Alternative Sources of Protein

If your child refuses to eat meats, don’t worry you are not alone! Many toddlers may refuse to eat meats for a number of reasons. Either they are exerting their control over foods or maybe they just don’t like the texture. Either way, as a concerned parent it can be very frustrating since you know that protein is an important nutrient in their diet and essential for growth.

A little bit about protein…

There are basically two types of proteins

  1. Complete proteins – These proteins come from animal products and include:  fish poultry, beef, pork, dairy foods, eggs, etc. These proteins contain all the amino acids that your body needs to build new proteins.
  2. Incomplete proteins – These proteins come from fruits, vegetables, nuts and grains. Although these are healthy proteins they lack one or more of the essential amino acids. However when combined together in different ways you can create a meal that does contain all amino acids (which creates a complete protein mix)

Beans and legumes

This includes peas, beans, lentils and peanuts.

Whole grains

Sometimes when I mention whole grains as a great source of protein, people are very surprised. Whole grains are usually a great source of protein and other important nutrients such as iron. Amaranth, barley, buckwheat, flaxseed, millet, oats, quinoa, rye, sorghum, spelt, wheat are all examples of whole grains.

Protein: The Breakdown

Here is a list of foods with their protein content. I love this list as it helps me to pick new foods for my son that are rich in proteins. Additional nutrient information.

Food Amount of protein Other great nutrients (these foods contain more that just these nutrients mentioned)
Greek yogurt 8g per 1/2 cup Calcium
Black beans 8g per ½ cup cooked Iron, calcium, fiber
Peanut butter 8g per 2 tablespoons Manganese
Almonds 8g per ¼ cup Calcium, vitamin E, magnesium
Peanuts 9g per ¼ cup Iron, copper, manganese
Pumpkin seeds 8g per ¼ cup Magnesium, zinc
Soy beans 14g per ½ cooked
Amaranth 7g per ¼ cup uncooked Calcium, iron and zinc
Barley 5.75g per ¼ uncooked Soluble fiber, iron and niacin
Buckwheat 5.75g per ¼ cup uncooked Calcium, magnesium, B vitamins and iron.
Flaxseed 7.75g per ¼ cup uncooked Omega 3-fatty acids, fiber
Millet 5.5 g per ¼ cup uncooked Iron and Magnesium
Oats 6.5g per ¼ cup uncooked Fiber, B vitamins, iron
Quinoa 5.5g per ¼ cup uncooked Highest quality of protein—more than any other grain
Brown rice 3.75g per ¼ cup uncooked Iron, niacin
Rye 6.25g per ¼ cup uncooked Fiber, vitamin E, calcium
Spelt 6g per ¼ cup uncooked B vitamins and fiber
Wheat 7.5g per ¼ cup uncooked Fiber, iron, B vitamins

Protein packed recipe ideas:

What is your child’s favorite non-meat source of protein? ***ENTER TO WIN*** Leave a comment below and you will be entered for a chance to Designed to Nourish™ WIN Puree & Simple™ Immersion Blender &  Snack-A-Pillar™ Stackable Snack and Dipping cups! TEN winners will be randomly selected from all comments (U.S. residents only). Check back on Tuesday, November 13th when we will post the winners!


What is your child’s favorite non-meat source of protein? ***GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED*** Leave a comment below and you will be entered for a chance to Designed to Nourish™ WIN Puree & Simple™ Immersion Blender &  Snack-A-Pillar™ Stackable Snack and Dipping cups! TEN winners will be randomly selected from all comments (U.S. residents only). Check back on Tuesday, November 13th when we will post the winners!

Here are the WINNERS: Lisa J., Jessica N., Marybel R., Dana M., Lindsay S., Alicia, Michelle, Lisa, Amy and Tanya WIf you are one of the winners, you will be contacted by e-mail. Thanks to everyone for commenting! 


Lisa Johnson says:
November 1, 2012 at 10:40 pm
We love eggs, beans and greek yogurt!!


Jessica Nunez says:
November 1, 2012 at 10:48 pm 
My little guys loves garbanzos and black bean soup, as well as almonds and peanuts!


Marybel R. says:
November 1, 2012 at 10:45 pm 
My twins love beans & broccoli


Dana McGowen says:
November 2, 2012 at 12:06 am
Brown rice and peanut butter are two of our favorites!


Lindsay Swab says:
November 1, 2012 at 11:23 pm
My little man LOVES his peanut butter with whole grain waffles.


Alicia says:
November 2, 2012 at 12:41 am
Frozen greek yogurt as a treat.


Michelle says:
November 2, 2012 at 12:53 am
My son loves yogurt!


Lisa says:
November 2, 2012 at 1:22 am
My 2yo son loves beans and yogurt. My 4yo son is loving the pb&j.


Amy says:
November 2, 2012 at 3:22 am
My daughter enjoys yogurt,cheese,and goat’s milk…


Tanya White says:
November 12, 2012 at 5:19 pm
My childrens favorite source of protein is peanut butter


Stage 5

  • 1 cup no-salt, low fat chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup diced cooked chicken (use left-over chicken from another meal)
  • 1/4 cup of bow tie pasta
  • Fresh garlic to taste
  • 1/2 small onion, diced (if desired)

Bring broth to a boil with the 1/2 cup of chicken then add the pasta. Cook on medium heat until the pasta is done to your toddler’s preference.

Stage 4

  • 1/2c canned pumpkin
  • 1/3 c pasta shells or elbow macaroni
  • 1/2c 2% milk
  • ½ c shredded Gouda cheese, mozzarella, or other melting cheese
  • 1/2 c shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 Tbsp Parmesan cheese

In medium saucepan over medium heat, mix milk and cheeses, stirring continuously until cheese has melted. Add in pumpkin and blend. Mixture should be smooth. Meanwhile cook pasta following package directions PLUS 3-4 extra minutes, until pasta is very soft. Drain pasta. Add pasta to cheese sauce and stir until pasta is well coated. Use masher to mash Mac & Cheese to smoother consistency, if needed.

Stage 3

  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 2 ½ c water
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 Tbsp flour

In a large skillet cover and cook turkey until brown. Pour in 2 ½ cups water. Cover and let simmer 5 min. Drain meat and reserve drippings in small bowl. In skillet melt butter and stir in flour until smooth. Gradually add drippings whisking continuously to prevent lumps. Use immersion blender to combine half of meat and gravy then add remaining half of meat and gravy and blend until smooth.

Stage 5

  • 1 8oz box of frozen spinach
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 2 egg whites lightly beaten

Beat 2 egg whites. Drain spinach and squeeze as much water out as possible. Put spinach into a mixing bowl. Add breadcrumbs and mix. Fold in 2 egg whites and mix until ingredients become dough-like. Pat dough on cutting board until flat. Cut into shapes of your choice. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes until golden brown.

Stage 5

  • 1 veggie or whole grain tortilla – fajita or taco size
  • 2 slices of deli thin ham
  • 1 scrambled egg
  • 1/4 cup of shredded cheddar cheese

Load the ham, egg and cheese into the tortilla. Roll up, cut and serve.

This is a nutritious and filling meal for the whole family! Just double, triple or quadruple the recipe, depending on the number of mouths you have around the dinner table.

Stage 5

  • 1 slice of whole grain bread
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cookie cutter shape of your choice
  • 1 teaspoon butter

Cut a shape in the center of the bread with your cookie cutter. Butter the bread. Put the bread in a hot non-stick pan. Crack the egg in the center of the bread “shape.” Cook to desired doneness. Flip the goofy egg to cook to desired doneness. Serve.