“HELP! My DYI Ripple doesn’t taste, look or feel like the store bought one!” And, it won’t. Ripple is made in a lab where they are able to isolate the pea protein from split peas while our home versions are, well, made in our kitchens. We do not have machines that can do that. Also they add oil and different gums that keep it homogenized and smooth. Last time I checked I could not just walk into the grocery store and buy guar gum. Don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against Ripple. In fact, now that I have tried it, I think it’s pretty good.
So why bother making my own? Certainly going to the store and buying a bottle is far more convenient and less time consuming. I’ll be honest. It’s the cost. In fact that’s why I choose to make my own hemp , coconut and almond milks. When the doctor says Matthew’s calories need to increase by 200 calories a day, the cash register goes off in my head. Let’s do the math. Each 48oz bottle of Ripple costs $4.99. That’s 6 cups. If each cup is 70 calories, I am going to need to add almost 3 cups a day to his current diet. So the bottle will only last about 2 days. Lets’ say I buy 3 bottles a week. That’s $15 a week or $60 a month just on Ripple! Since that is not an option for me (and I’m guessing not for you either) getting as close to taste, consistency and texture is my goal. I have made a new batch that is much closer and it does not separate. That post is coming soon.
In the mean time, if you are interested in seeing how Ripple is made, I found an interview sheds some light on how it’s made. Obviously the cost is somewhat justifiable with all that they have to do to make it taste the way it does. Personally, I’d rather adjust my taste buds a bit and spend the money elsewhere. But, if I’m in a pinch, I will not feel guilty about buying a bottle now and then.
Hemp milk is by far the easiest dairy milk substitute. There is no cooking and, with the Vitamix, there is no need to run it through a filtration bag. It is very calorie dense with lots of protein. It tastes great as is but I’ve added a couple of ingredients for folks who like their milk substitutes a little sweeter.
1 cup hemp hearts
2 1/2 cups of water
4 pitted dates
1 cup of water
2 teaspoons of vanilla
Place hemp hearts, dates and 2 1/2 cups of water into the Vitamix into the container and secure lid.
Select Variable 1.
Turn machine on and quickly increase speed to Variable 10, then to High.
Blend for 1 minute.
Turn machine off and remove lid.
Add the remaining cup of water and the vanilla and secure lid.
Select Variable 1.
Turn machine on and blend for 30 seconds.
It is a good idea to slice the dried pitted dates lengthwise before putting them in the Vitamix. This will ensure that no part of the pit was left inside during processing at the plant. I have yet to find any literature that says they are dangerous but the pieces can clog g-tubes. Even if a piece gets through it could cause problems in the GI tract of someone who already has difficulty processing solid food.
If you have time, soak the dates and hemp seed for 30 minutes before blending. This reduces the amount of sediment and completely removes the need for straining or filtering.
One cup of fresh hemp seed milk has about 194 calories. It has 10 grams of protein and 14 grams of fat so, unless you have a high caloric need, I suggest sticking to the 1/2 cup serving size. Hemp milk will stay fresh in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. Drink it straight or add it to smoothies. It is also a great base for blenderized meals.
As with all “Super Foods” take the time to research and steer clear of the idea that “if less is good, more is better.” This is very important if you are dealing with specialized or restricted diets, on medications or have various health conditions.
Time Tip: Freeze any portion of the milk that will not be used in 3-4 days in ice cube trays. Store the cubes in labeled and dated freezer bags for up to 6 months. Since each cube is about an ounce, you can quickly grab what you need without wasting any.
Money tip: Shop around before buying hemp hearts. They can run as high as 12 dollars a pound in some stores and on line. Winco has the lowest price at $7.02 a pound. They can be found in the bulk food section for much less than the prepackaged bags. It is good to alternate seed/nut milks. If you are on a tight budget, alternate the types of nut/seed/bean milks you make to save money. This is also important especially for individuals on blenderized diets to insure balanced nutrition.
The first time I had ever heard of this was on a Facebook group called blenderize RN. Having a teenage boy on a blenderized/pureed diet can be difficult at times. Because of his complicated GI tract and minimal oral experience, it’s hard finding things he can and will eat without slowing his digestion down. Since Matthew drinks his formula, I wanted to increase his calories and protein without adding more formula but do it in such a way as to not upset his very restricted palate. Enter “Ripple” (aka split pea milk). Since everything I blend for him is homemade, I thought I would try making it myself. I added 1 cup to his normal formula recipe and he didn’t even notice. It was so easy and inexpensive, I just had to share.
