DIY Meal-Replacement Shake - like Pediasure

Are you, or is someone you love, on a real food diet but needs to be on a liquid diet for awhile?  If so, this DIY Meal Replacement Shake - a natural "Pediasure® alternative" is for you.  It's a super helpful recipe for those who want to eat Real Food but have an eating challenge.

As a speech therapist, part of my job (about 60% in the nursing home) was swallowing evaluations and rehabilitation. As we age, sometimes we lose the ability to eat real food and swallow safely. This difficulty could be related to age, strokes, mental diseases like Alzheimer's.

Baby drinking Meal Replacement Drink

Eating issues aren't only for the older community. In my family, I have two nephews who had swallowing issues at birth. They had feeding tubes placed within their first year of life.

They are both still primarily fed through feeding tubes at ages 10 and 3.

According to, about half a million people in the US rely on feeding tubes for their nutrition.

Who Uses Liquid Meal Replacement Shakes?

Even when your child can eat, sometimes they choose not to.

I hear all the time about parents who are encouraged to feed their toddlers or picky kids Pediasure to make sure they are getting all the essential nutrition they need to grow.

Maybe your child falls into one of these categories:

- Picky Eater
- Labeled Failure to Thrive
- Kids with Oral Aversions
- Dealing with Sickness (When they are too weak to eat)

What is in Pediasure?

Pediasure is full of highly processed ingredients and is full of sugar. Here are the ingredients in Pediasure:

Water, Sugar (Sucrose), Corn Maltodextrin, Milk Protein Concentrate, High Oleic Safflower Oil, Soy Oil, Whey Protein Concentrate, Medium-Chain Triglycerides. Less than 0.5% of the Following: Soy Protein Isolate, Short-Chain Fructooligosaccharides, Cellulose Gel, Magnesium Phosphate, Potassium Citrate, Potassium Chloride, Calcium Phosphate, Artificial Flavor, Calcium Carbonate, Potassium Phosphate, Salt (Sodium Chloride), Cellulose Gum, Choline Chloride, Ascorbic Acid, Soy Lecithin, Monoglycerides, C. Cohnii Oil, m-Inositol, Potassium Hydroxide, Carrageenan, Taurine, Ferrous Sulfate, dl-Alpha-Tocopheryl Acetate, L-Carnitine, Zinc Sulfate, Calcium Pantothenate, Niacinamide, Manganese Sulfate, Thiamine Chloride Hydrochloride, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin, Cupric Sulfate, Vitamin A Palmitate, Folic Acid, Chromium Chloride, Biotin, Potassium Iodide, Sodium Selenate, Sodium Molybdate, Phylloquinone, Cyanocobalamin, and Vitamin D3. Contains milk and soy ingredients.


Sugar is the second ingredient... And this is a healthy food?

It is common knowledge that too much sugar isn't good for you, and yet this is the main ingredient we are giving to kids and adults who are needing food supplements. Plus sugar is inviting.

One issue with sugar is that it makes us even more sick and fuels diseases...

It is also well researched that placing a feeding tube in an individual does not guarantee " improving nutrition, maintaining skin integrity by increased protein intake, preventing aspiration pneumonia, minimizing suffering, improving functional status, or extending life." (To PEG or Not to PEG--PEG is using a feeding tube)

Could this research be a result of what we are feeding these people who are unable to eat real food?

little girl drinking from a straw

There is another option - Making Your Own Meal Replacement Shakes

My sister, Aleecia, began to research on her own after finding no support for feeding real food for her boys through their tubes. They needed nutrition, but canned Pediasure was not going to be her answer.

She found information on using a high-quality blender for making blends that were full of vitamins and nutrients that she could make herself using whole foods. She has been blending their own food since the fall of 2006.

My sister's boys are healthy. They are rarely sick, despite their disease process (PMD). Having a healthy immune system is very important when you are dealing with compromised strength and tone.

Benefits of a meal replacement shake / Pediasure® Alternative

1) Customized diet

If your child is showing deficiencies or needs more fat, you can add those into the blend easily. My sister will add extra coconut oil, avocado or even liver to her boy's blends. The customized nutrition makes sure they are getting the vitamins and minerals they need.

2) Knowing what you are feeding children

You can make a blend of whole foods using the food you are feeding your whole family. Did you cook sweet potatoes for dinner? Add those into the blend. Did you make fried eggs cooked in coconut oil? You can add that to the blend too! There is no need to worry about what preservatives or additives are in the food.

3) No added sugar

Remember the second ingredient was sugar in the ensure? When using whole foods, the energy comes from natural sources like vegetables, protein and fat.

4) Improved health

Since you are able to customize their diet and limit sugar, you should be able to see the improvement in your kid's health as well. Here is a real life example of how feeding a child a whole foods blend improved her health:

5) Saves Money

As with most things you can make yourself, making your own food supplements at home is also cheaper. You don't have to pay the manufacturing cost and you are already buying food for your family.

