F.E.A.S.T's Around The Dinner Table forum

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I'm wondering if anyone can offer me suggestions for high-calorie dinners, lunches, etc? I'm afraid we're running out of ideas, and bumping up against our 14-y-o d's pickiness.

She says she is sick to death of milkshakes and sweets and would like to get more of her dailiy calorie needs (she's eating about 3000 cal per day) from "real" food. I'm at a bit of a loss because she doesn't like (translates: won't eat) cream sauces and other high-cal savories, so we've come to rely heavily on either a big milkshake every day or a very large chocolate bar with almonds, etc.

I'd be grateful for any ideas--creative cooking was never my strong suit in the first place.

Hi, Our d has difficulty with milkshakes and desserts, so we are experts in high calorie vegetarian savories. Here are my suggestions:

• chili made with lots of oil and then cornbread made with cream and butter.

• polenta, cheese, eggplant, tomato sauce casserole (layers of polenta made with cream, cheese, eggplant brushed with plenty of olive oil then baked semitender before put in the casserole, then a simple tomato sauce made with plenty of olive oil.  several of these layers, then top with cheese of course

• homemade pizza with a crust that my h makes with cream, then oil on the crust before the tomato sauce and the cheese

• homemade tortillas again made with plenty of oil, then topped with refried beans that you can supplement with cream and cheese of course!

• soups like lentil that can include plenty of oil (and I mean plenty), with toasted cheese sandwiches (there are higher and lower calorie breads...we look for the higher calorie ones)

• muffins (not savory, but probably could be!) have been our secret weapon.  I have a banana muffin recipe that with butter and sour cream and enough nuts (and of course a generous size) has about 1100 calories.  It was the way our d started each day for the first month!

The way that we got between 3000 and 3500 calories per day into our d was to start with the 1200 calorie breakfast (muffin, glass of milk, fruit), then have 3 snacks (mid morning, mid afternoon, and before bed) and 2 more meals after that (she ate about every 2.5 hours while awake). Those snacks and meals would only have to be about 500 calories each (2500 total) and we would be up to 3700 calories a day!  She craved water, but we always insisted that all of her liquids have some nutrition (milk or juice, with milk being especially good to make sure she got 1200 mg of calcium per day for her bones), so she probably gets at least 500 calories a day just in liquids.  We did not introduce any variety into her breakfast diet for a month so that we could be assured of her high calorie breakfast, but now that she can slow down on weight gain, we serve all sorts of other things.

I can honestly say that I have never cooked or done as many dishes in my entire life!!!  We have tried to make her snacks as aesthetically pleasing as possible with lots of little dishes and a specially painted snack tray.  I figure whatever it takes!!!  Best wishes and happy cooking....
Thanks for the suggestions! I'd love to have your muffin recipe!
Hi WorriedMom, Here's the recipe. I know it by heart:


1 stick butter (8 tablespoons)
1.5 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
half teaspoon baking soda
1 cup mashed banana (I use 2 bananas)
half teaspoon vanilla
half cup sour cream
plenty of chopped walnuts or pecans (I don't measure these, but probably put in at least 2 cups)

Mix together the butter and sugar, then the eggs. Mix together the dry ingredients first, then add to the butter/sugar/egg mixture. Next add the banana, sour cream, and vanilla. Last add the nuts.

I put all of this mixture into a non-stick pan that has 4 LARGE muffin tins. That is key. Just make a huge muffin look like the normal size...none of this small cupcake sized muffin business!!! Each of these muffins should have about 1000 or more calories. And they are delicious! My d asks for them now even though she has moved on to less calorically dense breakfasts!

As Laura says, bon appetit! L
What an extraordinary post.  I had no idea you could do so much on a strictly vegetarian menu. 



 What is the temp and cooking time for the muffins? If you don't have large muffin pans would the mini-bundt pans work? Thanks! They sound wonderful!

oops, 350 degrees for just long enough to cook them so they stay really moist.  In my pans it is 45 minutes.  Mini bundt pans sound perfect and more beautiful!  L
Our vegetarian d also said she hated cream sauces, cheese, etc., but during refeeding we gave them to her anyway.  We did try to alternate with other foods, though, to make everything more palatable.  Like L, we added olive oil (120 cal/tbsp) and butter to just about everything.  Here are some things that worked for us:

1.  Chinese food:  2 cups of rice (about 450 cal) with stir-fried dish of veggies, tempeh (pressed soy beans minced and fried in olive oil first -- 1/3 package: 180 cal with 2 tbsp olive oil with garlic and soy sauce).  That plus a glass of milk will get you between 8 and 900 cal.

