8 Easy Ideas to Boost Protein and Calcium in Kids

Thank you to Chobani for sponsoring this post.

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. 
8 Easy Ideas for Getting More Protein and Calcium Into Kids (2)

1. Yogurt 

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.

2. Soybeans

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.

4. Smoothies 

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.

5. Almonds

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.

7. Tahini 

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.

8. Cheese 

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.

Calcium and Protein for Kids

8 Easy Ideas to Get More Protein and Calcium into Kids! #NationalDairyMonth @Chobani #spon Click To Tweet

8 Easy Ideas for Getting More Protein and Calcium Into Kids (1)

Comments

06.30.2016 at 5:01 AM #

Emme

You have a lot of dairy products up there. I might not have a vegan kid, but she sure is still allergic to dairy… and she’s a picky eater (texture sensory issues). I know there will be some moms in my situation that click your link hoping to find something that might help…

We have a great smoothie recipe now that will hit those high points in calcium and protein and does not have a bit of dairy, gluten or added sugar. It also hits the chocolate notes that makes my husband happy as well. This will make enough for 2 adult cups and enough for 2 children’s cups.

Throw into a blender: 3 cups unsweetened almond milk, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp nutmeg, 2 tbs 100% dark cocoa powder, 10 dates, 2 bananas, 1 scoop pea protein, 1 tsp gluten free vanilla extract and 1/2 cup of steel cut oats (I prefer to add 1 cup, but it changes the texture too much). Then we blend until smooth (skipping this step left some chunks of dates and oats and the little and husband were not happy) and throw in enough ice to fill up the rest of the blender and re-blend until smooth again. It is very chocolatey and the dates and bananas make it sweet. We even bought the popsicle molds and put it freezes well in them for popsicles.

We did start with toddler flintstones at 2 so we could get some more vitamins in her, but she is very picky about textures. Any suggestions that are dairy free as well as frozen or crispy?

06.30.2016 at 5:01 AM #

katiemorford

Hi Emme, Thanks for chiming in. And thank you for the recipe. Sounds delicious! I’m wondering if your daughter can do soy milk, which is fortified with calcium and is also a good source of protein. You could do any of the suggestions in this post using soy milk, including smoothies and pops. I’ve got a recipe for a pineapple green smoothie on the blog using pea protein, soy milk, and kale (the latter two supply calcium). And the chocolate breakfast drink in this post http://www.momskitchenhandbook.com/recipes/breakfast-2/on-being-brave-12-back-to-school-breakfasts-and-a-lifefactory-giveaway/ is very popular in our house. I’ve also had success adding soft tofu (be sure it’s processed with calcium carbonate) to smoothies and pops. You also might check out the Spicy Rd http://www.eastewart.com/gluten-free-recipes/ She is wonderful and has lots of dairy free recipes. Best of luck to you. Your little one is lucky to have such a caring mama.

06.30.2016 at 4:17 PM #

Lindsey

Great that you mentioned tahini! Such a great ingredient to easily incorporate into many snacks and dishes!

06.30.2016 at 4:17 PM #

katiemorford

One of my new favorites, Lindsey…and delicious blended into Greek yogurt for a dip.

07.01.2016 at 6:12 AM #

Shannon @ KISS in the Kitchen

Love all these options and Chobani is one of my favs! I’ll definitely start recommending these Tot pouches to the families I work with! Thanks, Katie!

07.01.2016 at 6:12 AM #

katiemorford

Great Shannon. Even my teens liked the Tots 🙂

07.01.2016 at 12:23 PM #

Deanna Segrave-Daly

Never thought to use tahini other than in hummus – great tips!

07.01.2016 at 12:23 PM #

katiemorford

Thanks Deanna. I’m on a tahini kick at the moment and my kids are slowly developing a taste for it, too.

07.01.2016 at 12:38 PM #

Dr. Becky

Hi Katie,

I like that you included a number of plant-based foods that are high in protein and calcium. I know they are not always the kid’s favorites, but the calcium in plant foods stays in the body better because they create an alkaline state in the body. Calcium buffers acids in the body. When the body is more alkaline, there’s no need to pull calcium out of the bones.

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