whopping 18 grams of protein right away!
For purees, you should cook the eggs in your preferred method (scrambled is usually easiest) before adding them to the mixture. Adding them raw runs the risk of not cooking them thoroughly.
Finally, there are more protein powders and supplements made for adding to smoothies and purees than I can count.
They come in all kinds of flavors and textures, but almost all of them are powdered, making them easy to add to any puree to give you a boost of protein in any meal.
There are all kinds of protein supplements you can get, from whey to soy to hemp to plant-based protein. Find what would work best with your diet and lifestyle and add a spoonful or two to a few meals per day to get your sufficient protein intake.
Looking For A Ready-Made Solution?
If you are looking for an occasional, ready made solution, check out these nutritional shakes. They have a great consistency for feeding to older adults with dysphagia and can be thickened with your favorite thickener if needed. I use them personally myself and can testify to how great they taste too!
These delicious and convenient plant-based shakes come in flavors (vanilla, chocolate, and coffee) with USDA Organic protein and powerful phytonutrients for optimal health.
- High percentage of phytonutrients sourced from various nutrient-rich foods like green tea, acai, turmeric, and broccoli.
- Reputation for using the best ingredients like USDA organic pea protein for high-quality nourishment that keep your aging body fed, energized, and healthy.
- It comes in three flavors: vanilla, coffee, and chocolate.
Choosing The Right Gear and Appliances for Puree
You have so many appliance choices for pureeing. Where do you even start?
Here are the most common ones along with some pros and cons of each type. I’ll also include some recommended models for you too.
Ready? Here we go!
Best Food Processors for Purees
The typical machine most households use for pureeing foods is a food processor.
- Food processors are very multifunctional, performing all kinds of functions from simply mixing to julienning vegetables to chopping and slicing and pureeing.
- Their large bowl is also usually convenient for adding ingredients, and they generally have straightforward, easy to use settings.
- Most have high powered motors and large blades that make quick work of purees.
- They tend to be on the expensive side.
- They’re also large and bulky, so finding storage for them in your kitchen may be a pain.
- Because they are large, they might not be the best for small single serving pureed meals.
What’s the Difference Between and Food Processor and a Blender?
The main difference between food processors and blenders is the blade. The blade is sharper on a food processor because it is designed more for solid foods. Blenders are better for liquids or food with high liquid content like fruits and veggies.
If you need just a basic food processor for small pureed meals, this a great entry into the food processor world. It’s an everyday food processor for pureeing veggies, soups, and more.
It has 2 speed settings and a 450 watt motor which is the minimum motor power size I recommend for purees.
The bowl has a 10 cup capacity, a “happy medium” size, with a built in scraper. This saves time because you won’t have to stop as often to scrape the bowl with a spatula for consistency. The feeding chute is large too.
There is also an 8 cup bowl model available.
The stainless steel blade is what you’ll use the most but there is also a stainless steel slicing disc and a shredding disc too.
The bowl, lid, and blades are also all dishwasher safe for quick and easy clean up.
The only real negative about this is that it is loud. Very loud as a matter of fact.
But if you want more power for quicker pureeing and/or want more capacity, check out Cuisinart’s 14 cup food processor. It will cost a little more but makes quick work of pureeing foods.
The motor is a super powerful 720 watts for pureeing tougher foods like meats and other proteins.
It has an extra large feeding tube which saves you time when making large batches.
It comes with the typical S shaped blade, plus a specialized slicing disc, shredding disc, and a chopping blade too. All are made of stainless steel for durability and cleanability. A spatula is included too.
All pieces except for the base are dishwasher safe for easy cleaning.
Many people don’t feel their kitchen is complete without a Kitchen Aid product in it. The brand stands on its own.
KitchenAid makes a very nice food processor that gives you a lot of control over your pureeing. It is known for its “ExactSlice” system but you won’t use that option much for purees.
The machine that lets you control the speed of the blade on high, low, or pulse settings so you can adjust from a thick to thin consistency. You won’t find this kind of control elsewhere.
Here’s why this is one of the best food processors for purees: it comes with both a 9 cup and a 3 cup bowl. Small batch? Use the 3 cup to reduce waste and get a better, more consistent puree. Larger batch? Hop up to the 9 cup bowl. This gives you lots of options with one machine.
The bowls have a tight seal feature too to prevent leaks while the machine is working.
You’ll mostly use the multipurpose blade but it does come with a reversible shredding disc and a dough blade too.
