While I do love my potato chips, it’s one of the many things you can’t eat after getting your braces tightened. They’re just too hard to eat! If you were like me prior to getting braces, you did a ton of research on things you can and cannot eat during the process of braces and the awful pain that accompanies getting your braces tightened that hinders your ability to eat most things “solid.”
The first two weeks after my first tightening I was bound to a liquid diet. It was horrible. I couldn’t even touch my teeth together. I did the shake thing, the soup thing, the ramen noodle thing, the ice cream/pudding/oatmeal thing. After awhile, you just get tired of that stuff and not all of it is necessarily “healthy” for you and your soon-to-be straight teeth.
I took to the internet to find other recipes I could eat that would fill my stomach and keep my raging gums happy while still being on the healthier side of the food spectrum. Not all of these recipes are exactly healthy but they can be modified for any diet (paleo, no white, etc.). Use your judgement and take your health needs into account when making these for yourself or your kids with braces. All of these recipes can modified as well to be more or less servings! But most of these were make ahead lunches for myself or used for Saturday night dinners for my family.
1. Easy-Peasy Marinara Meatballs (serves 8)
- 28-32 Fully Cooked Frozen Meatballs (I prefer the home-style that can be found in the freezer section but you can try your hand at making your own for this meal!)
- 1 (32 oz.) Jar of Marinara Sauce (Grab your favorite brand or make your own! We actually already had some homemade marinara sauce on hand for this meal.)
- 2 cups Shredded Mozzarella Cheese (I usually go for a fat free/weight watchers/organic shredded cheese but feel free to switch it up with whatever you like!)
- (Skip this step and step 2 if you have cooked your own meatballs!) Brown your meatballs in a pan (preferably a large, deep frying pan) on about medium with a teeny-tiny bit of olive oil.
- After browning your cooked meatballs, drain the excess oil from the pan.
- With your meatballs in the pan, add your sauce to the pan, coating your meatballs. Set the burner to low and put a lid on it to sit for an hour. (Alternatively you can also cook these meatballs in your slow cooker. Just place the meatballs in a slow cooker and pour marinara sauce over the meatballs and cook on low for 3-4 hours.)
- Taste test the meatballs! If they are full of flavor, turn off the burner and serve up your meatballs on plates and top with cheese! Add any sides you’d like or eat them by themselves!
Why this meal? I really enjoy meatballs. My third week after my first tightening, my mom made her sweet and sour meatballs and I just had to have one. The texture is soft enough that there is little chewing involved as long as you cut them up in small pieces. And the melted cheese on top soothes my gums. It’s amazing.
2. Super Simple Mashed Taters (about 4 servings)
- 4 Medium Sized Microwave-Ready Potatoes (Or you can simply take 4 medium sized potatoes you have on hand, clean them up, put them on a plate, poke with holes throughout, and cover them with a damp rag, turning over at half the microwave time for potatoes.)
- 3 tbs. of Milk (You may need more depending on how you like the consistency of your potatoes.)
- 2 tbs. of Non-Fat Greek Cream Cheese
- 1/4 cup of Shredded Cheese of your choice (I used Weight Watchers’ Mexican blend! Yummy!)
- Salt & Pepper to taste
- Microwave the potatoes as directed on the package or follow the steps as I have noted above. (There’s a handy potato button on the microwave, just push it 4 times!)
- Remove the skin from the potatoes. The skin is usually soft enough that you can tear it right off with your fingers. (These can be really hot! Let them rest for a few minutes before attempting to peel off the skins!)
- In a large bowl, mash together the cooked potatoes, cream cheese, shredded cheese, milk, and salt and pepper.
- Taste test your mashed potatoes!
Why this meal? If you know me personally, you know I love potatoes! And while my mom’s recipe is delicious but much more time consuming, this was great for me to make ahead of time for lunches or modify for just one potato for a single meal if my mouth is especially sore that day. These are soft enough that no chewing is required and yummy enough to fill your tummy!
