Protein intake is one of the go-to nutrients many of us think of when making sure kids get what they need to grow healthy and strong. But how much protein do kids need, and how do we get them to eat it? We’re diving into easy kid-friendly protein-rich foods on the go in this blog.
Protein is our body's main building block, it is needed to make hormones, enzymes, tissues, bones, muscles, and transport nutrients. Kids need about 1-1.5 grams of protein for every 2 lbs of weight or 1 gram protein per kg (2.2lbs =1 kg). For example, a 30lb child needs about 14-20 g of protein a day. Thankfully, many times even the pickiest of eaters is capable of getting enough protein. Finding nutrient-dense foods kids enjoy isn’t always an easy venture. Try these fun (and minimal mess) on-the-go proteins below to ease the snack time stress.
Designer Wellness Protein Smoothies are easy, mess-free, delicious, and kid-friendly. Each smoothie comes in a shelf-stable pouch container with an easy spout to sip through. They contain only natural anti-oxidant-rich fruits and 12 g of protein.
Home-made fruit and veggies smoothies are a simple go-to for adults and children. Make your favorite smoothie and add an extra ½ scoop of protein, 1 cup of vegetables, and 1 cup of fruit to share with your little one. A half scoop of Designer Wellness’s protein powder provides about 6grams of protein.
Chickpeas are an allergy-friendly quick protein that contains 9g of protein in ¼ cup. Chickpeas can be enjoyed dried or fresh and seasoned to preference.
Edamame is incredibly versatile, and it can be eaten cooked in its pods, shelled, or dried. Edamame is a complete protein and contains about 9g of protein ½ cup.
5- Turkey Roll-Ups
Roll up one turkey slice with cream cheese, hummus, avocado, or cheese for a simple snack on the go. Each turkey roll-up contains about 6 grams of protein.
6- Cheese Cubes
Cheese is a winner for most adults and kids. Cheese cubes make an effortless snack and contain about 7g of protein in one ounce. The softer the cheese, the more lactose, so choose harder cheeses like sharp cheddar instead of mozzarella for those who are lactose sensitive.
7- Cottage Cheese Pancakes
Pancakes are easy for little hands to grab and eat no matter where you are. The pancake recipe below is packed with calcium, protein, and potassium. For teens and adults, you can add a scoop of vanilla Designer Egg to boost the protein even more. Each pancake with Designer Egg contains about 9g of protein, and each pancake without protein powder contains 6g of protein.
8- Protein Muffins
Muffins are easy to pack in nutrients, and recipes can be changed to include seasonal fruit or adjust to taste preference. Each muffin contains about 5g of protein, and try this recipe from Designer Wellness for blueberry banana muffins.
9- Egg Bites
Egg bites are the newest breakfast trend for a good reason. They are easy to make ahead of time and easy to grab and go. Simply mix seven large eggs with their favorite veggies and cheese, mix well, pour into 12 muffin tins, and bake for 20 minutes. One egg bite contains about 6 grams of protein and is a good source of vitamin D and choline.
Many don’t realize fruit contains protein. Blackberries are one of the higher protein berries, with 2 grams of protein in 1 cup. This easy-to-grab fruit is also high in fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, and antioxidants.
Many times we overthink nutrition when it comes to kids. Focus on easy-to-grab whole foods with simple ingredients, like listed above, to make life easier and healthier. As always, ask your pediatrician before starting any supplements or diets.
Cottage cheese Protein Pancakes
- Four eggs
- 1 ½ cups small curd* cottage cheese
- 1 mashed banana
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¾ cup all-purpose flour or gluten-free flour
- 1 scoop Designer Egg (if making for adults or bigger kids)
- ½ tablespoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- Whisk the eggs, cottage cheese, mashed banana, and vanilla in a medium bowl. Add one scoop of vanilla Designer Wellness Designer Egg for bigger kids with higher protein needs.
- In another bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add it to the bowl with the wet ingredients and mix until smooth.
- Heat a non-stick skillet or griddle over medium heat, then add butter to coat. Scoop out ¼ cup portions of the batter and cook the pancakes until golden brown on one side, adjusting the heat, so it doesn’t brown too fast. Flip and cook until cooked through and no longer gooey at the edges.
- Serve immediately and top with favorite fruit or freeze
Cleveland Clinic: August 10, 2021 / Nutrition: Why Extra Protein for Your Child Is Unnecessary – and Possibly Dangerous
Ginger C. Cochran, MS, RDN, CDCES, ACSM-CEP
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist