​Nutrition - Packing the goodness in: High calorie eating tips to help gain weight

Tuesday 08 May 2018

This blog is aimed at those who find that they need to try and stop weight loss or  those who need to gain some weight. It is the opposite to last week’s blog when I looked at dealing with weight gain. Weight loss can be a very real problem for some people who have cancer. When addressing this I think that it is important to know healthy ways to do it which would include the use of energy dense/nutrition dense foods.

In other words foods that you do not need to eat too much of to get useful calories that are also good for you.

You may find it helpful to read another blog  i wrote last year ‘Coping with weight loss’  which outlines possible  reasons for weight loss , including a reduced appetite, difficulty swallowing, along with some food ideas that you might like to try. I also included a recipe for a blueberry and avocado build up drink in a separate blog on protein and protein powder. Links to both blogs are  included below.

I have decided to revisit weight loss again  because it is a topic that I have been approached about recently on several occasions and over the past year have accumulated many useful ideas.

Energy dense recipes
What I wanted to do in this blog is to add to the previous blog by sharing some energy dense recipes that you could try. You will see from the previous blog that I encourage the use of protein powders, build up drinks, nut butters, coconut butter and avocado amongst other foods. The recipes will include some of these. The recipes are all very simple and versatile which should suit all tastes. The only tip is to shop wisely making sure that you have the ingredients available

Creamy tropical smoothie. (2 servings) 1 portion contains 331 calories.
This smoothie is ideal for breakfast or as a between meal snack. The rocket can be exchanged for spinach, kale or beet greens or parsley. Note that soaking the nuts in water makes them easier to blend.

1 tbsp of ground flax seeds
30g/1oz sesame seeds
30g/1 oz cashew nuts soaked in water for 1 hour and then the water discarded
10fl oz of coconut water or water
1 fresh mango peeled and chopped
1 small banana chopped
large handful of rocket leaves
1 tsp of flaxseed oil.

1. Put the seeds, coconut water or water and seeds in a blender and blend until smooth.
2. Add the remaining ingredients and blend. Serve chilled.


Cashew Cream Cheese which will replace the traditional cream cheese but far more nutritious. Use this as a spread or a dip. It will keep in the fridge for a few days. The nutritional yeast flakes can be bought from any health food shop They have a cheesy nutty taste. They can be added to stews, soups, dips and dissolve easily in water. The benefits come from the fact the flakes are very rich in B vitamins which are primarily needed for energy production by the cells. B vitamins can also make you feel that you want to eat more.


2oz of cashew nuts soaked in cold water overnight and then drained
½ cup water
2 tbsp of lemon juice
1 tbsp of nutritional yeast flakes
1 tbsp of onion powder
1 tbsp of finely chopped parsley
1 small finely chopped onion; seasoning.

1. Blend the soaked cashews with the water and lemon juice until smooth.
2. Transfer to a bowl and add the other ingredients mixing well season to taste

Almond butter
which can be used simply as a butter, a dip or a topping for lightly steamed vegetables. This particular recipe uses cardamom powder but any herbs or spice could be substituted. For example rosemary would give an Italian taste or curry powder for something more spicy. Use as a spread or dip.
Note that if you double the amount of water, this will make a lovely nutritious high calorie dressing for salads or poured over steamed vegetables. I have used this mixed through shredded kale and grated carrots.

2 oz of almond nut butter
1/2 tsp lemon juice
2 oz dried dates
60mls of water
1 fresh garlic clove
½ tsp of sea salt
1 tsp of cardamom powder
¼ tsp of black pepper.

1. Simply place all the ingredients in a high speed processor and process until smooth.


Raspberry Buckwheat slice. This will satisfy any sweet cravings with this moist bar filled with berries. The sweetness comes from the dates. This will keep well in an airtight tin in the fridge for several days or will freeze. When I made this and cut it onto 12 the slices were quite small, or it may be me!!! Anyway each slice contains 250 calories so a couple of slices a day between meals would soon give the calories a boost in a healthy way.

200g/7oz of raspberries
150g/5oz of cashew nuts

225g/8oz of buckwheat flakes
125g/4 ½ oz of dried dates
1 tsp of vanilla essence
125g/4 ½ oz of coconut butter.

1. Preheat the oven 190’C/gas 5. Grease and line an 8” square shallow tin.
2. Process the nuts to form a fine powder, add the buckwheat and process again got break it down. Put the ingredients into a bowl.
3. Put the dates, coconut butter, vanilla essence and process till smooth. Add to the dry ingredients and work together to form a crumbly dough.
4. Press ½ of the dough into the base of the tin. Mash the raspberries and spread over the mixture. Top with the remaining mixture and press into the tin lightly
5.Bake for 25 mins till golden. Cool in the tin and cut into 12 slices.

Seeded Protein Bars,
Similar to flapjack but bound together with nut butter and dates rather than syrup and margarine. The bars are full of superfoods.Each bar contains 275calories.

225g/8oz of pitted dates
juice and zest of 3 lemons
115g/4oz of nut butter or tahini
60g/2oz of coconut butter
150g/5oz of oats
150g/5oz buckwheat flakes
50g/2oz of protein powder
30g/1oz of both pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds
30g/1oz coconut oil
1 tbsp of ground flaxseeds
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda.

1. Preheat the oven 190’C.gas 5.grease and line an 8x12” tray bake tin.
2. Place the dates, lemon juice and zest, nut butter and coconut oil in a food processor and process until a thick paste is formed
3. Place all the dry ingredients in s bowl, pour over the date mixture and mix well.
4. Place in the tin and smooth down firmly.
5. Bake 20-25 min till golden, cool in the tin then cut into 15 slices.

I hope that some of these give you some inspiration and that you enjoy the results. Most people find it better to eat little and often and these recipes will suit that type of eating. The rest of your meals or snacks that you eat during the day could be made up of lots of fresh fruits and vegetables and lean protein and some wholegrain types of carbohydrates.


See also 

Oct 2012 nutrition coping with weight loss

Protein and protein powder - includes recipe blueberry and avocado build up drink  May 2012 

Blog originally written by Caroline Nov 2013

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