Here are 19 high protein soft foods for the elderly, These foods are nutritionally packed with not only protein but other nutrients as well. Plus, they taste delicious and can be prepared in way that makes them soft and easy to eat.
The purpose of this post is to give you ideas on ways to incorporate more soft protein into your or if you are caring for an elderly person, their diets. All while still enjoying every delicious bite.
My experience helping my sweet elderly neighbors.
When I was newly married; I had two of the loveliest elderly neighbors, Bob and Verda, they were the cutest couple! They had lived a full life together and were at the point where they needed some assistance. They wanted to stay in their home so their daughter would come in and help them daily but she couldn’t make it every day for lunch so she enlisted my help with their lunch prep.
I would go over and help dress Verda for the day and get their lunch ready. They would always have a well balanced meal that had been lovingly planned and prepared by their daughter. She was amazing, I usually just had to cut up fruit, pour drinks, heat, serve and clean up after they finished eating.
I absolutely loved this!
They would hold hands every meal and pray together before they ate. They never missed a day of doing this. Then they would tell me stories from their life and impart of their wisdom to me. I remember one time I brought my daughter who was a toddler and she threw a fit, I mean a full temper tantrum while laying on the floor. Verda was so sweet and told me the best thing I could do was ignore it, walk out of the room and then talk to my daughter after she was done throwing the tantrum. I tried it and it worked. She knew! She was a pro!
A few years later they ended up needing more constant care and moved into an assisted living center, where they both passed away from natural causes on the same weekend. I just happened to be at the church where and when their funeral was being held, not my chance, I am sure. I couldn’t believe that they had a double funeral, but then again, in true Bob and Verda fashion, it made perfect sense. They loved each other through out their whole lives and needed to move on beyond this life together. So sweet!
My experience writing a nutritional cookbook.
Fast forward many years, I had 3 more children, moved 4 hours away from there and started food blogging and then I co-wrote a cookbook called “Time To Nourish” with Chelsa Dimond, who is a Registered Dietician with a Master’s degree in Nutritional science. She is also my personal lifelong friend.
The focus on our book is on meeting the top nutrient inadequacies in adults and children through quick (30 minutes or less) and easy recipes, that everyone loves. So, I will be leaning heavily on that experience helping write and create recipes for that book in this list of 19 high protein food ideas for the elderly. In our book each recipe had to hit a nutrient goal for protein and so we found out great ways to incorporate protein in dishes everyone loves.
While compiling this blog post, I have also taken into account the ability to easily chew and swallow these foods, as well as have them be easily digested.
19 high protein soft foods for the elderly:
1 – Lentils
Lentils are packed with protein, fiber and nutrients! They can also be prepared in many different ways that will keep flavors interesting. Other dietary restrictions such as reduced sodium can be adjusted to the needs of the individual.
Meal idea: Vegan Meatballs
2 – Cottage Cheese
Don’t underestimate the protein power of cottage cheese! It can be served with fruit such as peaches, mixed into pancake batter, shakes or even blended and turned into ice cream. It’s versatile, easy to prepare and digest.
Meal idea: Protein Packed Cottage Cheese Pancakes
3 – Tuna Fish
Tuna is packed with protein and healthy fats, It’s easy to mix into a sandwich with some mayo or vinegar and seasonings and served with soft bread or crackers. It can also be served over rice, in a noodle casserole or simply seasoned and served plain.
Meal idea: Tuna Salad Sandwich
(recipe calls for trout but can be switched out for tuna)
4 – Chickpea Pasta
Chickpea pasta is a great alternative to regular pasta, not only is is high in protein, it is also full of fiber and it tastes delicious. There are many different styles of chickpea pasta, shells, macaroni and spaghetti. They can be mixed with their favorite sauce and be a delicious and easy to prepare, high protein meal.
Meal Idea: One Pot Garlic Orzo
(use chickpea pasta shells or chickpea macaroni in place of orzo)
5 – Hemp Hearts
Want to sneak in a little extra protein, omegas and lots of nutrients? Hemp hearts are loaded with them. 10 grams of protein in 3 tablespoons! They are little, tender and easy to sprinkle on yogurt, mix into a smoothie or even add to a soup.
Meal Idea: Natural Protein Shake (No Protein Powder)
6 – Ground Chicken and Canned Chicken Breast
Ground chicken as well as canned chicken breast can be a great option for protein. It is so versatile and can carry many of the flavors that many people know and love. It’s easy to add to vegetable forward foods and easy to balance it out with a carb like rice or potatoes. Note that canned chicken can be higher in sodium so if that is a dietary concern then look for reduce sodium canned chicken.
