Meat is a mainstay for many people, and naturally you’re worried when your selective toddler or young child doesn’t like meat. What will I feed him? How will he get enough protein?
It’s OK if meat is not your child’s favorite food. Kids’ tastes change over time, so even if he doesn’t enjoy meat now, it doesn’t mean he will shun it forever. There are also plenty of ways to get enough protein without meat, even for growing kids.
Here are some tips and tricks to get your kids to eat high protein foods:
1. Offer a high protein food with every meal and snack
Like most nutrients, your child doesn’t need to get all of his protein at one time. Consider offering one of these high-protein foods with every meal and snack. Even if he takes a few bites, small amounts throughout the day add up!
Peanut butter or other nut butter
Cheese (cheddar, fresh mozzarella, etc.)
Yogurt or yogurt drink
Chickpeas, black beans, hummus (or a dried bean snack like Biena chickpeas or edamame)
Grilled chicken, ground beef or turkey, fish, tuna
Nuts (cashews, almonds, walnuts)
2. Dips and spreads
Kids love dipping! Pair some of these creative combos to entice your child:
Grilled chicken slices/cubes + Ranch dressing or honey mustard
Fruit + dip made with Greek yogurt, cinnamon, and honey
Sliced apple + peanut butter
Whole grain pretzels + hummus
3. Make it visible
You want your child to eventually eat the foods your family enjoys, so keep offering them. Have steak night even if he doesn’t like steak, and put some small steak pieces on his plate.
This sends the message that “steak is part of our meal and I expect you to eat it.” Just don’t make a big deal if he doesn’t; that will come with time.
Other high-protein family meals include ground beef in tacos, grilled chicken/fish and vegetables, or rice and beans.
4. Or, sneak it in
If you’re worried about your child’s protein intake, and you have an easy way to sneak in some protein, go for it!
Make smoothies using milk, Greek yogurt, nut butter, and fruit. Puree a can of chickpeas and add it to your soup base. Make “nice cream” out of frozen bananas and nut butter, or popsicles out of Greek yogurt and fruit.
Offering different high-protein foods throughout the day – in creative ways – will ease your mind that your child is eating enough protein.
Want more info on high protein snacking? We have loads of ideas to share – just drop us a line!