You get 4 colors to choose from.
But, it is important to note that all of the parts are recommended hand-wash only.
Best Blenders for Purees
Another common choice for pureeing machines is the blender.
These also have a variety of settings and are fairly intuitive to operate.
Blenders are best for pureeing foods that have high liquid content like smoothies and soups.
Get one with a high powered motor for dysphagia patients because you’ll need to blend together more solid foods, not just fruits and vegetables for smoothies.
TAKE CAUTION HERE THOUGH!
Do not fill up the blender with hot soup – only fill it up about a third of the way. When you turn the blender on, the hot liquid will expand and could come flying out the top. At best, it will only make a mess. But, at worst, you can get severe burns from hot soup flying at you. Also, cover the lid with a kitchen towel and use that to hold the lid in place.
How to Use a Blender for Purees
Ok, now that you have had your blender safety lesson for the day:
- Carefully pulse the blender to begin mixing the contents. This also helps make sure there is no explosion out the top.
- Increase the speed to the low setting for a minute or two to further combine the food.
- Finally, gradually increase speed until you get the right consistency.
Blenders puree food quickly and the machine does all the work.
Pros of Using a Blender for Purees
- Blenders are great for more dishes focused on liquid, like smoothies and nutritional drinks. Generally, this means they’re better for pureeing too. Their blades are also incredibly effective, able to easily crush ice or gently mix soft ingredients together into a cohesive blend as well. For pureeing, their construction is also effective because with the lightweight pitcher design and pour spot that most of them come with, it’s easy to transfer or pour your puree into the rest of your mixture or dish.
- Easy to use settings, often coming with a specified “puree” setting. Lightweight and compact construction for easy moving or storage. Wide range of prices to fit any budget. Very versatile for all kinds of blended drinks and dishes.
Cons of Using a Blender for Purees
Blenders do have a few drawbacks.
- Blenders aren’t good with more solid foods. They tend to clog up.
- Also, you often have to work in batches which might not save time. However, for a few servings of a pureed soup, a blender can work quite well.
- Not great for large or bulk cooking, as the largest blenders usually carry about 11 cups.
- If you are using a blender to puree meats, you will want to get one with lots of power.
Here are my recommendations for the best blenders for pureeing food.
The Ninja BL610 is my personal favorite.
While the Ninja blender is on the expensive side, you won’t regret this investment. It provides great control, with low, medium and high settings. You’ll appreciate the incredibly quick performance from the 1000 watt motors.
The Total Crushing Blades can pulverize anything from ice to gently pureeing fruit in seconds. Plus, it has a large capacity to handle all your meal needs.
The blades are specially designed Total Crushing Blades that can crush fruits, vegetables and ice with ease. You can use it in 3 different speeds and a pulse function. It is relatively loud however.
All parts are also BPA free and dishwasher safe for added convenience.
If the Ninja Professional is too big for you, this one is a great choice.
This Amazon Best Seller has a compact footprint that doesn’t take up a lot of space. Yet it still has a very powerful 900w motor.
It comes with two cups (18oz and 24oz in size) and lids for both for easy storage.
The Nutri Ninja breaks everything down food easily. This blender is great for making one serving puree from softened vegetables or other ingredients.
The downside though is that the jars are not heat resistant. So, you will need to wait for food to cool down before mixing it in this blender.
Want more power? This Nutribullet blender comes with an exceptional 1700w motor. This powerful unit is able to process a nice smooth puree.
On the other hand, there is a significant difference in price, so you have to keep that in mind.
This blender comes with 3 containers, a 34oz pitcher, a 32oz small cup and a 45oz oversized cup. Each container comes with a storage lid too.
Another plus for this one is that it can work with hot food. It even has built-in heating function. The motor is very loud though. The Nutribullet might even move a little bit across the counter as it works!
Cleaning is a bit more difficult and is best done by hand.
Best Blender For Pureeing Meat
But, what about meat?
Well, you need sharp blades and lots of power to puree meats. These blenders are best for pureeing meat and proteins.
Vitamix machines, especially this one, are incredibly powerful. It has rave reviews online by users, one going so far as to say “this isn’t a blender – it’s a way of life.” It’s so powerful that it can blend anything from nuts to coffee beans to dough and yes, even meat.
This blender has a large 64 ounce container which is great for large dishes or if you like to make large batches and then store them away.
