Lack of careful planning in diet might lead your child to lack protein. This can produce detrimental effects on the growth and development of the kids as well. Well, it is not necessary to be a non-vegetarian to have sufficient protein diet. Even if your family follows a vegetarian, ovo-lacto vegan, vegan, or lacto vegetarian lifestyle, it is absolutely simple and achievable to ensure enough protein consumption by your children. And all through plant food!
It is a great idea to expose your vegan kids to a wide variety of vegan meals so as to make them learn being comfortable trying new foods. You can make it fun by making them select a new fruit or vegetable every time you go for grocery shopping.
Vegetarian Protein Sources for Children
Just as highly health conscious people, most of the vegans and vegetarians have a story about adopting their current lifestyle. However, irrespective of your reasons, one of the greatest challenges for non-meat eaters is to ensure proper protein intake every day. Similarly, they are also concerned about the protein intake by the children when they are not eating protein sources like meat and fish.
Recently, many people are turning to vegan lifestyle. With the growing number of vegans and vegetarians, the demand for vegan products is also increasing every day. There are numerous nutrient dense foods that contain decent protein content as well. Here are some these rich protein sources for children who are non-meat eaters.
- Milk: Milk is not only high in calcium for healthy teeth and bones, but also a great source of protein. For those on a vegan diet, fortified soy milks, like rice/soy/nut based milks make a great alternative. However, it is wise to check the label and go for the option that has been fortified with added vitamin B12 and calcium. This fortification allows plant milk to have every similar nutritional value as contained by cow’s milk. Read more on Health Benefits of Milk for Babies.
- Legumes: Major legumes like black beans, kidney beans, lentils, and chick peas are highly rich in proteins and fiber. Bakes beans on toast, legume bean balls, and chick pea patties for delicious burgers are some of the best ways to serve high protein to vegetarian kids. Besides, some protein rich after school snacks that can be prepared at home include roasted chick peas or preparing legume based dips to pair with veggie sticks to boost the protein intake of vegetarian kids.
- Nuts and Seeds: Nuts and seeds contain 10-20% protein, which is equivalent to what is provided by eggs. Therefore, 30 grams of raw unsalted almonds contain 6 grams of protein. Nuts make a great on-the-go snack for kids because of the munchies or the extra crunch they provide on being added to cereals or stir fries.
- Quinoa: Quinoa is one of the few grains that are high in protein. With a delicious nutty flavor, this grain is excellent for vegetarians. Liked excessively by kids, it can be eaten either on its own or paired with a hidden or stir fry in pancakes, muffins, casseroles and smoothies as well. Read more on Health Benefits of Quinoa for Babies.
- Avocados: Avocados surpass all fruits and vegetables containing proteins. While all vegetables contain just a gram or two of proteins per cup, avocados contain as much as 4 grams per piece. Furthermore, avocado proteins contain all nine essential amino acids, which can’t be produced by the body to build muscle and create more protein, in addition to omega-3 fatty acids, healthy for brain and heart. Read more on Health Benefits of Avocado for Babies.
- Peas: Peas are very nutritious for infants and kids. Mashed or pureed peas not only provide a beautiful green color, but also a highly nutritious food item. A whole cup of peas contains about 8 grams of protein.
- Peanut Butter: The peanut butter spread can contain as much as 5 grams of protein per tablespoon. You can serve it to your kids as a dip or a spread to pair it up with another food item like peanut butter and banana on toast for a high protein breakfast. Another healthy snack suggestion is to simply replace the sultanas with chia seeds when sprinkling in the peanut butter filled celery sticks. Read more on Health Benefits of Peanut Butter for Children.
- Edamame: This is a high protein snack that is easy to prepare and consume. Edamame is an excellent quick snack that can also be served as a side dish with the main. Half a cup of boiled edamame contains about 8 grams of protein. Quite a good amount!
- Chia Seeds: Chia is considered as a super food that is loaded with proteins. In fact, two tablespoons of chia seeds contains almost 5 grams of proteins. Moreover, they are very versatile to be added to any meal. You can serve it to kids in the form of chia pudding loaded with plenty of protein. Read more on Health Benefits of Chia Seeds for Kids.
- Beans and Lentils: Beans and lentils are the most inexpensive sources of protein among all others. You can choose from the wide range including garbanzo, kidney, white, black, or pinto beans. Just rinse and drain the beans to add to just anything. You can add white beans to pasta, edamame or garbanzo in stir-fries, pinto and black beans in tacos, burritos, and quesadillas. Lentils taste good when added to salads and whole grain pita lunches. Read more on Health Benefits of Beans For Kids.
- Tofu : Tofu is usually referred as the veggie white meat. Tofu can do almost anything that chicken can do for your child’s health. You can also go for tempeh, a fermented form of tofu, that has a fabulous texture. You can serve it as a great burger stand-in or broiled or seasoned into a high-protein crouton on a salad, or perfect crumbled in chili. Read more on Health Benefits of Tofu For Kids.
Protein is an essential nutrient that plays a crucial role in the functioning of the body. However, just like excess of anything is not good, excessive intake of protein can be a cause for many diseases. Therefore, it becomes all the more important to eat a varied diet instead of focusing on a single nutrient. As long as you are taking adequate calorie count, you can easily meet the protein recommendations for vegans.