A Braces-friendly Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is right around the corner. We wanted to share the below article from our site-wide sponsor, OP Smiles.

Thanksgiving is quickly approaching which means we will soon be gathered around the table to share thanks and enjoy our favorite holiday foods. If you or your child is dining with braces, your Thanksgiving menu may look slightly different than in years past. OP Smiles hopes to help you to enjoy a wonderful day with your family without any complications coming from your braces! We encourage you to take a moment to review our recommendations on the best options for the upcoming holiday.  

Foods to Enjoy

Below are a few of our favorite Thanksgiving foods that are braces-friendly:

  • Turkey & Ham — we recommend cutting your serving off the bone and into small bite-sized pieces.
  • Mashed Potatoes — soft and delicious mashed potatoes are an ideal side item for those dining with braces.
  • Stuffing — you should have no issues enjoying this Thanksgiving classic.
  • Deviled Eggs — since deviled eggs are a soft food, they won’t cause a fuss with your braces.
  • Rolls & Muffins — steer clear of bread with added nuts but many traditional rolls and muffins are safe for braces.
  • Gravy & Cranberry Sauce — these soft accompaniments are great but be sure to drink plenty of water with your cranberry sauce due to its acidity, which can increase your risk of enamel erosion.
  • Pumpkin Pie & Cheesecake — these sweet treats are both smooth and creamy, making them easy to eat with braces.

Foods to Avoid

Below are foods that you want to be wary of at the dinner table. These are better to avoid while wearing braces:

  • Raw Vegetables — biting into hard, raw veggies could harm your braces. Substitute for softer veggies, such as green beans, carrots that have been sautéed, and baked sweet potatoes.
  • Nuts — avoid snacking on nuts before the main spread is ready.
  • Sticky Desserts — sticky desserts using caramel can easily get stuck in and around your braces.

Happy Thanksgiving from OP Smiles

There are plenty of braces-friendly options to enjoy this Thanksgiving. No matter what you chow down on, remember to floss and brush your teeth after your meal to help prevent food particles from getting lodged in your braces.

The team at OP Smiles is thankful for the opportunity to treat our wonderful patients. As always, if you need help making dental decisions while wearing braces, contact the OP Smiles team today!

It’s FREE Cookie Day at Stick Boy – September 13, 2017

Stick Boy Free Cookie Day

Stick Boy is having their September crazy specials this week and today is FREE cookie day. Take time to stop by the bakery location across from Appalachian State University and enjoy a delicious cookie at no charge.

Here is a list of the other specials. Enjoy!

Stick Boy Specials

You are invited to Chick-fil-A’s Woolly Worm Event!

Come to Chick-fil-A for their annual Woolly Worm event! Don’t miss this exciting event with Merryweather and Mr. Woolly Worm!


Bring your own or borrow a woolly worm from Chick-fil-A to race during the event. This is a FREE event so bring your friends!

When: October 6, 2016
Time: 5:30pm-7:30pm
Location: Chick-fil-A of Boone

Watauga County NC Cooperative Extension Holds Summer Camps

Does your child like to help you in the kitchen? If so, we have two fantastic summer camps that your child will enjoy!

The camps are hosted by the NC Cooperative Extension. Please reserve your child’s spot ASAP before all spots are filled.

Watauga County NC Cooperative Extension

1. Pizza Adventure Week (Local foods for local kids)
Monday – Thursday, July 6th – July 9th, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. each day
This day camp is for 6 – 10 year olds. Explore local sources of food as you collect ingredients for pizza. Make pizza from scratch and enjoy other food fun. See a cheese factory, milk a cow, visit other farms, and more! We will start and end each day at the Agricultural Conference Center in Boone. The fee is $60 for the week. Register at NC Cooperative Extension, 971 West King St. 828-264-3061. email: Margie_mansure@ncsu.edu

2. Teen cooking class
Open to 13-18 year olds
Learn practical skills you need to feed yourself and others and enjoy a delicious lunch each day! Recipes ready in 30 minutes or less, fish cookery, patty making, grilling, vegetarian ideas, interesting side dishes, knife skills, napkin folding, and much more. Wow your friends and their palates! Monday thru Friday, July 20th – 24th, 9:30-1:00. Classes held at the Agricultural Conference Center, 252 Poplar Grove Rd.
Class size limited! Register in advance by completing form and paying $90 to Watauga County North Carolina Cooperative Extension (Make check to Watauga NCCES) at 971 West King St. 264-3061, email: Margie_mansure@ncsu.edu


Family Dinner: Serve Up a Bowl of Tasty Taco Soup

Taco Soup

Since we are are experiencing the Siberian Express, it is a good time to treat your family to a delicious pot of Taco Soup! It is easy to make and is a perfect dish for these extreme cold days.


