High protein soft food diet meal ideas! For when you can’t survive on mashed potatoes alone…
At 39 years old, I’m not exactly a spring chicken, so going into my wisdom teeth removal (a procedure that most people have done in their teens) I wanted to make sure I set myself up for the best possible outcome. The standard recommendations for a soft food diet after wisdom teeth removal includes things like mashed potatoes, ice cream, and pudding. And while those foods are fine, those are NOT the foods that will fill me up or nourish me, especially over the span of an entire week. I knew I was going to need protein if I was going to heal fast, so I created my own high protein soft food diet meal plan!
I think I have a bit of a unique skill set in this realm. As a recipe developer, lover of good food, and as someone with a background in nutrition who also needs to keep their own nutrition dialed in, I think I crushed it during the week I needed to eat soft foods. So, I’m sharing my favorite high protein soft food meals, along with some of the other nutrient-rich mushy foods I ate after having 4 teeth cut and yanked out of my head. I’m skipping over some obvious things like broth and smoothies, to share what I actually found to be most nourishing and filling.
Everything is very simple and easy to prepare, tastes good, is nourishing, and can be eaten without chewing. Cheers!
And good luck– I hope your procedure goes well!
If you have any favorite nourishing or high protein foods you survived on after having mouth work done, please share in the comments– I’m sure everyone would love even more ideas!
MEAT & SEAFOOD
- Chicken Soup Chicken
- BBQ Pulled Pork
- Beef Roast
- Salmon or Tuna Salad
- Epic Meat Bars
- Liver & Oyster Pills
How to Cook Meats for Blending: General Instructions
The trick to making soft, blended meat for a high protein soft food diet is to slow cook it for a long time so that it breaks down easily. This can be accomplished in an Instant Pot or slow cooker.
For meat in a slow cooker, place the cut of meat in the cooker and fill with water until it comes about half way up the meat. Add seasonings, cover, and cook on high until it’s fall-apart tender, typically 6 to 8 hours.
For blending meats and turning them into mush, a good quality food processor is the best tool for the job. I’ve used and loved this Cuisinart Pro Classic Food Processor (click here) for nearly 10 years. A worthwhile investment if you’ll be eating blended food for more than a day or two!
When processing meats, err on the side of over blending rather than under.
Process the meat with a small amount of broth or cooking liquid from the slow cooker, and add more as needed while processing. It will start off a little dry and crumbly looking, but turn into more of a paste or paté consistency as you add more liquid and processes it more. Most meats took just a couple minutes of processing in my food processor.
Pureed meats do not look appetizing, but thankfully they do taste good.
Below is pureed chicken on the left and pureed pulled pork on the right.
In general, I preferred to keep my meats plain and by themselves, rather then blending them with veggies or starches. It’s difficult to eat as much when it’s blended, and my goal was to make sure I was getting enough protein. This was a lot easier to track when the meat was by itself.
By the way, the chicken, pork, and beef can be made and frozen ahead of time. You can freeze the cooked meat with some of its broth, then thaw and puree at mealtime, or freeze the pureed meat itself.
I cooked a whole chicken and made broth in the instant pot following my method for hybrid broth/stock. The video for exactly how to do this is on my YouTube channel (click here). You could also cook chicken in a slow cooker or in a pot on the stove. Once the chicken was cooked, I pureed it in a food processor following the directions outlined above.
This chicken tastes reminiscent of chicken soup, since the meat and broth were cooked with classic chicken soup veggie like onion, celery, and carrot.
I used a whole chicken, but you could also use chicken thighs, breasts, or any combination of white and dark meat as well. And while I haven’t tried this, if you’re really in a pinch, I imagine that a rotisserie chicken and a box of broth from the store would also blend up nicely.
I cooked a pork shoulder roast in the slow cooker with onion and garlic, a little bit of smoked salt, and Primal Palate BBQ Seasoning (click here). It turned out fantastic! Once the pork was cooked, I pureed it in a food processor following the directions outlined above.
This is eaten like a smoked pulled pork. My pulled pork mush was served with bbq sauce, which I would recommend serving on the side and not blending it into the meat.
