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Cooking for Christian

Interested in a blended diet for your tube fed child? So was I. And I tried it. And guess's working out! He's more alert, he has less gas, reflux, and tummy issues, and eating is no longer a painful or stressful process for him. Feeding Christian a blended diet of whole foods has also proven to great for me - the Mama! I love cooking for him and preparing food, just as I do for the rest of the family.

So what do I feed him? Here we go...

Two types of blends:

(1) Fruit/Grain Blend

(2) Meat/Veggie Blend

So what's in it?

(1) Fruit/Grain Blend:

1 - Avocado (good, healthy calories)
1 - Banana
1 cup of frozen Blueberries
Nutragrain Bar
Greek Yogurt
2 tbl. Agave Syrup (for calories)
Peaches (whole or baby food)
Baby food Apples and Cinnamon Oatmeal (Smells so good and a lot of calories!)
1 cup of Cheerios
1 cup of Coconut milk (protein, calories, Non dairy vitamin D, and great source of iron)
1 cup of 100% apple juice (keeps things moving)
1 cup of strawberries (frozen or fresh)

*All of the items listed above I use interchangeably. I basically try to choose 10 things at 100 calories each. Some are more (like avocado) and some are less. So I basically try to reach between 1000-1300 calories.

*I've also thrown in a piece of homemade french toast, scrambled eggs, and pancakes. Basically anything from breakfast.

*I always add a children's multivitamin and vision supplement to each blend.

(2) Meat/Veggie Blend:

4-6 oz. of whole wheat/fortified angle hair pasta
1 chicken breast
2-3 cans of baby food meat (turkey/beef/chicken mixtures)
steamed kale
steamed collard greens
steamed spinach
1 can of baby food squash or sweet potato
2 tbs olive oil (calories! calories! calories!)
1 cup of coconut milk
1 cup of apple juice

*These blends are also interchangeable. I also add whatever we've had for dinner if it's healthy enough. This has included chicken, potatoes, pasta and tomato sauce, homemade mac and cheese, and mixed veggies.

*I don't normally steam and mix all those greens. I choose one and then when it's time to make another blend, I'll swap for another type of green.

Feeding Schedule

Four feeds a day (working on getting to five) of four oz each (120 ccs). All of these are given during the day and bolused. This means we push it in (very slowly) over the span of thirty to forty five minutes by syringe.

We alternate blends starting with the fruit blend for breakfast. Then we alternate from there.

For extra calories we still do a slow, continuous feed. It looks like this: 50ccs/hr x 4 hrs. = 200 cc's/calories.

Christian also gets 350-400 cc's of free water, usually incorporated before and after feedings.

If you have any questions about transitioning to a blended diet, foods, or why I use what I use, I'm happy to share! If you have any suggestions, I'm happy to learn! I'm always looking for great foods to add in to Christian's diet.

It's important to me that Christian is comfortable and happy while eating. My goal is that he eats like we eat, maybe we can start eating as healthy as he does, and that we can meet somewhere in the middle so everyone in the household is healthy.

Happy blending!

Updated 12/19/11

Sample Breakfast/Fruit/Grain Blend:

1 avocado (250-300 calories)
1 banana (100 calories)
1 c. Cheerios (100 calories)
1 Strawberry Dannon Greek Yogurt (160 calories)
1 c. Pumpkin (80 calories)
1 c. frozen blueberries (80 calories)
1 c. maple cinnamon oatmeal w/ 2/3 c. of milk (200 calories)
1 orange (40-60 calories)
2 tblspoons of honey (120 calories)
1 c. apple/cranberry 100% juice (110-120 calories)

+/- 1300 calories (This is about a day to a day and a half for Christian)

*We also add french toast and/or pancakes if we are having that for breakfast. We use baby food mixtures, Nutrigrain bars, scrambled eggs, and Carnation Instant Breakfast if we need to swap out.

Blending has become a way of life in our household and I'm happy to say we are at 100% blends for Christian. That means he gets whole foods, blended and pushed through his tube all day, every day.

This calls for an update on our blendy-blends. That's what I call them - Blendy-blends.

What?! It's cute!