2.  Pasta with pesto sauce.  This is a very easy quick meal.  Again, big portion of pasta (about 2 cups cooked) with pesto (we used Buitoni with 300 cal per 1/3 cup?).  Again, with a glass of milk and a hunk of bread, 120 to 160 cal, or one slice of Pepperidge Farm Texas Toast, 150 cal, and that's 8 to 900 cal.

3.  Pasta with homemade or store-bought sauce.  Add plenty of olive oil and parmesan cheese (shredded has more cal than grated).  Eggplant will soak up lots of oil, so we often sauteed eggplant in olive oil and added it to sauces.  We served milk and a good size piece of bread with every dinner just about.  Sometimes we added a can of white beans to the sauce.

4.  Lasagna and eggplant parmesan.

4.  Peanut butter sandwiches:  bread with 100 cal/slice plus 4 tbsp of peanut butter = 580 calories.

What worked for us was to increase calories with oil, butter, etc. and serve larger portions.  Hope this is helpful.  I could probably come up with a few more suggestions and can provide more specific recipes, if needed.  I clearly remember that feeling of dread every morning when I woke up and wondered what I was going to feed my d that day or how she would receive the food.  This got much better as she got healthier, so hang in there.  Good luck!!!!

Thank you, thank you everyone. I am deeply appreciative.

My d has been fairly compliant up until now, but suddenly seems to have hit a wall and is not eating as much or as well. She's gained about 14 pounds and is now out of danger, but her resistance has suddenly increased about a hundred fold. Has anyone else seen this? We're not sure what to do--the "we'll sit here until you eat it" hasn't worked for us yet. We've sat at the table for upward of 2 hours, with her crying hysterically the whole time, at the end of which she is so irrational and beside herself I'm not sure she could eat.

My instinct tells me we have to go back to a more strict regime, the "nothing happens until you eat everything on the plate" tactic. But I'd love to hear from others who have experienced this kind of mid-treatment problem.

Dear Worried Mom,

We had exactly this scenario--right down to the "let's get rid of the shake" talk.  My d was out of physical danger and wasn't quite where she needed to be in terms of weight recovery.  It was sort of tricky because early on the prospect of immediate hospitalization was the thing that kept her on track.  Once she was out of the woods physically that wasn't credible any more.  She really was in very great distress.  I think that Susan's daughter had a similar sort of pattern too. 

There was a huge upswing in her attempts at negoiation.  It was at this point that I got backed into feeding her exactly the same food everyday.  There were a couple skipped meals and her doctor met us in the ER one afternoon for a full work up with every medical test known to man.  I think it was more a demonstration of what hospital life was like than anything else.  Psychiatric hospitalization was considered (she was in a really bad state of mind, suicidal--I was terrified.)  We had a talk together and decided to try again at home.  She was adamant that she could only eat three meals a day--no snack.  Well, the snack was her shake and constituted  almost a third of her daily calories.  The doctor told her we could shift the shake to lunch and she seemed to accept that.  There was a huge blowup afterwards but we stood firm and the shake stayed in.  I did have a hard time getting in the same number of calories as I had before and her weight gain slowed a little.  Getting through this patch really seemed to break the back of the anorexia beast though, and within a couple months she was at a reasonable weight and much more rational.  She was placed on risperdal around the time of her ER visit but she's not sure if that helped or not.  She dropped it with no problem once her weight was ok.

I'd do whatever you need to do to keep her recovering.  I feared getting "stuck" so much, and I could see how it could easily happen.  That prospect kept me pushing.  Maybe some time off school to illustrate that life stops till if she's not getting better? I think you're right that returning to stricter regime is probably a good idea.

FWIW my d says she thought she'd never get better.  I kept reassuring her that she didn't have far to go and that she'd be okay.  Looking back I think the AN was  cornered and fighting to hang on harder than ever.  I know you've been fighting an epic battle for a while already, but stay strong.

You've gotten some great food suggestions (those sound like some powerful and delicious muffins!)  Mashed potatoes offer a great opportunity for including cream and butter.  Meatloaf or anything with ground beef is good too.  I'd say hang onto the shake too, but maybe I'm overly reliant on shakes. (My family jokes about my "shake issues"--I had a hard time dropping them even months after my d was weight restored.)

