Monday, April 7, 2014

Sneaky Protein for Picky Eaters

I don't know if Chiquita's type of picky eating is common, but it is something I think about constantly.  She's great in the fruit and veggie area - she'll eat raw produce day and night - but she is VERY picky about protein.  When it comes to meat, she'll only eat chicken nuggets, in the dairy aisle she will very occasionally drink a little milk, she does like yogurt, but cheese is only acceptable on pizza and even then she sometimes manages to pick it off when I'm not looking. She will occasionally eat peanut butter but she's not a big fan of that either and she won't touch beans (at least not in bean form!).

We've had our share of food showdowns, but they weren't very effective so most of the time I resort to sneaking protein into the foods she'll eat.

Here are my top tips:
  • Add eggs.  I'll beat an egg into her rice or macaroni and cheese just before it's finished cooking and it's almost impossible to see.  If your kid's picky enough to notice the slight yellow color of a whole egg in rice then you can use just the egg white but it's not as much protein, but don't despair because you can add double just yolks in the macaroni and cheese without detection!
  • Turn juice into SUPER Juice! I make my own green smoothies every morning and Chiquita is a fan - she'll even drink it if it's actually green.  So I always make sure to add lots of protein with greek yogurt, a handful of almonds (extra blending!), chia seeds or old fashioned protein powder.  I also use Super Juice to make juice pops which Chiquita eats all the time.  You don't have to blend up smoothies every day to get this benefit.  You could just stir protein powder into a glass of juice.  I bought soy protein powder in bulk that was nearly tasteless.
  • Switch out flour in baked goods.  Just using whole wheat instead of white flour adds protein to baked goods, but there's so much you can do to punch up the protein.  I put a bunch of recipes on here for cupcakes, bread and cookies made with canned beans and I honestly make these all the time for breakfast, snacks or dessert.  Recently I've been experimenting with bean flour.  I just took dried white beans and ground them to flour in my baby food grinder (a food processor or wheat grinder would work too).  I replaced up to a fourth of the flour in any recipe with bean flour and have had good results so far - a little denser but not radically.  Here's a good article on ways to use all different types of bean flour.
  • Buy Special Products. Pediasure makes juice boxes and flavored milks that have additional protein as well as vitamins and minerals.  We found a brand of spaghetti noodles (Barilla Plus) made from lentil flour (see, beans!) that are super high in protein and Chiquita hasn't noticed a difference.  I always read the labels on bread to choose the highest protein count (not all "whole wheat" is the real deal and protein count will tell the truth).

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