Getting Little Miss to eat a balance diet has been one of the biggest challenges of being a parent. Everytime I think I’m doing well she turns her nose up at something else. She goes through phases of being happy to try new things and other times she won’t even eat what she’s been eating for months. I’m pretty sure my biggest challenge is not too far down the line, you see LM is an animal lover. A huge animal lover. And as I keep putting it, she’s one farm visit away from becoming a vegetarian. At the moment she doesn’t have any idea where meat comes from so every day she’s getting a decent amount of protein in one form or another, but as soon as she knows she won’t want to eat meat anymore and I 100% respect that. In fact it’s a high possibility I’ll stop eating meat myself. The difference between her and I though is there are loads of other foods I can get protein and other minerals like iron from, however not so many for her.
Last weekend I took it upon myself to do a little research into other ways I can get protein into her diet. Protein is so important for children as it helps their muscles develop and general growth, including the all important brain growth. LM has always been on the small side, she was low birth weight (5lbs 2oz) and never really put on any body fat even as a baby. If she stops eating meat I want to ensure she’s getting everything she needs from other areas of her diet.
Here are a few ideas I found that should help;
Introduce Peanut Butter
I’m happy to say I know LM doesn’t have a peanut or any nut allergy, however right now she isn’t a huge fan of anything nut flavoured. One of the best ways to get protein into children is through eating peanut butter. I love peanut butter, especially with banana or chocolate, or even the famous PB & J sandwiches. It’s not something I tend to keep in the house because I can even eat it straight from the jar. If she’s going to give up meat, I need to start introducing her to peanut butter. I can do this with baking as she loves to help and having it with chocolate gives it a sweeter edge. It’s also great in smoothies. LM loves fruit so I plan on trying her with a peanut butter and banana smoothie to see how we get on.
Swap Cereal Bars for Protein Bars or Shakes
While in Florida it was a few of my parent friends who introduced me to this idea. Their kid was a really bad eater and the only way they knew she was getting the right amount of protein to help with her growth was to have her eat a protein bar on the days she refused veg or meat. There were only certain ones she liked as they have a distinct taste but she often shared with LM and I was happy to see that the taste didn’t phase her. They can be quite expensive but when it comes to your kids health and growth money is no object. If they won’t entertain the bars, why not try protein shakes?
Mix Cottages Cheese with Yoghurt
This might seem odd but while doing my research it turns out cottage cheese has a higher content of protein than most other cheeses. LM loves cheese, and she loves yoghurt and athough she might not eat cottage cheese on it’s own (even I struggle with it) mixing it with a sweet yoghurt will give it a more natural yoghurt taste. And LM loves natural or Greek yoghurt (she calls it white yoghurt) especially on top of strawberries.
More Baked Beans
Finally, I’m happy to report that baked beans are high in protein and a food LM already likes. We don’t have them enough. By having baked beans in place of whatever meat she’d have on days we just eat from the freezer (yes I don’t have time every day to cook from scratch, SHOCK HORROR) she’ll be getting a good dose of protein. Usually she just opts for nuggets and mash potato, but beans and mash, especially mash potato fritters (with sweetcorn thrown in for good measure, a veg she happily eats) can make a good meal too.
After doing my research I felt a lot more confident about the possibility of my 5 year old opting to be a veggie. With a little more thought every day I’m sure i’ll be able to get enough protein into her diet without resorting to multi vitamins more than her usual gummy ones.
Have you got any good protein-rich veggie receipes for kids?