It also has an easy to use, complete control dial adjustment feature that works while it’s blending, so you’re always in control of the process.
The blades themselves are stainless steel, and can actually reach speeds so high that they create friction heat. This means you can take cold ingredients (like meat) and actually cook them into a nice blended soup in about 6 minutes with this machine.
Of course, it is a Vitamix so you will pay more for it because of the name, reputation, and features.
Honestly though, high powered food processors like the ones above will puree tough meat products better.
Best Immersion Blenders for Pureeing Food
An immersion blender is the handheld version of the blender that sits on your countertop.
It has a spinning blade on one end of the shaft with controls on the other end. Most plug into an electric outlet but there are battery powered models too.
How to Use an Immersion Blender for Purees
To use an immersion blender,
- Chop the food into very small pieces.
- Cook the food in liquid until soft in a large pot.
- Then, put the handheld blender down into the food making sure you are holding it level.
- Turn it on and begin moving it around in the food. You’ll feel a suction which will help keep the blender head flat against the bottom.
- You’ll have to pick it up periodically after turning it off to make sure you got all the food piece pureed.
Pros of Using an Immersion Blender for Purees
- They act as all-in-one, portable, handheld alternatives to blenders, food processors, and more.
- They’re incredibly easy to operate, usually with a one touch function that turns the machine on or off. Just put all of your ingredients into a pot or container, insert the immersion blender, and go! You’ll have a great puree, smoothie, sauce, or or a super smooth soup in seconds.
- Another, possibly even more enticing, feature is their affordability. They’re usually much more affordable than their larger alternatives.
Cons of Using an Immersion Blender for Purees
- First, the food must be pre-chopped into smaller pieces or the blender head will clog. This can cause a lumpy puree.
- Second, they don’t play nice with some enamel pans. If the blender has a stainless steel head or the blade gets turned at an angle, it may scratch the enamel pan surface.
- Finally, make sure you maintain control of the blender. If it gets away from you, you will end up with puree all over your stove and kitchen!
Don’t let the price tag fool you. The Cuisinart immersion blender is one of the most powerful on the list and doesn’t compromise quality for affordability.
It has a detachable shaft that’s easy to remove and dishwasher safe for easy cleaning. It’s also made out of stainless steel which is very durable and won’t stain. The body of this immersion blender comes with a built in blade guard to protect your hands and fingers from the high powered blade.
It also comes in 10 different colors, so you can pick and choose what would best match your kitchen’s style!
If you want to kick your immersion blender pick up a notch without breaking the bank, check out Epica’s model.
It has a fairly standard 350 watt motor and high quality stainless steel blades. But it’s also incredibly easy to use with a one click release for your attachments (it comes with standard mixer and whisk attachments).
All of these parts are dishwasher safe, too.
The primary advantage of this machine is its variable speed dial which gives you complete control over the power and speed of your blender. This is a unique feature that’s hard to find in affordable immersion blenders.
It also comes with a bunch of great accessories, including a 3 cup blending and storage jar with graduated markings, a suction lid, and pouring spout, and a 2 cup chopping bowl for solid ingredients.
This is one of the best, and most versatile picks here on the list.
This immersion blender is the most inexpensive on the list coming in at under $20.
You might wonder what makes this model so cheap but it’s actually a very high quality blender for its price.
Of course, it’s not quite as high powered as others with just a 250 watt motor and one speed.
But, it will still work for smaller batches of soft sauces or foods if that’s what you primarily plan to use your immersion blender for.
Both the 6 inch blending attachment and an interchangeable whisk are made out of stainless steel. Both of the attachments are dishwasher safe, as well.
You’ll also like the softly coated, ergonomic handle. It’s a great value if you don’t need a high-powered, high performance model.
Best Food Mills for Smooth Pureed Food
Food mills are an extremely helpful gadget for making purees. And, you might not have ever heard of them.
Food processors and blenders basically pulverize the food into oblivion. While that may be desirable sometimes, other times you may crave a really thick texture that’s reminiscent of real food.
So, what is a food mill?
A food mill is essentially a grinder and a strainer built into one. You simply put the softened food in the top and then crank the handle. This forces the food through the grinder disks and while straining it at the same time. You end up with a nice, smooth puree on one side and all the seeds and skins on the other.
Because food mills do the work of two different kitchen tools, using a food mill saves you time time. And, I think, you end up with a better puree if you are looking for an ultra-smooth, velvety texture.