I usually prefer a chuck roast, but any cut of beef meant to be cooked low and slow until tender will work wonderfully here. Keep in mind that after a medical procedure you likely won’t be feeling great and might not want super bold flavors or anything spicy; simple is best. I cooked my beef roast with sliced onion, a few cloves of garlic, and Primal Palate Steak Seasoning (click here), which has a well-rounded savory flavor profile that goes great with just about everything– its my go-to for any meat in the slow cooker. Once the beef was cooked, I pureed it in a food processor following the directions outlined above.
If you want, you can also take the drippings from the slow cooker and turn them into a gravy to be poured over your beef roast mush.
Tuna or Salmon Salad
Just about any canned fish will blend up into a nice paste, ahem, I mean mousse. Salmon mousse, that’s some gourmet stuff!
Drain any liquid from the can but save it. Process the canned salmon or tuna in the food processor with a dollop of mayo, salt, and dried dill, adding small amount of the reserved liquid if needed.
Epic Meat Bars
This was something I ate as a transitional food when I was moving from strictly blended foods into soft foods that I could chew gently. These were so delicious after a week of only eating blended meats, and they make a great breakfast! They have a ton of fun flavors, are very soft, and I could chew them with only my front teeth. If you want simple flavors, stick with the Beef Apple Bacon, Uncured Bacon Pork, and Venison Sea Salt. Get Epic Meat Bars (click here).
Liver & Oyster Pills
Liver and oyster are two of the most nutrient-dense foods you could eat, and are both at the VERY TOP of my list of the most healing foods! While I do sometimes eat actual liver and actual oysters, I most often get them in pill form.
I am currently make my own freeze-dried raw liver capsules, but I have also bought them in the past. I like the Ancestral Supplements brand. Get Liver Pills (click here). I took extra liver before and after my surgery to make sure I was getting a lot of nutrients.
The oyster capsules I use are simply dried oysters and contain a multitude of vitamins and minerals. I use and like Smidge Oysterzinc , and Traditional Foods Market Oyster Power.
I don’t love protein powder for my everyday life, but when faced with eating challenges, it can be life saving. Animal-based protein powders are the only types I use personally, as I’ve found over the years that vegetarian ones like pea and rice protein are not nourishing and don’t feel like they do anything for me.
I try hard to only eat pastured and grass-fed meats, and I prefer that for my protein powder as well. The following are all high-quality, clean-ingredient, with very bioavailable protein. Here are the ones I like:
Whey Cool Protein Powder- Chocolate
I’ve used this 100% grass-fed whey protein for about 10 years, it’s the protein powder I always keep on hand for emergencies, and it’s the first protein powder I ever found that was satisfying and satiating. I prefer the chocolate, and while it does have stevia (which I don’t care for the taste of but also don’t mind that much) this isn’t really something I drink for pleasure, but for necessity. I mix this up and drink it on it’s own, this isn’t one I mix into smoothies or anything. For me, this is a very quick and easy protein that doesn’t taste terrible. Get Whey Protein (click here).
Paleovalley Bone Broth Collagen Protein- Unflavored
There are tons of collagen brands out there, and only a couple brands I trust– this is my favorite and the cleanest I’ve found. It doesn’t dissolve as easily and isn’t as taste-less as “collage peptides,” but it’s much cleaner and has a similar nutrient profile. ( I won’t use collagen peptides anymore after learning how they’re made.) This is what I use for stirring into yogurt or oatmeal, or adding to smoothies. Karl adds it to his coffee every morning. Get Bone Broth Collagen Protein (click here).
Equip Grass-Fed Beef Protein– Unflavored
This is a newer-to-me product, and I like how clean the ingredients are. The unflavored only has one ingredient: grass-fed beef protein. This is what I’ve been using to add to smoothies… basically anywhere that I can cover up the slightly beefy taste. It isn’t bad tasting, just different and lightly savory/meaty, but it blends nicely with fruits and bolder flavors. Get Beef Protein Powder (click here).
EGGS & DAIRY
- Scrambled Eggs with Bacon
- Maple Egg Custard
- Whipped Cottage Cheese with Pears
- Greek Yogurt with Fruit
Eggs and cheese are both great sources of protein and healthy fats, so these were two foods that I embraced while on my high protein soft food diet. I relied a lot on these for part of my breakfasts and lunches.