1 1/2 cups of cooked yellow split peas
3 1/2 cups of water
2 tsp vanilla (optional)
4 pitted dates
In a medium size sauce pan, bring 1 cup of dry yellow split peas and 4 cups of water to a boil. Boil for 10 minutes on high then reduce temperature to simmer and cook until peas are soft (about hour). Do not drain the peas before adding them to the Vitamix. Because the peas settle, you will want to sir the pot before measuring them out.
In the large Vitamix container, add ingredients in the order listed and secure lid.
Select Variable 1.
Turn machine on and increase speed to Variable 10, then High.
Blend for 1 minute or until completely smooth.
Remove milk from blender and repeat steps 2-5 with remaining peas.
Food Tip: This recipe makes a total of 10 cups of milk. Ripple is made in a factory with added oils and gums that are not in my homemade recipe. The oils and gums allow the milk to stay in solution. Even when using the Vitamix and a filtration bag, homemade milks will separate and need to be shaken before drinking or using in a recipe. They have also reduced the peas to pea protein and removed the pea flavor. If you are used to drinking the store bought Ripple, this may be a jump for you. It is thick so if you plan on drinking it, you may want to thin it out a bit. You can also run it through a filtration bag to remove more of the solids. With 75 calories per cup and 8 grams of protein, it makes an excellent addition to a blended diet. It can also easily replace cows milk in baking for those who have a dairy free diet. Milk will stay fresh in the refrigerator for about 4 days.
Time Tip: Make the full batch and freeze extra milk in ice cube trays then store in labeled and dated freezer bags. Each cube is about 1 once making measuring a breeze.
Money Tip: One pound of dry split peas cost around 70 cents a pound at bulk food stores like Winco. Ripple milk runs about $4.99 for 48oz. Since I only used 1 cup of dried beans, I made 80oz for only 33 cents!
This was an unexpected surprise! I was originally trying to add more fiber to the Poopinator Plus because we are still waiting on a referral to UCLA Children’s Hospital for a more in depth motility. I also thought it would help his weight loss issue due his currently very limited diet. Sadly the fig gave him too much gas so I had to pull it out. But, as always, I try all of his blends to make sure they taste good and this was amazing! So far, with only 2 calorie dense ingredients an zero prep time this is by far the easiest, highest fiber calorie booster I have made to date.
Place the ingredients to the 32oz Vitamix container in the order listed and secure lid.
Let sit for 20 minutes to soften the figs.
Select Variable 1.
Turn machine on and quickly increase speed to Variable 10, then to High.
Blend until completely smooth (approximately 1-2 minutes), using the tamper to press the ingredients into the blades.
Frozen Fig Butter
Food Tips: This recipe packs 56.8 calories per 1 ounce serving. That makes it a good calorie booster without added sugars and/or syrup. Because it’s important for oral eaters, I always taste my recipes. This tastes amazing on toast (as seen in the picture). By itself it’s pretty sweet but added to other pureed dessert or snack recipes, I think it would tastes great.
Time tip: Freeze this butter in ice cube trays then pop them out into freezer bags for easy storage and quick defrost.
Money Tip: As with most of my ingredients, the figs and hemp seed are best purchased at a bulk food store like Winco. The prices are always much lower and you can by just what you need so there’s no waste.
Anyone’s Vitamix container looking like the first two pictures? Don’t worry. It’s not dangerous. I blend lots of fruits and leafy greens and I only recently started having this problem. Normally this is my routine after blending:
Rinse the container thoroughly
Fill 1/2 way with warm water and 2 drops of dish soap
Run the machine on high for 1 minute
Rinse and dry upside down in a dish rack
The container can be put into the dishwasher but, I use mine so much that it I need it ready at all times and you can’t beat a 1 minute wash cycle. So why is my container looking like this now? I began using peppermint and chamomile tea as the base for Matthew’s green smoothie instead of plain water. The film is a build up of oils and minerals from the tea. So, now when the container starts looking like that I:
Add 1/2 cup of white vinegar for 32oz containers and 1 cup for 64oz containers.
Add hot water until the container is half full.
Turn the machine on with it set to Variable 1.
Quickly increase the speed to Variable 10, then to High.
Blend for 15 seconds to mix the water and vinegar.
Let sit for about 15 minutes.
Pour the vinegar and water solution over a clean sponge or dish cloth then dump the rest down the sink. Use the sponge or dishcloth to clean any tough stains that might be left behind.
