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Jason Bethke

By Jason Bethke


Health and Nutrition Tips for Vegetarian Kids

11/09/12


             

Vegetarian households need to pay extra attention to the youngest family members. Although children have no problem eating carrots and celery sticks, they still need to maintain a balanced health and nutrition plan to keep their protein levels within a safe range. Here's how to add extra protein to a child's vegetarian diet.

High Protein Snacks
Kids enjoy and often need an after-school snack. This fuels their minds to focus on after-school chores and homework. Offer kids easy-to-grab snacks such as a hard-boiled egg, string cheese, or a handful of raw almonds. These add extra protein to a child's diet without the extra sugar and calories that are found hiding in traditional snack-size granola bars or protein bars.

Enjoying Legumes
Add protein to traditional vegetarian dinners by using legumes. Peas, lentils, and beans are easy to mix into cold salads, stews, and vegetable soups. Mash cooked lentils and add traditional meatloaf seasoning and oatmeal to thicken the legumes. Bake it meatloaf-style for a protein-packed entrée.

Adding Grains
Whole grains are a rich source of protein and an excellent part of a child's health and nutrition plan. Serve stir-fry vegetables or thick, vegetable-packed pasta sauce over a bed of whole-grain brown rice. Try making a cold salad from cooked quinoa, corn, diced bell peppers, and a sweet onion salad dressing.

Ways to Eat Nuts
One of the easiest ways to add protein to a child's diet is nuts. Every kid loves a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. But why not mix things up and add a new flavor to the menu by using cashew butter or almond butter? Nuts are also great as a salad topper. They can be blended in smoothies or dipped in chocolate for a simple dessert.

Be an advocate for proper vegetarian health and nutrition by writing to local and national decision-makers to promote children's nutritional needs.

      
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