As people mature and become elderly, many have to adjust their eating habits because of missing teeth. But just because your teeth aren't what they used to be doesn't mean that you have to revert to baby food. With a few preparation techniques and some imagination, easy-to-chew foods for the elderly can still be tasty and nutritious.
Mashed and Pureed Fruits
Fresh fruit is one of the easiest items to prepare for seniors who are having trouble chewing. Ripened bananas, mango, melons, peaches, pears and berries are soft and easy to chew when cut into small, bite-size pieces. To make them even easier to consume, gently mash them into a preserve-like puree. Another option is to boil the bite-sized morsels in a little water and sugar, creating a thick and juicy compote with a medley of softened fruit chunks.
Boiled and Steamed Vegetables
Potatoes and squash are simple to prepare, and they can be enjoyed as a warm side dish. Just peel, boil the vegetables until they're soft; drain, mash and season them. Just about any type of beans or peas are easy to chew -- or gum -- when steamed or boiled to the right consistency. Even crunchy vegetables like broccoli, carrots and Brussels sprouts are easy to consume when cooked a long time and diced small. You can also boil a variety of fresh produce in beef or chicken stock for a soft and nutritious vegetable soup.
Meat and Poultry Preparation
Boneless, skinless meats and poultry are good sources of protein to include in an easy-to-chew senior diet. Shredded beef, chicken and pork from a slow-cooked roast provide a soft-enough texture to gnaw with bare gums or weak teeth. Try adding some minced meats to mashed potatoes or vegetables as proteins. Dice precooked corned beef or roast beef with boiled potatoes and fry for a soft hash with a bit of tasty texture.
Thoroughly cooked cereals, such as oatmeal and cream of rice or wheat, are an excellent source of grain for seniors when they're cooked to a soft consistency. Soft muffins such as bran, blueberry or banana -- without nuts -- are a healthy choice and easy to chew if cut into small bites after you remove the crusty muffin top. Slightly over-cooked rice, barley and pasta are soft and easy to swallow. Cut the crust off a peanut butter sandwich on whole-grain bread for a soft high-protein snack.
Michelle Renee is a professional trainer and quality assurance consultant in the career, education and customer service industries, with two decades of experience in food/beverage and event coordinating management. Renee has been published by Lumino and Career Flight as well as various food, education and business publications.