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Eating for Healthy Teeth and Gums

by Denise Albert

When it comes to oral health, typically we think of what NOT to eat. But did you know there’s an array of good and nutritious foods that actually promotes the health of your teeth and gums? Starting out on the right foot with food is especially important with kids as their permanent teeth settle into place. So here are some tips for incorporating foods that are good for your mouth as well as your tummy that the whole family can munch on. 

Reach for the crudités! Crudités is a French term that literally translates as "raw things." We see it mostly as a raw vegetable platter that hostesses put out as an appetizer, but I would encourage you that this is a wonderful pre-dinner snack any night. These raw veggies, such as broccoli, carrots, and celery can strengthen and actually clean your teeth with chewing action, helping to dislodge unwanted tarter and plaque.

Additional benefits may be more hidden. For example, vegetables have a high water content which aids in diluting any sugar that may be hanging around. And, broccoli is a good source of calcium (and calcium is good at strengthening our teeth by helping to remineralize enamel).

Calcium and phosphorus are very important to the health of our teeth. Dairy products such as milk, cheese, and cottage cheese aren't the only foods high in these teeth strengthening minerals. Dairy alternatives such as almond milk, cashew milk, and oat milk are delicious and contain more calcium and phosphorous per 8 oz pour than their dairy counterpart. Did you know that a favorite green is a calcium-rich vegetable? Spinach can be added to salads, soups, or raw to top sandwiches.

And finally, chew on this-- nuts make a fantastic and healthy snack. Like almond milk, a handful of almonds is an excellent source of calcium and phosphorus.


The American Dental Association recommends a balanced diet that includes fruits and vegetables and lean proteins, and high fiber grains. The Association recommends a decrease in sugar-containing foods and foods that are acidic such as tomatoes and citrus fruits and juices. Eating a balanced diet that includes more vegetables and whole fruits can actually help you to control your sugar intake or should I say the crazy sweet tooth.


Broccoli, Cranberry and Almonds Salad

1 bag of shredded broccoli.

1/2 cup

Slivered almonds


1/4 cup olive oil mayonnaise or vegan mayonnaise

In a mixing bowl mix all ingredients and add salt and pepper to taste.

Perfect as a side dish or add to any sandwich!  Enjoy!


Bahamian Spinach Onion Jam

Several medium or large onions, yellow, white, or red

Extra virgin olive oil

Butter

Salt

Sugar

Balsamic vinegar


Two bunches fresh spinach washed and patted dry

Cut onions in slices and add to sauté pan with olive oil and 1TBS of turbinado sugar. The sugar helps to give the onions that caramelized brown color. Sauté the onions for about 6 minutes or until it becomes a nice brown color. Add the spinach to the pan and 1/2 of water, place the lid, and turn heat to low. Let the onion and spinach stew for about 30 minutes. Add the balsamic vinegar and remove from heat. Jam should look, well, a spreadable jam! Spread warm on crusty bread or spread on French bread and add turkey and cheese!  Scoop into a mason jar and keep in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.

Denise Albert is the owner and operator of Cooking in Bloom, sustainable and healthy cooking classes for kids. She is a wife and mother of two, a native of Iowa, and a dietitian. Her Cooking in Bloom goal is to teach kids how to make healthy choices for themselves and the world around them.

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