When a member of your family is having difficulty chewing or swallowing, or you are preparing soft foods for your toddler, puréed meals provide nutrition and flavor. Most foods can be puréed with the help of a blender, food processor or hand mill, along with a strainer or sieve. Soft foods can even be smashed and stirred into puree form with a fork, if you don't have access to kitchen tools.
To provide a healthy, balanced diet, craft meals that contain foods from the five food groups, with the majority of dishes coming from the grain, fruit and vegetable groups. Complete meals with servings from the protein or dairy groups. Simplify the puréeing process by removing seeds, skins, pits and bones from foods, and cutting large chunks into smaller pieces before blending. Most vegetables and proteins purée best when cooked to a soft consistency before blending, though many canned products don't require any further cooking. If purées are too thick, add low-fat milk or vegetable juice to thin the consistency.
Yogurt smoothies make a tasty and healthy puréed morning meal. Combine unflavored non- or low-fat yogurt with ground flax seeds, a drizzle of honey, bananas and a handful of frozen fruits for a healthy breakfast drink with elements from all the food groups. Add cottage cheese or soft tofu for protein. For a warm breakfast, purée hot, cooked cereal with low-fat milk, honey and your choice of berries. You can even purée eggs and toast; cook the eggs first, then blend with warm milk and toasted whole-wheat bread.
For a hearty but simple puréed lunch, add a splash of chicken, beef or vegetable broth to leftover soup or stew. Purée a mixture of canned or cooked fruits with a bit of fruit juice to create a healthy side dish. If your kids love macaroni and cheese, blend it with some hot milk. You can even blend a premade salad to add vegetables and fiber to the meal. Add cold water to the greens so they can be blended. Strain any solids, then throw in a dash of your favorite salad dressing and blend again until smooth.
If your family craves meatloaf, create a meaty purée by blending slices of meatloaf -- made with ground turkey or chicken and whole-grain bread -- with boiled veggies, such as carrots or zucchini, a splash of gravy and some chicken stock. Mashed potatoes are a natural and easy choice for puréeing. Add some warm milk and margarine and blend until smooth. For vegetables on the side, serve a mixture of your family's favorite boiled veggies blended in warm low-fat milk, or in beef, chicken, or vegetable stock. Or steam broccoli and blend it with warm low-fat milk and a bit of melted low-fat cheese. Even desserts can be pureed. Puddings and applesauce are easy to blend; add a bit of cinnamon for extra flavor.