Noah was nice enough to fall asleep during Sesame Street so that I could attempt to write this post. Hopefully it'll last!
Smooth puree: Pureed completely using a blender. Has no texture or grit. Fruit may be added to starchy purees to help keep the texture smooth.
Gritty puree: Slight texture in a smooth puree. The texture is very small, but can be felt if the puree is rubbed between your fingers. The "textured pieces" are uniform in size and no larger than the size of cream of wheat pieces.
A smooth puree can be pretty much anything. Well, maybe not like a steak, but pretty much anything. We try to be creative with our combinationg so that Noah doesn't get sick of eating the same thing every day. A book that has good flavor combo ideas is "The Fresh Start Cworkbook" from So Easy Baby Food, although really you can just try things and see what works. Try to think of foods your child might want and then how to make it in a pureed form. Like for Halloween they can't eat a caramel apple, but they can eat some applesauce mixed with caremel flavored ice cream sauce. For Noah's birthday in May we blended a slice of cake with a small scoop of ice cream and he loved it! Another thing that adds flavor (and calories) is that we don't ever use water as the liquid in the blender. Juice, Pediasure, milk, some type of sauce, etc. Noah loves cream of wheat made with strawberry Pediasure, and baked apples with vanilla Pediasure is kind of like apple pie a la mode. V8 works great if your making a meat/veggie dish too (but only use a little if you're kiddo's on a low acid diet like Noah), and pretty much any kind of juice can add a kick of flavor to some boring food.
When we started with a smooth puree it was very thin, but over time things got gradually thicker. Thickness is a challenge for Noah because of his poor oral motor skills (he can't move it around in his mouth easily to swallow it) but Noah's more or less ok with it now. Some foods that are naturally thicker are puddings or pureed sweet potatoes, but anything can be made thick with a little Thick it! (or thinned with some extra liquid).
There are two different ways to make a gritty puree. You can puree your food in a food processor rather than a blender until there are still some teeny tiny chunks left. It takes a lot of trial and error to get this right, so I recommend the easy way. Use your food processor to chop up some plain bread crumbs or crushed cookies (we use vanilla wafers) until the pieces are soooo tiny. Yes, bread crumbs are already small, but not small enough. Add a tiny bit of this "grit" to a smooth puree. We started out with 1/4 teaspoon per 3 oz puree, and gradually got to now we do 2 teaspoons per 3 oz puree (it took us about 4 months to get there). Make sure you wait until they're totally confortable before adding more grit - it can take a while. I recommend starting with a thinner smooth puree (like a fruit) and gradually moving to thicker purees. If you try the food processor method, items that are a bit more firm will work the best. We've had good luck with peaches, mango, chicken & rice, and pasta dishes. The next step is finely chopped foods, which basically means the gritty pieces are a bit bigger, and I imagine that we'll start working on that in the next few months. After that you start getting into fork mashed foods, which require chewing so it could be years for us! Here are some of Noah's more favorite puree combinations:
cantelope and raspberries (cook the cantelope first!)
pancakes or waffles with any type of fruit
anything made by Glory Foods, a recent favorite is the smothered potatoes, but he's always loved their bakes apples and their squash - their veggies are great!
those flavored applesauces that Mott's makes
cake & icecream (see above)
chicken & dumplings or chicken & rice w/ veggies
cream of wheat (made w/flavored Pediasure instead of water)
pretty much any veggie of fruit combination (sorry, I've got to cut this short - Noah's starting to wake up!)
If you're just starting to puree table food, I recommend browsing the canned foods isle at the grocery store and just picking up whatever looks yummy. You can gradually start making your own as you get more comfortable with it. Also, when you make food for yourself evaluate whether you can puree it up for your kiddo. Get creative! Like I said, a steak won't work for a smooth puree, but a little piece of steak with a lot of ketchup or steak sauce would work for a gritty puree. Add some extra jelly, and a PB&J sandwich can be pureed too. Casseroles and soups are easy, as are most side dishes. And just because you think it's disgusting doesn't mean your child will. I thought pureed cake was so gross, but Noah loves it. If anybody comes up with some good flavor combos I would love to hear about it. I hope this helps, and feel free to ask a million questions. Eat, eat, eat, Hallie & James!