Making sure your child eats a balanced diet can feel like a mammoth task. It’s easy when your child is great eater and is willing to try new foods. However, even the best eaters can go through fussy periods, and I know this from experience.
Protein can be one of the hardest things to build into your child’s diet. An aversion to meat is a very common phase for children to go through, so the question is, can we find alternative ways to give (or sneak) protein into them? YES! There are many foods that contain protein and I want to share some ideas of how we can introduce these into your child’s diet.
As we’ve already said, meat products are a great source of protein. After meat, these are some other sources, that all vary in their protein levels, but make great alternatives.
- Legumes – peas for example can be served with many meals, or if you need to hide them, they can be blended into soup or mashed to make *Hulk Mash*
- Quinoa – can be great alternative to rice and you can flavour it with herbs and spices that your child is familiar with.
- Nut Butters – almond butter, cashew butter, peanut butter are all great sources of protein, especially if served with apple slices or something similar. However, make sure you buy a good brand, with few ingredients, not one that is heavily processed. A favourite in our house is the Meridian Cashew Butter. Obviously nuts on their own are great as well.
- Seeds – for example chia seeds are so small they almost look decorative, these could be added into a sandwich and barely noticed or added to a smoothie. To make a great nutrient-dense smoothie, try this – 1 banana, a handful of leafy greens (e.g..spinach), 2 ice cubes, 1 tbsp chia seeds, a few raspberries and a cup of milk or milk alternative such as almond milk. Blend well in your blender, or Nutribullet and serve with a straw in a tall glass. Full of nutritional goodness (including protein) but will look appealing to a child. I very often make a smoothie for our little man’s lunch when he’s being fussy.
- Beans – all types. Kidney, butter, cannellini, chickpeas and even lentils all contain protein. You might be think “my kids would NEVER eat those Lila!”, well join the club! I hide beans and lentils in chilli, curry, pies, soups -all sorts of things!
- Cottage cheese – look up online for great recipes with cottage cheese, there are thousands of them!
- Eggs – there are so many ways to cook eggs your kids are bound to like one of them!
- Good dairy products, like natural yogurt. It’s hard to avoid the yogurts that are aimed a children (after all, who can walk past a minion yogurt, or frozen yogurt in a tube?!) but these are not as nutritionally sound as full fat dairy, so if you are struggling with getting enough protein or calcium into your child, read the nutritional advice on the back of the carton before purchasing, to make sure you’re getting the best product you can.
Hopefully this will give you some ideas! How do your make sure your little fussy eaters get enough of what they need to stay healthy? I’d love to hear from you!