We all need protein, but kids especially so to promote normal growth and development. Protein is made up of amino acids but not all are present in every protein source. Sometimes it is necessary to combine foods to get a complete set of amino acids. The best sources of protein for kids are the ones that they will eat! Ten good candidates, in no particular order, are:
1. Eggs – soft-boiled in an amusing egg-cup with fingers of toast, hard boiled in egg-salad, scrambled, French toast.
2. Shrimp – rich in omega 3s, selenium, vitamins B3, B12, and D. Serve with the tail on as a finger food to dip in a favorite sauce or dressing.
3. Chicken –make your own “fingers” by dipping breast meat in olive oil, rolling in dry bread crumbs mixed with Parmesan, then baking.
4. Fish – same as the chicken, or make into fish cakes with mashed potatoes. These work well with salmon and tuna.
5. Lentils, beans and chickpeas - Serve with rice or whole grains for complete proteins. Lentils and beans can be used as meat extenders or substitutes while pureed chickpeas are the basis of hummus.
6. Beef – good protein plus iron and B vitamins. Burgers and tiny meatballs on toothpicks are easy to eat.
7. Soybeans – one of two complete vegetable proteins. Just make sure that you avoid genetically modified soy products. Edamame make a great snack and soy granules can be used in place of meat in lasagna, chili and sloppy joes.
8. Yoghurt – preferably Greek. Zero per cent fat has more protein, but kids need the fat to properly absorb calcium from any milk products. Sweetened, flavored yoghurt is a dessert not a protein source.
9. Cheese – makes a perfect snack with apple slices or grapes.
10. Nut butter– almond, walnut, or cashew butter, (not peanut butter) served on whole grain crackers provide complete proteins.