1 lb. ground turkey
1 can chopped tomatoes
1 can light kidney beans
1 can dark kidney beans
1 can white corn
1 envelope taco seasoning
1 envelope ranch dressing mix


Brown ground turkey in skillet. After draining ground turkey, add to the crock pot. Add all cans (undrained) and envelopes to the crock pot. Cook on low for 3-4 hours.


Easy Peanut Butter Cookie Recipe – 3 Ingredients


The weather is frightful outside so enjoy a delicious peanut butter cookie. I was so happy that my boss at work introduced me to this recipe. It is super easy and perfect dessert for a family. It only takes three ingredients and minimal cooking time.

My family will not let the plate of cookies last over a couple of hours. I usually make these cookies at least once a week and you cannot get  more natural ingredients than this recipe.


1 cup of Peanut Butter (I use natural peanut butter)
3/4 cup of sugar (I reduced this from my director’s recipe)
1 egg

Mix well together. Drop a teaspoonful onto a cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Let the cookies sit outside the stove for about 10 minutes to get hard. Enjoy with a cup of milk!

Gluten-Free White Bread Recipe

I have been on a gluten-free journey the last couple of months. After dealing with stomach issues for a few years now including two hospitalizations, I decided to try a gluten free diet. It has really changed my life. I am currently off all of my stomach medicines which is huge. One thing that I was missing, was bread. I have cut way down on my bread consumption obviously, but this recipe is letting me get in a little bit of bread into my diet each week.

When I was at Earth Fare, I found the King Arthur gluten-free bread flour. It was worth a try, I thought. Indeed it was, as the bread is absolutely delicious.



Click here for the baking directions.

After smelling the wonderful aroma in the kitchen, I happily pulled the bread out of the oven. I immediately let me two daughters try the bread with me, and we all agreed the taste was very incredible.

If you are on a gluten-free diet, I would highly recommend this recipe. Earth Fare even has the bread mix in a box. You only have to add eggs, oil and water.

Make Your Own: Baby Food

Once upon a time, a company had a really great idea. They dreamed up this awesome little machine that would first steam, then puree any food one might wish to feed a baby. It even doubled as a bottle warmer. Then they charged buyers $99.00 each to buy one. I wish that had been my idea, because there are apparently a whole lot of people out there with three conditions I wouldn’t have expected to be so prevalent in these troubled times: enough money to buy one, enough kitchen space to store it, and a sore lack of frugal habits to prevent them from wasting said money and space.

More power to the manufacturers, I guess, but they’re not getting their hands on my money that easily! Neither are the baby food pushers on aisle 7 at the local grocery store. I could waste just as much money buying baby food as I would if I bought the aforementioned appliance. The frugal way, and the healthier one, is to make your own baby food. Making your own baby food is so easy that I swore off it not too long after my first baby started solid foods. (I admit, I’ve had to buy baby food to get the jars before because nothing else would do for a craft, but otherwise, there’s just no good reason to waste your money on pureed green beans.)

What do I feed my baby?

Whatever you eat, of course! While you don’t want to start baby on spicy black beans or anything, it is usually easy to plan your meals to include something a baby can have. For first foods, I start them around six months, except for this last baby who didn’t want food until he was 7 months old. Nearly any vegetable or fruit will do. I even do chicken or fish occasionally! Bananas and avocado are two of my favorite first foods, because you don’t need to do anything but smash them with a fork. Remember to always use a strainer for peas, as the hulls are yucky and hard to swallow no matter how soft they get. My babies also get a lot of plain yogurt mixed with banana, prunes, or apples. Don’t buy flavored yogurt for them (or yourself!), as it has a lot of junk in it.


A few foods that simply do not work for baby food? Corn, rice, beans (really hard to digest for a baby under one year of age), tomatoes (too acidic), and potatoes (maybe that’s just me). Skip the rice and oatmeal cereals in the baby food aisle, even if your doctor says to start with them. They just constipate the baby, and he doesn’t need those carbs anyway! Follow the usual advice to space new foods out with a few days between trials so you can be aware of allergic reactions.

