Category Archives: Specialized Diets

Monitored, restrictive and Specially prepared Diets

Homemade “Ripple” (Split Pea) Milk


DIY Ripple Milk

  • Servings: 10-13
  • Difficulty: easy
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This recipe is more of an addendum to my split pea milk recipe.  I have had many more questions about it coming from Ripple drinkers.  Some of the struggles were:  separation, strong pea taste, watery taste and thickened texture.  My original recipe was written for g-tube feedings and oral eaters with limited taste experiences.  After fielding many of your questions, I set out to make a recipe that would work for Ripple drinkers.  Please keep in mind, nothing we make at home can match the process that Ripple can produce in the lab.  This recipe is creamier than my original recipe and does not separate.  Hopefully my adjustments will make it more palatable.  Please take note of the pictures above.  The picture in the top right corner show 2 mason jars.  The jar on the left is Ripple.  The jar on the right is the DIY Ripple.  Even after sitting overnight, it had not separated.

As always, my goal is not to just create and share new recipes but to educate:  To give information not opinions.  The pictures and notes are here to help you make the best choice for you.


  • 1 cup of dry split peas (cooked in 3 cups of water)
  • 4 large Medjool dates (3oz)
  • 2-4 teaspoons of vanilla
  • 4 tablespoons of Sunflower oil (or oil of choice)
  • 7-10 cups of water



Cooking the split peas: Place 1 cup of dried peas into a bowl and cover with 3 cups of water. Let sit for 8 hours or overnight. Transfer the peas into a pot or into the pressure cooker. If cooking on the stove, cook peas about 1-1 1/2 hours or until the peas are completely soft and all of the water has been absorbed. Stir. If using an electric pressure cooker, select “beans/lentils” and adjust the time setting to 15 minutes. Once the timer goes off, allow the pressure to release naturally. This may take up to 15 minutes. Remove lid and stir. Note, if using the pressure cooker it is important NOT to use the quick release. The starch in peas is very light. Using the quick release up and out of the pressure cooker through the valve making a mess:

Power Pressure Cooker XL (2)

Making the milk: Place 1 1/2 cups of cooked peas into the large (64oz) Vitamix container. Add 3 1/2-5 cups of water, dates, oil and vanilla and let stand (to soften the dates) for 30 minutes. Blend on High for 1 minute or use the “Smoothie” setting.  Transfer first batch to mason jars and ice cube trays.  Repeat the process with the remaining ingredients.  If If the texture is not to your liking, you may want to run the milk through a nut milk bag to remove the starchy component of the peas.

DIY Ripple (11)

 Please keep in mind that, if you need it to have a higher caloric content, you will lose quite a few calories this way.  The milk will keep fresh for about 4 days in the refrigerator.  How quickly you use the milk will help you decide how much to freeze.  After I use what is in the refrigerator, I take out only what I will use the next day and let it thaw overnight.

Food tips: Although sunflower oil is listed, I used regular vegetable oil because I didn’t have any and couldn’t find any.  I put it in the recipe because that is the oil listed on the Ripple label.  I don’t know if it would taste any different since vegetable oil is pretty tasteless.  I’m sure it’s better for you so use it if you can find it and afford it.  Calories/cup are 141.5.  The breakdown is in the Cronometer picture below. Because Ripple is making it’s milk from extracted pea protein and not whole peas, their protein content will be higher. Other than that, my DIY version of vanilla Ripple is pretty close it is consumed unfiltered:


Time tip:  If you have a pressure cooker, use it.  Time and clean up can be cut in half that way.  Freezing the extra milk in ice cube trays makes it easy to defrost exactly what you want. Each standard ice cube is 1 once.

Money Tip:  Buying your peas from a bulk food store like Winco Foods  is the best money saver.  Most of their bulk food items are 1/3 to 1/2 the cost of those bought prepackaged.  It also saves on waste because you only buy what you need.

Fig Butter

Fig Butter

  • Servings: 16
  • Difficulty: easy
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Fig Butter (5)

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.


-8oz Hemp Milk

-8oz Dried Adriatic Figs


  1. Place the ingredients to the 32oz Vitamix container in the order listed and secure lid.
  2. Let sit for 20 minutes to soften the figs.
  3. Select Variable 1.
  4. Turn machine on and quickly increase speed to Variable 10, then to High.
  5. Blend until completely smooth (approximately 1-2 minutes), using the tamper to press the ingredients into the blades.

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.





What is Carrageenan?


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.

The Poopinator Plus

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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
  • 1oz of hemp milk

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!



Chia Seed Pudding

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.


Blend Cooler

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:


  1. Find a lunch box that will fit your feeding bag.
  2. Cut a whole in the top of  it to thread the loop through so that you can hang it on the IV pole.
  3. Cut a whole in left side to allow the tube to exit and connect to the pump.
  4. Add Bag filled with the feeding and ice packs front and back.
  5. 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.

Raiden’s Breakfast Blend


Raiden Barnes

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.

Raiden's Breakfast Blend 8


  • 1/2 cup of old fashion or quick oats
  • 1 cup of Fairlife whole milk
  • 1  cooked scrambled egg
  • 1 apple


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.