Hang in there and good luck,

PS--If you have an iPod download "Better Things" (it's a Kinks song, but my favorite version is by Fountains of Wayne) and listen to it a few times. 

Thanks for the encouragement and for sharing your experience. It helps to know my d isn't the only one to hit this plateau. It makes sense that it's the AN struggling for life. I just talked to her treatment team, who agree that if she continues at plateau (or loses) for the next 2-3 weeks we'll be looking at IP. I'm hoping this will motivate her to keep pushing through.


We are having this exact same issue.  We succeeded in helping her to gain 9 pounds in 6 weeks and now she doesn't want to gain anymore.  She got her exercize priviliges back at her 90% and now has said she is done gaining weight.  As of today, per our conversation with her therapist, any day she doesn't finish her food she doesn't exercize the next day.  Not as punishment but as " your health is the most important thing and we can't jeapordize that.  We hope that you feel better tomorrow and can finish all your meals so you can get back to the activities that you enjoy when you are healthy." We will see how it goes.  This part is so hard--you have my sympathy.  I hope the resistance and the accompanying depression and rage subside soon.


Doing pretty well...right along then WHAM! Sunday was ED dinner again.  3/4 way thru, "This is good, Mom." and she stops eating.  All behaviors seen previously are full-blown and we stall for hours. 


Friday I had asked if d had purged at all since we began refeeding.  Her terrifying response was, " I'm uncomfortable answering that question."


We've been with her!  She has been home or at school and an occasional school outing with friends.  I had been taking her to school, meeting with her for lunch until her last class began and picking her up after school.  I was hoping to see her progress come home after school for 2 hrs in the present week but rethought this move (my h and I are both back to work).


A reality check it is - in our 4th week.  Improvement definitely, but Sunday was tough to watch her and try and help her thru.  D's quote Friday quote had been gut wrenching...not sure why so much for me.


H is picking her up after school this week. She had been doing pretty well and it was almost easy to get a tiny bit complaisant.  It can get easy, I think for many parents (besides h and I) to wish to rush things.  We have definitely learned ED can't be rushed.


One bite at a time...


Oh yes ! A high calorie suggestion: 

Instead of a easily rejected smoothie, we opt often for one or 2 "whey chocolate milks" with meals along with meal/desert.  They sometimes go down better than the larger smoothie.


225-250 Cal


8 oz whole milk

2 T choc syrup

1/2 scoop whey protein (whey is milk protein and doesnt alter taste much)

Shake it up and let bubbles settle before serving. 

bumped up for INOH and Karen

Thought I'd post this here, too, for those who may be looking for high-calorie info. 


In trying to find some information on warm, high-calorie drinks, I discovered a number of recipes on the Stanford Cancer Center website.  Most are cold shakes, but could they be heated after blending?



Chocolate-Peanut Butter Shake, 1070 calories:

1/2 c. heavy whipping cream; 3 tablespoons creamy peanut butter; 3 tablespoons chocolate syrup; 1 1/2 c. chocolate ice cream; Blend in blender.


Hot Chocolate at 416 calories

3 oz. milk chocolate; 1/4 teaspoon vanilla; 1 teaspoon butter; 1 c. Half & Half®; Melt chocolate and butter. Add vanilla and slowly stir in Half & Half®, small amounts at a time. Reheat to desired temperature.


This is a ready-made drink:

Sandishake® - 600 calories per serving
The Sandishakes are available at the Medical Plaza Pharmacy at 1101 Welch Road, Palo Alto, CA.  They can also be purchased thru ScandiPharm, who makes the drink.  ScandiPharm can be contacted at (800)472-2634 or at http://www.scandishake.com


More info about Scandishake at:  http://www.axcan.com/scandishake_us.php




Those recipies are great! Thanks--the hot chocolate sounds great for the freezing weather sneaking up on us. I hear that winter is the easiest month to gain weight in--who knows? I sure hope so!


I was looking for avocado recipes (325 calories for one medium avocado)
and thought this looked easy:

 peanut bacon and avocado sandwich:

8 thick slices of wholemeal bread, buttered
2 tbsp crunchy peanut butter
2 tbsp mayonnaise
8 rashers bacon, grilled
1 ripe avocado, thinly sliced and sprinkled with lemon juice
shredded iceberg lettuce
freshly ground black pepper


1. Spread the peanut butter on four slices of bread and mayonnaise on the other four.
2. Place the bacon, avocado, lettuce and pepper on the peanut butter spread slices and top with the mayonnaise spread slices. Cut each round into four.