3. Lightened-Up Chicken Salad (about 8 servings)
- 1 lb. Cooked Chicken Breast, shredded or cubed (Very small cubes or shredded is best when it’s hard to chew!)
- 1/2 cup Mayo (To make this even lighter, go with a full cup of non-fat Greek yogurt rather than the half mayo, half yogurt.)
- 1/2 cup Non-Fat Greek Yogurt
- 2-3 Boiled Eggs, chopped
- 2 tbs. Minced Onion
- 2 tbs. Minced Dill Pickle
- 1 tbs Minced Sweet Pickle
- 1 tbs. Mustard
- Pinch of Garlic Powder
- Salt & Pepper to taste
Note: This is not an exact recipe. I taste throughout this process and add/lessen spices as I go so that the taste is to my liking. I highly suggest you use your own eyes and mouth to make this chicken salad!
- In mixing bowl, simple combine cooked shredded chicken, mayo, non-fat Greek yogurt, chopped boiled eggs, and mustard.
- Once mixed together, slowly add in onions, minced pickles, and spices, tasting along the way until it is to your liking.
- Eat this by itself or on soft bread. Crackers are not recommended right after tightening as they may be too hard on your sensitive mouth.
Why this meal? This lightened up chicken salad is not only better for you the regular chicken salad your grandmother makes, but it’s easier on your teeth. You can make any chicken salad/tuna salad braces friendly just by eliminating hard foods in the recipe like nuts, celery, etc. Plus this meal is super filling on a wheat bun!
4. Clean Chocolate Chip Muffins (about 12 muffins)
- 2 Ripe Bananas, roughly chopped
- 2 Organic/Free-Ranged/”Brown” Eggs
- 1 cup Plain Non-Fat Greek Yogurt
- 2 cups Quick, Rolled Oats
- 3/4 cup Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
- 1 1/2 tsp. Baking Powder
- 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
- 1/4 cup Brown Sugar
- Preheat your oven to 400 and prepare a muffin pan by spraying the cavities with cooking spray or lining them with paper liners. (I used silicone liners for my muffins, so I generously sprayed the insides of those.)
- Add all ingredients except for the chocolate chips to a blender or food processor and process on high until oats are broken down and batter is smooth and creamy. (I used my ninja for this and everything came out perfectly smooth.)
- Pour mixture in a separate bowl and stir in chocolate chips slowly.
- Pour your batter into the muffin pan/liners, filling each cavity until it is about ¾ full. (If you are using silicone liners, you want to fill these up almost the the top; leave about a half-inch to an inch of room between the batter and top. For some reason they don’t rise as much in the silicone liners.)
- Bake for about 15-20 minutes or until the tops of your muffins are set. (You can check your muffins by using a toothpick. Just stick it right in the middle of the muffin and see if it comes out clean.) Allow muffins to cool in pan for about 10 minutes before serving/storing. You can store these in an air-tight container for up to a 4 days.
Why this meal? These muffins are ultra soft and will kick your sweet cravings without all the bad stuff! You can easily reheat these in the microwave for twenty seconds and eat with a fork on your days when your mouth just isn’t up the biting into anything.
5. Nutty Fruit Dip (can be any serving amount)
- 1 part Natural Creamy Peanut Butter
- 1 part Non-Fat Vanilla Greek Yogurt
- 1/2 part Honey
- Optional: Dash of Cinnamon
- Any soft fruit you like! (I like this with baked apples, strawberries, grapes, etc. You can also try bananas and other fruits too.)
Note: An example of a single serving is 1 tbs. peanut butter, 1 tbs. vanilla Greek yogurt, and a 1/2 tbs. honey!
- Mix all ingredients together except for fruit.
- Store dip in air-tight container if not devouring immediately.
Why this meal? This dip is great for snacks or putting on toast in the morning if you’re in a rush. It accompanies soft fruit nicely while still being soft for your mouth. I love the sweet/nutty taste of this dip and it goes so well with strawberries while still being healthy.