In the past few years, soy has become a more common protein in school lunches. It’s also become the go-to source of protein for parents looking to add it to their kids’ meals. This nutritious food can help kids grow stronger bones and teeth, prevent anemia, and even reduce the risk of developing cancer later in life.
Research suggests that soy is a healthy way to get additional protein. In fact, studies show that it can have positive effects on bone health in both human andanimal nutrition. Unfortunately, kids react differently when introduced to new things.
Some kids may immediately like it and enjoy their meal, while others may take time to familiarize themselves with the new food. Even though these unfortunate incidents are usually rare (and often endearing), they can make parents hesitant to introduce more soy into their child’s diet again for a long time.
We all know that introducing new foods to our kids requires a lot of patience and creativity, but there are so many ways you can add soy to your kid’s meal without them even knowing! Here are five ways you can add soy to your kid’s meal:
1. Serve Edamame as an Appetizer
Edamame is a great way to introduce small amounts of soy to your child’s diet. Edamame is soybeans served fresh in the pod. It’s a healthy, nutritious snack with tons of nutrients like iron and fiber, ideal for human and animal nutrition.
It’s easy to find fresh edamame in grocery stores and many quick-service restaurants. Edamame makes a great snack or appetizer with a dipping sauce, and it’s easy to add one or two pods to your child’s meal without them even noticing. Sprinkle some salt to add a little flavor, and serve them warm for a delicious starter that’s easy to make.
While most edamame is steamed, you can also buy frozen edamame seasoned with salt. For a kid-friendly meal, pair edamame with a whole-wheat pita and hummus for dipping. You can also serve edamame as a side dish to almost any meal.
2. Add Tofu to a Stir Fry or Curry Dish
Tofu is an excellent source of protein, so adding it to a stir fry or curry dish is a simple way to increase the protein content in your kid’s meal. In a stir fry, you can marinate and cook the tofu before adding it to the dish.
You can also crumble and cook it with vegetables. In a curry dish, tofu works great in a masala sauce. You can add it to a vegetarian dish or a vegetable stir fry. Another easy way to add tofu to your kid’s meal is to make a cheesy tofu sandwich.
Tofu is an excellent source of protein and calcium, and it contains no saturated fat, so you can feel good about serving it to your kids. You can make the sandwich by crumbling tofu, sprinkling it with nutritional yeast, and mixing it with shredded cheese for a better taste.
3. Add Soy Sauce to Sautéed Veggies
Soy sauce is a flavorful addition to any stir fry or sautéed vegetables. You can use it to marinate meat or seafood before grilling or roasting. You can also drizzle it on steamed vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots.
While some soy sauce varieties are high in sodium, lower-sodium and reduced-sodium varieties are available. When adding soy sauce to sautéed vegetables, keep portions in check.
Because soy sauce is high in sodium, it’s easy to overdo it. For kids who are wary of soy, you can mix it with low-sodium tamari soy sauce. This type of soy sauce is less salty than regular soy sauce.
4. Substitute Cow Milk with Soy Milk
Many kids drink cow’s milk as part of their daily nutritional intake. One way to add soy to your kid’s meal is to substitute cow’s milk with soy milk. One cup of soy milk contains 6 grams of protein, compared to only 3 grams in a cup of cow’s milk.
You can also add soy milk to your kid’s cereal or oatmeal. But be careful to choose a low-sugar variety. Add a bit of fresh fruit to round out the meal and make it more nutritious.
5. Try Tempeh as a Meat Alternative
Tempeh is a fermented soy product that’s full of protein and fiber. It can be used in place of meat as a vegetarian protein source. You can add it to a stir fry or a vegetable stew to increase the protein in your kid’s meal.
You can also crumble and mix it with spices to make a tasty vegetarian burger patty. If you’re serving tempeh to your kids, use it in moderation. Because of the fermentation process, it contains higher levels of the chemical isoflavones than other soy products. This can result in a higher estrogenic effect in kids.
Soy is a nutritious addition to your kids’ meals that offers a healthy source of plant-based protein. Introducing soy to your kid’s diet can be an uphill task. Remember to keep trying, and don’t give up if your kid doesn’t like it immediately. This can take time and patience. All you need to do is keep trying different ways and eventually find a way that works best for your kid and their tastes.