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Thread: recipes for esophageal cancer patient

  1. #1
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    recipes for esophageal cancer patient

    My MIL is struggling with esophageal cancer, and has a difficult time swallowing. I'm hoping some of you might be able to help with some ideas of foods/recipes that will not only be appetizing (no appetite - chemo and radiation "therapy") but easy to swallow as well. So far mashed potatoes and seafood bisque have been successful. Not successful have been mac and cheese, scrambles eggs and oatmeal. Nut butters have been tried but are actually difficult to swallow. One of the main problems is that we live over 200 miles away and the person who is helping her with meals is my most wonderful but clueless BIL. Any help more than welcome.
    Thank you!

    P.S. Open to suggestions of restaurant take-out options.
    Jill

    "Be kind to your neighbor... he knows where you live." -Brian Copeland

  2. #2
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    I am so sorry she is dealing with this.
    Food is such a personal thing that even stuff that "works" may not be palatable to a chemo patient.

    If she likes soup, you could try a chicken broth based soup with an egg-drop theme to give her some protein.
    If she likes nut butters but is simply having a hard time swallowing it, you can add it into a smoothie and thin out with water or milk or juice or whatever she prefers till it is a consistency she can manage.
    Not sure how appetizing blender-meat would be, but it is an option. You can thin it out with broth and make a sort of soup of it; more like a thicker broth then....and served in a bowl not glass may make it more eye-appealing.
    Milk shakes if she has no objection to dairy. Yogurts and puddings fall into this category too, if she likes any of that.

    Souffle type foods may be a special treat, but of course, work to make.

    I'll post a few more in a bit.
    Thoreau said, 'A man is rich in proportion to the things he can leave alone.'

  3. #3
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    I was trying to scour the web quickly to see if there were other ideas and only a few new ones popped up...
    cottage cheese, tuna salad, egg salad....

    If she likes custards, you could make savory or sweet custards.
    These would include eggs but not overtly and would be more protein.
    Adding extra fat into a shake/smoothie would up her calories (liquid oils or melted coconut oil).

    If she is not too hungry, maybe having the Stage 1 baby food available for snacking when she does have an appetite. My cats love it . She can eat how much she wants and stick in the fridge, then heat up if she wants to finish it.

    Not sure if she is currently having weight management (gaining/too much loss) going on, but medical marijuana is available in some areas and enhances appetite (never tried it so don't know for sure).
    If she did not like oatmeal, is she willing to try congee (rice type gruel) for breakfast?
    What did she dislike about the mac/cheese? Was it the cheese? or the combo or noodles too hard to swallow? Pasta comes in different shapes so a smaller noodle (stars, orchette, etc.) may work better. If cheese was the issue, maybe a white sauce/bechemel type sauce?

    Editing to add...if she likes tofu (or doesn't mind trying it), you can blend that into shakes, make desserts with it, you can make a pumpkin-pie type thing without a crust (like puddings), you could mash it up and make the vegan egg-salad with that. It comes in a variety of textures.
    Hope they got it all early and she will have a great success!
    Last edited by wallycat; 08-26-2012 at 05:08 PM.
    Thoreau said, 'A man is rich in proportion to the things he can leave alone.'

  4. #4
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    My best thoughts to you and your MIL in this battle. It's my understanding that many folks like your MIL need nutrient dense foods because their volume intake is reduced; sort of like getting the most nutritional bang for the buck. If she doesn't have any issues ruling out soy, there are a number of soy-based protein shake formulas than can be flavor enhanced with things like pumpkin puree and pumpkin pie spice without significantly affecting the easy to swallow consistency.

    Cream of Wheat is a less highly textured alternative to oatmeal as is Malt-O-Meal.

  5. #5
    If your bil could get his hands on a good blender like a vitamix, some smoothies might make her happy. We make them for lunch everyday and they are very filling. I put peanut flour (peanut butter would work) for protein, greek yogurt which also adds protein, and all kinds of fruits and veggies (spinach, carrots, squash, frozen berries, oranges, etc). If she needs more calories, adding heavy cream would add some calories and fat.

