5 Ways to Sneak Protein into Your Toddler’s Diet
Do you dread trips to the pediatrician because you’re afraid they’ll ask if your toddler is eating well? Don’t worry – it’s a trick question. Toddlers don’t eat well. While my 2-year-old is still eating most of everything I put in front of her, my 3-year-old seems to be carb-loading for her next marathon. If it’s grain, she’ll eat it. But protein? Forget about it. Here’s how I trick her into eating a well-balanced diet:
- Appeal to what they like – My daughter loves bread and doesn’t really like meat. If at some point I feel like it’s because she’s morally opposed to eating meat, I’ll respect that. Until then, I prepare sloppy joes with a cup of shredded cheddar and wrap the mixture inside of crescent rolls and bake them the normally recommend time. It’s definitely sloppy, but it’s delicious. To lighten it up, you can use ground turkey or chicken instead of ground beef.
- Don’t forget breakfast! – This is the easiest meal of the day to pack in lots of protein. Foods like eggs, cheese, yogurt and nuts are all major sources of protein. I like to scramble an egg and mix it with shredded cheese. A dollop of ketchup on the eggs makes them more toddler-friendly. On the side, I also include a small cup of Greek yogurt with a berry and walnut topping. Since Greek yogurt is a little tangier, you can add honey as a natural sweetener.
- The classics – Ants on a log is perfect for older toddlers. Crunchy celery packed with peanut butter and topped with sweet raisins is the perfect sneaky snack for getting in a little extra protein. Peanut butter is a great source of protein and pairs well with other fruits. Try spreading it on crepes and sprinkling with chopped strawberries for yummy wraps. Go for the old fashioned method of dipping apples right into the jar (or bowl to avoid sharing germs.)
- Drink up! – Smoothies featuring Greek yogurt and their favorite fruits can double as a special treat. I like to call them milkshakes so they get excited thinking they’re eating ice cream. There are about a billion recipes on the internet for smoothies chock full of protein, but I would consult your pediatrician before using any recipes that call for protein powder.
- When things get desperate – Pizza. Choosing a thinner crust will cut down on some of the extra calories while your little one munches down on cheese and other protein-packed toppings like pepperoni or Canadian bacon.
During a period when it seems like your kid is surviving on air, hang in there. If these tricks don’t help or you’re concerned about your toddler’s diet, consult your pediatrician.