What about convenience?

Yes, blending your own food does take more time than opening a can.

My sister has been blending her own Real Food meal replacements since the fall of 2006. She uses a Blendtec blender. On the road, she brings an ice chest and her blender everywhere she goes.

If you are unable to blend your own whole food for your kids or need a portable option there are companies who make whole food meal replacements. You can buy Whole Food Meal Replacements from Functional Formularies (not an affiliate) and even Whole Foods carries a Real Food line of supplements now.

When you have to make the choice to supplement, know that there is another option other than Pediasure or Ensure. It could help improve your child's health and give you the peace of mind of knowing you are still giving them the best nutrition.

Learn more about feeding whole foods to kids with feeding tubes here: Laura of Ancestralize Me wrote her Master's Paper on "The Use of Blenderized Tube Feeding in Pediatric Patients: Evidence and Guidelines for Dietetic Practice." She explains in her research how families are able to blend their own food and use whole foods successfully.

If you or someone you love is unable to eat solid foods for awhile due to swallowing issues, illness, or they just don't want to eat, try this DIY Meal Replacement Shake | natural Pediasure® alternative. No icky additives and no preservatives.
If you or someone you love is unable to eat solid foods for awhile due to swallowing issues, illness, or they just don't want to eat, try this DIY Meal Replacement Shake | natural Pediasure® alternative. No icky additives and no preservatives.

Following is Aleecia's Whole Food Blend Recipe:

This is my sister's blend for her boys. She makes this 4x a day to feed both of them.

Recipe Notes

  • Starch options include beans (see How to De-Gas Beans), potato, rice, and oatmeal (or other gluten-free grains). Skip this for a low-carb option. Use sweet potato or other on-plan starch for AIP.
  • For protein, bacon, beef, chicken, eggs, and cheese (use vegan proteins if necessary) are good choices. Use a quality protein powder for a sweet version.
  • Fruits that would work well are apple, orange, banana, etc. Use berries for a lower-carb option.
  • Green peas, green beans, broccoli, and salad mix would work great for veggies or greens.
  • Here is a great brand of stevia.
  • This recipe is a crossover if you are on the Trim Healthy Mama plan.
collage of child drinking a DIY Pediasure alternative and a meal replacement shake in a glass
homemade pediasure in a glass garnished with banana and a straw

DIY Meal Replacement Shake | Natural Pediasure ® Alternative

Looking for liquid meal replacement shakes like " Pediasure ®"? This DIY version is loaded with nutrition and no additives!
4.50 from 2 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Beverage, Entree, Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine: AIP, Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Grain-Free, Paleo, THM:S, Vegan
Keyword: DIY pediasure, pediasure alternative
Cook Time: 3 minutes
Total Time: 3 minutes
Servings: 2 servings
Calories: 414kcal


  • 1 cup starch (rice, oatmeal, etc. See Recipe Notes for options)
  • 4 ounces protein (meat, chicken, protein powder. See Recipe Notes for options)
  • 1 piece fruit
  • 1/2 - 1 cup veggies or greens
  • 1-2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
  • Enough liquid to fill to the 4 cup mark on blender. Use either water or stock. (about 1-2 cups)
  • Optional: Raisins or Seeds, Cocoa, Stevia Extract, etc. for a sweet version.


  • Blend everything together well for 1.5-3 minutes.
  • On a Blendtec use "Soup" setting and run for 90 seconds, if it needs to blend again, run another 90 seconds.
  • Using a Vitamix, blend on high for 60 seconds or more, until smooth.


See information below recipe for protein powder suggestions. Keep in mind that looking for quality protein is important, especially if you will be using this recipe on a regular basis.


Calories: 414kcal | Carbohydrates: 52g | Protein: 50g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.03g | Cholesterol: 95mg | Sodium: 100mg | Potassium: 683mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 30g | Vitamin A: 831IU | Vitamin C: 9mg | Calcium: 206mg | Iron: 5mg | Net Carbs: 47g

Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy and is merely an approximation. Optional ingredients are not included and when there is an alternative, the primary ingredient is typically used. We cannot guarantee the accuracy of the nutritional information given for any recipe on this site. Erythritol carbs are not included in carb counts since they have been shown not to impact blood sugar. Net carbs are the total carbs minus fiber.

Sweet Shake Version and Where to Buy Protein Powder

The above recipe is a savory one. If you decide to make a sweet version of this shake, you can of course do so.  Use a high quality organic protein powder instead of animal protein.  Collagen hydrolysate is a good option but it isn't a complete protein.

Here are some protein powders that are good choices:

Orgain is great tasting but some people have digestive upset from it so just note that if you decide to try it. I used to, but I don't any longer.

