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Level 7: Easy to Chew Simple Tuna Salad Shells

Tuna by any other name

These Level 7: Easy to Chew Simple Tuna Salad Shells are simply jumbo pasta shells stuffed with creamy tuna salad. These make an easy cold lunch or dinner, and they taste great the next day too!

It’s amazing how many different ways we had to eat tuna growing up: tuna sandwiches, tuna-and-tomatoes, tuna patties, and one of my favorites, “Big Shells.” I’m not sure why we named these tuna-salad-stuffed jumbo pasta shells such a vague name, but I’ve renamed them and brought them to your attention. This is one of those meals that I always have the ingredients on hand for, another simple-ingredients, simple-steps recipe that comes together in 20 minutes or less.

Tuna is relatively cheap, easy to prepare, and makes a filling lunch or dinner. I love to order tuna sandwiches, and I know that is something I would miss if I needed to give up bread. I’ll even reveal my greatest tuna faux pas – I occasionally bring tuna sandwiches on airplanes and buses. That’s how much I love tuna sandwiches!

Level 7: Easy to Chew

Level 7: Easy to Chew is appropriate for individuals who can manage chewing and processing foods of any size without tiring across the meal. Because this level allows pieces of any size, individuals who are at a higher choking risk are typically not appropriate for this level. At Level 7, most everyday foods are allowed, but must be soft and tender. This includes mixed consistency foods, such as cereal and milk or soup with chunks or noodles, but cannot include hard, tough, chewy, fibrous, or crumbly bits.

Foods at this level must still be mashable under pressure. Although bite size is not predetermined, choose a sample size that is 15mm square for adults or 8mm square for children when testing the sample. The pressure from a fork or spoon must be able to mash the pieces easily; this is called the Fork Pressure or Spoon Pressure Test. In these tests, the utensil must be able to easily cut through or break apart the food using only the side of the utensil. When mashing the sample to test, only use as much pressure as causes your thumbnail or fingernail to blanche white. After mashing, the food must not return to its original shape. We recommend watching IDDSI’s Youtube video of the Fork Pressure and Spoon Pressure Test before you cook as well as during the testing of your final modified portion.

Always test your food before serving to ensure that it meets all the IDDSI testing guidelines.

While bread is allowed on Level 7: Easy to Chew, it is still up to your clinician to approve you for bread and sandwiches specifically. The texture of bread can end up gummy in the mouth and stick to the sides of the throat. I’ve noticed that many of my patients with dysphagia talk about missing sandwiches, and it’s just not the same to eat the inside of a sandwich by itself.

Level 7: Easy to Chew Simple Tuna Salad Shells

In comes a delicious alternative to my beloved tuna sandwiches: Simple Tuna Salad Shells! Although my Level 7: Easy to Chew Simple Tuna Salad Shells still include a wheat-based pasta, because the ratio of insides to pasta is so large, I find that the pasta goes down smoother than a sandwich, or even a bowl of spaghetti!

Pasta is allowed on Level 6: Soft and Bite-Sized, however I found that the shells did not hold up to the tuna salad when cooked soft enough for Level 6. I’ve kept this recipe at a Level 7: Easy to Chew, as the pasta can remain al dente and the shells remain intact. Remember to always test your recipe before serving, you can find the IDDSI testing methods here.

We hope you love Simple Tuna Salad Shells and that they can help you return to your sandwich-loving past!  They are great for picnics and packed lunches and travel just about anywhere you want to go.

You could try this technique with other smooth sandwich spreads as well. Try it out with egg or ham salad, maybe crab salad – yum!

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Level 7: Easy to Chew Simple Tuna Salad Shells

These Level 7: Easy to Chew Simple Tuna Salad Shells are simply jumbo pasta shells stuffed with creamy tuna salad. These make an easy cold lunch or dinner, and they taste great the next day too!
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: easy to chew
Servings: 3

Ingredients

  • 12 jumbo shells about half a box
  • 2 cans tuna drained
  • Mayonnaise
  • Pepper, garlic powder, onion powder to taste
  • Relish
  • Shredded cheese optional

Instructions

  • Cook pasta according to package directions, drain in colander.
  • Combine tuna, mayonnaise, seasonings, relish, and cheese in bowl.
  • Stuff shells with tuna salad, serve.

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