At Essential Puree, we think whatever works for the user or whatever is prescribed for the user by medical professionals is fine. The National Dysphagia Diet (NDD) is not a one size fits all diet, and many things are permissible when prepared with medical advice, good technique, care, and observation.
No matter what your diet, anyone can apply the ingredient selection and cooking techniques of Essential Puree to create delicious pureed meals. The technique of great puree can be used with all food preferences, choices and cuisines. We are aware that individuals have needs, preferences and allergies. So, we try to do a mainstream diet with vegetarian and gluten-conscious variations (as indicated with a little logo).
We like clean eating, meaning eliminating processed, refined foods and sugars, as well as foods that contain preservatives and chemicals. We use condiments and herbs to get flavor into our recipes. When possible, we like fresh herbs. Some dishes, such as stews, are made with dried herbs. We are mindful to strain out any particles or seeds when we serve dishes to those with swallowing disorders. We do so with a mesh sieve and spatula to get a silky texture. Instead of saturated fats, we choose healthy oils, monosaturated and polyunsaturated.
We like fresh fruits and vegetables when possible, and we like organic, if possible. We use frozen fruits and veggies when time-challenged. We want to maximize flavor at all times. We choose whole grains for their nutritional value. We offer From Scratch recipes, but we use Quickie recipes with high-quality, store bought ingredients and convenience foods.
We know that many people are busy, and we think our readers want to know how to get a delicious pureed meal on the table in a flash. We cover the creation of a menu from breakfast through lunch and snacks, through dinner and desserts. Batch cooking in servings of four to six is a money-saver as well as a time-saver. It saves labor as well. We recommend a cooking schedule for keeping the freezer stocked with great meals.
No one who uses the Essential Puree system has to be chained to the kitchen. We think it can be tailored to suit individual needs. We began with mainstream, American comfort foods, because that is the diet our founder created for her mother. We are expanding and incorporating dishes from the many ethnic cuisines that make up the American table. We post recipes for some raw dishes, such as salads, but we also have warm salads that are lightly cooked. We use some pickled items, but pickled foods are not permitted on all phases of the National Dysphagia Diet. We recommend consulting with your healthcare provider and following instructions.
We are not food snobs. Even the great chef Julia Childs believed in eating road food when on the road and was not above grabbing something from the drive-thru at MacDonald’s upon occasion. Our founder developed a way to modify a burger for puree, for the occasional treat, and the doctors said that was all right. Your doctor may well agree.
We are big fans of farmers’ markets. The produce has ripened more fully than produce that is picked, refrigerated and shipped early by corporate agriculture. We use mashed vegetables to thicken as well as carbohydrates such as potatoes and rice. We also use commercial thickeners when we wish to thicken a broth or soup, for example. On our website, we give information on the best of these thickeners which we have obtained from experts in the field of dysphagia care as well as dietitians and nutritionists. We want the food to look good as well as taste good.
We deal with caregiver issues as well as the issue of patient boredom. For us, the sauce is the medium of flavor. Let us know if there is any dish in particular that you wish to puree, and we will see if we can help you. There are many new kitchen appliances for the home cook that aid in the process, especially high speed blenders that can render foods into a silky puree with no particles, fibers or seeds. We use the new equipment to the best advantage of the home cook or even the institutional cook. Elsewhere on this website, we give reviews of kitchen appliances. We are flexible. We don’t have hard and fast rules.
Just because the person has swallowing difficulties and needs a pureed diet does not mean the person cannot enjoy food. We believe in using the abilities and the other senses of the patient in question to make up for the swallowing difficulty. We believe in keeping things cheerful. So, go ahead. Fire up your kitchen machines.