If you cook foods until they are tender and fork mash before eating, they will be easier to swallow. The more work you can do on the plate, the less you have to do in your mouth.
This is also a useful technique for mixing in additional calories, such as fork mashing butter into soft vegetables.
Blending foods to create purees can turn most foods into easy-swallow meals. Be careful to remove all lumps and use fluid to help if the mix is too stiff. Add healthy oils, fats or cream to fortify with extra calories if needed.
In many cases, especially when blending vegetables, the resulting puree may be too thin if a lot of fluid is released. You may need to add a thickener for ease of swallowing.
Piping can be used with thickened purees to create appeal for both sweet and savoury dishes. While time consuming for a single portion, this technique is suited to batch cooking, where you can freeze portions for later use.
This is also a fun way to get younger members of the family involved in helping the person with MND.
Cooking rings and food mould trays can be used to create shaped portions of thickened pureed food. This way a serving of carrots or peas can still look like carrots or peas. The way food looks is important to appetite and appeal, so shaping can be helpful to encourage eating. It can also help maintain dignity when eating in company, as the plated food all looks the same.
Once the mould or tray is full, it needs freezing to create the shape. You do this in batches and simply reheat portions when needed.
It’s important to thicken the puree before placing into the mould. This prevents fluids separating and helps the puree retain shape.
Blending, thickening, piping and shaping foods can take time. If you have MND and cook, this can be tiring. If you need help, it creates more work for your carer. Batch cooking and freezing meals can help cut down on food preparation times, as you always have something to quickly heat up.
We have included metric measures in our recipes, but here are two handy conversion tables in case you need them.
Weights for dry ingredients
|1 litre||1¾ pints|
|1.5 litres||2¾ pints|
If you have swallowing difficulties, health and social care professionals may talk about levels of consistency. These levels describe the texture of foods and drinks.
Consistency levels are usually based on the IDDSI framework (in full, this means the International Dysphagia Diet Standardisation Initiative).
Drinks are measured from levels 0 – 4, while foods are measured from levels 3 – 7.
Your speech and language therapist, your dietitian or other relevant specialist will assess your needs and advise which level is right for you.
The recipes in this web app can be adapted to different levels of consistency. Ask the professionals supporting you for guidance.