10 Vegetable Protein Sources for Kids
Attention parents! Have a picky eater on your hands who doesn’t like meat so you’re worried about protein intake? Perhaps your little one doesn’t mind the occasional meat-based meal, but they come few and far between. The good news is there are plenty of plant-based and other types of protein sources that can make up the difference. Let’s take a look at ten protein-packed alternatives that your kid will love (and will give you peace of mind)!
How much protein do kids need?
According to America’s nutritional guidelines, children between the ages of 2 and 13 years old should consume 2-5 servings of protein each day. To ensure your little one is getting the appropriate amount of protein per day, try incorporating the following into his or her daily diet.
1 Cup = 4-20 Grams
One of the easiest and most kid-friendly sources of protein is dairy. The dairy products with the highest amount of protein include cottage cheese and Greek yogurt, both of which weigh in at 20 grams per cup. Try using Greek yogurt to make homemade ice cream or as a delicious fruit dip. Stir fresh fruit into a serving of cottage cheese for a healthy snack or breakfast idea.
2 Tablespoons = 8 Grams
Another popular non-meat source of protein that the little ones love is peanut butter. And there are plenty of creative ways to incorporate it into your kid’s diet besides traditional sandwiches. For instance, you can add peanut butter to a smoothie for a refreshing treat, stir it into a bowl of oatmeal, spread it onto apple slices and so much more.
1 Cup = 17 Grams
You might be surprised to know that most kids love edamame! In fact, it’s one of the favorite snacks of many, and thankfully it’s not only good for them, but it’s also loaded with protein as well. Add shelled edamame to a stir-fry, sprinkle it atop a salad or try it in a dip. Better yet – give our Edamame Succotash recipe a whirl.
1 Ounce = 6 Grams
Nuts are another great natural source of protein for non-meat-eaters. And of all the options, almonds tend to be among the favorite of little ones. They taste awesome raw, roasted and plain or as an ingredient in trail mix. Almond butter is great as a sandwich spread or when used in smoothies. The possibilities are endless!
1 Cup = 8 Grams
Frozen peas are a quick, easy and delicious way to get your kids to eat more protein. And they’re super versatile as well. Serve them as a healthy side dish, add them to pasta, sprinkle them onto a salad or incorporate them into your family’s favorite casserole recipe.
1 Cup Cooked = 8 Grams
As one of the few plant foods that feature a complete profile of all 20 amino acids, quinoa is an absolute powerhouse of nutrients – including, of course, protein. And there are literally dozens of ways your kiddos will love to eat it! Try quinoa coated chicken nuggets as a creative lunch idea or whip up one of our fresh quinoa salads for dinner. Yum!
1 Cup = 12 Grams
If your little ones haven’t tried roasted chickpeas yet, they don’t know what they’re missing! Not only are they a great way to increase plant-based protein, but they’re also a much healthier alternative to greasy, salty and calorie-laden snacks. Or, blend them into your own homemade hummus – perfect for dipping pretzels or veggie sticks or as a tasty sandwich spread.
1 Egg = 6 Grams
They don’t call eggs “incredible and edible” for nothing! With so many different ways to prepare them, eggs are an awesome, easy and delicious way to get more protein in your family’s diet. And they’re not just for breakfast, either! Surprise your little ones with some eggs for lunch or dinner.
1 Cup = 10 Grams
If you have little ball players in the family, chances are there are plenty of opportunities to eat sunflower seeds in the dugout. But that’s not the only way to enjoy more of these protein-packed morsels. Add shelled sunflower seeds to trail mix, sprinkle them onto salads for a satisfying crunch or blend them into your own homemade spread to make sunbutter and jelly sandwiches.
1 Cup = 15 Grams
Another great plant-based protein source is beans, also called legumes. With so many different ways to prepare and enjoy them, it’s possible to incorporate beans into your everyday menu without getting tired of the same old things. Picky eater? Disguise them in black bean sliders, brownies or a decadent chocolate dip. (Don’t worry – your secret will be safe with us!)
As you can see, there are plenty of creative, tasty and kid-friendly ways to increase protein intake without meat. What about you? Do you have a tried and true way to get your little ones to eat more plant-based protein? Head over to our Facebook page and share your ideas with the community!