As orthodontists managing two practices, life can get hectic and it’s not always possible to cook a hot meal three times a day. We understand our patients are just as busy with work, school, kids, and other activities, so it’s difficult to make time for meal prep, especially with the dietary restrictions that come with braces. As tempting as it is to order takeout after a long day (which we also have a section about), it’s a lot more cost effective and healthy to cook at home.
If you regularly follow our blog (yes, we have many adoring fans… 5 is a lot!), then you’ve probably already seen the Orthodontist’s Guide to Grocery Shopping in Encino. While that’s a great resource for our health conscious, domestically-inclined people, it’s unrealistic to go to the farmers market every week for fresh produce and prepare 5-course meals all the time! So without further ado, here’s our Braces-Friendly Grocery Hacks in Glendale for our *ahem* culinarily-challenged patients.
So many of us just grab a granola bar and dash out the door without a second thought about breakfast, but crunchy foods like granola, cereal, and protein bars can easily damage your teeth. You might not have time to pour a bowl of cereal, much less cook pancakes or sausages. To avoid your stomach rumbling throughout the day, try these easy on-the-go breakfast ideas that can easily be purchased at a nearby grocery store.
Cottage cheese cups: Dairy products like cheese provide us with the calcium and phosphate we need for the development of strong teeth and bones. Most stores in Glendale offer single serving cottage cheese cups paired with fruit that take zero prep time. Cottage cheese also tastes great savory, so you can pair it with a slice of bread or egg!
Chia seed pudding: Aren’t seeds crunchy though? Well, yes and no. Chia seeds are crunchy, but when they’re placed in liquid, they absorb it and expand into a jelly-like substance, making them perfect for sensitive braces. Not only that, these little seeds are packed with omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, calcium, and protein. You can prepare your own chia seed pudding the night before or you can grab a pre-soaked chia seed squeeze pack from the Ralph’s on Glendale Avenue.
Ready-to-eat boiled & peeled eggs: We hate the arduous, mundane task of boiling and peeling our eggs. Luckily, there are many brands who do it for you! Grab a bag of ready-to-eat boiled eggs from the store and pack one for breakfast. No matter how you cook your eggs, they always retain a somewhat soft, silky texture. Plus, the yolk is loaded with omega fatty acids, protein, vitamins, and minerals. The Vons in Glendale Plaza has tons of these pre-packaged eggs.
Breakfast burritos: For a heartier breakfast, grab a pack of frozen breakfast burritos. Most of them are made of soft, chewable ingredients, like chorizo, potato, beans, and eggs. For the vegans, Amy’s Gluten-Free Tofu Scramble burrito includes delicious scrambled tofu, spinach, hash brown, mushroom, zucchini, and tomatoes.
Overnight oats: Instead of taking 10 minutes to cook piping hot oatmeal and sitting down for another 10 – 15 minutes trying to cool it down, whip up some easy overnight oats the night before. Like chia seeds, simply soak your oats in almond milk and your choice of sweetener (vanilla, honey, and cinnamon are our favorites) the night before and enjoy the next morning. No stove, no problem!
When you aren’t home, the easiest way to fix yourself a meal in the middle of the day is probably to eat out, but it may not be the most economical or healthy solution in the long-run. While it may be difficult to have a satisfying lunch without access to a stove or oven, it’s not impossible! Here are a few dishes you can put on rotation for a filling, no-nonsense lunch:
Pasta salad: There are tons of ready-made pasta salads you can purchase in bulk from Costco that are light, refreshing, and don’t require ANY prep work, not even microwaving. Try to grab a pasta salad that’s a little more heavy on the salad than the pasta. Greens like kale, spinach, bok choy, and spinach can rebuild the enamel and gum health from their high levels of calcium and folic acid. Believe it or not, the fibrous texture of these vegetables is also known to break apart plaque and naturally clean teeth.
Cooked salmon or chicken: Health food stores, like Whole Foods on Glenoak, will often cook meat for you at the deli. If you dread cleaning and cooking meat, pick up a larger portion and save it for more dinners and lunches the rest of the week. The workers are experts at cooking meat, so it’s perfectly tender for your braces and teeth, without being undercooked. You can store it in the freezer up to a week and microwave when you get hungry!
Soup mug: Your gums and teeth can become sensitive from braces due to all the pressure being placed against them. If that’s the case, pick up a bowl of soup. Healthy Choice and Campbell’s now offer rich, smooth soups in on-the-go cups. If you don’t have time to stock up, you can now order groceries online! Rather than driving around Glendale to get what you want, there are tons of services that deliver exactly what you need when you need it.
