One of the best things about summer is the delicious seasonal fare. Although some of the most popular summer foods aren’t smile-friendly, there are plenty of ways you can still indulge while protecting your oral health. Keep your taste buds and your teeth happy with these homemade healthy treats designed for the whole family.
Hummus and cut veggies
Dips are must-haves for any summer barbecue or lazy day spent by the pool. Instead of the standard bowl of chips and salsa, try homemade hummus and cut veggies instead. Tomatoes are acidic and can wear away tooth enamel. Chickpeas, which are the main ingredient in hummus, are rich in folate. Folate helps keep your mouth healthy by promoting cell growth throughout your body. Pair hummus with cut vegetables to kick your oral health up another notch.
Recipe for healthy hummus:
- 2 cups chickpeas
- ½ cup tahini
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin or paprika
- Juice of 1 lemon
- Chopped fresh parsley leaves
Blend everything except the parsley leaves in a food processor. Serve drizzled with the olive oil and garnish with parsley.
What’s summer without a little dessert? Unfortunately, when it comes to your oral health, sugar is enemy number one. Excess sugar promotes the growth of bacteria in your mouth, increasing your risk for cavities. But that doesn’t mean you and your family have to miss out on all the fun. A few simple swaps can turn any dessert into a more dental-friendly option. For example, studies show that baking with sugar substitutes like erythritol may actually help fend off cavities. Swapping out white flour for whole-wheat flour may also help. Refined carbohydrates like white flour more easily convert to sugar in the mouth and can promote tooth damage. Lastly, chocoholics can rejoice. Dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants, which help prevent bacteria from turning into damaging, enamel-eroding acid.
- ¼ cup cocoa powder
- 2 eggs
- ½ cup applesauce
- ½ cup whole wheat flour
- 1 cup erythritol
- ¼ tsp salt
- ½ tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease an 8×8 inch pan with cooking oil spray. In a mixing bowl combine eggs, applesauce and vanilla extract. Combine all dry ingredients in a separate mixing bowl. Slowly add wet ingredients into the dry mix, stirring as you go. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Frozen treats for a healthy mouth
Sweet, cool and refreshing, popsicles are the perfect summer treat. However, they can be loaded with sugar and other teeth-eroding ingredients. Citrus-flavored popsicles are especially hard on tooth enamel. Citric acids eat away at tooth enamel, and prolonged exposure can damage teeth. But there’s no need to mourn your beloved orange creamsicle just yet. Homemade popsicles made with low-sugar and low-acid fruits, like berries and Greek yogurt, make equally delicious alternatives.
Homemade popsicle recipe:
- 16 oz nonfat plain Greek Yogurt
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- 4 oz blueberries
- 4 oz raspberries
Mix Greek yogurt, half of the berries and vanilla extract until well blended. Add half of the mixture to the ice pop molds and put in the freezer for about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, puree the rest of the berries. Add the puree to the ice pop molds and freeze at least 3-4 hours.
Summer gets hot, but quenching your thirst with sugary sodas and acidic beverages like iced coffee can affect your oral health. Keep in mind that even seemingly "healthy" drinks like vitamin water and energy drinks can be loaded with bacteria-promoting sugar. Water is the best choice, but sometimes you’re in the mood for a little something extra. Keep a pitcher of fruit-infused water, avoiding enamel-eroding citrus fruits, on hand. Homemade sugar-free sodas, like the one below, are also more exciting options to please kids and adults alike.
- 1 lb strawberries
- Carbonated water
Puree washed and trimmed strawberries in a food processor. Push mixture through a mesh strainer to remove small seeds. Mix 2 tablespoons of puree with 8 ounces of carbonated water and serve immediately. The puree will last in the refrigerator for a week.
With a little creativity, it’s possible to enjoy your favorite summer foods without damaging your teeth. Not only will these healthy treats satisfy you and your whole family, but your mouth will thank you, too.