Scrambled Eggs with Bacon
While regular scrambled eggs are considered a soft food, you still have to chew them. To make eggs that you don’t have to chew, start with soft scrambled eggs. A non-stick type pan is easiest for making these. Preheat the pan on low, melt a bit of butter, add the eggs, and use a silicone spatula to move them around. Keep them moving as they set, and cook until they are just done; don’t overcook.
Transfer the eggs to a blender, add a very small amount of finely chopped bacon or bacon bits (about 1 teaspoon for every 2 eggs), salt, and a splash of heavy cream. Blend gently until they start to become more uniform but have just a bit of texture left.
For children, I’d leave out the bacon. While this tiny bit of bacon didn’t give me the urge to chew, I think that might be different for a less experienced eater.
This can be made ahead and will keep in the fridge for several days.
Maple Egg Custard
This was a total winner and something I’d eat even if I didn’t need soft foods!
Start with soft scrambled eggs. A non-stick type pan is easiest for making these. Preheat the pan on low, melt a bit of butter, add the eggs, and use a silicone spatula to move them around. Keep them moving as they set, and cook until they are just done; don’t overcook.
Transfer to a blender and add cream, maple syrup, and a dash of cinnamon or nutmeg. I used 6 scrambled eggs, about 1/4 cup heavy cream, 1 to 2 tablespoon of maple syrup, and 1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg. You can adjust to your preferences because this is a very forgiving recipe.
While I like the eggs with bacon to have a little texture, I prefer this sweet egg dish to be smooth like custard, so blend until it looks uniform and very smooth.
This can be made ahead and will keep in the fridge for several days.
Whipped Cottage Cheese with Pears
Cottage cheese and pears were a classic combo from my childhood, and they really do go great together!
Cottage cheese is soft, but the small curds do give you the urge to chew, and blending or whipping it up into a silky smooth cream is a fantastic way to get around this.
Simply place a whole container of cottage cheese (full fat or low fat, your choice) into a food processor and process until smooth, about 60 seconds. For the pears, drain the liquid from a can of pears and process them into a pear sauce in the food processor.
For serving, I like to put the whipped cottage cheese and pear sauce in separate little dishes and alternate eating one after the other– it’s best this way.
Because nutrition is of utmost importance to me, especially as I was trying to heal, I looked for cottage cheese that was organic and from grass-fed cows, and did not contain stabilizers or other unnecessary ingredients. My favorite brand is Kalona Super Natural.
Greek Yogurt with Fruit
I always start with plain greek yogurt. Greek because it has a much higher amount of protein, and plain because I like to control the type and amount of sugar. Plus, I have tons of lovely fruits in my freezer and pantry and would prefer to use those as well.
For fruit, I was sticking to fruits that didn’t have little seeds– so no berries. Instead, I leaned on frozen peaches and cherries, and my homemade fruit butters.
To make blended fruit yogurt, used 1 cup of yogurt and about 1/4 cup of fresh or thawed frozen fruit, though you can adjust this to your preference. Combine in a blender or food processor and blend on high until smooth and uniform and no little pieces of fruit are left. Add honey or maple syrup to taste, if desired.
Another way I like to eat greek yogurt is simply with fruit butter stirred in. My homemade cherry, pear, and apple fruit butters were perfect for this (these fruit butter recipes are all in my book, Freeze Fresh). Get Freeze Fresh (click here).
Because nutrition is of utmost importance to me, especially as I was trying to heal, I looked for yogurt that was organic and from grass-fed cows, and did not contain stabilizers or other unnecessary ingredients.
FRUITS & VEGGIES
- Pond Scum aka Blended Green Juice
- Parmesan Broccoli
- Buttered Green Beans
- Garlic Butter Stewed Zucchini
- Mashed Potatoes and Sweet Potato
- Baby Food Pouches
As my week of high protein soft food drudgery dragged on, there became a few favorite fruit and veggie dishes that stood out as my favorites.
Pond Scum aka Blended Green Juice
My deepest apologies for the name, but it really does look the stuff that floats on top of a pond, so naturally that’s what we started calling it! I do love and appreciate raw veggies… I love a fresh salad or a veggie platter, but raw veggies need lots of chewing. Blending them up is a great way to still get their fiber (vs juicing) and have something you can eat with a spoon.
You can make any blend that you’d like, but here was my got-to favorite:
1-inch piece of cucumber
1 celery stalk, cut into pieces
1/2 apple, cut into pieces
Handful of spring lettuce mix
Juice from 1/4 of a lemon
Just enough water to help it blend
Blend until very smooth and eat with a spoon.