  6. #6
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    Thank you all so much - yes, her main problem right now is getting enough calories. Her weight is dropping and she's always been thin to begin with. She's in her 80s and would probably balk at tofu, but I guarantee she'd never know it if I made a dish with it blended in.
    Jill

    "Be kind to your neighbor... he knows where you live." -Brian Copeland

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by oct2189 View Post
    Thank you all so much - yes, her main problem right now is getting enough calories. Her weight is dropping and she's always been thin to begin with. She's in her 80s and would probably balk at tofu, but I guarantee she'd never know it if I made a dish with it blended in.
    this is my latest tweak on a wonderful pie recipe-- but you could get it made without the crust, and served just as filling, chilled in ramekins or other serving-sized cups... MINUS the nuts, of course.


    Icebox Truffle Pie

    1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
    generous 1/4 cup cinnamon flavored chips
    12-oz. container firm silken tofu
    1/4 cup maple-flavored agave syrup, or use half agave, half maple syrup
    1 cup creamy peanut butter
    1/4 cup broken walnuts
    1 9-inch premade graham cracker crust, or chocolate crumb crust

    fresh fruit, or other garnishes, optional

    1. Place chocolate chips in microwave-safe bowl, and microwave on high for 30 seconds. Stir chocolate, and heat 30 seconds more. Repeat heating and stirring until chocolate is just melted. Add cinnamon chips, a little at a time, to melted chocolate, stirring to dissolve. Taste as you go-- you may want to add a few more. Set aside.

    2. Combine tofu and agave/maple syrup in food processor, and blend till smooth. Add peanut butter, and process until smooth. Add chocolate mixture, and process once more until smooth. Add walnuts and pulse briefly, just to distribute nuts throughout the mixture.

    3. Pour peanut butter-chocolate mixture into pie crust, smoothing the top; refrigerate at least 20 minutes-- I prefer two hours, minimum. Makes 1 9-inch pie, should serve 6 or more easily.



    it's so easy anyone can make it. just melt, blend and chill, really.
    here's the link to the entire (short) blogpost, so you can read about the original recipe. feel free to pm me with any questions, as well. I have had (still have a bit, in fact) of dysphagia myself.
    Last edited by heavy hedonist; 08-26-2012 at 10:08 PM.

  8. #8
    So sorry to read about your MIL.

    Maybe orzo (cooked a bit more than the instructions) with some butter or something similar.

    Rice pudding?

    Whipped sweet potato with maple syrup.

    Ricotta cheese, but not sure with what.

    Risotto.
    Last edited by applecrisp; 08-26-2012 at 11:21 PM.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by oct2189 View Post
    Thank you all so much - yes, her main problem right now is getting enough calories. Her weight is dropping and she's always been thin to begin with. She's in her 80s and would probably balk at tofu, but I guarantee she'd never know it if I made a dish with it blended in.
    She may balk at tofu unless it is blenderized and used as a cream sauce. It will absorb the flavor of the other ingredients.

    I work with patients with swallowing disorders. Those with esophageal disorders have difficulty with solid foods. She may do best with liquid and pureed foods and probably can deal with some littlelumps "to tolerance."

    To asssit weight gain think "reverse weight watchers." Add melted cheese to the mashed potatoes or creamed soups. Patient are living on Ensure but I like the flavor of Carnation Instant Breakfast with milk and ice cream better.

  10. #10
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    Take the idea of Instant Breakfast, add ice cream to make a shake and a spoonful of peanut butter, nutella or such to add some flavor, richness and a bit more protein and calories. A healthy person might add a raw egg, but don't do that for a chemo patient with reduced resistance. Some silken tofu blended in might work.

    HH posted that pie and suggested making just the filling. A similar idea would be the CL tofu chocolate mousse. To beef up the calories, you could make it with bittersweet chocolate and fold in some whipped cream and still get protein from the tofu and egg whites.

    Chocolate Mousse

    Recipe By :Cooking Light Magazine. March 2002. Page: 128.
    Serving Size : 8 Preparation Time :0:00
    Categories : Desserts

    Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method
    -------- ------------ --------------------------------
    3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips, melted
    1 package (12.3-ounce) extra-firm silken tofu (Mori-Nu Lite recommended)
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    3 large egg whites
    1/2 cup sugar
    1/4 cup water
    Fat-free whipped topping, thawed
    (optional)(she could use whipped cream)
    Grated chocolate (optional)

    Directions.
    Recipe by Lorrie Hulston Corvin

    1. Place melted chocolate chips and tofu in a food processor or blender; process 2 minutes or until smooth.

    2. Place the salt and egg whites in a medium bowl; beat with a mixer at high speed until stiff peaks form.

    3. Combine sugar and water in a small saucepan; bring to a boil. Cook, without stirring, until candy thermometer registers 238 degrees. Pour the hot sugar syrup in a thin stream over egg whites, beating at high speed. Gently stir one-fourth of the meringue into the tofu mixture; gently fold in remaining meringue. Spoon 1/2 cup mousse into each of 8 (6-ounce) custard cups. Cover and chill for at least 4 hours. Garnish with whipped topping and grated chocolate, if desired. Yield: 8 servings.