Pros for Using a Food Mill for Purees
- Creates a perfect puree texture while sifting out any unwanted elements.
- It doesn’t use electricity and is very self-explanatory to use.
Cons of Using a Food Mill for Purees
- Manual operation may be difficult for some people to manage.
- They require assembly and disassembly every time they are used or cleaned
The OXO food mill is definitely the best food mill for pureed foods.
The grinding discs change in and out quickly with a quick-release latch. There are 3 sizes too: fine (1 mm), medium (3 mm), and coarse (8 mm).
The 1 mm disc is the smallest on the market and works great for super smooth purees like baby food or a bowl of red tomato sauce.
It’s 3 mm disc is the size you will use most and is good for mashed potatoes and veggie purees.
The OXO is also the only one that includes a disc as large as 8 mm. This is the perfect size for chunkier soups and sauces.
This food mill is extremely stable too. There are three little legs on the bottom that are coated in rubber. These feet act like tripods and stabilize the mill on top of the bowl to keep it from moving around while you are grinding away. They also fold in for easy storage.
The main feature of the OXO Good Grips line is the comfortable handles. They are larger than many other handles and are also soft and flexible. This makes them easy to hold onto without having to squeeze too hard. A definite plus for those with arthritis.
Both the mill itself and the discs are made of stainless steel which will last for years with proper care. It will also stand up to repeated use with hot liquids and food.
Finally, it comes apart quickly for thorough cleaning and is dishwasher safe on the top rack.
Alisa Home Foley Food Mill
This product has been discontinued – I am in search of a similar replacement.
I also really like and recommend this food mill from Alisa Home for those looking for a basic model for occasional use.
It is a well made and surprisingly durable food mill that is almost perfect.
Almost. If it was just stainless steel that is.
The plastic bowl is the only drawback of this model. But it may not be a big deal to some users. The plastic bowl does have one key advantage though: it is lighter than a stainless steel one. This could make it easier for some people to use and manage. For those concerned with BPA, this product is certified BPA-free.
The Alisa Home mill does have some stability features built in too like the notched feet. There are little grooves on the bottom of the feet that help grip the edge of the bowl. These keep the mill from shifting around so much while it is being used.
Like the other models, this mill includes 3 interchangeable discs in fine, medium, and coarse. The discs change in and out pretty easily by popping in and out of the lip on the plastic bowl. Then, the grinding handle is reattached to the center hole.
The Alisa Home mill is also dishwasher safe on the top rack and disassembles easily for cleaning.
Almost anyone can afford this well-priced food mill. You can usually pick one up for less than $30.00.
For an entry-level, cheaper food mill, the Weston food mill is a decent product.
It does have all the standard features like 3 sizes of milling discs, a stainless steel bowl, and it is easy to clean.
However, there is a basic problem with this food mill that has to do with stability.
Stability, like I talked about before, is important when using a food mill. Otherwise, you could end up with a huge mess.
This food mill, unfortunately, sits loosely on top of the bowl while being used. Another option is to hold it firmly with one hand over the top of the bowl. Neither of these methods is as secure as the tripod feet of the OXO or the notched feet of the Alisa model. This means that the food mill is going to move around – a lot – when being used.
Best Potato Ricers for Purees and Mashed Potatoes
Potato ricers may be the one item here you haven’t heard much about. They are generally used with potatoes and other root vegetables.
Potato ricers basically look like a large garlic masher. On the bottom is a screen with holes the size of a grain of rice. A pusher then forces the food through the holes so that you end up with what looks like fluffy mashed potatoes.
Pros of Using a Potato Ricer for Purees
- Creates the best, creamiest, richest texture for purees.
- They’re also relatively affordable, don’t use any extra electricity, and they are easy to use.
Cons of Using a Potato Ricer for Purees
- Requires a lot of manual labor.
- It also has a somewhat limited use, you can really only use a potato ricer for a handful of dishes, so it may spend a lot of time in storage.
- You also have to add a few steps to the process to get your puree.
OXO’s potato ricer has a traditional, handheld construction and performs beautifully. It has a durable stainless steel body for guaranteed performance, but the handles are coated with a soft material, making it very easy to use. It also features knobs on either end that prevent it from slipping into the bowl, which is a very innovative feature.
Other Suggested Equipment for Making Purees
A Good Rubber Spatula
This is more important than you may realize. Trying to scrape pureed food out of a bowl with a metal spoon is difficult and frustrating.
