Meat Alternatives for Your Littles

Lauren Jackson 4/26/2017

Hi everyone! 

Brooklyn is in the process of finding ways to incorporate more filling foods into her nanny babies diet while trying to hold off on meats until after 1. 

The main nutrients that meat supplies you with are are protein, B vitamins, vitamin E, iron, zinc, and magnesium and so it is imperative to incorporate foods dense in these vitamins to compensate for the lack of meat. If your baby is still breast feeding, breast milk contains iron and vitamin D and so you don't need to worry about them being deficient in these things, especially since milk is still their main source food. For babies that are being formula fed you can try and find an iron high formula base or just incorporate more iron based foods like leafy greens. 

I think the main thing people think when thinking of a vegetarian diet is you're not getting enough protein. My general rule of thumb is if your bones aren't breaking when you stand and your nails are still growing you're getting enough protein and same goes for your baby. You don't have to worry about making every meal an extreme protein based meal because their getting that from the milk and fruits and vegetables throughout the day. Keeping them happy and full comes from giving them a plate full of everything they need not just protein.

HOWEVER I am not a doctor, soo take what i'm saying (typing) with a grain of salt. If you feel you're missing something please go talk with your doctor! 

Down below i'm going to list a few foods, their vitamins, and some ways that you can cook them! 

 
 
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Eggs

Benefits: Protein, Biotin, Vitamin B12, Vitamin D and Vitamin A

Ways to make

  1. Scrambled eggs with added cheese for an extra boost!
  2. Boiled eggs (especially great for an on the go snack, kept cool with an ice pack)
  3. Add cooked and crumbled egg yolks to baby purees, soups, or any thing else around that texture that your baby enjoys!
  4. Mash cooked egg yolk with avocado

Dairy

Benefits: Vitamin B12, Vitamin C, Thiamin, and Riboflavin

  1. Incorporate whole milk yogurts into purees and smoothies
  2. Add shredded cheese to cooked meals or add cheese sticks into meals

Grains

Benefits: Protein, Fiber, B Vitamins and Antioxidants  

Whole grains are full of great nutrients like protein, fiber, B vitamins, and antioxidants. Adding whole grains into your little ones meals is also a great way to help them feel full for longer! It's a little harder to sneak these into meals but luckily they great make sides that are fun for the kiddos to eat.

  1. Quinoa mixed with oatmeal
  2. Whole grain toasts with toppings like avacado, nut butters or yogurt with fruit on top.
  3. Whole wheat muffins
  4. Incorporate barley or whole wheat rices into meals
  5. Baked oatmeal with fruit

Dairy

Benefits: Vitamin B12, Vitamin C, Thiamin, and Riboflavin

  1. Incorporate whole milk yogurts into purees and smoothies
  2. Add shredded cheese to cooked meals or add cheese sticks into meals

Grains

Benefits: Protein, Fiber, B Vitamins and Antioxidants  

Whole grains are full of great nutrients like protein, fiber, B vitamins, and antioxidants. Adding whole grains into your little ones meals is also a great way to help them feel full for longer! It's a little harder to sneak these into meals but luckily they great make sides that are fun for the kiddos to eat.

  1. Quinoa mixed with oatmeal
  2. Whole grain toasts with toppings like avacado, nut butters or yogurt with fruit on top.
  3. Whole wheat muffins
  4. Incorporate barley or whole wheat rices into meals
  5. Baked oatmeal with fruit
 
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Beans and Legumes

Benefits: Protein, Fiber, Complex Carbohydrates, Iron and Folate 

It's a bit tricky to disguise beans in other foods because of their taste, you also don't want to completely cook them down so that they still retain their nutritional value. Luckily beans and lentils make a fun food for your little one to eat. Each bean is the perfect pinching size and made well they won't be able to stop eating them!

  1. Beans and rice
  2. Quick lentil soups
  3. Mix beans with scrambled eggs
  4. Bean hashes
  5. Baby friendly chili

Nut butters

Benefits: Healthy fats, Protein, Fiber, 

If you choose to safely introduce nut butters with your little they can be used as a great snack on the go! Nut butters like almond and peanut butter are full of fat so it's always great to use in moderation so not to upset the littles tummies.

  1. Add peanut butter onto toast 
  2. Give small helpings of nut butters for them to eat alone
  3. Puree nut butters and yogurts to create a creamy dish 
  4. Freeze a banana and mix in butters to make a creamy 'nice' cream
 
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Complex Carbohydrates

Carbs get a bad rep but unless your baby is in training for some sort of body building competition carb them up. Your body needs carbohydrates as much as it needs proteins and fats. The key to carbohydrates is incorporating healthy, complex carbs and realizing the differences between the carbs at Cinnabon and the carbs you get from sweet potatoes. 

We get a lot of complex carbohydrates from fruits and vegetables already but i'm adding this section into the list because i've heard a lot of families limiting the amount of "carby" things in their children's diets when it's not necessary. Getting enough carbs, healthy complex carbs that is, is imperative for making sure they feel full and happy as well as having lots of energy to burn.

 

Leafy greans

Benefits: Iron, Folic Acid, Fiber, Vitamin C, Potassium and Magnesium

Before giving your baby greens it is CRUCIAL that you make sure they are thoroughly cleaned and preferably organic. With chemicals used in the growing processes for fruits and vegetables you never know what could cause harm to your baby. Food that has been cooked becomes safe however if you are using uncooked fruits and vegetables for things like smoothies and purees make sure everything is thoroughly washed so not to harm your little one. 

If you are trying to mask the texture of greens try your best not to completely lose the crunch in your veggies. The less crunch you have the more you have cooked the nutrients out of your food!

  1. Add nutrient dense greens like kale to smoothies and purees 
  2. Create 'meatballs' with beans or lentils and add chopped greens into them
  3. Add spinach in scrambled eggs or even try out a fritatta

And that's all I have to say on the matter. Sorry for the length of the blog but it's all with good cause! Good luck on you and your little one's eating journey and please leave comments for any great ideas you might have about what you give your little ones or even things that you do for yourself, i'd love to read about it!

Until next time.

Lauren