First one, now your second child is in the throes of orthodontia. “I think I broke a bracket” has surpassed “I forgot to tell you” and even “Um … you need to sign this” as the phrase most likely to make you cringe.
With the holidays approaching, you take a mindful moment to give thanks. The kids really are stepping up their dental hygiene game, and they rarely have to be reminded to don night gear. You know it’s not easy on their end, and you are deep down grateful for the payment plan that makes it all feasible on yours.
Denying them sticky, chewy or hard seasonal treats? Sounds like cruel and unusual punishment — unless you can crank those creative juices and concentrate on decadent upshots of traditional favorites instead.
We’ve got your back on this one! Check out the following brace-safe holiday treats.
Santa Sugar Cookies
Of course, the best sugar cookies are melt-in-the-mouth soft, so there’s no need to cross them off your list. Dress them up instead. Whip heavy cream and slice the caps off whole fresh strawberries. Place a dollop of whipped cream on each cooled cookie, and position one upside-down strawberry on top. Your cookies are wearing Santa hats!
Brownie Christmas Tree Lollipops
Bake a batch of brownies and slice into large squares when cool. Lift out the squares, then cut each diagonally to form triangles. Gather traditional holiday decorating items like colored frosting, mini marshmallows, chocolate chips, sprinkles and powdered sugar. Feel free to include peanut butter chips if you’re not working around a food allergy, but stay away from raw nuts.
Your kids will love decorating their own brownie Christmas trees. Finally, stick brightly colored straws in each base, and you’ve got nonsticky specialty lollipops.
Rudolph Cheese Cubes
By now you’ve undoubtedly recognized that child participation is key. As long as the kids have fun making food, you can get them to try almost anything — at least once. Extend their comfort zone with this treat that incorporates a variety of soft vegetables.
Cube cheese into approximately 2-inch squares. Cut cherry tomatoes in half and slice black olives to form flat O shapes. Collect red, yellow and green peppers. With a paring knife, cut thin slices that zig and zag like antlers.
Stand back and watch your kids create the face of Rudolph with black olive eyes, a red tomato nose and antlers packed with vitamins and antioxidants.
Got a wood-burning fireplace, outdoor fire pit or even a gas range? With proper supervision, your children can design special holiday s’mores and have a contest to determine the best one.
In addition to traditional ingredients, compile a variety of jellies and jams: cherry, blueberry, peach, strawberry — even orange marmalade. Brainstorm possible s’more-making contest parameters. Should there be categories like Most Original, Most Yummy and Most Messy? Who will judge? How will the entries be presented? Is there a time limit?
Encourage the kids to experiment with different warm, gooey, fruity combinations and make sure you’ve got plenty of napkins.
What goes better with s’mores than hot chocolate? Did you know you can make hot cocoa with dark chocolate and orange zest — or heavy cream and peanut butter? Research spiffed-up hot chocolate options and create a self-serve counter.
Here’s another creative holiday treat. The recipe for Marshmallow Snowman calls for raw carrot nose. Make sure you slice yours into thin slivers.
Pour melted white chocolate into a large bowl. Place three large marshmallows on a skewer and line them up along a cookie sheet covered with wax paper. Dip marshmallow skewers one at a time into melted chocolate. Before it hardens, place chocolate chip buttons and eyes on the snowman along with a carrot nose.
If soft gingerbread sounds like an oxymoron to you, consider this recipe. You’ll need:
- 1/3 cup of brown sugar
- 3/4 cup molasses
- 1/3 cup water
- 1/8 cup softened butter
- 3 1/4 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon allspice
- 1 teaspoon ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix brown sugar, molasses, water and butter until creamy. Add flour, baking soda and spices until the mixture takes on a doughy form. Cover and chill for three hours.
Roll chilled dough out on a lightly floured surface. Try to roll the dough until it’s about 1/4 inch thick. Cut into desired shapes and place 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets.
Bake 8 to 10 minutes and cool.
For basic frosting, just mix 1 cup powdered sugar with 1/4 cup of milk. Don’t have cake decorating bags? Place icing in a zip-shut bag with one corner cut off and squeeze gently.
Ice Cream Sundaes
Ice cream remains the epitome of orthodonture-safe indulgences. Why just dish it out when you can make holiday sundaes? Who needs candy cane and licorice stick accessories? You’ve got sugar cookies and gingerbread, roasted marshmallows and melted candy coating. Grab your favorite flavors and go to town!
No matter type of braces your tweens have, one thing remains true: If they don’t brush and floss conscientiously — especially after enjoying sweets — they are at increased risk for tooth decay and discoloration. Because food can easily get stuck between wires and braces, specialized brushes and floss-threaders are often recommended for twice daily use.
You’ve put a lot of thought and effort into the creation of holiday treats that are mindful of the kids’ orthodonture. Continue your support with encouragement and praise for their consistent oral hygiene habits. Who knows? You may never hear “I think I broke a bracket” again!