How do I do it?

I guess you could do it the old-fashioned way and just pre-chew your baby’s food yourself, but…well…no. We won’t go there. Technology is good.

Do you have a steamer basket? If not, that’s really the only tool you really need, so go buy one. A small metal colander will do just as well. Steamed foods retain color, flavor, and nutrients much better than boiled ones do. Carrots, broccoli, or sweet potatoes are some of my favorites. Some foods, like apples, are better peeled and cooked with a little water. Experiment with different ways for different foods. After steaming, you can strain your baby food through a fine sieve, or use an inexpensive stick blender to puree the food. If you want to do chicken or fish, you’ll have to use a stick blender. As baby gets a little bit older, you can easily add shredded cheese to many vegetables. Use your imagination.

For bigger babies (from 9 months on), all you need is to dice the foods very small and steam them enough for them to smash them. No pureeing required!

Make ahead.

Whether it’s because the meals I have planned aren’t going to be very good for a baby’s tummy or I have to travel and need convenient baby-sized portions, sometimes I need some fast baby food. I try to always have something in the fridge or freezer for those times. Bananas and avocado make perfect convenience baby foods. Just peel, smash, and serve. For veggies and other fruits, I steam and puree big batches and then store them in the freezer in single-serving sized plastic storage bowls.

What about prunes?

Babies can get constipated when they start solid foods, especially if there are a lot of bananas in their diet. First, lay off the bananas for a while. Then get some prunes! I had been in the habit of buying my prunes from the baby food aisle, because they were too sticky to blend. Then it occurred to me that the baby food factories didn’t have any special magic that I don’t have, so there must be a better way. I was right. You can steam those suckers and rehydrate them! A pack of baby food prunes costs about a dollar for two servings, and that’s not too bad. However, an 18 oz. canister of whole prunes only costs around three dollars, and you can get at least five times as many servings out of that. My homemade prunes are so much thicker that I think I must have been paying for a product that was mostly water! Steam whole prunes for 10 minutes, puree with enough water to make them the right consistency, and you’ve just saved yourself a few dollars a week. They taste better, too. I even put some on my own pancakes this morning. Almost as good as apple butter!


Baby food makers like to let us think that there’s some unfathomable mystery about introducing foods to our babies, as if the human race has always had a Gerber plant right down the road. All it really requires is five or ten minutes a week (seriously) to give our babies foods that are as nutritious and fresh as the foods we eat.

Make Your Own: Potato Bread

Low-carb, paleo, gluten-free people, look away. I’m about to make you sad.

I’m no foodie. I make plain food, serve it on plain dishes, and rarely get fancy with the fixin’s. While I’m a good cook, I’m not an impressive one, so anything I can do, I suspect that you can do better. When Barb posted recently about her magical, never-ending store-bought loaf of bread, I went to the basket where I keep my own loaf of Nature’s Own, and down in the bottom of the basket was a bag with one heel of bread left in it. And you know what? She was right! This stuff is suspiciously healthy-looking after sitting in my fairly damp kitchen environment for probably two weeks. My bread doesn’t do that. My bread has to be eaten within 24 hours or frozen, or it starts to go stale.  My bread also costs a lot less. Naturally, I was inspired to jump back onto the…er…bread wagon. Does bread come on wagons?

It has been seven months since I made my own bread. New baby. You know how that is. (That is also, not coincidentally, how long it has been since my last post here at HCP.) We’re pretty well settled back into a normal sleep schedule, finally, so I have the energy to add some things back into our routine now. Last week, I got out my big batch recipe and made a few loaves for the family. This week, I pick back up this blogging habit. Who knows what we’ll do next week? Maybe I’ll take up scuba diving! In January. Right. Anyhow…


This is not a fancy bread, as I said, and it’s not even whole wheat, so I guess it gets no points for health, except that it has none of the zombie features of the forever bread we find on store shelves. It is very tasty, though, and not too hard to make. You can experiment with using whole wheat flour, and I have, but we just like the white stuff better. I adapted this recipe beyond all recognition from one that I found on someone else’s blog, but I can’t remember where, so I guess I can call it my own now.