Rinse the container then refill half way with fresh water.
Repeat steps 3-5.
Empty and let stand upside down to dry completely.
If you have let your container build up a thick film or if you are a stickler like me, you may want to put a little baking soda on the cloth or sponge and give the inside another go. This is totally optional. It you are on a tight time schedule, this step is not necessary. FYI, if you are thinking of short cutting by using the baking soda and vinegar from the beginning, DON’T! Remember that active volcano replica you made back in grade school? No? Ok, I may be dating myself. If you do you will end up with:
So I just got through having a very interesting conversation with a fellow tubie mom. She was looking for advice because her son had suddenly been vomiting his morning blends. At first she thought it might be a cold but no other symptoms arose. He was tolerating broth and baby food so it did not sound like a flu bug. Then she mentioned a change in the coconut milk she had been buying for her blends. She went from using Silk coconut milk to using Simple Truth coconut milk. She questioned whether or not it might be a particular additive in the Simple Truth that was not in the Silk. That additive was Carrageenen. Since I make my milks fresh, I hadn’t thought about additives and the side effects they might have. I vaguely remember hearing the name but had no idea what it was so I hung up the phone and went looking.
After clicking on the first website that spoke about it and reading the contents, a light bulb went off. There was a quote from an article that made me feel that this mom had hit the nail on the head:
“Although derived from a natural source, carrageenan appears to be particularly destructive to the digestive system, triggering an immune response similar to that your body has when invaded by pathogens like Salmonella. The result: “Carrageenan predictably causes inflammation, which can lead to ulcerations and bleeding,” explains veteran carrageenan researcher Joanne Tobacman, MD, associate professor of clinical medicine at the University of Illinois School of Medicine at Chicago. She says the food ingredient irritates by activating an immune response that dials up inflammation. Her previous work showed a concerning connection between carrageenan and gastrointestinal cancer in lab animals, and she’s involved with ongoing research funded through the National Institutes of Health that is investigating carrageenan’s effect on ulcerative colitis and other diseases like diabetes.”
And what do pathogens like Salmonella trigger the body to do? You guessed it. Vomit. Unfortunately a lot of organic foods add these ingredients to stabilize their products and add shelf life. So it could be that or a number of different additives that could be causing this little tubie’s tummy troubles. The best answer is to go back to what was working. If the vomiting stops, you’ve at least solved the immediate problem. Then, keep a list of ingredients of the problem item in a file. If a similar problem arises from another product compare the ingredients to see what they have in common. Then research the side effects of those ingredients so that you can narrow down the list culprits.
It is best, whenever possible to make your own milks. That way you know exactly what is in it and what, if anything, needs to be removed. It is also much more cost effective. I do understand that not everyone has the time to do this. But, if you are cooking and/or blending for someone on a specialized diet or has multiple allergies/sensitivities, it is well worth the time and effort.
If you are interested in reading more about Carrageenan this article contains a lot of interesting information.
Matthew did very well on the Poopinator for a time. Then slowly it stopped working and he began backing up again. We had to put him back on Miralax, added Lactulose, Senna Plus, Enemeez and eventually the Peristeen pump. Each addition brought some relief for a time but then stopped working. He ended up back in the hospital for yet another clean out in October and to complete some much needed testing. After a Sitz Marker Study, we came to the conclusion that there was no specific areas of colonic inertia . His infectious Disease doctor highly suspects the backing up of his bowels was the cause of the g-tube stoma infection and the GI doctors are suggesting an Apendicostomy.
So here we are caught between a rock and a hard place. Matt eats most of his blends by mouth but gets meds, extra water, the Poopinator and an overnight feeding of green smoothie. Because of issues with his immune system, having an Appendicostomy done most likely would increase his chances of infection. On the other hand, after 16 years of major GI issues, I can’t see how I could maintain his nutrition and medication regimen without the g-tube.
So now I am on a mission. Delay or completely avoid another surgery. He has been drinking a blend throughout the day that contains hemp milk and it seems to bring him some relief. Then it came to me: Why not give him a straight shot of it with The Poopinator? It might have a better effect that way.
4oz of the original recipe or any combination of the foods listed in The Poopinator
Directions: Warm the Poopinator THEN add the hemp milk. I have found that warming the Poopinator Plus in the microwave causes the hemp milk to clump. That can cause an extension tube to clog. I have also noted that heating hemp milk in a recipe causes it to thicken. Give as a bolus at the fastest rate that is tolerated. Flush with at least 10cc of water. If the volume is too high, reduce the solids before reducing the hemp milk until a tolerable volume is reached.
