25 healthy and delicious soft foods
If you’ve just had oral surgery or are recovering from an upset stomach, returning to mealtimes with soft foods is the cornerstone of recovery. Soft foods take less work for your teeth and jaw to break down, and they’re also easier to digest.
Contrary to what you might think, a soft food diet doesn’t have to be boring either. Spoiler alert: You may have more than just soup. Or maybe you thought ice cream was your only option and you’re totally okay with it. While ice cream can definitely be part of your post-recovery meal plan, it’s also important to eat foods that contain nutrients the body needs, including protein, fiber, healthy fats, and micronutrients.
That’s where the following list of 25 foods comes in. Everything in it is soft, pleasant for the mouth and the digestive system, and is approved by a dietitian. Think of it as your shopping list until you can eat crunchy foods again.
25 Delicious, Nutrient-Dense Soft Foods
1. Scrambled Eggs
If you’re sticking to soft foods for now, meat is out of the question, so you’ll have to get your protein elsewhere.. Dietitian and 2 day diabetes diet author Erin Palinski-Wade, RD, says eggs are a great source of protein to cook instead. “An egg provides 6 grams of protein and all the essential amino acids,” she says. “You can also incorporate eggs in different ways, such as soft-boiled or soufflé.”
2. Cottage cheese
Palinski-Wade says cottage cheese is another protein-rich food to add to your shopping list. “It can be enjoyed on its own or incorporated into a smoothie,” she says. If you eat it as is, consider adding cinnamon and nutmeg for extra flavor.
3. Soft fish
Based in Seattle Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, Ginger Hultin RDN, is 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 accompanying it with mashed potatoes.
Hultin says tofu is an excellent source of vegetable protein that has a soft texture. “It’s very versatile. You can sauté it, bake it, whip it into a froth, or blend it into a smoothie,” she says.
If you don’t like tofu but like the idea of a mild, plant-based protein, go for the beans. Hultin says this vegan food contains both protein and fiber, making it a meal winner.
6. Greek yogurt
Palinski-Wade is a fan of Greek yogurt because it’s both high in protein and so versatile. One of her favorite unexpected ways to use it is in pancakes.
Both dietitians recommend smoothies and it’s easy to see why: the flavor and nutrient combinations are virtually endless. Fancy something tropical? Add kiwi or mango. Want it to taste like dessert? Use chocolate protein powder and bananas. This is a soft food that you can prepare completely differently every day until you are fully recovered.
Related: 3 Smoothie Recipes That Are Certified Pick-Ups for Hectic Mornings
Similar to smoothies, there are endless ways to enjoy soup until you can eat crunch again. Stir bone broth, beans, or lentils into your soup to ensure your protein base is covered.
9. Rolled oats
Palinski-Wade says oatmeal is a great fiber-rich food, essential for optimal digestion. Add honey and fruit puree for extra sweetness. Or opt for savory and add eggs, melted cheese and your favorite spices.
It’s another must-have on Hultin’s soft food shopping list. Much like chickpeas in their whole form, hummus provides a wide range of nutrients, including protein, fiber, iron, calcium, magnesium, and healthy fats.
You definitely 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 chopped tofu and top the combo off with olive oil and your favorite spices — literally every ingredient in this easy meal is nutrient-dense.
12. Baked Berries
Hultin’s Pro Cooking Tip: Cook the berries over low heat to enjoy as a sweet snack or dessert. There’s something about warm fruit that’s so comforting and delicious. Plus, it’ll be a welcome break if you’re relying on applesauce for your fruit fix.
13. Mashed bananas
“Bananas are sweet on their own or can be mashed for extra sweetness,” says Palinski-Wade. “They provide a source of fiber as well as beneficial nutrients such as potassium.” Sprinkle a little cocoa powder on top for extra sweetness.
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14. Canned fruit
If you can’t eat fresh fruit yet, Palinski-Wade says canned fruit can be a great alternative while you wait. “Just go for canned fruit in water instead of juice,” she says, adding that the latter can be high in added sugar.
15. Prune puree
An often overlooked fruit that Palinski-Wade recommends is prunes, which can be pureed so they’re easier to eat and digest. “Mashed prunes can be a great way to satisfy your sweet tooth while increasing fiber,” she says. In addition to being high in fiber, she adds that they have been associated with supporting bone health too.
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, like fiber, iron, and potassium, but they’re higher in vitamin A, which helps support the immune system. Both tubers are soft food winners!
Related: 8 Amazing Health Benefits of Sweet Potatoes and How They Compare to White Potatoes
Summer is peak watermelon season, and Hultin points out that this fruit has a fairly soft texture. Watch out for the seeds!
19. Nut Butter
Whether you like to enjoy nut butter straight from the jar with a spoon or by incorporating it into a bowl of oatmeal or a smoothie, the two dietitians say nut butters are an excellent source of protein, fiber and healthy fats.
Related: Almond Butter vs Peanut Butter: Which is Healthier?
20. White rice
A major benefit of white rice is its versatility; virtually any spice tastes good with it. Enjoy white rice on its own or stir it into a soup to make it even more satisfying.
21. Steamed Vegetables
Both dietitians say steaming vegetables makes them easier to eat and digest than when they are raw. Some in particular they recommend are spinach, carrots, and zucchini. Add olive oil and spices for added flavor and additional 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 toppings. Two protein-rich options: egg salad or chicken salad. Just be sure to remove the crunchy celery, which often appears in chicken salad.
23. Soft banana, zucchini or pumpkin bread
A thick, warm slice of banana, zucchini, or pumpkin bread makes a delicious breakfast or dessert. Look for recipes that are almond flour, low in sugar, and made with real produce to get the maximum health benefits.
Enchiladas are a moist, high-protein dinner, whether made with beans or pulled chicken. It’s soft food that everyone around the table will enjoy, not just those in recovery mode.
25. Avocado Mousse
Did you know that avocado can be turned into a decadent dessert? Yes it’s possible. Discover this recipe to see how to make it in five minutes – no sugar needed. It’s a dessert option that packs a little more nutrition than a pint of ice cream.
“Soft food can be easy to maintain nutritious for healing if you get creative,” says Hultin. Her biggest tip is to prepare (if possible) and shop in advance. If you’re going to be on a soft diet for an extended period of time, she recommends seeing a registered dietitian who can advise you and make sure you’re not missing any important nutrients. And, of course, this list of foods can help, so it’s worth bookmarking that too. You could just develop a soft, tender room for everything on it.
Next, can you guess which are the healthiest vegetables of all time?