Potato Bread
Recipe type: Bread
Easy sandwich bread.
  • 2 Tablespoons yeast
  • 1 Cup and 1 Tablespoon sugar (divided)
  • 1 Cup warm water
  • 3 Cups hot water
  • 1 Cup instant potato flakes
  • 2 Tablespoons salt
  • ¾ vegetable oil
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 5 lb bag of flour
  • 1 egg yolk (optional)
  • 1 Tablespoon water (optional)
  1. Measure out all of your ingredients first, and put water on to boil while you work so it will be hot when you need it.
  2. Mix yeast, 1 tablespoon of sugar, and the cup of warm water.
  3. In a large bowl--I use my stock pot because it gives me plenty of room for splashing and stirring—whisk together the three cups of hot water, potato flakes, salt, 1 cup of sugar, milk, oil, and finally, the beaten egg. Make sure that water is no longer hot enough to cook the egg.
  4. Whisk in the yeast mixture, which should be nice and frothy by now.
  5. Add enough warm water to bring the volume of the liquid to 8 cups. (I eyeball it, but I think it’s about a cup.)
  6. Whisk in flour a few cups at a time until it starts to be too thick for the whisk to work, then switch to a spoon. Don’t ask me why. Just do it. It’s the Way.
  7. Continue adding all of the flour and mix it into an elastic, not-too-sticky, dough. At this point, you may need to add more water. I usually need a few tablespoons more.
  8. Knead the dough on a clean, floured counter until it is smooth and fun to play with, then dump it into an oiled container big enough to hold double that amount.
  9. Let rise for 90 minutes, then divide into 6 equal portions. You can get 6 loaves, or 6 dozen rolls, or a combination of the two from this recipe.
  10. Let rise in well-greased pans for another 30 minutes to an hour.
  11. Optional: Whisk together 1 egg yolk with 1 tablespoon of water and brush over the tops of the loaves/rolls. You could get fancy here and sprinkle on some sesame seeds or something.
  12. Bake in 350 oven until golden brown for loaves, 400 for rolls.
Tips: After the first rise, cut the dough into roughly equal portions with a pastry blade, and work the dough as little as possible when you arrange it in your pans. You have to play with it a little bit to make it fit the bread pans, but be gentle. This will keep the bread light. Pop any bubbles in the top of the bread with a skewer before you put the loaves in the oven. If you plan to freeze the dough, do it after the first rise. Punch it down, shape it into rolls or loaves, and store it in greased plastic wrap. I prefer to freeze the finished product (no grease, just plastic wrap!), as I always forget to get the dough out in time to thaw. Rolls freeze and thaw better than loaves. Bread doesn’t like to be sliced until it is completely cooled. I don’t like to let it sit that long when there’s butter and honey to be eaten with it, so I ignore this fact and mangle the first loaf every time. Can’t help it. Don’t be like me.

Enjoy your freshly baked bread!

Tasty Tuesday: Crunchy Toasted Chickpeas

I’m always looking for ways to make crunchy, salty snacks and this recipe is a keeper! Seriously, if I can munch on these savory toasted garbanzo beans, I’ll give up pretzels and chips forever! (I’m pretty sure I can’t give up crackers like cheezits and rice crackers though, because I’ll always need a vehicle for really good cheese.)

These crunchy chickpeas are also a great alternative to nuts for those who are allergic or just don’t like nuts. So yes, they can go right next to the mints on the buffet table. Best of all, this recipe is super easy…easy enough to make them often.

I  use a lot of garbanzo beans for homemade hummus so I’m already a fan. This recipe elevates the humble chickpea/garbanzo bean to a pantry staple in our house. Loaded with fiber and protein, these beans are a great snack. And yes, I DO use the names, chickpea and garbanzo bean, interchangeably. If someone is searching for a snack like this, I definitely want them to find this recipe!

Toasted Chickpeas

Crunchy Toasted Garbanzo Beans

Crunchy toasted chick peas

Want the recipe? Visit me at My Sister’s Kitchen to see the ingredient list and directions. It’s so easy!

This is my last Tasty Tuesday post here on High Country Parent. I hope you’ll stop by My Sister’s Kitchen to visit from time to time because I will still be writing there. In fact, later this week I’ll be featuring a new fudgy gluten-free brownie recipe as well as a delicious Orzo pasta dish with grilled chicken and peppers.

I want to thank Sarah Pinnix for the opportunity to write for all you parents and grandparents in the High Country. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed sharing good food with you!

Barb, writing at My Sister’s Kitchen


– don’t forget that we’re on Facebook AND Twitter! “Like” us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for the very latest in the Kitchen. If you want to receive our email updates, sign up on the sidebar link to subscribe.