Protein Food Group

Why is Protein Important?

Making sure to get a diet plentiful in lean protein will keep your  metabolism burning and your body energized.  Dense in B vitamins, iron, zinc, magnesium, Vitamin E, in addition to many more nutrients, protein shouldn’t be forgotten.  Choose foods such as lean red meat, white skinless chicken breast, eggs, soy products, beans & legumes, seafood, nuts & seeds  turkey, and pork.  With such a variety, you won’t have to worry about becoming protein  deficient.  For those that have chosen a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle, make sure you are combining protein sources so you can make a complete  protein. - Jill Latham, M.S., R.D.

Teaching Kids About Protein

Here are some suggestions from the National Food Service Management Institute (NFSMI) on how we can teach children about Proteins (Meat and Meat Alternates).  Mealtime Memo, Teaching Children About the Food Groups: Meat and Meat Alternates

Identify What Your Eating

Teach children to identify proteins they eat for breakfast, lunch or dinner.  For Example at breakfast they might identify items such as eggs, sausage, beans, cheese and ham.  

Making Nut Butter

Make peanut butter with the children.  Let them shell peanuts, help them follow the recipe and allow them to taste the peanut butter with crackers. Ask them how the peanut butter tastes!

Burrito Recipe

Make this delicious recipe with beef or pork and ask the children to identify the different proteins within the recipe.  

Controlling Food Cost

NFSMI suggest beans are a good way to control costs as a nutritious meat alternate.  Keep in mind dried beans have the most nutrition.  Here are a couple of the many suggestions they have to add beans to your menus.

  • Add beans to salads; garbanzo beans are a good choice
  • Serve meatless bean soup, chili or stew
  • Make individual black bean pizzas

Teacher Tip: Let the Kids Help

"Let the children in your care help prepare bean dishes for meals and snacks.  Children are more likely to try and accept new foods they help prepare. Cooking with the children will help each child learn to like to cook, and they will learn an essential life skill, being able to prepare their own healthful meals."  Mealtime Memo No. 10, 2008NFSMI

Books About Protein


Samantha Marshall, M.A.

Samantha is, just like you, excited to make a difference in our community and our world. With a Master of Arts degree in English Literature, you might ask how she found herself building and writing for a website focused on child care. From 1995 through 2001, Samantha started her career working for Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) sponsors which introduced her to the importance of non-profits, community and quality child care. Her experience with Sponsors, State Officials, and Family Child Care Providers left a great and lasting impression. Later in her career and her most recent position at SAGE Publications, an academic publisher, was as a product manager for a new online resource! During this time many of Samantha's passions collided. A love for the written word, children and the proliferation of knowledge as well as a fascination with the resources the internet gives us, building a community for child care on is the perfect way to make the difference she wanted to. Needless to say, she is very excited to be an active part of creating and building