Many patients on soft food diets complain about weight loss and low energy. These symptoms are usually attributed to a diet high in carbohydrates and empty-calorie foods like potatoes, pasta, and surgery smoothies. The solution? Protein!
Here are some tips to help you find high-protein, easy-to-eat foods – plus a recipe to get you started!
Protein is a dietary powerhouse
Protein-rich soft foods like tuna, salmon, eggs, beans, and low-fat yogurt are nutrient-dense options. Compared to carbohydrates, these foods will energize you and keep your healing and regenerative cells in high gear during recovery from tooth extractions, dental implant surgery, gum grafts, or other dental trauma.
To estimate how much protein you eat, try keeping a food record for a couple of days. Record what you eat and drink, assign the amount of protein for each item, then add up the numbers.
The amount of protein you need will vary depending on your age, weight, and activity level. Talk to your doctor to discuss an appropriate amount for you to consume daily.
For more information on the benefits of protein, and a handy chart of protein-rich foods, visit HealthLink BC’s Quick Nutrition Check for Protein.
It’s easy to energize your soft foods diet
Here are some easy and delicious ways to incorporate high-protein foods into your soft foods diet.
- Mix in some dessert or silken tofu with your yogurt or smoothie – it will blend in completely
- If you tolerate dairy products, a glass of milk provides protein plus plenty of calcium, potassium, and B12, and makes a great between-meal snack
- Snack on low-fat, plain, Greek yogurt. (Steer clear of fruit-flavoured or sweetened yogurts which can contain 16 g of sugar or more per serving. Instead, add in some puréed fruit if you prefer the sweetness.)
- Add a tin of drained, rinsed, and well-mashed beans to soups for extra texture
- Keep full between meals with cottage cheese and canned peaches
- Try tuna or salmon salad with Greek yogurt instead of mayonnaise
- Eggs are many people’s “go to” soft food – try them poached soft, soft boiled, or lightly scrambled
While we’re talking about eggs, we’d love to share with you one of our favourite things to make with eggs: frittata!
Made like quiche, only without crust, frittatas are a baked egg lover’s dream. Essentially, you whisk eggs with milk or cream, add some sautéed veggies, pour everything into a pan, and bake! (It’s also easy to double your recipe and freeze extra frittatas for later.)
Here’s a recipe for a delightful frittata that highlights spring asparagus, adapted from Chatelaine.com. Feel free to customize the veggies as desired.
- 1 small red onion
- 2 yellow or orange bell peppers
- 6 stalks of asparagus
- 2 tbsp butter or olive oil
- 8 green onions
- 16 eggs
- 4 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1/2 tsp dried basil
- 1/2 tsp tarragon
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 1/2 cup 10% creamer or milk
- 2 cups grated old cheddar, asiago, or parmesan
Finely chop red onion. Core and seed peppers, then finely chop. Rinse asparagus well, trim off the woody ends, then finely dice.
Preheat a large frying pan over medium heat. Heat butter or oil, then add red onion, peppers, and asparagus. Stir often until well softened, 5 to 10 minutes. Meanwhile, finely dice green onions and add to the pan for the last few minutes. Scrape the veggies onto a plate and refrigerate, uncovered, until cool, 10 to 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 325F (160C).
Crack eggs into a large bowl. Beat lightly, then whisk in Dijon, basil, tarragon, salt, pepper, and creamer or milk. Stir in cheese. Add pepper mixture.
Cover a rimmed baking sheet with foil or parchment. Coat two 9-inch (23-cm) pie plates with butter or cooking spray and place on the foiled sheet. Stir egg mixture and pour into pie plates. Distribute vegetables as evenly as you can. Bake until frittata centre is set when jiggled, 35 to 40 minutes. Remove from oven. Let stand 5 minutes. Cut into wedges.