Nutrients can degrade quickly with blended or juiced fruits and veggies, so don’t make this ahead of time.
Steam fresh or frozen broccoli until tender, then puree in a food processor with butter, a spoonful of parmesan cheese, and salt. You may need to add small amounts of water towards the end to help it puree into a more paste-like texture instead of a crumbly one.
Buttered Green Beans
Couldn’t be any simpler! Green beans did blend up into a nice paste texture, but didn’t have much flavor– which was fine. This is still a good way to get some veggies in if you need them.
Steam fresh or frozen green beans until tender, then puree in a food processor with butter and salt. You may need to add small amounts of water towards the end to help it puree into a more paste-like texture instead of a crumbly one.
Garlic Butter Stewed Zucchini
This is a recipe from my freezing book– it’s a fantastic way to cook and preserve zucchini, but its also an amazing mushy food for when you can’t chew. This is zucchini cooked low and slow with garlic and butter until its soft and eats like mashed potatoes. Exact recipe is here in Freeze Fresh (click here).
Mashed Potatoes and Sweet Potato
Mashed potatoes with plenty of butter became one of my staple foods. If you get sick of plain mashed potatoes (I’ll admit I did!), get creative and whip in some finely grated cheddar, or serve them with a dollop of seasoned sour cream. When your food is limited and your desperate for joy, don’t skimp on the butter– your body will likely appreciate the healthy fats anyways.
The photo below is beef roast, garlic butter stewed zucchini, mashed potatoes, and parmesan broccoli.
For sweet potatoes, they can be peeled and cubed, then boiled and mashed… but I actually prefer to make them as-needed in the microwave, which is so fast and easy. Wrap a small whole sweet potato in a paper towel and then saturate it with water. Microwave for 3 to 5 minutes, or until tender, then cut in half and scrape out the inside flesh. Serve with salt and butter, or add a drizzle of maple syrup or honey, and a sprinkle of cinnamon.
Baby Food Pouches
If you’re really in a pinch and don’t have the time, energy, or kitchen skills to make your own fruit and vegetable side dishes, there are an unbelievable amount of really good quality baby and toddler food brands available. I bought a few of these from the store as a back up in case I needed them. They were actually quite tasty!
- Banana Bread soaked in Milk
- Fruit Juices
- Vanilla Ice Cream with Peanut Butter and Chocolate Sauce
While I did eat a lot of quality protein on my high protein soft food diet, I also appreciated some foods that were good for the soul– that’s what these are. These were my go-to desserts and morale boosters!
Banana Bread soaked in Milk
This was one of those foods that gave me life. I made a loaf of banana bread the week before my procedure and froze the slices individually. I thought I would eat them as a transitional food once I could chew soft foods, but it turns out I needed them sooner than that! Put a piece of banana bread in a bowl, and pour milk over the top like cereal. After it soaks for a few minutes, the bread becomes so soft that it doesn’t require chewing.
I imagine this would work with other types of sweet breads or even muffins too– just make sure they don’t have large chunks of fruit or nuts.
I’m not someone who juices or even likes juice that much… but I thought I should have some on hand in case I needed some quick carbs or just wanted something that tasted really good.
I bought a few bottles of cold pressed organic juices from my local natural food store, some that were very sweet and fruity, and some that were more vegetable-based. I did appreciate having them, especially in the first few days after my surgery when I needed a pick me up.
Vanilla Ice Cream with Peanut Butter and Chocolate Sauce
I do enjoy ice cream, but I like it loaded with goodies… you’ll never find me just eating plain vanilla or even chocolate. To jazz up my vanilla ice cream soft food style, a drizzle of peanut butter and chocolate syrup went a long ways! You could also use caramel sauce, other types of nut butters, or fruit butter.
GOOD LUCK + PLEASE SHARE YOUR EXPERIENCE
I sincerely hope this helps you if you’re looking for real food or high protein soft food meal ideas!
I had a very successful procedure with little pain afterwards, and I healed quickly– I think this is largely due to my very nutrient-rich diet, and my dedication to eating soft foods for a week afterwards.
If you have any favorite soft foods that got you through your healing, I’m sure everyone reading would benefit from hearing about them, so feel free to share in the comments!