Get a good rubber or silicone spatula that has a smooth, flat edge. This will make scraping bowls much easier. Another benefit is you’ll be able to get most of the puree out of the bowl which reduces waste and cleans up easier.
I like this set because it is heat resistant and comes with several sizes.
Strainers are important to pureeing especially if you do not have a good food mill. Using food processors and blenders for purees can leave an inconsistent final product. Sometimes fibrous foods will not puree completely. Maybe there are seeds or skins that got into the final product.
A strainer will help remove these from your puree. You put the strainer over a large bowl and force the puree through with you trusty rubber spatula. This will trap the larger particles on one side and allow a smooth, velvety puree to come out the other.
Strainers come with different sized mesh. A standard metal kitchen strainer will work for most people. If you need a super smooth puree, get a fine mesh strainer.
Pureed Diet Recipes for Dysphagia
Looking for great tasting pureed diet recipes? Here are some favorites!
Pureed Dessert Recipes
Peach Apricot Puree
This puree has a great combination of sweet and tart. The addition of oats also adds some bulk for a heartier puree that will make you feel full longer.
- 2 lbs frozen peaches
- 8 oz dried apricots
- 2 cup apple juice no-sugar added, organic is best
- 2/3 cup quick 1 minute oats
- 1 tbsp cinnamon
- Dump the frozen peaches, apricots, and apple juice into a saucepan
- Turn up to high until mixture starts boiling
- Boil on high for 5 minutes stirring occasionally
- Add oats, stir well, and boil another minute
- Put contents of saucepan in blender. (CAUTION when blending hot floods, never fill the blender up more than half way. The food will expand while bending and you could end up with hot puree flying out of the tip of the blender! Make sure the lid is on tight and put a towel over it for safety.)
- Blend until completely smooth (2-3 minutes)
Fig Berry Puree
The figs in this puree add a little tang to the sweetness of the strawberries and apple juice. Finishing it off with some ground cloves adds a festive holiday feel.
- 2 lb frozen strawberries
- 8 oz dried figs
- 1 cup apple juice no-sugar added, organic is best
- 1 cup quick, 1 minute oats
- 1 tsp ground cloves
- Cut the figs in half and remove any stem from the pointed end of the fig.
- If using fresh strawberries, remove the top and bottom and cut in half also.
- Add the strawberries, figs, and apple juice to a saucepan
- fig berry puree recipe ingredients added to a pan
- Turn heat on high and cover
- Once boiling starts, boil for 5 minutes stirring once
- Add the oats, stir and boil for another minute
- Remove from heat and add contents of the pan plus the ground cloves to a blender (CAUTION when blending hot foods. Do not fill your blender past half way or hot food could be shot from the top of it. Make sure the lid is tight and throw a towel on top for extra safety)
- Blend until smooth (2-3 minutes)
Peaches and Cream
For a quick and simple dessert:
- Strain one jar of baby peaches.
- Add one cup of ice cream, a pinch of nutmeg and 1/8 of a teaspoon vanilla extract.
- Blend until smooth.
Frozen Yogurt Parfait
This can be used as a breakfast or dessert food.
- Puree together vanilla yogurt with your seniors’ favorite fruits and a bit of almond milk.
- Serve as is or freeze overnight to create a delicious, healthy ice-cream like treat.
Pureed Recipes With Protein
Italian Chicken Puree
Slightly tangy pureed chicken with lots of Italian flavor.
- 1/2 cup cooked chicken
- 3 tablespoons tomato sauce
- 1-1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Place all the ingredients in a food processor or blender. You could also blend them by hand using a fork.
- Once the mixture is well incorporated and soft, microwave it for 30 seconds.
- Use left over cooked chicken breasts or tenders for this recipe.
- Canned chicken could also be used for a quick and easy puree.
Black Bean And Red Pepper Puree
A super nutritious puree for the mexican food lover especially. Expect a little bit of spice with this one.
- 1 cup black beans rinsed and drained
- 3 tablespoons enchilada sauce
- 4 tablespoons chopped roasted red pepper
- 3 tablespoons chicken broth
- Place the beans, half the enchilada sauce and peppers in a pan and cook over medium heat.
- When these ingredients are cooked, add the chicken broth.
- Turn off the heat and blend the ingredients, using an immersion or regular blender.
- Transfer the puree to a serving bowl, and add the other half of the enchilada sauce before serving.
