My daughter has always been a good eater, sometimes even out-eating my husband at mealtimes, but we all know what inevitably happens between meals – snacking, of course.
When it comes to toddler nutrition, you should make every meal and snack count. It’s so easy to fall into the habit of grabbing endless handfuls of processed or pre-packaged snacks because, come on, we are all busy parents, am I right?
But busyness or processed food convenience shouldn’t be the reason to stuff your toddler with empty calories or bad sugars and fats. In fact, preparing healthy, protein-packed snacks takes very little effort and promotes those growing taste buds to appreciate delicious, healthy food. Plus, by making sure your toddler snacks have a protein element, they will fill up faster, getting them out of the habit of mindless snacking of carb or sugar-based snacks.
10 Protein Packed Snacks for Toddlers
Take inspiration from this simple list of protein packed snacks for toddlers; push yourself to think outside the convenience of pre-packaged treats and into the realm of healthy, delicious goodies. Here are some ideas:
1. Gerber Lil’ Beanies: For parents who like the convenience of a pre-made snack, now you don’t have to sacrifice nutrition for convenience. Gerber Lil’ Beanies is the first bean-based toddler snack (found in the baby aisle) that delivers protein, fiber, and Vitamin E. There are NO GMO’s, and the delicious, light-weight baked snack, made from navy beans, is sure to delight and satisfy your toddler’s snacky cravings.
This is also a great snack when you’re on-the-go, whether it’s in the car, on a walk to the park, or stashed in your bag as an emergency. A quick trip to Target (ha! does that even exist?) and you’ll be on your way to enjoying Lil’ Beanies for yourself.
2. Ants on a log: Now this brings me back to childhood, anyone with me? Cut up pieces of celery and fill the middle with full-fat peanut, almond, or sun butter, sticking the “ants,” aka raisins, in the middle. Have your toddler help with the preparation for more fun!
3. Smoothie: Let your child help make a protein-packed smoothie. Get out all of your ingredients and have your toddler drop them into the blender – it’s also a great learning experience. Talk about the fruits and veggies you’re adding, describing their colors and names together.
Mix and match these super foods for your toddler’s smoothie:
- Frozen green beans
- Frozen or fresh berries
- Fresh kale (you can’t taste it in a smoothie, promise!)
- Fresh spinach
- Greek yogurt
- Ripe banana
- Honey (as sweetener)
- Almond, cashew, or coconut milk
- Pineapple chunks
- Mango cubes
- Unsweetened applesauce
4. Deli rollup: Take two slices of deli meat (low sodium) and roll with one slice of cheese and a veggie (tomato, spinach, etc.) for a yummy, protein-packed snack.
5. Chicken and bean quesadilla: For convenience, buy pre-cooked/sliced pieces of chicken. In a non-stick, lightly oiled pan, toast a tortilla, adding a sprinkle of cheese, a few pieces of chicken, and black beans to the mix. Fold over and wait until the cheese is melted and the tortilla is slightly browned. You can cut in quarters, wrap in foil, and put in plastic bags for easy transport until you’re ready to enjoy.
6. Mini peanut butter and jelly: You can make this ahead of time and keep in the fridge until you’re ready. Choose all-natural, full fat nut butter and all-fruit jelly to make your sandwich, cutting into quarters.
7. Healthy brownie balls: We all have those chocolate cravings; whether you’re a toddler or adult, opt for this natural and healthy date-based treat. Be sure to add all-natural nut butter for extra protein.
8. Egg salad bites: Make a batch of egg salad and refrigerate it for the week. Peel hard boiled eggs and smash with a fork in a bowl with plain Greek yogurt and a bit of mustard (enough to make the egg mixture slightly wet). Add yummy extras if you’d like, such as diced celery, carrot, spinach, tomato, and avocado. Lightly season to taste (if necessary) and put on top of a whole wheat cracker.
9. Low-fat cottage cheese and fruit: The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics states that 1/2 cup of low-fat cottage cheese provides 14 grams of protein. Let your toddler pick some fruit to mix in for a berry good, protein loaded snack.
10. Trail mix: Make your own trail mix with your child’s help! Make in a large batch and seal in a Tupperware container or pre-package in small bags for convenience.
Consider adding the following:
- Bean-based trail mix base
- Pumpkin or sunflower seeds
- Dried fruit (raisins, craisins, apricots)
- Shredded coconut
- Freeze-dried berries
- Banana chips
- Dark chocolate bits
I would love to hear more nutritious snacks to add to my repertoire! What are some of your favorite healthy or protein filled snacks for your kids? Are you more apt to choose pre-packaged treats or make your own? #Gerberwinwin