Whether you’ve just had oral surgery or are overcoming an upset stomach, returning to mealtimes with soft foods is a cornerstone of recovery. Soft foods are less tiring for the teeth and jaw to break down and are also easier to digest.
Contrary to what one might think, even a soft food diet doesn’t have to be boring. Spoiler alert: You can have more than just soup. Or maybe you thought ice cream was your only option and that you were completely fine with it. While ice cream can certainly be part of your post-recovery meal plan, it’s also important to eat foods with the nutrients your body needs, including protein, fiber, healthy fats, and micronutrients.
This is where the following list of 25 foods comes into play. Consider it your grocery list until you’re able to eat crunchy foods again. Enjoy!
25 delicious and nutrient-rich soft foods
1. Scrambled eggs
If you’re sticking with soft foods for now, meat is out of the question, so you’ll need to get your protein elsewhere. Registered Dietitian e 2 day diabetes diet plan author Erin Palinski-Wade, RD, instead he says that eggs are a great protein source to cook with. One egg provides 6 grams of protein and all essential amino acids, she says. You can also incorporate eggs in a variety of ways, such as soft-boiled or as a soufflé.
2. Cottage cheese
Palinski-Wade says cottage cheese is another protein-rich food to add to your grocery list. It can be enjoyed on its own or incorporated into a smoothie, she says. If you’re eating it as is, consider adding cinnamon and nutmeg for extra flavor.
3. Soft fish
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist based in Seattle, Ginger Hultin RDN, he’s a fan of soft fish (like salmon, cod, and herring) because it’s a good source of protein and healthy fats. Complete your meal by pairing it with mashed potatoes.
Hultin says tofu is a great plant-based protein source that has a smooth texture. It’s very versatile. You can saute it, bake it, whip it into a mousse or blend it into a smoothie, he says.
If you don’t like tofu but like the idea of a soft, plant-based protein, go for beans. Hultin says this vegan staple has both protein and fiber, making it a win at mealtimes.
6. Greek yogurt
Palinski-Wade is a fan of Greek yogurt because it’s high in protein and super versatile, too. One of his favorite unexpected ways to use it is in pancakes.
Both dieticians recommend smoothies, and it’s easy to see why—the combinations of flavors and nutrients are virtually endless. Craving for something tropical? Add kiwi or mango. Want it to taste like a dessert? Use chocolate protein powder and bananas. This is a soft food that you can prepare in completely different ways every day until you are fully recovered.
Related: 3 Smoothie Recipes That Are Pick-Me-Up Certified for Busy Mornings
Similar to smoothies, there are endless ways to enjoy soup until you can’t eat crunchy foods again. Incorporate bone broth, beans or lentils into your soup to ensure you cover your protein base.
Palinski-Wade says oatmeal is a great fiber-rich food for optimal digestion. Add honey and fruit puree for sweetness. Or, go savory and add egg, melted cheese, and your favorite spices.
This is another must on Hultins soft food shopping list. Just like chickpeas in their whole form, hummus provides a wealth of nutrients including protein, fiber, iron, calcium, magnesium, and healthy fats.
You certainly don’t need toast to enjoy avocado. Hultin recommends adding it to your grocery list because it’s a great source of healthy fats, fiber, folate, magnesium, and potassium. Pair it with shredded tofu and finish the combo with olive oil and your favorite spices, literally every single ingredient in this easy meal is packed with nutrients.
12. Baked berries
Hultin’s Pro Cooking Tip: Cook the berries over low heat to enjoy as a sweet snack or dessert. There is something about warm fruit that is so comforting and delicious. Plus, it’ll be a welcome break if you’ve relied on applesauce for your fruit fix.
13. Mashed bananas
Bananas are soft on their own or can be mashed for extra softness, says Palinski-Wade. They provide a source of fiber along with beneficial nutrients like potassium. Sprinkle some cocoa powder on top for added sweetness.
14. Canned fruit
If you can’t munch on fresh fruit yet, Palinski-Wade says canned fruit can be a great alternative in the meantime. Just opt for canned fruit in water over juice, she says, adding that the latter can be high in added sugar.
15. Plum puree
One often overlooked fruit Palinski-Wade recommends are prunes, which can be pureed so they’re easier to eat and digest. Pureed prunes can be a great way to satisfy your sweet tooth while boosting fiber, she says. In addition to being high in fiber, she adds that they’ve also been linked to supporting bone health.
16. Mashed potatoes
White potatoes often get a bad rap, but Palinski-Wade says they absolutely deserve a spot on this list because they’re a good source of fiber, potassium, folate, and magnesium.
17. Mashed Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes have some of the same benefits as white potatoes, such as fiber, iron and potassium, but are higher in vitamin A, which helps support the immune system. Both tubers are soft food wins!
Related: 8 Amazing Health Benefits Of Sweet Potatoes And How They Stack Up Against White Potatoes
Summer is peak watermelon season, and Hultin points out that this fruit has a rather soft texture. Just be careful of the seeds!
19. Nut butter
Whether you like to enjoy nut butter straight from the jar with a spoon or incorporating it into an oatmeal bowl or smoothie, both dietitians say nut butters across the board are a great source of protein, fiber and healthy fats.
Related: Almond Butter vs Peanut Butter: Which is Healthier?
20. White rice
One of the main benefits of white rice is how versatile it is; pretty much all spices taste great with it. Enjoy white rice on its own or incorporate it into a soup to make it even more satisfying.
21. Steamed vegetables
Both registered dietitians say that steaming vegetables makes them easier to eat and digest than when raw. Some particularly recommend spinach, carrots and zucchini. Add olive oil and spices for extra flavor and health benefits.
22. Egg or chicken salad
Deli Sandwiches may be on hold for now, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy some classic sandwich fillings. Two protein-rich options: egg salad or chicken salad. Just be sure to ditch the crunchy celery, which often pops up in a chicken salad.
23. Moist banana, zucchini or pumpkin bread
A thick, warm slice of banana, zucchini, or pumpkin bread makes for a delicious breakfast or dessert. Look for recipes that are almond flour-based, low in sugar, and made with the real product for maximum health benefits.
Enchiladas are a protein-rich textured dinner, whether they’re made with beans or shredded chicken. This is one soft food that everyone around the table will enjoy, not just those in recovery mode.
25. Avocado Mousse
Did you know avocados can be made into a decadent dessert? Yes, it is possible. Check out this recipe to see how to make it in five minutes without the need for sugar. It’s a dessert option that’s a little more nutritious than a pint of ice cream.
A soft diet can be easy to keep nutritious for healing if you get creative, Hultin says. Her biggest tip is to be prepared (if possible) and shop ahead of time. If you must follow a soft diet for an extended period of time, she recommends consulting a registered dietitian who can offer guidance and ensure you are not missing out on any important nutrients. And of course, this food list can help, so it’s worth bookmarking. You could develop a file soft place for everything about it.
Next, can you guess which are the healthiest vegetables of all time?
Erin Palinski-Wade, RD, Registered Dietitian and Author of Belly fat diet for dummies, Walking weight for dummiesAND 2 day diabetes diet plan.
Ginger Hultin RDN, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, Owner of Champagne Nutrition and Author of Preparing meals for weight loss 101.
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