Please remember this: Medication and/or surgical intervention is not a failure on your part (somehow I think I’m talking to myself here). The goal is to do whatever it takes to give our loved one(s) the best quality of life possible. Blended whole foods is by far the best choice over formulas but sometimes it’s just not enough. Hang in there and don’t quit!
One thing about fresh coconut milk: It only lasts about 4-5 days in the refrigerator. So once you make it , you will want to get the most out of your fresh batch before you have to freeze what’s left. Since I already have the chia seeds out when I’m making Matt’s oatmeal, I always make some chia seed pudding. This is one of my favorite snacks and it’s easy to make.
2 Tablespoons of Chia seeds
1/2-2/3 cup of fresh coconut milk
Put the Chia seeds in a small mason jar. Add the coconut milk and stir until they begin to absorb enough of the milk to be suspended. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour. The Chia seed pudding is good for about 4 days but, I guarantee that it won’t last that long. Enjoy! Makes 2 servings.
Food Tip: This snack is high in protein but also high in fat. Eat it sparingly especially if you are making your own coconut milk.
Time Tip: Freeze the coconut meat in 6oz portions. When it’s time to make your milk just defrost and blend.
Money Tip: Coconuts are not that expensive. They tend to run about $2 but the price drops around Thanksgiving and Christmas.
One of the objections health professionals have for not using home blended meals is food-born illnesses. Though they are justifiably concerned, it need not be a road block to good nutrition. Individuals who must or choose to use a feeding pump don’t have to be excluded from enjoying the benefits of a whole food blenderized diet. Where there is a will, there’s a way.
Take this scenario, for instance. You have to go to work or school and you choose to bring your lunch. Do you get to your lunch break and toss your nutritious lunch in the trash? No? Why not? Because it’s been in your lunch box with an ice pack all morning, you say? Exactly! We don’t think twice about for those that eat orally. So, when I was faced with the same issues, here’s what I came up with:
Find a lunch box that will fit your feeding bag.
Cut a whole in the top of it to thread the loop through so that you can hang it on the IV pole.
Cut a whole in left side to allow the tube to exit and connect to the pump.
Add Bag filled with the feeding and ice packs front and back.
Zip up the lunch box and start you feed.
It is best to start with a cold blend if you can. That way the food stays fresher longer. Depending on how long the feeding runs, you may need to replace your ice packs.
If your pump came with a mini backpack, you may use it but I had a hard time fitting ice packs in with the feeding bag. If anyone reading this has figured it out, feel free to add your idea to my comment section. If you need something more portable, you can get a regular backpack that has sections to hold the lunch box and the pump so the tubing doesn’t get kinked. Nowadays they usually have an opening for headphone wire. If not, adapt it yourself.
At first I was afraid to do this thinking the blend would upset Matt’s stomach because it was too cold. Then I realized that, by the time the food got to the extension tube, it was room temperature. Besides, we eat cold food all the time without even a thought. He as not had any issues. As with anything you do with your tubie, when you try something new, watch them closely. Look for signs of discomfort and stop the feed if there are any.
I hope, pray and dream of the day when manufacturers of feeding pumps get on board with those of us who choose food over formula.
Ever feel like this guy? I have and quite often lately. After developing The Poopinator I was sure Matt’s problems were over…and for a while they were. Slowly it stopped working. Before I knew it, Matt was back on Miralax and then some. Each additional medication and technique would work for a while then stop working. At one point I told his GI doctor in exasperation, “I feel like I am doing CPR on his colon all day long!” The terms appendicostomy and colostomy began to circulate and I became worried. How could this be? He’s super hydrated and has the cleanest most fiber filled diet of anyone I know. What am I doing wrong? Answer: Absolutely nothing. Even the best blenderized diet can’t fix a mechanical problem.
Eventually he ended up back in the hospital for yet another clean out. I needed answers to questions that sometimes even doctors can’t answer. My thoughts became filled with “What ifs?”. Further tests were done that showed he did not have a specific area that had stopped working but that he was slow over all. So we left the hospital cleaned out and back to square 1. If the current regimen fails then we will have to carefully consider what is best for Matt. Even though the test didn’t show something that was an easy fix, I still feel better. Knowing is way better than not knowing. Now we can move forward to whatever the future holds for him. And always, I pray and hope. God had a plan for Matt’s life when He placed him in our family (Jeremiah 29:11). My job is to make that life the filled with as much quality as I can.
