Written by Deborah on August 27, 2012 – -
A reader asked me the following question:
What foods do you suggest as good sources of fat/protein for preschool aged children?
I still remember when fat was the devil. I hope that most people know by now that fat is necessary and healthy — when it’s a good fat. Our brain is made of fat, and fats are needed for the absorption of fat soluble nutrients. I also hope that no one thinks it’s hard to get enough protein on a vegan or vegetarian diet. Still, it can be easy to think “getting enough of this or that is easy, therefore I don’t need to focus on it” and end up deficient.
Getting enough fat and protein is especially important for toddlers since they need to so much energy to grow and, well, be toddlers. Here are some staples I believe should be in every child’s diet. Not all of them are necessary, of course. If your kid is allergic to nuts, don’t include them in his diet, etc. But, always be mindful to provide him with all the nutrients he needs to grow up strong and healthy.
Avocado: Avocados are awesome. They digest effortlessly, but are loaded (and I mean loaded!) with nutrients. Add them to salads, mash them up and spread them on sprouted bread, blend them up into guacamole or into green soups, toss pieces in a food processor with soaked dates and cacao powder for a delicious pudding… The possibility are endless.
Olive oil and other healthy oils (chia, flax, Udo’s Choice Oil, pumpkin seed oil…): Perfect to increase the absorption of fat soluble nutrients, healthy unheated oils are great in salads and green soups, dips, and more. I use olive oil in salads, chia oil in chia puddings, Udo’s Oil in fruit smoothies, etc.
Nuts and seeds, and their milks: I generally always have a quart of nut milk in the fridge. My dad’s and my husband’s favorite is Brazil nut milk, and my favorite is sesame seed milk. Simply soak seeds overnight and blend them with 3 times the dry amount of water (1:3 ratio). Strain through a nut milk bag, and that’s it! Use nut milks in cereal, superfood smoothies and more. Use whole nuts and seeds in salads. Use nut and seed butters to top veggies, fruits, or crackers. For example, spread walnut butter in celery ribs and top with goji berries. Spread almond butter on a halved banana and dust it with carob powder. Dip strawberries in melted coconut butter (made with coconut solids, not just fat). Make crackers out of flax seeds.
Coconut: Coconut is a great source of fat. Add spoonfuls of coconut oil to smoothies and shakes. Spread coconut butter on sprouted bread and add a sprinkle of cinnamon. Add shredded coconuts to avocado/cacao puddings.
Hemp seeds: Hemp seeds are some of the best sources of vegetarian protein. Only 4 tablespoons of them are enough to cover half of your protein needs. Not bad! I like to blend hemp seeds with strawberries, bananas and water. It makes a yogurt like smoothie.
Nuts and seeds, and their milks: Same as above!
Leafy greens: Super dense in amino acids and rich in minerals, leafy greens rock my world. Add them to salads, green smoothies, soups (raw or cooked), dehydrate them into chips… Delicious either way.
Protein powders like sprouted brown rice protein powder: I like protein powders and consume them almost daily. A favorite of mine is 1 scoop chocolate Sun Warrior, 1/3 cup cashews, 1 cup water. Blend, and that’s it! You can add a frozen banana, too.
These are just a few of the healthy sources, there are many, many sources of healthy fat and protein for toddlers. I’ve listed the ones that are easy to find if your local grocery store, but don’t be afraid to experiment. If your toddler eats cooked food, pseudograins such as quinoa and millet are great. Beans are good too, but I’m not crazy about them. If he eats dairy products, fermented dairy such as Body Ecology kefir is awesome too.
Raising children is the most important and rewarding thing you do. You know how important nutrition is to their success. A healthy diet–one that avoids sugary snacks and processed foods–is a crucial element in a child’s academic success (not to mention his or her overall health).
Kids who eat well do better in school and are less likely to have problems sitting still, following directions, and focusing their attention. Shannon “Shakaya Breeze” Leone’s new book The Healthy Lunch Box is just what we need to inject a big dose of fun and interest into meal planning and lunch packing — not to mention eating!
To learn more about Joanna, access our free online community of thousands of raw food enthusiasts doing their best to raise healthy families and help their kids enjoy a diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables. You can also interact with Joanna at the Raw Mom Facebook Page!
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