In a Long Island kitchen, chefs, dietitians and speech pathologists join together to craft diverse and hearty culinary meals and desserts: roast beef, steak, lasagna, cottage pies, tiramisu and even gingerbread men.
There’s one catch; this food won’t require a knife. It’s completely puréed, all of it possessing the smooth consistency of custard. This kitchen is the home base of Textured Food Innovations, a new and promising company whose products are set to launch in the coming months.
It is the brainchild of Dr. Carol Letzter, a speech pathologist who noticed that many of her patients on a puréed diet due to medical conditions like Parkinson’s disease would reject the food presented to them; the puréed hospital food currently available is undesirable and not nutritious. Many of Letzter’s patients find themselves no longer able to enjoy mealtimes and grow sicker as a result.
The inability to sit down and eat a tasty meal ends up hurting patients in other respects, as well; they can’t eat out with their families or enjoy holidays, meaning their already restrictive diets further confine their lives. Dr. Letzter sought out to change this: “I thought to myself that there has to be a better way to offer a modified diet to these folks. I put my thinking cap on and came up with an idea that is turning into reality: puréed meals that are contoured to look visually appealing and taste absolutely delicious.”
From this idea came Textured Food Innovations, which is changing how puréed food is made and served; not only does it seek to make puréed food tastier and more visually appealing through contouring and shaping, it also addresses many of the specific dietary needs facing patients. The company provides diverse menu choices that offer traditional meat, poultry and fish as well as vegetarian options. Products also service patients requiring additional protein and meals that are culturally diverse, reflecting the various ethnicities of patients on this diet.
“Our approach is that all of our meals are prepared gluten-free with all-natural food, no GMO’s, no preservatives, and no commercial thickeners,” says Letzter. This commitment to preparing real, all-natural food is the reason behind the superior taste of Textured Food Innovations and its claim to fame.
Founded in 2015, the company started after Dr. Letzter reached out to an executive chef in Australia with the same mission of revolutionizing the puréed food industry; Darren Benfell of Textured Concept Foods had already received numerous awards for his puréed meals provided in nursing homes, hospitals and private residences across Australia. He leaped at the chance to help his mission spread stateside.
The benefits of this new selection of puréed food have already been appreciated by Australian citizens in nursing homes and hospitals: “Hospital administrators, as well as families, have reported a vast improvement in the health and cognitive function of patients and loved ones. We expect the same results here as we launch the opening of our facility,” commented Dr. Letzter.
The need to improve the puréed food market stretches beyond nutrition and health; eating remains a social experience. To deprive a patient of the right to eat food with friends and family can hinder this bonding, yet Letzter is confident that Textured Food Innovations will erase the social stigma of a restrictive puréed diet: “We feel that our product will provide individuals with the opportunity to look forward to mealtime as they dine with dignity… they can participate in social events and not feel inferior to those eating a regular diet because even though their food is puréed, it looks just like everyone else’s.”
Textured Food Innovations is on track to address many of the problems plaguing hospital and healthcare nutrition, specifically puréed diets. As its products launch in the coming months, Dr. Letzter’s vision is for patients with chewing or swallowing difficulties to enjoy meal time once again and improve the quality of life in a healthcare facility and in many cases extend lives upon the patient’s return home.
For more information on Textured Food Innovations, please visit their website.