So, since quitting is not an option, I will blend on while listening to my new anthem “The Comeback” by Danny Gokey. Feeling defeated today? Click, listen and be revived.
One of the most rewarding parts of being a tubie parent is being able to help others along on the journey. Raiden’s mom and I connected through a group online and now I get to watch him thrive on…You guessed it. Real food. Just look at that smile! I don’t know about you but I think he’s saying, “Thanks, Mom!”
Getting started can be scary and overwhelming. Just remind yourself that, barring any dietary restrictions, tubies are real people who need real food. Think to yourself, if my son, daughter or family member could take in 100% of what their body needs to thrive orally, what would they eat? If the person was able to eat before the tube was placed, what did they like to eat? That is always a good place to start. If your tubie is a baby just starting out, introduce 1 food at a time just as you would any baby, paying special attention to possible allergic reactions. There is also a hidden benefit to the tube. Tubies often get a more balanced diet because you don’t have to battle their taste buds.
Now, the title of this post is Raiden’s Breakfast Blend so let’s get to it.
1/2 cup of old fashion or quick oats
1 cup of Fairlife whole milk
1 cooked scrambled egg
Combine oats and milk and cook according to the directions on the package. Cook the scrambled egg and set aside. Cut apple into quarters and remove the seeds. DO NOT PEEL.
Place apple oatmeal and egg into the Vitamix container (in that order) and secure lid.
Turn machine on and quickly increase speed to Variable 10, the to High.
Blend for 1 minute or until completely smooth.
This blend is about 300 calories. If the blend is too thick, water can be added to reach the desired consistency. Thinner blends can have lots of bubbles so it’s best to let it sit a while before giving it as a bolus feeding.
I got a message from a dear friend today. I say friend but she’s more of a sister to me. So many times I have called on her for prayer and support. So many times she has been there for me. Being an amazing NICU nurse is a bonus. I can only imagine how the parents of the sickest of babies feel when their precious angels are in her care. She has the uncanny ability to know when I am hurting even when no one else does. Her looks and hugs speak volumes while her carefully chosen words are condensed libraries. In my experience, she is a rare gem… A medical professional who gets it. In the 25 years that I worked in the medical field I got to see first hand those who stand on both sides of that fence.
But now, as a parent of a medically complicated child with special needs, I see it from the other side of the desk. I understand on a deeper level the frustration expressed by the patients I dealt with. Much of my time now is spent fighting a system that is caught up in codes and protocol to the demise of common sense…Fighting for what is best for my child. Thankfully, Matt has a great group of doctors who listen and are open to my input about his care and are just as frustrated as I am when we hit a road block. Many of you who will read this are not so fortunate. My heart goes out to you but I am here to encourage you not to give up and not to give in.
So when her simple message read, “Sound familiar?” I knew I had to stop and read the story she had tagged me with. As I read through “Kate’s Story” I couldn’t help but feeling it could have just as well read “Matt’s Story” and I felt a kinship to the family. Then I found myself becoming angry. More like frustrated. Real food for real kids. What a concept! So why do so many of us find ourselves bucking a system that is supposed to want the best for our children? Do doctors and dieticians wake up each day and say, “Hmmm. I have 50 kids to see today. Let me see how I can mess them up.” Certainly not! The doctor’s and dieticians that have spent the last 15 years helping keep Matt alive are not ill willed. Many are simply uninformed. Others simply lack the time due to huge case loads. Still others find themselves with their hands tied thanks to a healthcare system that has become more about making money and less about caring for patients.
So where does that leave those of us who have the gall to insist that our tube-fed children and loved ones deserve and desperately need a diet that consists of real food? In the battle, for better or worse. We keep fighting, educating and spreading the word. When it comes to blenderized and pureed diets for people with and without g-tubes, we can’t quit even when we feel we’ve hit a wall. Our loved ones often can’t advocate for themselves. We must be their voice. Matt has been blessed with an amazing GI doctor. She has seen what a whole food blended diet has done for him and other patients she has referred to me for help. She too wants better nutritional options for families. But, to paraphrase a comment she made to me one day, the healthcare system today is a large ship and we are the rudder on that ship. If we simply hold our position for long enough, the ship will turn. Ever so slowly and often without notice. My hope and prayer is that our voice gets so loud that big companies that sell fake nutrition for a profit will crumble and fade away. Until then we will just keep doing what we do best…Loving. Caring. Sharing.
When you get a moment, read Kate’s Story. It will both encourage and inspire you on your journey.