Tuna or chicken salad sandwiches: Take advantage of canned goods like tuna salad and chicken salad. They’re soft on the braces but super yummy. Spread your canned tuna or chicken salad on a sandwich with lettuce and avocado for an amazing no-microwave lunch.
Mashed potato mug: Mashed potatoes aren’t exactly a whole meal, but they do make a braces-friendly side for our other lunch They’re also incredibly easy to cook, whether you make them from scratch or instant powder. Add a little salt, pepper, garlic powder, and butter to a mug of potatoes and water and voila! Mashed potatoes in a mug. You can get mashed potatoes almost anywhere in Glendale, but Golden Market on Central Ave has lots of daily deals that you can stock for later.
After a long day at work or difficult exam, making dinner is the last thing on anyone has on their mind. If you’re not much of a chef, here are a few simple grocery hacks you can use to fix dinner and head to sleep right away!
Curry: We truly appreciate that we have access to so many different cultures and cuisines nowadays. There are many varieties of curry across continents and we’re lucky enough to be able to enjoy them all in the comfort of our homes! You can pick up curry blocks, curry paste, or even curry microwave meals to make a quick meal without having to season or chop anything yourself. Curry can be as chunky or creamy as you choose, so you can customize it to your preference – a blessing for anyone with braces! The Glendale Trader Joe’s has many private label curry products that are both quick to make and scrumptious to eat.
Rotisserie chicken: Thanks to corporate farming, getting an entire cooked chicken can be as cheap as $5. Cut up tender chicken slices for dinner and ration the rest for later. Coupled with a side of veggies and grains, a whole chicken provide you with a whole week worth of meals! If it’s too hard on your braces, we recommend cooking it with a simple rice porridge to soften the meat.
Beans & lentils: You can store canned beans and lentils for years and they’re easy to prepare. Since they aren’t meats, these sources of protein are safe no matter how little you cook them (just make sure to clean them). Tip: The longer they’re microwaved/boiled/fried, the softer they get. If you need them to be a little mushy for your braces, there’s no shame in that! In Glendale, Armen Market on Glenoaks and Selin Food Bazaar are both ethnic mini-marts that offer tons of beans, lentils, and soy products.
Microwave lasagna: For an appetizing Italian dish, grab a tray of microwavable lasagna or two. They’re super quick to eat and they’re full of nutritious cheese, meat, and vegetables, too! Just make sure to brush your teeth after eating lasagna because it’s full of brightly pigmented tomato sauce that could stain the teeth and braces. Smart & Final on Verdugo Road in Glendale actually has tons of wide selection of frozen foods that patients can peruse.
Here are a few other essentials for busy teens and adults with braces. Incorporating these items into our lives have made it a lot easier!
Cold brew coffee and tea: We need our daily dose of caffeine, but nobody likes burning their tongue on a hot cup of tea or coffee. Instead, try a cold brewed coffee or tea over ice. The best part is you can drink cool beverages with straws, so there’s no risk of staining your teeth or braces!
Yogurt: Like cheese, yogurt helps the teeth because it’s rich in calcium and protein. Probiotic yogurts also have cultures of lactic acid-producing bacteria that can make the mouth a less hospitable environment for bad bacteria by balancing out the pH. Not only that, most yogurts have a soft, creamy consistency that don’t get stuck in teeth. If you’re in a rush, a fun way to get your yogurt is freezing it on a popsicle with some fruit. If you’re worried about added hormones and preservatives, try Nova Market in Glendale. They’re an organic specialty store located on Glenoaks Boulevard.
Soft fruit: Oranges, mandarins, and grapefruit are small, compact fruits that are high in Vitamin C and come with their own biodegradable packaging! Bananas and papaya are good ways to get fiber in the mouth and stimulate saliva to flush away cavity-causing plaque. There’s plenty of fresh, locally-sourced fruit available at the Glendale Farmers Market on Brand Boulevard.
Glendale has plenty of convenient, healthy food options to choose from that are also braces-friendly. At Orthodontics LA, we believe orthodontic health stems from preventative dentistry, which includes diet and nutrition! Eating foods that are sticky, chewy, sugary, and crunchy can damage your teeth and braces, delaying the orthodontic process. By making conscientious effort to eat healthier for your body and your teeth, your orthodontic experience can be much more positive! Let us know if you have any questions about what to eat during your braces treatment – we’re happy to help!