Oh internets

This year I am cooking and transporting Thanksgiving to a nursing home.  But I could use some help here.  I have to cook a menu suitable for people with diabetes on a “mechanical soft ground” and low salt diet.  Also, soy products of any kind cannot be used.  Additionally the menu items would need to be things that could be prepared in advance and eaten lukewarm or cold since I probably won’t have access to cooking facilities. Gravy is going to go over in a thermos.

Because I hate it when people say that folks on restricted diets should only eat the things they can, I’d like everything I take to be okay for everybody.  I plan to dice the turkey.  There will be mashed potatoes as well as sweet potatoes and a very soft cake.   Traditionally one person in the family always insists on jello, so we will have that if the dietician clears it.

If anybody has a very easy, very wet stuffing recipe I’d appreciate it.  Also I like vegetables, so if any of you have very soft vegetable dishes that are delicious I’d appreciate the recipes.  “Mechanical soft ground” is a tough diet–everything must be very soft, no breads, no dry types of foods, and meats must be diced into miniscule pieces.  No unthickened liquids.  No dried or raw fruits, no pie crusts, no corn, no uncooked vegetables … the list goes on and on.

I thought it would be nice to have what will probably be their last Thanksgiving in their own home so they could have a nice memory there.  But the transportation issues and the medical dangers are too great.

The last is always tough.  The worst part is that you don’t know when your last will be.  So to those of you who are with your friends and loved ones this Thanksgiving, I send you my best thoughts.  May you make many happy memories and may your days be filled with love.

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6 thoughts on “Oh internets

  1. Creamed peas can be made to fit the mechanical soft ground diet, if that would be appealing. Canned peas tend to be softer than frozen, if there is concern about the slightly tough hull on the peas. There’s a decent recipe here. The salt can be reduced or omitted if need be, and the sugar can be omitted or replaced with a diabetic-friendly sweetener, and you can add a quarter-cup of finely minced onion that has been sauteed until tender for more flavor when you put the peas on to boil, or you can add a small amount of mint, dill, or basil to liven things up a bit.

    For a cold side dish, apple or pear sauce can be made ahead, so you don’t have to try to make everything on Thursday. I like this pear sauce, which might be a nice change up from the industrial applesauce that is probably a frequent feature at the nursing home.

    Acorn or butternut squash might be another vegetable option, baked until soft and then scooped out and topped with a little butter/butter substitute or plain or vanilla yogurt and a bit of cinnamon. Acorn squash is also nice with a bit of Parmesan cheese, and the ground shaker kind would avoid problems with clumping or stringing, if more savory flavorings would be preferred to sweeter ones

    As for stuffing, perhaps a cornbread dressing instead of the bread cube variety, to avoid the sticky-bread problem? Add about a half cup of extra stock to keep it more wet and pudding-like, and peel the strings off the celery before sauteing to ensure that it softens properly. This recipe is pretty good, and you can add a half cup of finely chopped apple and/or minced carrot in with the onion and celery during sauteing, though the carrot may take longer to soften enough. Once the internal temperature reaches 160, the eggs will be safe, and if you keep the dressing covered in the oven, it will keep it from getting too dry.

    I hope that whatever you decide to make, that your kind efforts bring you and them a measure of comfort and happiness.

  2. You could use any recipe for homemade pumpkin pie FILLING and just bake it in a glass/pyrex bowl. (Recipe base is eggs, cooked and pureed OR canned pumpkin, brown and white sugar and spices.) It would be custardy and smooth. This could be served room temp, possibly with whipping cream (keep it stiffer over time by adding a bit of cornstarch at the end of beating) if that is allowed. Sweet potato pie filling could be made in a similar fashion if that makes someone happier.

    Enjoy your meal. Warmly, m

  3. If you wanted to include meat, cooking chicken (or I guess turkey, in this case) in a slow cooker gives it a super tender, easy-to-mince texture. You just put the seasoned pieces in the crock, with or without skin, and cook it on low for about 8 hours. And since it cooks in its own juices, it has good flavor without needing much, if any, salt.

    Also, baked apples or an apple brown betty might be a nice option. If you use some naturally sweeter apple varieties, as opposed to granny smiths, you may not need much sugar and the final product will be softer. If you have access to a copy of Joy of Cooking, the recipe’s in there. Hope this helps. And I hope you all get a chance to enjoy the holiday and each other’ company and your time together.

  4. Hi Teaspoon, Malva6, Melinda and Katie, thank you so much for your suggestions. We had pumpkin pie. :) I trimmed the crust off (bottom crust if it’s wet is okay–I cut extra shortening in it so it was very moist and fall-apart-y).

    The biggest problem was lugging all the food and supplies. Some of the non-perishables (paper plates, tablecloths, coffee pot, etc.) went in advance and got stashed in a closet. There was a very small microwave so I was able to reheat the gravy. Everything else stayed hot enough to eat because it was all wrapped up together in a huge plastic storage bin. Cold stuff went over in coolers.

    I’m saving some of the other suggestions for the next holiday meal. And any other suggestions folks would like to make. This is a very difficult diet to cook for.

  5. I’m late to this request but my aunt always made a crockpot stuffing that tasted like it had been in the turkey and it was soft but not mushy. You take a standard dressing/stuffing recipe and prepare it. Then take four to six cups heated broth (depending on how large a recipe you use) and slowly stir enough by quarter cups until you have a mixture that is evenly moist but not sopping. Pile it into a crockpot, cover it and cook on low for four hours. Fluff the mixture every 45 minutes. This recipe is essentially a steamed savoury bread pudding but it is really awesome.

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