Orthodontics LA

An Orthodontist’s Guide to High School Lunches in Encino

Posted on November 14, 2018

Braces can be stressful, especially for teens who already have many responsibilities on their plate. As college admissions become more and more competitive, students are pushed to excel in rigorous academics, extracurriculars, volunteer work, standardized testing, and more. It can be difficult trying to keep track of what you can and can’t eat when you’re busy studying for tests and presentations!

We understand the struggle at Orthodontics LA and we try to support our patients and their families by making the orthodontic process as easy as possible. To help our young patients who have braces, our orthodontists have compiled a guide to high school lunches in Encino, so it’s one less thing students have to worry about.

Ferrahian High School

5300 White Oak Ave, Encino, CA 91316

Ferrahian School is a bilingual Armenian-American day school for the Encino community. The educational institution largely emphasizes the importance of preserving the Armenian culture by offering Armenian Language and Armenian Studies classes, honoring traditional Armenian holidays, and catering an Armenian diet for school lunches. For any of our orthodontic patients who attend this school, here’s how to navigate the menu with braces.

Most of the options that Ferrahian serves are nutritious and braces-friendly, so students don’t have to worry about meal prepping all the time. For example, lentil soup, kebabs, sujukh sandwiches, and kufte are all excellent choices for orthodontic patients. There are exceptions, however, so keep an out for the following menu items:

Beef crunch wrap: As delicious as this sounds, anything with the word “crunch” should be enough to scare off braces patients. Hard, crunchy foods can damage the brackets and wires which could lead to an additional, inconvenient visit to the orthodontist. Here’s what you can bring from home instead:

✔️ Veggie wrap with hummus: You can still have your wrap, but replace the crunchy tostada with pita bread and add veggies! Leafy greens like spinach and cabbage are packed with nutrients that are great for your teeth. Dip it in hummus and you’ve got a whole feast!

Chicken taquitos: These meat-filled tortillas are rolled up and baked or fried until they’re crispy. Like the beef crunch wrap, taquitos are another crunchy braces offender that we just can’t tolerate in the orthodontic world. However, if you’ve still got a craving for Mexican food, there are other ways to satisfy yourself at lunch!

✔️ Soft tacos: Why can’t Taco Tuesday be every day? Well, now it can! Soft tacos can easily be made with chicken, ground beef, or beans and served with salsa for a filling, braces-friendly lunch.

✔️ Burrito: For a quick, convenient breakfast or lunch, customize your own burrito with your favorite fillings, like lettuce, cheese, and sour cream. Burritos are perfect on-the-go and there are no crunchy, chewy, or sticky ingredients. 

✔️  Tamales: Between soccer practice, student council, ACT prep, and other extracurriculars, high school can get really hectic. That’s why we recommend stocking up on tamales for our orthodontic patients. Tamales are soft and savory, made of masa dough and stuffed with cheese, meat, or vegetables. Best of all, their corn husk wrapping is portable, disposable, and biodegradable after eating. Perfect for busy students!  

Pizza: Don’t panic! We’re not saying pizza is banned forever (that would be a crime). For patients who’ve had their braces recently adjusted, pizza, especially the crust, can be tough and painful to eat. It might be a good idea to stay away from chewy pizza dough for a few days. Here’s what we recommend in the meantime:

✔️ Ravioli: This dumpling type of pasta includes the basic flavors of pizza in a soft, bite-sized way. Our favorite fillings are spinach and cheese, cremini mushroom, and pork sausage!

✔️ Lahmajoun: Often referred to as “Armenian pizza,” lahmajoun is a yummy alternative to pizza that has a lot of similar components. Rather than being crunchy or chewy, lahmajoon is made with thin, fluffy dough and topped with spices, tomato paste, and ground meat. There are tons of family-owned bakeries in Encino where you grab a fresh lahmajoun. Just slice, store, and you’re good to go! 

Los Angeles Hebrew High School

15915 Ventura Blvd, Encino, CA 91436

In Encino, the Los Angeles Hebrew High School provides Hebrew language instruction and Jewish education for students from 7th to 12th grade. The school promotes “an appreciation of lifelong Jewish learning and living,” which includes food! Jewish cuisine is amazing, but it’s not always braces-friendly, so our orthodontists thought it would be appropriate to provide students with kosher school lunch ideas when they have braces.

Potato latkes: We hate to break it to you, but the latkes need to go. These golden potato pancakes are deep-fried until they’re gloriously crunchy, which is precisely why they’re no good for anyone with braces. Swap them out of your diet for one of the following:

✔️ Mashed potatoes: The good thing about potatoes is that they’re incredibly versatile and can be prepared any way you need. For kosher mashed potatoes, use almond or coconut milk for a fluffier texture and season with salt, onion, and garlic.

✔️ Falafel: Another mouthwatering fried food option is falafel. It’s a patty of ground garbanzo beans or chickpeas that offers plenty of protein and texture, but it’s still soft enough on the inside for anyone with braces to enjoy.

Tahdig: Tahdig or scorched rice is a popular Persian dish made from the brown, crusted rice at the bottom of the cooking pan. Unfortunately, it’s too hard and chewy for braces, so orthodontic patients should stick to regular rice. For school lunch, here’s what you can bring as a replacement.

✔️ Kugel: This noodle casserole is similar to mac n’ cheese but made with egg noodle, cottage cheese, and milk. As long as you avoid the crispy baked top, it’s easy to slice up and bring to school for lunch.  

✔️ Rice pilaf: If you’re anything like us, you need rice to call it a meal. Trade the tahdig with rice pilaf which is equally delicious and easy on the brackets. It’s made of rice and egg noodles cooked in chicken broth and other spices.

Bagels: It’s no wonder bagels are so popular with students. They’re a portable, low-maintenance, and don’t require any prepping. Even though bagels are easy, on-the-go meals, they’re also incredibly dense and hard on the braces, especially after they get stale.

✔️ Avocado toast: Ditch the bagels and fix yourself avocado toast. As long as you don’t overly toast your bread, it’s a quick, simple meal for breakfast and lunch that’s packed with important healthy fats and vitamins. We like seasoning ours with a dash of salt, pepper, and lime.

Getting nutritious food is important for physical and mental growth and development. We hope our patients at Orthodontics LA in Encino are able to try these tasty, braces-friendly suggestions at school. Not only are they quick and easy to make, all the ingredients are easily accessible at local grocery stores in Encino. If you ever need an adjustment or have a question about orthodontics, please call our office of orthodontists in Encino. We’re always happy to help!