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Oral Health Buzz

Healthy Holiday Snacks for You and Your Kids

Elizabeth SanFilippo

One of the biggest culprits when it comes to poor dental health and tooth decay in kids is the amount of sugar they consume; after all, it's in everything from juice to desserts. That's why healthy holiday snacks for the whole family are a good idea. You won't have to sacrifice eating dessert or the great taste to keep the foods healthy. This year, your kids may be bouncing off the walls with excitement during the holidays, but it won't be because of what they have eaten.

All of these holiday treats are low-sugar alternatives, and many also use healthy ingredients that are good for overall health and your teeth, such as molasses, nuts, dark chocolate and cranberries. Whole wheat flour can also make any holiday dessert a bit healthier as well.

Healthy Holiday Snacks: Cookies and More
Gingerbread
While sugar cookies are typically loaded with more than a cup of sugar, many gingerbread recipes only call for about a half cup. Plus, gingerbread can be high in fiber, particularly if the recipe includes pumpkin.

Oatmeal Cookies
Not only is oatmeal better for you than sugar and chocolate chip cookies, you can easily substitute applesauce for most of the sugar that is in a recipe.

Almond Cookies
Almonds in general are good for your health, and when they're combined in everything from Streusel cookies to shortbread, the recipes often call for less sugar than most holiday desserts.

Chocolate-Hazelnut Meringue Kisses
Forgo the Hershey's Kisses, which are pure chocolate and sugar, and instead get your kids to help you make drop cookies that use chopped hazelnuts as an ingredient.

Jelly Thumbprint Cookies
Instead of peanut butter kiss cookies (because you know your kids eat them just for the Hershey Kiss), make a jelly thumbprint cooking instead. Another perk? Your kids can help you make the peanut butter cookies by using their thumbs to imprint the spot for their favorite jelly!

Pumpkin Pie
Pumpkin pies are staples at any holiday festivity, and they're surprisingly one of the healthiest pie out there — as long as you hold that huge dollop of whipped cream. You can also cut the amount of sugar used in homemade pies without sacrificing flavor. Plus, pumpkin is chock full of fiber.

Chocolate-Covered Strawberries
The fruit is red, perfect for the holidays, and your kids will be getting a bit of vitamin C with a splash of chocolate!

Holiday Meals Can Be Low Sugar Too
While eating healthy holiday snacks helps you and your kids consume less sugar around the holidays, keep an eye on what dishes your family is feasting on. For one, Grandma's sweet potato recipe may call for caramelized brown sugar and marshmallows, but that doesn't mean you need to add both. Sweet potatoes, after all, are naturally sweet. Even better, sweet potatoes are a great source of vitamin C, B6 and D, as well as iron and magnesium.

In general, cranberry sauce is also a healthy dish for your holiday meal, and there are low-sugar recipes, especially if you just pour it right out of the can. According to dental insurance company United Concordia, cranberries have a number of health benefits, including when it comes to your dental health. That's because cranberries can help prevent cavities and periodontitis as the berries help kill bacteria in the mouth. While it is important to make a few substitutions during the holidays to eat right, moderation is key: your teeth — and your dentist — will thank you.

Learn more about healthy recipes for your dental health in the Colgate Oral Care resources.

Source: Wikimedia Commons/Jonik

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