At MedCenter TMJ, Dr. Ronald C. Auvenshine, Dr. Nathan Pettit, and the rest of our experienced, caring team help patients manage their TMD (temporomandibular joint disorder). TMD is caused by damage to your TMJs (temporomandibular joints), which act as hinges for your mouth. This disorder can cause a wide range of uncomfortable symptoms, including jaw pain, headache, and even back pain. It can also interfere with your ability to chew and eat properly, disrupting your daily life. Since it is a chronic condition, TMD unfortunately cannot be cured. However, our doctors can help you lead a healthier, happier life by managing your stress, wearing a special oral appliance, and modifying your diet.
Eating softer foods can ease the burden on your TMJs, but giving up your favorite chewy, crunchy treats might seem like a major sacrifice, especially during snack-heavy holidays like Halloween! The MedCenter TMJ team wants our TMD patients to enjoy every special occasion without jaw pain. Fortunately, we’ve got the perfect Halloween culinary solution: pumpkin! This appropriately festive food offers numerous health benefits for TMD sufferers and is much more versatile than you might expect. In the following blog, we discuss our top six favorite TMJ friendly pumpkin recipes for you to enjoy this Halloween (and beyond!).
Pumpkin: A TMJ Superfood
You’re probably seeing pumpkins everywhere this fall, from Starbucks’ famous pumpkin spice lattes to the Jack-O-Lanterns you carve with your kids! What many people don’t realize is that this gorgeous gourd is actually a nutritional powerhouse, especially when it comes to TMD. Our doctors often recommend pumpkin to patients because:
- It’s soft and easy to eat, yet tasty and filling.
- It’s rich in magnesium. This important mineral can relax your jaw muscles to prevent spasms. In addition, it can help your body better metabolize calcium, which can help counteract the effects of arthritis on your TMJs.
- Its seeds are high in nitric oxide, a compound that can help your body heal better from injury. Of course, we recommend grinding up pumpkin seeds (they’re great in protein shakes), since munching on them whole could be tough on your TMJs.
Three of Our Favorite Savory Snacks
Traditionally, pumpkin has been more popular in sweet applications. However, it could be the star of your Halloween dinner. Our top three savory pumpkin snacks are:
- Pumpkin chili. This hearty combination of chicken maple sausage (cut into bite-size pieces, of course), ground turkey, peppers, garlic, tomatoes, broth, spices, beans, and—of course—pumpkin is tasty and simple to eat! For extra flair, you can even serve it in little pumpkin bowls, as shown on Olivia’s Cuisine. We love this food blogger’s recipe, but we recommend you pair your pumpkin chili with rice rather than chips.
- Pumpkin pot pie. This recipe by Top Chef and The Chew’s Carla Hall calls for a variety of vegetables, sweet potatoes, garlic, cream, cheese, and butter, all baked together in a delicious puff pastry—how could you go wrong!?
- Honey pumpkin butter dinner rolls. These buttery beauties work well as a side or light snack. We suggest Averie Cooks’ recipe, which shows you how to make your very own pumpkin dough, so you can find your perfect balance between autumnal spices like nutmeg, salt, and honey.
Don’t Forget Dessert!
Of course, no Halloween is complete without a few sweets. You can trade damaging gobstoppers and chewy candy bars for these pumpkin-tastic treats:
- Pumpkin gingerbread trifle. This English-inspired layered dessert piles on fall flavors with vanilla pumpkin pudding, soft gingerbread, and whipped cream. Taste of Home’s instructions are no-muss, no-fuss—you’ll need just five ingredients, which you’ll prepare in three simple steps.
- Mini pumpkin cheesecakes. These convenient confections require no baking and just an hour and half to make. Per A Family Feast’s recipe, you’ll simply blend graham crackers with butter and sugar to create the “crust,” then whip cream cheese, pumpkin, condensed milk, whipped cream, and spices together for the filling. Combine the two and chill for a rich treat that’s easy on your TMJs.
- Chocolate pumpkin cake. If you want a show-stopping dessert for your Halloween party, look no further. The highlight of this chocolate pumpkin cake is its whimsical look. Add a little canned pumpkin and buttermilk to a basic chocolate cake recipe, then top it with chocolate syrup and orange frosting to show your spooky spirit. For more specific instructions, check out Country Living’s recipe (and pictures!).
Have a Happy, Healthy Halloween!
The whole family here at MedCenter TMJ would like to wish you a Happy Halloween! Contact us today to learn more about TMD or schedule an appointment (if you’d like to bring some pumpkin treats with you, we wouldn’t mind!).