The last update I gave on blends was that Christian was at about 80% blends. Meaning he was eating a full blended diet during the day and then about 200 calories of a slow, continuous feed of formula over night. Well, Christian finally put on a few pounds, to where I was comfortable taking his over night feed away. I kept this overnight feed for the calories and I wouldn't hesitate to add it again if I needed more calories in his diet again and he wasn't tolerating enough during the day. But his body does need to rest at some point. Now that the overnight feeds have been discontinued, Christian's body confirmed that it, in deed, appreciates the rest, because now he's sleeping so much better! And for more solid blocks of time over night. I didn't even give him melatonin last night!

More discoveries about blendy-blends:

Pumpkin has been life changing as far as regularity goes, if you know what I mean. I add anywhere from a 1/2 cup to a full cup of canned pumpkin (Libby's or store brand, but 100% pumpkin). It's about 80 calories a cup and it has helped Christian's digestion like nothing I've ever seen, other than starting the blended diet in the first place. No more blow outs, Miralax! We don't need ya!

We tried coconut milk in the box from the health food section of the store. It was suggested by another smart, blending, Mommy friend of mine to try the coconut milk in the can from the Asian food section. It had almost triple the calorie count for about 1/3 the volume. That's like calorie gold. It also has a high iron count. Well, that would seem to be great, right? Apparently, the iron was a little too high for Christian and it constipated him! Coconut milk is supposed to do the opposite! Google it. I swear, it will say people use coconut milk to fight constipation. Not for Christian. It caused it. So we've moved away from the coconut milk, unfortunately.

As far a dairy goes, we don't use a lot of it, but we dabble. Christian will get two scrambled eggs once a week or so. He also gets that yummy Dannon Greek yogurt that I want to steal every time I smell it. I will also mix a little milk with Christian's oatmeal, instead of water just because that's what I do when I eat oatmeal and it tastes better, so I'm doing the same for Christian. I'm just trained that way.

Oh yeah, forgot to mention, my son is turning into a little vegetarian (the kind that eats eggs, see above). It seems that Christian has a hard time with meats I call heavy, like pork chops and beef. He does a lot better with the already blended version found in baby food. So that's what I'm sticking with. He seems to get a lot more digestion stress, upset tummy, and acid reflux when he has heavy meats and starchy food like stuffing or potatoes. He can pretty much handle all fruits I've given him - oranges, apples, bananas, strawberries, tomatoes, and blueberries. No problem.

Fatteners I use to increase calories content are honey for the fruit blends and olive oil for the veggie mixes. It's an easy 100-200 calorie increase. Peanut butter is a great calorie hike, but we tried it early on and it was a little too heavy and rich for Christian and I distinctly remember what peanut butter smells like coming back up. Good times.

I think everyone has a "safe" or "go to" blend. Or what they would call a base blend. Ours is banana, avocado, and apple juice. We can add fruit, grain, or yogurt mixture to it and Christian can pretty much tolerate it.

We use baby food. Why not? It's already blended and has the calorie count right there. Easy! The best baby food mix in I've found is from Beech Nut. They have super high calorie counts on their fruit mixtures. And they're all natural, no added sugar.
By the way, the worrying and fretting I did about Christian's vomiting was short lived. He tends to cycle into vomiting when he's sick, and getting better can take longer for Christian. For me, it still feels like a failure every time he vomits because he sometimes just does it out of the blue and I feel like I can't figure it out. That being said, he's not vomiting right now, and one of the best things about the blended diet is that if all of the sudden Christian is vomiting, we can eliminate a food, we can play around with blends, add and subtract ingredients, until it works. It's amazing.

Overall, the decision to make the transition to the blended diet has been one of the best decisions for Christian we've made. He looks better, he's more alert, his digestion is better, his hair and nails grow like weeds, his skin looks better, he has less gas, and, overall, less reflux.

When we started, I wasn't sure it would work for us so I just bought a Ninja blender on sale with the thought that if we stuck with the blending, I'd head up to the big leagues and purchase the mother of all blenders...a Vitamix. The time has come. So in a few months, after the Christmas crazies and saving a little, we'll take the plunge and buy one of those suckers. The Ninja has done us well. It's karate chopped its way through most of what we have fed it. But it's time to graduate.
Blendy-blends are here to stay. Blendy-blends...write that down. Say it. It's fun!

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