Pump Protein Into Your Kids

We often talk about how to get enough fruits and vegetables into kids, but I have to say that I struggle to get enough protein into mine. I know I’m not alone, as I’ve heard the same complaints from friends and readers, who know that the protein in a meal or snack is what keeps tummies full and supports healthy bone and muscle growth.

If your kid refuses to eat meat and won’t accept any vegetable protein like tofu or beans, don’t freak out. I’ve learned a lot of tricks over my almost 13 years of parenting three kids with very different tastes, and I thought I would share my top four ways to bump up the protein in your favorite recipes.

Use Egg Beaters instead of whole eggs in recipes.

Egg Beaters and other pasteurized egg substitutes are really just egg whites with coloring added so that they resemble whole eggs. Since much of the protein in an egg is contained in the whites, these products give your recipe a boost while also cutting the calories from eggs by half.

Add quinoa to oatmeal.

Blueberry Maple Quinoa
Blueberry Maple Quinoa / Sweet on Veg / CC BY 2.0

Quinoa is super high in protein and neutral in taste, and kids will hardly notice or care if you substitute it for up to a third of the oatmeal you make for breakfast.

Freeze Greek yogurt cups for treats.

Instead of dishing out the ice cream after dinner, hit the kids with a single serve cup of Greek yogurt. It comes in tons of dessert-y flavors like chocolate and cappuccino. Best of all is you can grab them and throw them into the lunch box…the yogurt will keep other items in the box cold and it’ll be thawed by lunch time.

Add black beans to brownies.

There are tons of black bean brownie recipes online, but if you have a favorite recipe of your own, you can substitute an equal amount of black bean puree for the flour in the recipe. Just drain and rinse canned black beans and puree them in the blender, adding a little water just to get the blade moving. A standard 15 ounce can will yield about one cup of puree. Freeze any extra in zippered snack bags.