Protein is a macronutrient that plays an essential role in thousands of functions within the human body. The building blocks that protein delivers, known as amino acids, are a requirement for normal and healthy development.
This means because amino acids are located in muscle, bone, ligaments, skin, hair, blood…effectively every tissue, kids need protein to thrive.
Of the 20 amino acids the body needs, it can produce 11 but the other nine must come from food. These are known as “essential” amino acids.
Food sources of protein also supply varying amounts of zinc, magnesium, B vitamins (thiamin, niacin, vitamins B-6 and B-12), and vitamin E.
Many also provide iron, with the type in animal products coming in the “heme” form and better absorbed than the iron found in legumes such as dried beans or peas.
If your child is not getting enough protein, it can lead to more serious effects down the road. Without enough protein in their diet, a child may experience fatigue, lack of concentration, slowed growth, lowered immunity and more.
We recommend that kids opt primarily for healthy animal sources of protein (fish, beef, chicken, eggs) to meet their protein needs.
“My kids won’t eat protein!”
Kids can be picky and some may not like the sources of quality protein you’re asking them to eat for optimal growth and development… it doesn’t mean you should throw in the towel!
Here are some tricks to increase your child’s healthy protein intake:
Cottage Cheese & Protein
Cottage cheese, assuming well adapted to dairy, is a good source of protein and calcium. Since most kids won’t eat cottage cheese straight, mix it with their favourite flavoured (unsweetened) yogurt or add in a scoop of grass fed whey protein and use a hand blender to smash into a pudding.
We love chocolate!
Kids love their food in the shape of animals.
Use animal shaped cookie cutters with chicken breasts or other meats, dip the shapes into egg whites, coat with almond flour and bake or pan fry with coconut oil.
The result will be a feast your kids will beg for on the regular.
While real food first is the Eat By Design mantra… sometimes it’ll come down to convenience if we want to ensure the kids are getting enough protein.
That’s when smoothies become a game changer.
Choose a high quality protein, and liquid…we opt for dairy-free, unsweetened nut milks as a base, and the rest is preference.
Add a scoop of nut butter for taste or a powdered greens product to boost their antioxidants.
Pay attention to one major pitfall here… the sugar bomb.
Sure, adding tones of fruit or other sweeteners makes it more palatable but it also defeats the purpose.
Let us know, how do your kids get their protein?
Tips, tricks, strategies… do tell!