  1. Place apple oatmeal and egg into the Vitamix container (in that order) and secure lid.
  2. Select Variable1.
  3. Turn machine on and quickly increase speed to Variable 10, the to High.
  4. Blend for 1 minute or until completely smooth.
Raiden's Breakfast Blend (4)
Enfit Syringe with Adapter

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.

Another Testimonial

Us verses the Healthcare System

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.




Night Feeding Via Pump

Ok it’s been a while since I been able to add a new recipe so here goes.  I’m dedicating this to 2 young tubie warriors.  This ones for you, kiddos!

Three years ago, right before Matt had his hip surgery, his digestive tract started giving him problems again.  I was trying to avoid putting him on laxatives so I developed a green smoothie that I had hoped would help him.  I originally put fruit in it and offered it to him to drink.  He liked it (sort of) but he only drank 2oz.  I knew that was not enough to work so I went back to the drawing board.  Then it dawned on me.  He has a g-tube!  He doesn’t need to drink it so I can remove the fruit and add more greens!  It worked.  The added greens allowed me to add more fiber without fighting with him about the taste.  Now when I give him a bolus feeding or hang his bag for his night feeding he smiles and says, “Ooh! Mooie!  Yup.  You got it.  That’s where the name came from.

Bolus Feeding

Since each child and adult that are g-tube dependent have different issues, I caution you to check with your doctor before changing a feeding regimen and, if you get the ok to to try this, add small amounts at first and watch for adverse effects.  I do not recommend making this smoothie with anything else but a Vitamix.  The Vitamix blends the green so finely that there are little or no leave particles to get caught in the filter of the feeding bag.  If the filter gets clogged that feeding stops and the alarm goes off.  It’s less of a problem for bolus feeding but, if there is difficulty in breaking down solids, it could cause issues.  This is the one that worked for Matt:

  • 1 Cup of peppermint or chamomile tea
  • 2 Tablespoons Organic apple cider vinegar
  • 1oz fresh Aloe Vera (optional)
  • 2oz Avocado
  • 3 Cups packed greens (your choice)
  • 4 tsp organic olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves

Makes 2 8oz smoothies.  I have also added 1 tsp of fresh pureed ginger when Matthew’s stomach was more upset than usual.  Feel free to experiment with different greens.  Sometimes I will buy the large bag of Power greens or spinach from Costco along with Romaine lettuce hearts.  I also keep a close eye on the local farmer’s market for greens that are on sale.  Parsley is great because it helps settle the stomach.

Hemp Seed

I recently joined a group that focuses on blenderized diets. Originally my goal was to share my experience in order to help others with g-tubes live healthier lives.  Little did I know I was going to need their help as well.  Because Matthew is getting older and in need of more calories but not able to handle large volumes, I posed a question to the group regarding “milks” that were high in calorie.  Hemp seed milk (something I hadn’t heard of) was on the list.  Since this was coming from a group of people that had lot’s of experience, I began looking into it.

What I found was, it is yet another super food.  So, as always, I dug deeper.  Here’s what I found:

  • Hemp seeds have 9 grams of protein per serving.  They contain all of the essential amino acids making them a complete protein.
  • They are a good source of iron and Zinc.
  • They are an excellent source of Vitamin E, Magnesium and Phosphorus.
  • There is also 2.8mg of Manganese which is 140% of the DV.

Hemp seeds are also over 30% fat but they are rich in omega-3 and omega-6 which is more than both chia seeds and flax seeds.  These fatty acids, in balanced proportions, have been linked to a host of health benefits“The typical American diet contains 14 to 25 times more omega-6 fatty acids than omega-3 fatty acids, which many nutritionally-oriented physicians consider to be way too high on the omega-6 side.

The Mediterranean diet, on the other hand, has a healthier balance between omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Many studies have shown that people who follow this diet are less likely to develop heart disease.”

One bit of information I found was very important to know.  Matthew has a condition called Chronic Thrombocytopenia.  Due to a severe infection he had at the age of 4, Matthew has a lower than normal number of platelets in his blood.  Since platelets are the part of the blood that allows clotting to occur, it is important for me to know that the oil in hemp seed may slow blood clotting.  this is why it is so important for anyone being followed by a physician for any medical condition should research any and all super foods that hit the market and, check with and/or inform your doctor if you have or are interested in adding them to your diet.

Sometimes people have g-tubes and don’t have a lot of other medical conditions so just trying out this healthy high calorie food.  Still others, like Matthew, are so complicated medically that research has to be done before even considering it.  Healthy or not, medically complicated or not, my treat all super foods the same.  See what is being said and check it against other websites.  Health food websites tend to only give the health benefits and not the side effects or contraindications.  Medical websites will sometimes do just the opposite.  I choose to look at both sides and decide whether or not it’s something that will benefit Matthew or make conditions worse.  If I am unsure, I check with his doctors.  I especially make sure to alert his GI doctor of any dietary changes I have made.  I also don’t give him anything I haven’t tried myself.

In closing, I follow the “less is more” rule.  In other words, just because a super food has some really enticing health benefits, ingesting lots of it can cause problems.  Look for sites that will give you therapeutic doses and stick to them.  Our goal is to stay out of the doctor’s office, not end up in one.