Having difficulty swallowing? Try these soft-food recipes.

Woman places smoothie ingredients into blender.

Written by Sean O'Nan, a registered dietitian at UK Markey Cancer Center.

Have you experienced difficulties eating because of your cancer diagnosis or side effects from treatment? For some patients who have undergone oral surgery, dental extractions, or have been diagnosed with a cancer of the head or neck, impaired chewing and swallowing function may make meal time even more challenging. That's why you might want to try softer foods that require little chewing as well as liquids, which may be easier to consume and may help prevent painful swallowing or choking.

Foods such as mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, apple sauce, and yogurts can be easier to eat and can be used in a variety of ways to increase calorie and protein intake so that you are better able to maintain your weight and muscle mass.

Try out the following recipes to achieve these goals:

Creamy Mac 'n' Cheese

This recipe makes eight servings.


  • 12 oz dry macaroni
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 cup light cream (can use heavy cream for extra calories)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 can condensed cream of cheddar soup
  • 4 cups sharp cheddar
  • 1/2 cup fresh Parmesan cheese


  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Cook macaroni according to package directions. Drain and run under cold water.
    • Note: If macaroni is still tough after cooking, continue cooking until soft enough for your specific preferences.
  3. Melt butter over medium heat in a large saucepan. Whisk in flour and let cook two minutes while stirring. Slowly whisk in cream, milk, mustard powder, onion powder, salt and pepper to taste. Cook over medium heat while stirring until thickened.
  4. Remove from heat and stir in parmesan cheese and three cups cheddar cheese until melted. Add soup if using.
  5. Toss cheese sauce & macaroni noodles together. Pour into a greased 9×13 pan. Top with remaining cheese.
  6. Bake 18-24 minutes or until bubbly. Do not overcook. Cool 10-15 minutes before serving.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 547, Fat: 32g, Carbohydrates: 38g, Protein: 24g


Mixed Berry Smoothie Bowl


  • 1 cup mixed frozen berries
  • 4 ice cubes
  • Splashes of light coconut milk (enough to get blender moving)
  • 1 tablespoon almond butter
  • Handful of spinach
  • Optional: 1 teaspoon acai powder
  • Optional: maple syrup or sweetener of your choice, to taste


  1. Place the frozen berries, ice cubes, coconut milk, almond butter and spinach in a blender. If you like, add acai powder as well. Blend until smooth, adding additional coconut milk as needed. (Add as little as necessary so your smoothie will be thick). Taste and add maple syrup or sweetener of choice, if desired. Blend again.
  2. Pour into two bowls and top with favorite toppings (examples: flax seeds, coconut flakes, blueberries and dried strawberries.)
    • Note: Remember, you can adjust this recipe to your specific flavor or texture preferences! Experiment with different flavors to see which combination is your favorite.

For additional information regarding diet and nutrition for cancer patients at Markey Cancer Center, please call 859-323-2798 and ask to speak with a registered dietitian.

This content was produced by UK HealthCare Brand Strategy.