My son has declared he is a vegetarian and it’s the hardest thing to make sure he gets enough protein without mean. At first we thought it was a phase, and my husband and I would sneak meat into his meals. We’d finely chop ground meat for his spaghetti, or hide the steak strips under rice in his stir-fry. Well the minute he tasted the meat, he’d spit the food right out, and protest that he doesn’t like chicken. (Since all meat is chicken to kids under the age of 6). Well, we are right on the cusp of summer’s end and he just turned 5. Rather than continuing to play this game of hide the meat, we are giving in and now are proclaiming that we have a vegetarian among us. At first we thought that he would suffer some horrible protein deficit because he’s not eating meat, which is one of the main sources of protein in the American diet. Actually, we were completely wrong. There are tons of other ways to get your kiddo that protein intake without even an ounce of meat consumption. Here are a few:
1. A green-leaf salad with every meal.
Leafy greens like romaine, kale, spinach and rabe are ideal for vegetarian kids. Whether you’re a meat-eater or not, at my house everyone eats a salad before dinner. This is a great practice for your vegetarian kids. Since they are not consuming the same thing as everyone else during the main course of the meal, its during the salad appetizer that they get to experience their oneness with the rest of the family at the dinner table.
2. Yogurt for breakfast.
As far as protein consumption is concerned, yogurt packs a lot of punch. Most non-fat yogurts boast a whooping 6 to 9 grams of protein per serving. (according to Men’s Fitness Magazine). Plus, most kids don’t complain about strawberry, banana or vanilla yogurt. If you really want to give your kid a double dose of healthy, yogurt and oatmeal is the ultimate breakfast.
Phillip and I love pizza! We love pizza with mushrooms, pizza with pineapples, pizza with spinach, we love pizza with everything! For my little vegetarian, pizza is the ultimate meal. You can add all kinds of cheeses, which are packed with protein and greens (like spinach) that are tasty but give your lil’ non-meat eater the protein punch he needs.
4. A Milkshake for Desert
Kelis isn’t the only one who knows how to make a good milkshake. I can make a pretty good one too, and my Phillip loves cheese, milk and anything else that has dairy in it. My hubby calls him our little rat. So, a milkshake is right up his alley. Plus, the best thing about a milkshake is that you can pretty much add everything on this list to it, with the exception of the pizza (of course). A good blender will chop up peanuts and mix yogurt and greens right into your child’s milkshake creating the ultimate protein shake.