Meal idea: Instant Pot Chicken Coconut Korma
(use ground chicken in this recipe and omit the fresh cilantro leaves for a softer texture)
7 – Quinoa
Quinoa is an excellent source of protein, fiber and other nutrients. It’s considered a complete protein, meaning it has 9 essential amino acids. Quinoa can be use in many different dishes; like soups, rice dishes, on it’s own, mixed with steamed vegetables and more. When preparing it, be sure to rinse it to reduce any bitterness.
Meal Idea: “Dirty” Bacon Quinoa and Black Beans
8 – Greek Yogurt
Greek yogurt is a great source of protein. eat it on it’s own or add to smoothies, serve with fruit, top pancakes with it or you can even add it to mashed potatoes.
Meal Idea: Red Berry Honey Yogurt parfait
(chop berries finely and omit the granola for softer texture)
9 – Tofu
Tofu is underrated, in my opinion! It takes on the flavors of whatever it is cooked with which makes it perfect for soups, stir fries, sneak it in a casserole and no one will notice, I promise. It is also great in smoothies (yes I said smoothies)!
Meal idea: Tofu and Broccoli Stir Fry
(finely chop broccoli, peppers and tofu for softer texture)
10 – Ground Beef
Ground beef is full of protein! Choose a variety that is low in fat if you are watching the saturated fats in your nutritional needs.
Meal idea: Easy Taco Noodle Soup
11 – Ground Pork
Ground pork is also a great source of protein. It’s super versatile in the ways it can be prepared, use it in any recipe from pasta to soups.
Meal Idea: Broccoli, Quinoa and Pork Stir Fry
(use ground pork in place of chopped pork in this recipe and finely dice vegetables for a softer texture)
Eggs are great for protein. They are also great texturally for an elderly person. Prepare them in anyway you want, hard boiled, scrambled, poached or pan fried. If you are watching fats as a nutrient goal then just use the whites for lots of protein without the fats.
Meal idea: German Pancakes
(bake slightly less time for a really soft and tender pancake)
13 – Salmon
I really don’t need to tell you how great salmon is, but I will anyway! It’s full of protein and omega-3 fatty acids and it’s perfect for the elderly. It can be baked, smoked, poached for pan seared. As with any fish, always double check for bones.
Meal idea: Grilled Maple Butter Salmon
14 – Oats
Oats are a great source of protein, fiber and other nutrients. They are also texturally perfect for anyone who might need softer foods. Make them in traditional oatmeal, throw them into a smoothie or grind them up and add them to muffins. There are so many ways to enjoy them.
Meal idea: Instant pot Apple Pie Steel Cut Oats
15 – Peas
Peas are a great source of protein and fiber, especially when combined with another protein like quinoa, You can easily meet a protein goal when you add peas to any meal.
Meal idea: One Pot Chicken Tetrazzini
16 – Beans
Beans are a great food for protein and fiber! There are many different beans to choose from; black, pinto, lima, great norther, cannellini and more. They go perfectly into almost any soup for some extra protein. Be aware of the sodium content in canned beans and choose a reduced sodium variety if you are watching sodium levels.
Meal Idea: Instant Pot Great Northern Beans and Pork
17 – Carnation Instant Breakfast With Milk
Carnation instant breakfast packets are delicious and inexpensive. They also offer 5 grams of protein from the mix alone, and when paired with 8 ounces of cow’s milk the protein goes up to 13 grams for one serving.
I know there are many other drinks dedicated to older adult nutrition that have higher protein. However, those can be expensive and you might not need the whole bottle so the carnation instant breakfast packets are a great option because they are inexpensive and an easy thing to add as a side dish to a meal to increase the overall protein amount consumed. They are also great to use as a snack.
18 – Chia Seeds
Chia seeds are small but mighty! They pack a lot of nutrients into such a little seed! They are a great way to bump up the protein in a dish by sprinkling on top, adding to oatmeal, smoothies, drinks, granola or whatever you can think of!
Meal Idea: Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding
19 – Ground Turkey
Ground turkey is a excellent protein option for those who are looking for a lower fat protein that is versatile and can be used in many dishes.
Meal Idea: Turkey and Pesto Stuffed Bell Peppers
(dice peppers when you are serving for softer meal)
Thanks for reading my list, I hope it helps inspire your meal planning and makes it easier to incorporate more protein into your meals.