    Note: Pouring hot sugar syrup over beaten egg whites brings them up to 238 degrees, which renders them safe to eat.

    NOTES : CALORIES 147 (34% from fat); FAT 5.6g (sat 3.3g, mono 1.8g, poly 0.5g); PROTEIN 5.2g; CARB 22.5g; FIBER 0.2g; CHOL 0mg; IRON 0.9mg; SODIUM 134mg; CALC 26mg
    Nutr. Assoc. : 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

    When searching for this recipe, I entered "silken tofu mousse" and got a list of threads asking for soft foods for a number of reasons. Maybe you will find some ideas in those other threads too.

    You could also take the ideas that work and work on variations. Mac and cheese and scrambled eggs are soft in the mouth foods, but they may feel like rocks in her throat. Maybe a cheese soup -- possibly even the mac and cheese thinned with milk and/or cream and pureed. Try a clam chowder at least partially pureed or made with mashed potatoes and very finely minced clams.

    I've made pureed soups sometimes with left over vegetables and sometimes fresh (or a combination). It isn't so much a recipe and a process that you can adapt to whatever she likes or can tolerate (can BIL handle that?). If the flavors are tolerated, saute some onion and/or garlic (bacon or ham -- or use bacon fat instead of olive oil to saute them in) and then add the veggies and chicken or other broth, starting with any former ones like carrots or broccoli first and adding greens and mushrooms at the end. I've added rice (white or brown) or potatoes (even the flakes at the end to thicken), added milk or cream and pureed the entire mixture. Add a lump of butter if you want to add some richness. Season with some salt and pepper (and herbs if desired).

    Sounds like soups (esp creamed, though you can thicken with rice or potatoes, beans as well as ream or milk) and puddings, mousse and gelatin, yogurt, mashed potatoes -- smooth foods rather than just soft, make be the clue. Have you tried cream of wheat or Malt o Meal cereals? They are smoother in texture than oatmeal.

    What about ice cream, frozen yogurt or sorbet? You want to get nutrition packed in where you can, but bottom line is to push some calories so she can keep her strength up and get to the point where she may tolerate more. If it were my dad, I'd take him a chocolate shake, for one of my sons it might be a fruit smoothie.

    Best of luck to you.
    Last edited by Beth; 08-27-2012 at 09:24 AM.

  11. #11
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    Thank you all again. I've passed some of the ideas on to my BIL that I know he can handle, and bookmarked the recipes
    posted that I can prepare when I go down. Both the pie filling recipe and the mousse recipe
    look like something she would like. I also got a lovely looking butternut squash soup recipe off ChristyMarie's thread that I think will go over well. The issue with the eggs was that it was too difficult for her to swallow, but she was able to get a couple of bites down today. baby steps.
    So grateful for the help. Your great ideas have also given my DH some hope and direction.
    Jill

    "Be kind to your neighbor... he knows where you live." -Brian Copeland

  12. #12
    When my youngest son was having a difficult time gaining weight when he was about 1, we were recommended to add a supplement called Duocal to any liquid he ate/drank. Duocal is essentially a powdered fat which is extremely nutrient dense. I know you could get a can at a pharmacy. They will have to order it for you, but you don't have to have an Rx.

    DS2 would drink what we would call a cocktail of whole milk, Duocal, Carnation Instant Breakfast, and another supplement. It did help him start to gain weight which was the key.

    I hope your MIL is able to find something that works for her. Is there a nutritionalist associated with her treatment group?

  13. #13
    When I went through something similar with my mom we had Ensure drinks for the extra calories.

    Her cravings and appetite varied by the day so we let her tell us what she wanted. She liked pint size containers of Ben and Jerry's for dinner. I wasn't going to stand in the way of that! Also potato soup made with cream. She complained that she couldn't taste very well so she liked things seasoned heavily.

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