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!
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, 2008, NFSMI