This protein powder is delicious and helps support the gut-brain axis / microbiome. This link gets $10 off your order.

Have you ever needed to supplement your child's diet? What method did you choose?

Angela Bio

Angela Parker, SLP, CCC is head writer of She was born and raised in Louisiana, but moved to Richmond, Va recently for a new adventure. She has been married for almost 10 years to her high school sweetheart and has two little girls: Aidalyn and Annaleigh. She’s a speech therapist by trade, but decided to be a stay at home mom while her girls are little. Her passions include health, wellness, healing through nutrition, medicines, cooking with whole foods, and natural parenting.  Check her out at Grassfed Mama. Follow her on PinterestInstagramTwitter and Facebook.

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  1. Thank you for the information. My son drinks out of a 8 oz Dr. Brown baby bottle. He’s unable to suck from a straw. I’m concerned that the meal replacement drink may be too thick for a Dr. Brown bottle. What do you recommend to make it thinner so my son could drink it out of a Dr. Brown bottle?
    Thank you again for your great post.

    1. You are welcome. I would thin it out w/ whatever liquid he can have. Please clean the bottle out well b/t uses :). Hope it works!

  2. I can across your post and love it already! My son has Cerebral Palsy and was actually transfered at birth to VCU medical in Richmond VA. He was down at birth for 20 mins and required ECMO which is why he was transfered. He had a gtube for 4 months. And then was cleared to start puréed and bottle by mouth. He still strugglings with feeding so needs to be on a supplement. He was first out on pediasure and I forgot for a better healthier replacement drink. The gi docs thought pediasure was the best thing! They just recently told us about Kate’s Farm and he currently taking that but u am always looking for a more wholesome meal replacement. I wonder if these your Shakes would be the best alternate route for him. I am so curious to try.
    We currently live in VA Beach and he sees many specialist at CHkD.

  3. Thank you for this post and the protein powder suggestion. It's quite expensive so I'm wondering if you have a list of other healthy protein powders that you suggest that are more budget friendly?

    1. Hello Kelly,

      Good question. I just added more options to the post and will try to add more. I actually just bought a ton of protein powders to try them out and see which we liked....we're working our way through them but I just put some of our current favorites in the post. Will try to get another added soon!

        1. You are so welcome! I am not really though--right now I'm many behind, but trying desperately to prioritize and catch up.

  4. Thanks for sharing this! My son eats with distraction (tv). Each meals takes an hour. He is 3.5 years old and failure to thrive.

    Few questions:

    1) I'm assuming the veggies have to be cooked?

    2) can I add fats such as coconut oil?

    3) do I add raw egg?

    1. You could leave the veggies raw if you like - depends on what your body does best with. You can add fats. I think raw egg is a safety issue so please do your own research about that before doing it. Hope it works!

  5. Can I make this the night before and put it in the fridge? Or does it need to be made each time?

    1. I think that would be OK - since all of those items could be stored overnight in the fridge on their own.

  6. Can a slp help a 16 month old want to eat food after a frenelectomy? She wouldn't before and still will only eat yogurt. Also what line for food supplement at whole foods for kids? Thank you!

    1. Hello - sorry but I don't know about either issue. Not sure what you mean by "food supplement." Thanks for reading.

  7. How about stick to root vegs (& the fruit) for the starch part and leave out the grains? B vitamins can come from meat, fiber from veggies. No need for grains. And veggies have so many other nutrients too!
    This is a great way to make older baby/toddler food too, just less liquid so it can be spooned.
    You can hide supplements in this too like probiotics, herbs, seaweeds...

  8. This is a great article! I was actually doing research on making your own meal replacement options and this is a great resource, I'm going to use this recipe on my website with full credit to you of course! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  9. Beets are naturally sweet and great blood builders....iron. Throw those in and I'm sure it will enhance any nasty flavor from blending meats into your meal replacement shakes!!!!!

    1. Hi Laura!
      My sister says it is about 2-4 servings depending on the age of your child. Her boys have increased their shake size as they have gotten older.

      Thank you so so much!

      We are really loving white beans, pumpkin, and orange in smoothies right now!

  10. Ironic that there's a medifast ad in the middle of the article and 2 meal replacement ads on the side of something promoting HOMEMADE meal replacements...? weird.

    1. So sorry Kayla. I am trying to make money to pay for all of my expenses (and make something on the blog) and am trying out a few different ad options. I am going to be making some decisions in the next month or so. If it troubles you enough I am open to trying to remove those. Thanks for telling me. The system for sure picked up that someone was reading a post on replacement shakes .

