By Beth McKay
As parents, you know the importance of a protein-rich diet; however, achieving the desired amount of daily protein intake is not necessarily easy. On his Wellness Institute site, Dr. Sears includes the role of protein in the diet of children explaining that “Protein for kids is essential for building, maintaining, and replacing the tissues in their bodies. Muscles, organs, and the immune system are mostly made up of protein. Protein helps bodies grow and move, so growing children need more protein than adults do”.
For children to achieve optimum growth and stay healthy, protein is necessary. According to the United States Health and Human Services’ 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, boys ages 5-12 living a sedentary lifestyle should consume 1,200 to 1,800 calories per day. Girls of the same age and lifestyle should consume from 1,200 to 1,600 per day. For a child consuming 1,200 calories a day, he or she should have 3 ounces or the equivalent of protein. For 1,400 calories, a child should consume 4 ounces or the equivalent, and for 1,600 calories, the protein intake should be 5 ounces or the equivalent each day. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans describes protein as “seafood, meats, poultry, eggs, soy products, nuts, and seeds. Meats and poultry should be lean or low fat and nuts should be unsalted. Legumes (beans and peas) can be considered part of this group as well as the vegetable group but should be counted in one group only.”
While many associate protein with meat, protein comes from a variety of sources.
To help kids consume the daily recommended amount of protein, consider some creative protein snack ideas to send to school or to enjoy after school.
3 Ingredient Peanut Butter Fluff
Kids love to dip one food into another. If this description fits your kid, this recipe might be perfect for your family. One ounce of non-fat Greek yogurt has 17 grams of protein, and 2 tablespoons of peanut butter – 8 grams.
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
Honey to taste (1-3 TBSP)
Combine all ingredients with a whisk or a spoon.
Dip apple slices, bananas, celery sticks or eat with a spoon.
Do your kids love pickles? If so, pickled eggs might be the snack of choice. 1 large egg contains 6 grams of protein!
Boil eggs. After they cool, peel off the shell. Add the eggs to a glass jar filled with vinegar and water with a 2:1 ratio. Leave the eggs for at least two days before serving. Serve with salt and pepper.
If your kids love to eat at Five Guys so that they can snack on the peanuts, this snack idea will be a big hit. Almonds contain 6 grams of protein per ounce and peanuts have 7!
Mix all ingredients together. Be creative with your ingredients and change them up to give your kids a variety of trail mixes.
Anyone waiting for Friday to make a $5 Smoothie King run? If so, use a food processor to make a smoothie packed with protein that your kid will love. One ounce of non-fat Greek yogurt has 17 grams of protein, and one cup of milk has 8 grams.
Low fat chocolate milk
Blend the desired amount of ingredients in a food processor / blender to create one protein-packed smoothie. Adjust ingredients as desired to achieve variations of consistency and flavor.
Ham & Cheese Roll
Do your kids like ham? Do they like cheese? If so, put the two together for a simple yet filling snack! 2 ounces of sliced ham contains 10 grams of protein while a stick of string cheese contains 7 grams.
Deli Sliced Ham
Simply roll the cheese stick inside the ham and serve.
The next time your kid says he is hungry and you give him one of these protein-packed snacks, you can be confident that you are providing the nutrients that he needs to grow and be healthy. And since these snacks are full of protein, you just might get a longer break before the next “Mommy, I’m hungry”.