In this article, we’re touching on a major nutritional component in any child’s diet – protein. And if you’re the parent of a picky eater, you know that sometimes it can be a little hard to get your child to actually eat their protein options. This is precisely the point of this article. We’re going to give you 10 “soft” protein options that your child will love!
But first, what exactly is soft protein?
What is Soft Protein?
Before we get started, let’s outline the benefits of protein in general. Protein is an essential nutrient, and is vital for kids to maintain an active lifestyle. Among other things, your body uses protein to build and repair tissues. Additionally, protein keeps kids full longer than snacks which are packed with processed ingredients and sugar. For all these reasons and more, it is highly beneficial to round out your child’s diet with ample protein options.
However, any parent can tell you there is a difference between serving your child something and actually getting them to eat it. Protein can be an especially tricky food, as there are so many types of protein that kids simply don’t like that much. For this reason, many parents turn to soft protein. Soft protein is just what the name implies, it’s a protein option that is soft to taste and chew.
Many kids prefer eating a soft food diet because they prefer the sensory experience of softer foods. Additionally, if your child is still quite young, they may be more capable of chewing and digesting a soft food or baby food. Think of cooked vegetables, mashed potato, scrambled eggs, fruit puree and foods that are less chewy and hard to touch.
Whatever the reason, it’s a protein alternative that works for many parents, and that’s the bottom line. Feeding your kids soft protein can be a great way to incorporate this essential nutrient into their diet, and we’re here for you with ten of our top picks:
First up, we have yogurt. Yogurt is a great source of protein, with 10g of protein per 100g serving! Typically, kids need about 45-50 grams of protein for day, so yogurt is a great solution to meet these benchmarks.
And of course, yogurt tastes great. There are all sorts of fun flavors that kids enjoy; Greek yogurt is a healthy food option for kids and adults alike. Try adding some fruit and granola to make a full, well-rounded meal!
Eggs are another great source of protein, with 13g per 100g serving. The great thing about eggs is that there are so many ways to prepare them, and you can really work around your child’s preferences. From scrambled eggs, to hard-boiled, to fried, to a tasty omelette – eggs provide ample opportunity for serving a soft protein meal that your kids will love.
Ground Meat (Sloppy Joes)
Next up, we have ground meat. While meat isn’t necessarily “soft” by traditional standards, it’s hard to deny that it’s one of the easier meats to chew. So, when it comes to meat, ground meat is about as “soft” as it will get. Try making it into a fun dish kids love, like sloppy joes! Serve on a nice, soft bun for that added sensory appeal. Try a lean meat option as well, like ground turkey.
Grounds beef contains about 14g of protein per 100g serving.
Beans are another great choice for soft protein, whether you have baked beans, bean salad (with an oil-based dressing), or any type of bean dish, it will be a tasty meal that kids love. Beans have about 21g of protein per 100g serving, but it does depend on the type of bean.
Peanut butter is an unquestioned kid favorite! Whether it’s peanut butter and crackers, a PB & J, or anything else that includes this classic ingredient! If you can, try to get your child to eat all-natural peanut butter (the kind with 100% peanuts). It is a better source of healthy fats, and is free of overly processed ingredients and sugars. Natural peanut butter contains about 8.5g of peanut butter per 2 tbsp serving.
Oatmeal (Add milk and nut butter)
On its own, oatmeal isn’t the best source of protein (only about 2.4g per 100 g serving). However, we’ve included it on this list because it’s so easy to add protein options! Oatmeal is a tasty, soft meal that kids love. Add in some tasty proteins like milk and peanut butter, and it tastes even better! Even add in some fruit and honey for a delicious and sweet taste.
Fish is a great source of protein. Canned tuna is a particular “soft” option, because it is flaky, light, and easy to chew. Tuna salad is very easy to make. Simply mix a can of tuna with a couple spoonfuls of mayo. Then, add some salt, pepper, celery, and cucumber! You’ve got a delicious tuna salad for sandwiches, or even to eat on its own! It’s very high in protein, at about 16g per 100g serving.
Next up, we have cheese! A kid favorite on anything from grilled cheese to cheese and crackers. It’s soft, delicious, and a great source of protein. While the amount of protein will vary depending on the cheese, it’s usually pretty high. For example, cheddar cheese contains about 25g per 100g serving.
Another kid favorite, we can’t forget about hot dogs! While our meat options aren’t quite as “soft” as the other options on our list, it’s still great to find some meats that kids will eat. While hot dogs aren’t necessarily the healthiest option, they’re still quite a bit more nutritious than people give them credit for. Typically, a hot dog will have about 10g of protein per 100 g serving.
Pasta with Meat Sauce
Finally, we have pasta with meat sauce. Meat sauce is a great way to “soften” up your protein options. Try it with ground turkey as a ground meat that is a bit less fatty. And because the meat is less fatty, it actually contains a higher proportion of protein/serving. Ground turkey is very high in protein, at about 27g per 100g serving.
About the Author
Alissa is a resilience coach, cartoonist, and advocate for ‘connection, not perfection’. She’s dedicated to helping others find a sense of safety and belonging inside themselves so they can heal, connect, and build authentic, joyful lives.