As a parent to a new toddler, I am constantly trying to pack protein into my little one’s diet. It is hard when you have a picky eater who likes one thing one day and not that food the next. One of the challenges I face as a mother is making sure she gets enough protein into her daily meals. Most toddlers are not just going to pick up a piece of spinach and gladly eat it. At least mine won’t! Today, I wanted to share some of the top protein enriched foods that are my go to’s when making meals. I should note that I am not a dietician and these tips are merely my own and what has worked in our household with a small toddler.
Cheese: Is one of the easiest items of food to get your child to eat. With take along cheese sticks, pizza, and grilled cheese available at most restaurants this is one of the easier ways to get a little protein in. Adding cheese to chicken, eggs, meats, and beans is also a great way to make the food more appealing.
Avocado: Can be served as slices with breakfast, lunch, and dinner. If your child isn’t really interested you can mash up the avocado and either mix it with a banana or use it as a sauce for pasta shells. I’ve stuffed many pasta shells with avocado to help my daughter eat it.
Spinach: A great way to serve spinach in through smoothies! Sneaking in a cup full of leaves in the blender is easy when you have other yummy ingredients to mask it.
Quinoa: Quinoa has become increasingly popular at the supermarkets these days, making it super easy for you to incorporate into your child’s meal. Many places sell the ‘steam in the bag’ option which is a great add on to any meal.
Almonds: Almond butter is the easiest way to get this protein in foods. It can be replaced with peanut butter and can be used on sandwiches, apples, bananas, and more. Most children don’t even notice the difference in taste!
Eggs: If your child does not have an egg allergy, this is a great source of protein for any meal! Add some cheese or meat to the eggs and you’ve got an even tastier meal with more protein!
Yogurt: Yogurt is a great source of protein and is typically an appealing food to most babies and toddlers. Buying plain or vanilla yogurt and adding your own fruits/granola (your child’s favorites) is an easy way to get more protein in their diet.
Chicken: Probably the most accessible and easiest food to prepare for a toddler. A favorite go to meal is chicken quesadillas and barbecue chicken sandwiches. Poultry in general has more lean protein that is perfect for babies and toddlers and is very well liked by our little one!
Red Meat: Is packed with protein but with more saturated fat (considered less lean) that is more difficult for the body to digest. We decided to introduce red meats after she turned one years old and only give it in small portions. Since over-eating red meat has been linked to cardiovascular and cerebrovascular disease as well as colon cancer among other health problems in adults, promoting healthier eating habits and limiting red meat consumption is a priority for our family.
Beans: Most beans are loaded with protein and are really easy for toddlers to eat and pick up. If your toddler enjoys beans, you will also find how easy it is to serve it up in a matter of a couple of minutes- an added bonus!
Turkey: This is an easy source of protein for your little one, especially if they will eat it straight from the deli. Turkey, like poultry, is also a great substitute if you want to limit red meat.
Chick Peas: Hummus is an great source of protein that is easily accessible. This item is always in our pantry. So, when I am out of the regulars, I slab this on some pita bread or toast and it makes for a great meal!
These suggestions and tips are all my own and is just what has worked for us. After conversing with other moms on the Facebook fan page, I decided to compile a list of foods that y’all suggested and included foods from my own research as well. Any advice and suggestions are more than welcome! Would love to hear what foods work for you and your little ones!