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How to Boost Protein in Your Toddler’s Favorite Recipes

I’ve thought long and hard about what my 3 year old’s love language might be. And I realized that there is one thing he loves no matter what sort of mood he might be in — carbs. Maybe you can relate?! Most toddlers I know are total carboholics. And that’s okay, because it’s normal and healthy for them to have up to 60 or 65% of their diet be made up of carbs. But they still need a little protein boost in their meals!

Getting protein in can definitely be a struggle at times. Though their protein needs are low compared to adults, they do get great benefit from having some protein in their meals. Not only does it contain building blocks for growing strong bodies, but it also helps keep them full longer. Then they can make it to the next snack or meal time more easily. And hopefully avoid a hunger meltdown!

A little bit of protein goes a long way for our little ones. So do not be dismayed if they regularly turn up their nose to eggs, meat, and fish. We are accustomed to much bigger protein portions here in America than they need. Like a half of a chicken breast, for example? That’s more protein than a toddler or preschooler needs in an entire day!

Since they do usually choose carbs first – and sometimes ONLY eat the carbs on their plate – I wanted to help you find some ways to boost those carbs with a bit of protein.

Adding a small protein boost to their favorite carby foods is a great way to:

  • make mealtimes easier- just serve one thing instead of making multiple meal components
  • get protein in your toddler who only wants to eat carbs
  • serve balanced meals that have all three macronutrients necessary for growth and development- carbohydrates, protein, and fat
  • have peace of mind that they are getting the nutrition they need

Boost protein in your toddler's favorite recipes |

Toddler Friendly Recipes

I have carefully selected these recipes below for you to try! There are muffins, pancakes, french toast, smoothies, granola, cookies, bars, energy bites…total toddler heaven. All of these are lower in added sugar than the traditional versions, and some are even free of added sugar! The common theme among them all is a hearty boost of protein.

Some use very unconventional ingredients – like lentils – but I encourage you to give them a try. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by using lentils and chickpeas in baking. Their flavor typically disappears into the background and you’d have no idea they’re in there. My husband is usually an even tougher critic than my kids, and he willingly eats the baked goods I make that have legumes inside, if that helps convince you!

Protein Packed Breakfast Recipes

Lean Green Bean French Toast Sticks

Baked Oatmeal French Toast Sticks via The Lean Green Bean (pictured)

Healthy Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins via Lively Table

Flourless Blueberry Muffins [Gluten-free, no added sugar] via Healthy Inspiration

Lentil Banana Muffins via The Lean Green Bean

No Bake Oatmeal Raisin Breakfast Cookies via Better is the New Perfect

8 High Protein Smoothies via Smart Nutrition

High Protein Peanut Butter Granola via Smart Nutrition

Sweet Cherry Gingerbread French Toast Bake via The Lean Green Bean

Mandarin Orange French Toast via Amy Gorin Nutrition

Sweet Potato Protein Pancakes via The Lean Green Bean

Protein Packed Bars, Bites, and Cookies

PBJ Oatmeal Bars Lively Table

No Added Sugar PB&J Baked Oatmeal Bars via Lively Table (pictured)

No Bake Peanut Butter Cereal Bars via Better is the New Perfect

Peanut Butter Cup Quinoa Energy Bites via Lively Table

Almond Butter and Jelly Energy Bites via Kara Lydon

Chocolate Pea Cookies via The Lean Green Bean

Chocolate Peanut Butter Squares via BeeKay Nutrition

5 Ingredient No Bake Nut Butter Bars via Mama Knows Nutrition

Blueberry Coconut Energy Balls via Make Healthy Easy

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Kacie Barnes holding an apple
Hi, I’m Kacie!

I’m a mom of two and a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. I offer e-guides and e-books (go to my Shop page), workshops, brand partnerships, and nutrition counseling. Check out my blog for nutrition and feeding tips for your little ones.


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