Making sure your child eats enough protein in a given day can be a big challenge, especially on school days, when the lunch you pack has to be foods that can be eaten easily and quickly, without needing to be heated. The following list will provide ten quick and easy ideas to create protein-rich healthy snacks for your child:
Seeds, nuts and nut butters: These finger foods are provided straight from nature. Easily portable, very edible and packed with nutrition, there are many nuts to choose from: in addition to peanuts, almonds, and cashews, the classic standbys, there are many other flavorful choices, including macadamia nuts, pistachios, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds. These days it is possible to find any kind of nut in a variety of flavors, such as tamari or cinnamon. Nut butters can be spread on whole grain bread for a nutritious sandwich option.(research nutritional benefits- vitamins, protein amounts, types of fats, etc.)
Kefir: similar to a drinkable yogurt, kefir also contains beneficial yeast and healthy probiotic cultures like those found in yogurt. Essentially, drinking kefir adds protein to the diet and provides nutrients that keep your digestive tract happy and healthy. Kefir can be found at your supermarket in the dairy section in many flavors such as vanilla, strawberry, and cherry.
Smoothies: Think of them as the healthy alternative to milkshakes, and what kids doesn’t like a milkshake? Pull out the blender and start with a potassium-rich banana and other favorite fruits (fresh or frozen), add juice or milk, and be sure to add protein powder; either whey-based, or soy-based, depending on your child’s level of dairy tolerance. You can also toss in other powdered supplements, such as probiotics or brewer’s yeast (high in vitamin B) for added benefit. Blend well until smooth.
Cheese, glorious cheese: Slip slices into sandwiches, cut into cubes and slabs, spread soft cheese on whole-grain bread or crackers, or pair with sliced apple or pear. There are so many kinds to choose from, including goat cheese and soy cheese.
Tofu: The beauty of tofu is that it soaks up any flavor you give it. Cut it into chunks and add their favorite dipping sauce. Many children love teriyaki sauce, soy sauce and ranch dressing. Tofu is also often available in a variety of flavors.
Flavored milk: My daughter loves to make flavored milk by adding a few drops of vanilla extract. This technique adds delicious flavor without any unhealthy sugar and preservatives. Check the baking aisle for other extract flavors your child might enjoy.
Beef Jerky: Many stores carry organic and nitrate-free beef jerky. Since it is cured, it keeps well over time. Pack a few slices or sticks in their lunchbox.
Eggs: Easy to eat, fun to peel, no mess, no fuss, very little bother. Plus, they come in their own package. If your child eats them, what could be easier?
Protein energy bar: These are not all created equal, so be sure to read the label. Look for bars with a low glycemic index and high quality ingredients. Be sure to avoid bars with high fructose corn syrup.
Quinoa (pronounced Keen-wah): Quin what, you say? Quinoa comes from South America, where it has been a staple food for thousands of years. It is actually the seed from the Goosefoot plant, but is cooked, eaten and used just like any other grain. However, quinoa has twice the amount of protein found in rice, and eight essential amino acids, making it a worthy substitute.
By choosing any of these easy and healthy snack ideas, you will be making sure that your child gets enough protein to build a healthy, strong body. Having this list of ideas to draw from offers quick alternatives that you can easily incorporate into the morning rush as you get your kids off to school. It’s nice to know they’ll be eating well.