I can't wait to try the muffin recipe...in answer to the original question....


This may sound odd, but check out the recipes on the Food Network website (www.foodnetwork.com) under "Paula's Home Cooking".  Paula Deen is a southern style chef and I think she puts butter in practically everything.  She has a recipe for cheesy-mac (this week) that has butter, cheese and sour cream in it:


4 cups cooked elbow macaroni, drained
2 cups grated cheddar cheese
3 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup sour cream
4 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Once you have the macaroni cooked and drained, place in a large bowl and while still hot and add the cheddar. In a separate bowl, combine the remaining ingredients and add to the macaroni mixture. Pour macaroni mixture into a casserole dish and bake for 30 to 45 minutes. Top with additional cheese if desired.

You can look up recipes from past shows.  It may take a while to find what you  want, but she really is the highest-fat chef I have ever seen.  There is nothing low about her cooking!   She also tends to use some ready-made items to make cooking easier. 


Hope this is of some help. 



 I found an almond meal/flour in the bulk section at Whole Foods. It was near the Wild Rice. 100 grams is 604 calories. I am going to try adding it to the shakes. Cystic Fibrosis web sites also list high calorie alternatives and additions.


I found these recipies on a Cystic Fibrosis help site: http://kidshealth.org/teen/recipes/cf_recipes/about_cf_recipes.html





This morning I made my dear d hot cocoa:


2 T butter

1 T cocoa powder

1 c premium vanilla ice cream (substituted for the 1/2 c sugar in the original recipe)

1 c whole milk (you could substitute 1/2 c cream, 1/2 c milk)

3 T Ovaltine

1 t vanilla (optional)


Melt butter, add cocoa stir.  Add ice cream, melt & stir.  Add milk, ovaltine and stir.  I put it in the blender before it got really hot and returned it to the pot to heat.  This made it creamier. 



This is a total of 785 calories (more if you do the cream/milk combination).


You could add marshmallows if you like, too!



Hi Everyone-

First of all, Laura- I just got the book and I have been reading it voraciously- it is amazing.

You are all such strong, compassionate women.

I am just so sorry that dietitians haven't been schooled more in the Maudsley technique. 

My hope is to pass the book along to all of my dietitian friends and my sister who is a Nurse Practitioner Midwife at a large Boston hospital.  I hope that people can open their eyes to the fact that traditional psychotherapy doesn't work for Anorexia.


My thoughts around the holidays for high calorie suggestions revolve around eggnog!

You can either buy the super premium eggnog in the stores (which basically has the nutrition value of melted ice cream) almost 9 grams of fat in 1/2 cup and lots of calories- or you can make your own.  Sans alcohol of course!

Warm eggnog with nutmeg is especially delicious.  You could even melt some vanilla Ben and Jerry's or Haagen Daaz and mix it with the eggnog.


That would be a super drink for boosting calories- and with the eggs and milk- at least there is some redeeming nutritive value.


Happy Holidays Everyone!




Creme brulee is our traditional Christmas Eve dessert.  I recently learned how high in calories it is.  Now I know it wasn't just the Christmas cookies making my pants tight around the holidays.  It is very easy to make, too.  Buy the really big ramekins, not those little whimpy ones.  My daughter gets to burn the sugar with the torch.


And somebody pass me the elastic waitbands.....


Carnation Instant Breakfast has worked great for us and it is so nutritious.  My d drinks it ALL throughout the day.  We always start the day off with 8 oz. steamed whole milk, 1 package Carnation French Vanilla sprinkled with cinnamon and nutmeg.  It's so yummy and it keeps her warm.  We later have breakfast and mid morning she's been having ANOTHER Carnation, 8oz. chilled whole milk with 1 package of Carnation Strawberry (delicious and 280 cal.)  She eats lunch and then LATER has ANOTHER Carnation...chocolate this time.   She has dinner and usually we eat a small dinner and she has a chilled Vanilla Carnation with it.  sometimes we even sprinkle it on fruit and ice cream..etc.  I get in about 1000 extra calories a day through Carnation Inst. Breakfast.  I'll post what we are eating daily under the sample meal plan post.  This stuff is good.