- You can buy red peppers already cooked in the condiment aisle, deli, or Mexican sections of most grocery stores.
- Garnish this with a little guacamole (finely pureed) or sour cream to complete the Mexican theme.
Scrambled Egg and Bean Puree
A simple recipe for a breakfast puree with lots of protein that would make a great dinner too.
For the scrambled eggs:
- 1 egg
- Salt and pepper
For the bean puree:
- 1/2 cup black beans rinsed and drained
- 3 tablespoons enchilada sauce
- 2 tablespoons broth
For the black bean puree:
- Place the beans and enchilada sauce in a pan and cook over medium heat.
- After about 2 minutes, add the broth of your preference.
- Use an immersion or regular blender to blend the mixture, and serve it in a bowl.
- Alternatively, you can make the bean puree in advance keep it in the freezer until you make the eggs.
For the scrambled eggs:
- Heat a pan or skillet and whisk your eggs in a bowl before pouring them into the pan.
- Add salt and pepper to taste, and make sure to move the eggs with a spatula as they cook.
- When they have reached the desired consistency, remove them from the heat and serve them with the bean puree and enchilada sauce.
- A good garnish for this might be sour cream or finely pureed guacamole.
Pureed Egg Salad
This is the pureed version of the chunky sandwich filler you’ve probably eaten before. Don’t like olives? You can substitute the more traditional pickles or pickle relish instead.
- 2 hard-boiled egg
- 1-1/2 tablespoon green onion chopped
- 2 tablespoon tomatoes diced
- 2 tablespoon soft cheese cottage, ricotta, or feta are best
- 1 teaspoon olives sliced (optional)
- 2 teaspoon reduced-fat mayonnaise
- Salt and pepper to taste
- In a bowl, mix all the ingredients except the cheese.
- Use a food processor or blender to blend until you achieve a creamy consistency.
- Gently stir in the cheese and serve chilled.
- If you have trouble peeling your eggs after boiling them, add a teaspoon of baking soda to the water before boiling.
- You can also buy eggs already hard boiled at the grocery store but they tend to be a bit rubbery. If you go this route, make sure they puree completely.
Tangy Chicken Salad
This chicken salad recipe has a slightly tangy flavor to it but is mostly bland – and that’s on purpose! It is a good recipe for adding back meats and proteins to a diet after bariatric surgery or for dysphagia. Increasing or adding spice is simple to do later.
- 1 cup cooked or canned chicken
- 2 tablespoon Greek yogurt
- 2 tablespoon reduced-fat mayonnaise
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- Salt & Pepper to taste
- Place the chicken into a food processor and grind it until it is smooth.
- Add in the yogurt, mayonnaise, salt, pepper, and onion powder and pulse until smooth
- Garnish with chives if desired.
- Freshly cooked chicken is best for this recipe but not always available.
- I like to save chicken tenders from other meals for this.
- Remember to cut up the chicken in very small pieces before pureeing.
- If you use canned chicken, rinse it a little to remove some sodium.
- Canned chicken will sometimes puree better because it is already in smaller chunks.
Basic Fish Puree
This is just a simple, quick, and easy fish puree recipe. You can use leftover freshly cooked fish for this or keep it really simple with canned tuna or salmon.
- 1 cup cooked or canned fish tuna or salmon, drained well
- 1 tablespoon reduced-fat mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon green onions chopped
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Place your cooked or canned fish in a food processor, and process until it becomes smooth.
- Place in a bowl and stir in the mayonnaise, salt, and pepper.
- Garnish with finely chopped green onions.
Pureed Beef Stew
This is a more homemade option. You can also puree canned beef stew too right out of the can for a fast meal.
- Tender Cut of Beef, Diced
- Bag of Frozen Peas, Carrots, etc.
- Beef Broth or Gravy
- Salt & Pepper
- Cook four ounces of beef until soft.
- Boil favorite vegetables such as carrots and peas until tender.
- Add half a cup of beef broth or gravy.
- Blend together until you have the desired consistency.
Tuna and Beans Puree
Besides being protein packed, tuna fish has many other benefits thanks to its vitamins, minerals and other organic compounds. It is able to reduce cardiovascular disease, stimulate muscle growth and lower blood pressure. On the other hand, white beans are fiber-rich and a good source of magnesium. When combined, these two ingredients make for a delicious puree.
