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Everyday Cooking -  Creating soft diets

January 2012                                                                                                                              

fruit and vegEveryday Cooking is a feature of run by Rosemary Martin. 

Covering topics such as bread making, meals for one, nutritional meals, healthy eating, freezer cooking, seasonal cooking, microwave cooking, bulk cooking, preserves etc., Useful for older people and those on a limited budget, or single householders…

Please e-mail Rosemary with your cooking comments, or ideas for this section of laterlife 


 January 2012

Creating Soft Diets

Risotto with peasA soft diet is often required for older people, particularly those with swallowing difficulty, or after surgery involving the jaw, mouth or gastrointestinal tract, or dental problems etc.

It has to be remembered that older persons generally have a lower calorie need than more active, younger people, so when preparing a soft food diet, it is important to select foods that are nutrient dense or include high amounts of vitamins and minerals, such as low-fat milk. The diet should be structured as if the consistency were not changed. Complex carbohydrates, lean proteins and low fat foods should all be a part of the diet. Older people also tend to consume less fluid than needed, due to a decreased ability to detect thirst, or a desire to reduce trips to the bathroom. Fluids should be encouraged and five to eight glasses of fluid per day is generally recommended.

A soft diet need not be boring and can include many foods if they are mashed, pureed, combined with sauce or gravy, or cooked in soups, stews, chili, or curries, but in some situations there can be additional restrictions. For example patients who need to avoid excessive reflux are also recommended to stay away from foods that can aggravate the condition, such as tomato products, citrus fruits, chocolate, mint, spicy foods, alcohol, and caffeine, and always try to avoid overtly stringy or fibrous foods, which can be difficult to ingest.

Below are listed a wide selection of foods which can easily be used within a soft diet and, if necessary, many of the foods listed can be adapted for a "full liquid" diet by processing in a blender with an appropriate thinning liquid, such as a vegetable or meat broth, fruit or vegetable juice, or milk.

Grains and Starches

Baked potatoes, skinless, with sour cream or cream cheese
Breakfast cereals softened/soggy in milk
PorridgeBread with crusts removed for sandwiches
Cooked hot cereals such as oatmeal, porridge, etc
Lasagne with extra sauce
Macaroni & cheese, cooked soft
Mashed potatoes and gravy
Mashed sweet potatoes
Muffins, pancakes, or waffles (softened by adding syrup or butter and reheating)
Pasta cooked soft
Potato salad, mashed
Rice cooked soft with sauce or gravy


Baked beans, slightly mashed
Canned tuna or canned chicken, pureed in blender
Chicken salad or tuna salad
MeatloafCottage cheese
Eggs, scrambled
Enchilada pie
Fish cooked soft
Meatloaf, meatballs, cottage pie, and other soft dishes with ground meat
Nut butter such as peanut butter, almond butter, or cashew butter
Refried beans with melted cheese, sour cream, salsa, or guacamole

Fruit and Vegetables

Bananas, mashed if needed
Creamed corn
Pea soup with tortillaCreamed spinach
Fruit juices
Melons: Watermelon, cantelope, or honeydew, ripe and cubed
Orange or grapefruit, sectioned
Peeled pears or peaches, ripe or canned
Soup with soft-cooked vegetables
Vegetable juices such as tomato juice or carrot juice
Vegetables cooked soft, mashed, or pureed in the blender


Cake softened with milk or ice cream
Cream pies
Cheesecake with creamCustard
Fruit smoothies
Gelatin desserts such as Jell-O
Ice cream, sherbet, frozen yogurt, popsicles, Italian ice
Pumpkin pie, key lime pie, and other soft pies
Whipped cream or whipped topping



Potato soupAs an example here is a recipe for a simple, warming and tasty potato soup: A comforting classic, this easy potato soup uses a handful of store cupboard ingredients to great effect.




55g/2oz butter
425g/15oz potatoes, peeled and diced to 5mm/1/3in
110g/4oz onions, diced to 1/3in
1 tsp salt
freshly ground pepper
900ml/1½pt home-made chicken stock or vegetable stock
120ml/4fl oz creamy milk
freshly chopped herbs to garnish

Preparation method

Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan. When it foams, add the potatoes and onions and toss them in the butter until well coated.
Sprinkle with salt and a few grinds of pepper.
Cover with saucepan lid
Sweat on a gentle heat for approximately 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, bring the stock to the boil. When the vegetables are soft but not coloured Add the boiling stock and continue to cook for about 10-15 minutes or until the vegetables are soft.
Add the milk. purée the soup in a blender or food processor. Taste and adjust seasoning.
Serve sprinkled with a few freshly chopped herbs..

Whilst the above gives the basic thrust of this very wide subject, further information is readily available on the internet through the various search methods.



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