  11. My oldest son is almost 4 years old. He hasn't been labeled failure to thrive but he is so picky when it comes to eating. He loves fruit and most vegetables, but we have hard time getting him to eat the protein and good fats he needs. My question is: When your sister makes these shakes what kind of taste do they have? I'm afraid my son won't even drink one of these if it has a strange taste. He is only 26 lbs and the doctors would like to see him at 30+ lbs. Thanks

    1. I know that it depends on the shake she makes for sure. White beans and Black beans can easily be added with much change in flavor with berries and such. I know right now, she is adding yogurt too for some extra protein. I think it is just to keep your proportions right.

      I personally love making smoothies for my daughter. I will do yogurt, some almond milk, crushed ice, protein powder, berries and throw some Greens and vegetables in for extra vitamins - just blend away.

      Thank you so much for your comment!

  12. There is a yahoo group specifically for those who are feeding someone with a feeding tube and prefer not to use canned formulas. You can find it under Blenderized Diet. Great group of people to learn and get encouragement from.

    1. Thank you Kathy! I know my sister is in a Facebook group that is fairly active for a Blenderized Diet. I'm so glad there is support out there for families. Thank you so much for sharing about the Yahoo group.

  13. Hi

    This comment is for Grassfed Mama

    I have been eating a whole-foods diet for many years, however, I had and continue to have significant health challenges. One of these are very weak adrenal glands - I don't know anyone in today's world and society that does not have that problem. My boys have for the most part inherited these challenges - my oldest boy is pre-diabetic and the youngest one is deaf - not speaking. The reason for sharing this is that I read about your sister's story with her boys. I am trying Nutritional Balancing for the youngest one. Once I start working, I will initiate this program for my oldest boy. Nutritional balancing means working with someone via hair analysis and taking a targeted group of supplements in order to heal the adrenal glands. It will take at least 2 years, but this can possible help your nephews. Adrienne from Whole New Mom has also talked about her experience with Nutritional Balancing for her oldest boy who has Asperger's.

    Just a suggestion,

    Take care,


    1. Hi Dionne, Just a note - I have stopped doing NB. I plan to write about it soon, but I hit a wall. I do have some supplements for sale if you are interested. I don't want to throw them away :).

      1. Thank you so much Dionne! I know my sister takes her boys to a naturopath or chiropractor who specializes in nutritional supplements. They used a hand scan to see where the body was taxed and needing support. She has seen a real different in her one son who does not have the genetic disease. He was having speech and language delays as well as social issues. We go to a naturopath here in Virginia who we have been really pleased with. She uses this same sort of hand scan with us. I'm not too familiar with Nutritional Balancing exactly, thanks for the tip!

  14. Message Hi,
    I looked at the ylang ylang bottle sold by doTERRA and I did not see "complete distillation" that you indicated was on it.
    I emailed their product support team and got this response:

    doTERRA Product Support

    2:14 PM (1 hour ago)

    Dear Glinda,

    Thank you for your email. We partner with the world's expert distillation chemists. 1st distillation, 2nd distillation, etc. terms are sometimes used by those not familiar with the distillation process. However, they are not technical classifications that are used by distillation experts. These experts work closely with the specific plant to determine the appropriate time, temperature, and pressure of the distillation to ensure the highest purity and potency of each essential oil. A quality oil is not defined solely by when or how long you continue or when you stop a distillation. We find and partner with experts that have developed a methodology that produces an oil that meets high and consistent standards. These standards include certain consistent levels of constituents and excellent organoleptic qualities (aroma and therapeutic potential).

    The reason we partner with experts is because quality of our oils is so important, and learning the unique distillation parameters requires time and practice. For example, if you cut a distillation short you may lose key chemical components of that oil. Thus it is not appropriate to define distillation generally; it is a specific process that is developed by each producer.

    Best Regards,


    doTERRA Product Support Services

    I believe if you just called customer service at doTERRA you only received the customer service rep's opinion and not the expert teams answer.
    Have a blessed day,
    P.S. I hope this is where you wanted me to post (I am not to familiar with blogs and computers) thank you!!!!

    1. You got the right place :).

      I am really confused by their response b/c it is very common knowledge that ylang ylang is distilled in different stages.

      Here is some info:,determination%2C%20creating%20slightly%20different%20variations

      And you can find similar info on it on many many sites. I am honestly in disbelief. It is peppermint where most oil companies won't talk about it but ylang ylang is very commonly referred to in this way. I wonder if they gave you a canned response.

      Did I state that 'complete' was on their bottle? If so, please tell me where. If I wrote it, it was the case. It might have changed. Thanks!

  15. This is really interesting. My sister's three boys have metachromatic leukodystrophy (MLD) and are tube fed. I'll have to share this with her!

    1. I'm so glad I could share this information! I know it is a small community of parents who blend their own food, but it is there. There really does need to be more education in this area for practitioners to let their patients know that there is another way. Thank you so much for reading : )