- 15 oz beans, canned or cooked until soft
- 1 small tin of tuna
- Lemon juice from ½ lemon
- Pinch of basil
- Salt to taste
- Put all the ingredients in a food processor, and mix until smooth.
- If the puree is too thick you can add some water.
Chicken and Sweet Potato Puree
Chicken breast is known for its high protein value, with 31%. Other than protein, chicken is rich in vitamins (B3, B5, B6 and D) as well as minerals. Sweet potato, rich in vitamin A, fiber and potassium, is a good addition to make an amazing puree.
- 6 oz chicken breast, skinless and boneless
- 12 oz sweet potato, peeled and cubed
- Salt and other spices to taste
- Cook chicken in a small saucepan in boiling water for about 15 minutes or until meat is done. Remove from water, let it cool.
- Cook the sweet potato in a saucepan in boiling water until very soft. Drain the potatoes, but reserve the liquid.
- Put chicken, potatoes, spices and a small amount of cooking liquid in a food processor, and mix it until smooth. Add more water if too thick.
If you are on a pureed diet, scrambled eggs are a great choice. Egg proteins are easily digestible and are used as a standard to measure protein quality in food. In addition to proteins, eggs are rich in vitamins A and B complex, as well as minerals.
Here is a simple scrambled egg puree recipe. As an addition to this basic recipe, you can fry chopped onions, mushrooms or ham on some butter before cooking the eggs and then mix everything in a food processor. You can even add some grated cheese to the eggs.
- 2 eggs
- 3 oz of milk
- Mix 2 eggs, salt, pepper and 1 oz milk in a small bowl.
- Cook the eggs in a saucepan on low to medium heat.
- Stir well while cooking, be careful not to overcook.
- Place the mixture in a food processor or blender, add the remaining 2 oz of milk and mix until smooth.
A classic that goes great with vegetable puree, for example mashed potatoes. Beef meat used in this recipe has 26% of protein in a piece of meat, which means it fits well in your protein-rich diet. Be free to adjust the following recipe to your own taste.
- ½ tablespoon sunflower oil
- 1 oz onion (chopped)
- 1 oz carrots (chopped)
- 3 oz minced beef
- 1 tablespoon tomato puree
- 1 cup beef stock
- ½ garlic
- Pinch of oregano
- Heat the oil in a saucepan, and fry the onions and carrots for a few minutes.
- When soft, add the minced beef and tomato puree and fry for a few more minutes.
- Add garlic and oregano, pour the stock and bring to a simmer.
- Cook for about 40 minutes.
- Let it cool a bit, put the sauce in a food processor and mix.
A fish that is a favorite to many. It is great tasting and rich in essential amino-acids. It has almost 20% protein content, which is excellent. I am presenting an easy salmon puree recipe which won’t disappoint.
- ½ cup water
- ½ oz dry white wine
- 1 oz onion, sliced
- ½ lemon, sliced
- 1 ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 springs parsley (no stems)
- 2 springs dill (no stems)
- 3 oz boneless and skinless salmon steaks
- 1 oz cream
- Put water, wine, onion, lemon, salt, pepper, parsley and dill in a saucepan.
- Heat until it boils, then reduce heat, cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Add the salmon steaks, cover the saucepan and simmer for 5 minutes or until fish flakes easily.
- Pour cream to the mixture and mix in a food processor.
Sausage and Onions
Possibly not as nutritious as other suggestions, but great tasting nevertheless. When choosing which sausage to buy, try to pick out ones that have higher meat and lower fat percentage, as some can be overfilled with fat.
- 3 oz of sausage meat or skinned uncooked sausage
- 2 oz onions
- ½ cup water
- 1 teaspoon gravy browning
- 1 teaspoon chopped sage
- Put the sausage, onions, water and sage into a pan and cook for 10 minutes.
- Let it cool a bit, add the gravy browning and blend until smooth.
- If you like, you could add tomato sauce or mustard to the mix to get different flavors.
Side Dish and Pureed Vegetable Recipes
Creamy Garlic Cauliflower Puree
This puree is a great substitute for mashed potatoes for people looking to reduce their carbs or want to change things up a little.
- 2 cup cauliflower chopped and cooked
- 1 clove garlic crushed and peeled
- 2 tablespoon nonfat buttermilk
- 1 tablespoon soft cheese cottage, ricotta, or feta
- 2 teaspoon olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Chop cauliflower into 1″ pieces and boil for about 10 minutes – until easily mashed with a fork.
