8 Easy Ideas to Boost Protein and Calcium in Kids
When it comes to my kids, two nutrients that are top of mind these days are protein and calcium. Why? With protein, it’s because I find protein-rich meals and snacks tend to hold them longer than carbs alone. And with calcium, it’s because research shows a lot of our kids aren’t getting enough, particularly teen girls (of which I have three), whose bones are not done developing.
Luckily, a number of foods come ready made with both protein and calcium in one tidy package. Given that it’s National Dairy Month, I’ve included quite a few from the dairy case (makes sense since the likes of milk, yogurt, kefir, and cheese are excellent sources of both protein and calcium). You’ll also find non-dairy sources, too. Either way, every single suggestion is easy, accessible, (mostly) portable, with plenty of kid appeal.
Eight ounces of yogurt supplies about one-third to one-half of a child’s daily calcium needs (depending on age). It also delivers on the protein front, particularly if you reach for Greek yogurt, which has about double the protein of conventional.
Tip: Pop a container of yogurt into lunch boxes for a ready source of calcium, especially if your kids aren’t drinking milk at lunch time.
Set a bowl of edamame in front my kids before dinnertime, and they will devour them. This is a good thing given that soybeans are a protein powerhouse with a nice dose of calcium, too.
Tip: Serve edamame warm with a squeeze of lemon juice and a sprinkle of salt. It won’t last long.
3. Chobani Kids and Tots Greek Yogurt Pouches
Convenience is key most days, and these handy pouches are easy to grab and go, no spoon required. They have about a quarter less added sugar and double the protein of the leading kids yogurt without artificial ingredients. For the littlest ones, Chobani Tots are a terrific first food for toddlers that have healthy Omega-3 fats and probiotics, too.
Tip: Pack Chobani Kids and Tots in an insulated bag with a freezer pack for snacking on the go. It will be handy (and icy cold) when the hungries hit and you’re not at home.
You can count on your favorite smoothie to put a meaningful dent in your daily calcium and protein needs, that is if it’s made with milk, yogurt, or soy milk. These make a better foundation for smoothies than juice and fruit alone, which can leave kids hungry for more.
Tip: Store smoothie leftovers in ice cube trays for drinks that are at the ready for next time. Head here to learn how.
This little nut, popular among the kid crowd, has far more calcium than any other tree nut. It also boasts six grams of protein in every one-ounce serving (about one-quarter cup).
Tip: Boost the nutrients in hot or cold breakfast cereal by sprinkling on toasted, slivered almonds. Add your favorite sliced or diced fruit for extra color.
6. Ice Pops
Ice pops made with yogurt, milk, or kefir deliver a tasty dose of nutrients all in a fun frozen package. Be aware that pops made with most plant-based milks, such as almond or hemp, won’t provide much in the way of protein. A better non-dairy bet would be soy milk.
Tip: For an even bigger calcium boost, add a spoonful of non-fat dried milk powder to your next batch of milk or yogurt pops. Makes them extra creamy, too.
Made from ground sesame seeds (think sesame seed butter), tahini is a common ingredient in hummus. It’s a handy and nutritious kitchen condiment that will give your kids a boost of key nutrients.
Tip: Drizzle tahini over toast with honey, spoon into a smoothie, or try this Lemon Tahini Yogurt Dip on for size.
Whether it’s melted on a sandwich or eaten straight up with apple wedges, few kids don’t love cheese. It’s an easy, portable, and convenient way to get more protein and calcium into children.
Tip: Cut a favorite firm cheese (Cheddar and Dubliner are popular in our house) into bite-size cubes and serve with crunchy cold vegetables, such as cucumbers, carrots, and fennel.
This post was sponsored by Chobani. It’s partnerships like these that help keep Mom’s Kitchen Handbook up and running.