Kids Meals: Getting Protein into an Infant's Diet

When Maggie came along a year ago, so did a bunch of her little friends.  Coincidentally many of my girlfriends also had little girls around the same time.  It's wonderful to have gals pals to share the joys and tribulations of motherhood with. Recently my friends and I have been struggling with how to get more protein into their one-year old's diets.  This post is specifically for one girlfriend with a lot on her plate and not a lot of time to brainstorm edible protein packed meals for her little one.

Here are some of Maggie's protein-packed favorites that don't take long to prepare and mommy will enjoy too.

Greek Yogurt - it has twice the amount of protein as regular yogurt and real fruit.  Stoneyfield Farms (same maker as YoBaby) makes a great organic Greek Yogurt.

Turkey Bacon, cut into little bites

Whole Wheat Toast with Peanut Butter

Hardboiled or Scrambled Eggs - for Maggie it's easier to eat the hardboiled; the scrambled often just fall out of her mouth

Good Ole' PB&J or Grilled Cheese - does it get any easier?

Cheese and Refriend Bean Quesadilla - take one whole wheat quesadilla and spread refried beans on one side, sprinkle with shredded cheese of your choice and fold in half.  You can either toast in a pan over medium heat, which will give it a little crunch, or warm it in the microwave which will keep it soft. Maggie likes the crunch.

Naked Chicken Nuggets - most grocery stores sell frozen bags of All Natural white meat chicken nuggets with no breading or additives.  It's just the chicken and takes only 1 minute to warm in the microwave.  Cut into tiny bites or shred with a fork.  If you have a Costco nearby, find these there. They're great.

Chicken Salad and Avocoda in Whole Wheat Pitas - click for recipe from Weelicious.

Mini Turkey Meatballs - Maggie's absolute favorite thing to eat.  I've posted the recipe below.  
Seasoned Tofu - Honestly, this is really good.  Take extra firm tofu and drain the water off of it. I use paper towels to pat it dry. Crumble the tofu and season it with a 1 1/4 teaspoons chili powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt and a pinch of pepper.  Heat 1 tablespoon EVOO in a skillet and cook the tofu.  Add corn, spinach or anything else you like to it for veggie tacos for you, and give the bites of tofu to kid.

Salmon Cakes - I use this Crab Cake recipe from Cooking Light but substitute the crab for salmon.  It's much healthier and taste better.

Shredded BBQ Pork in a crockpot - this makes a great meal for mommy and daddy too, plus leftovers.  Mix 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon hickory smoked salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and rub it into 3 1/2 pounds pork spareribs.  Place in slow cooker and pour 1/2 cup cola over it.  Cook on low for 8 - 9 hours.  When you go to remove the ribs the meat will fall right off the bone.  Discard bones and shred meat. Drain liquid from cooker, return meet to cooker and coat with BBQ sauce and let warm a few minutes. Serve. Yum.

Mini Turkey Meatballs
These are super easy and only take 30 minutes of hands-on time, but they'll simmer for another 30 minutes so start making them at least an hour before you plan to eat. Or make them earlier and reheat later.

  • 4 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
(hint: I chop my onion and 2 cloves garlic together in a mini food processor; saves time and tears. chop the remaining 2 cloves seperately)
  • 1 28-ounce can tomato puree
  • 1 6-ounce can tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan
  • 2 tablespoons fresh oregano
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground turkey
  • 3/4 cup (about 16 crackers) multigrain saltine crackers, finely crushed (also a good snack to keep on hand for kids)
(hint: put the crackers in a zip lock baggie and crush the bag repeatedly with your hand; make sure no large pieces of cracker remains)

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a dutch oven or large saucepan over medium heat.  Add the onion and half the garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is tender. About 8 minutes.  Add the tomato puree and paste, sugar, and 1/2 cup parmesan, 1 tablespoon oregano, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1 1/2 cups water.  Simmer, partially covered, stirring occasionally for 30 minutes.

While the sauce is simmering get out a large bowl.  Lightly beat the egg in the bowl.  Add the turkey, crackers, remaining parmesan, garlic, and oregano, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.  Using a tablespoon or mini ice cream scoop shape the mixture into small meatballs. 

Heat the remaining oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and cook the meatballs, turning occasionally, until browned.  Transfer the meatballs to the sauce and simmer, stirring occasionally until sauce thickens, about 25 minutes.

Add whole wheat spaghetti if you like or serve as is.  Maggie prefers them without the pasta...and as mess as possible. 


Jennifer said...

Did you know that turkey bacon is actually worse for you than regular bacon? It has a ton more sodium in it.