- Place all the ingredients in a food processor and process until the texture is smooth and creamy.
- You can add cottage, ricotta or feta cheese if you wish to do so.
- Serve in a bowl and garnish with chives, if desired.
- Whole milk or half and half are perfectly fine substitutes for the buttermilk. They will have a little less tangy flavor too.
- Careful with the cheese addition – some people with dysphagia should not eat cheese due to the risk of choking.
Pureed Macaroni and Cheese
- Boxed Macaroni and Cheese Kit
- Make your favorite Mac and Cheese as usual.
- Put 1 cup of the cooked Mac and Cheese to a blender.
- Add 1 cup of milk.
- Blend in a blender until smooth.
I make this recipe for me and my kids too as lower carb option to mashed potatoes. I add a little garlic too.
- 1 Head of Cauliflower, Chopped
- Salt & Pepper
- Boil the cauliflower until very tender. Save half a cup of the cooking liquid when it’s done.
- Put the cauliflower in the blender with the cooking water.
- Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Add a small amount of butter to taste.
- Blend until smooth.
Maple Sweet Potato
- Sweet Potato, Peeled and Diced
- Cream or Milk, 1 Tbsp
- Maple Syrup, 2 tsp
- Butter, 2 tsp
- Cinnamon, pinch
- Boil or microwave the sweet potato until soft.
- Put potato in blender or food processor.
- Add the cream or milk, syrup, butter, and cinnamon.
- Blend well.
Cream of Broccoli Soup
- Butter, 2 Tbsp
- Oil, 2 Tbsp
- Flour, 2 -3 Tbsp
- Milk, 1 Cup
- Bag of Frozen Broccoli
- Soft Shredded Cheese, ¼ cup
- Potato Flakes (if needed for thickening)
- Create a thick soup base by mixing together two tablespoons of butter, two tablespoons of oil, and two to three tablespoons of flour depending on your desired thickness.
- Heat on low until the mixture begins to bubble while stirring frequently.
- Slowly stir in one cup of skim milk.
- Allow new mixture to simmer until it thickens.
- While waiting, heat the broccoli in the microwave until warm and soft. Chop into smaller pieces if needed.
- Puree this base with a cup of cooked broccoli and ¼ cup of shredded cheese of your choosing. An immersion blender or standard blender works best.
- Add potato flakes to thicken, if desired.
Pureed Smoothie Recipes
Banana Protein Shake
In addition to the natural protein sources, we can consume protein in powder form. The one used in this recipe, and also probably the most popular one is whey protein. It is a milk protein and it is naturally separated as a by-product of making cheese. It is extremely useful since it has all 9 essential amino acids.
- 1 cup almond milk
- 1 cup plan Greek yogurt
- 1 scoop vanilla protein powder
- 1 frozen banana (not required to be frozen, but gives a better texture)
- ⅛ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Add almond milk, Greek yogurt, banana and cinnamon into a blender.
- Blend until smooth.
- If the shake is too thick, you can add some more almond milk to the blender.
Strawberry Protein Shake
Another healthy recipe with whey protein as an ingredient. If you want some variety you should try this one, it is amazing and has enough protein to support your diet.
- ½ cup almond milk
- ¼ cup Greek yogurt
- 3 strawberries, fresh or frozen
- ½ scoop vanilla whey protein powder
- 3 ice cubes
- Stevia or honey to taste
- Put all the ingredients in a blender.
- Blend until smooth.
- Add almond milk if mix is too thick.
As you get older, changes in your body may make eating more difficult. Sometimes, injuries and medical conditions take away your ability to swallow safely.
This is dangerous for the elderly and can lead to poor nutrition for our senior loved ones. But, even faced with that reality, some people refuse to transition to pureed foods in the belief that they taste and look bad.
Pureed food doesn’t have to be that much different from solid foods.
Just cook many of your favorite meals as normal and enjoy them in a blended form. Use high walled or partitioned plates to keep foods from running together. If the elderly person has difficulty using normal utensils, check out these easy to use forks and spoons. Use adult-sized sippy cups for drinking liquid foods.
So if you struggle to eat normal foods, for whatever reason, don’t be afraid to try pureed foods. With a little bit of practice and the right techniques, you can create nutritious pureed food that looks, smells and tastes great.
Tell me about your experiences with pureed foods for the elderly. Do you have any techniques you have learned that will help others? How about any favorite recipes? Let me know in the comments below!