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Protein-packed Snacks For Mom (And Kids!)

When it comes to eating a balanced diet, protein plays an essential role. Protein is a nutrient made up of building blocks called amino acids, which your body uses to make muscle, bone, enzymes, and hormones. It also uses them as an energy source. This is why some of the most nutritious and energizing foods are rich in protein.  

Getting enough protein is essential for your body to function properly, but just how much do you (and your kids) need? Which foods are rich in protein and how can you incorporate them into quick recipes? We know these are the questions on many busy moms’ minds, which is why we’ve set out to answer them. Read on to learn if you’re getting enough protein and get inspired with our list of protein-packed snacks.

Benefits of Protein For Moms During Pregnancy 

Protein is an essential nutrient for all of us, but especially for women who are pregnant, as you’re eating for your growing baby in addition to yourself. According to the Mayo Clinic, pregnant women should consume at least 71 grams of protein per day. 

“During pregnancy and lactation, protein supports the development of the fetus or infant,” says Valerie Agyeman, R.D., dietitian and host of women’s health podcast, Flourish Heights.

Some of the benefits of getting enough protein while pregnant include:

Protein Requirements For Adult Women 

“Protein is crucial for women for many reasons,” says Agyeman. “It supports muscle health by aiding in the growth, repair, and recovery process. It also contributes to strong bones, reducing the risk of a bone disorder called osteoporosis.”

Adult women who aren’t pregnant still need plenty of protein in their diet, but a bit less—about 46 grams daily. Additionally, The Food and Nutrition Board of the Institutes of Medicine recommends adults aim to get protein from 10-35% of their calories.

Protein Requirements For Kids (by age)

The recommended protein intake for kids varies by their age and weight. In most Western countries, children already get 2 to 3 times the amount of protein they need daily, so it’s unlikely your child is lacking this nutrient. That said, it’s still helpful to get a sense of the recommendations and see how your child’s diet measures up. 

According to the Dietary Reference Intakes guidelines, the recommendations for daily protein intake by age are:

  • Toddlers (1 to 3 years): 3 g (or 0.5 g per pound of body weight)
  • Children (4 to 8 years): 19 g
  • Children (9 to 13 years): 34 g
  • Teens (14 to 18 years)
    • Boys: 52 g
    • Girls: 46 g

Which Foods Contain Protein?

Protein-rich food sources can be divided into two categories: animal protein and plant protein.

Animal protein includes:

  • Seafood
  • Poultry
  • Lean meats
  • Cheese
  • Yogurt 
  • Milk
  • Eggs

Plant protein includes:

  • Nuts and seeds (i.e. almonds, pine nuts, walnuts, macadamias, hazelnuts, cashews, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds)
  • Beans and legumes (i.e. all types of beans, lentils, chickpeas)
  • Soy products (i.e. tofu, edamame, tempeh) 

In general, animal products and soy products contain all of the essential amino acids, and for this reason, are considered “complete” proteins. Plant proteins that aren’t soy-based usually lack at least one essential amino acid and are considered “incomplete” proteins. This doesn’t mean that vegetarians and vegans can’t get adequate protein from their diet, just that they need to try to incorporate several different protein sources into their routine daily. 

Protein-Packed Snacks For Busy Moms

Incorporating protein into your family’s diet doesn’t have to be complicated or time-intensive. Here are some tasty ideas for quick protein-rich snacks you can make in a pinch.

1. Greek Yogurt Parfait

A Greek yogurt parfait is a refreshing and protein-rich snack that combines the wholesomeness of Greek yogurt with the vibrant flavors of fresh berries. It’s also a healthy breakfast option and an easy make-ahead meal. Greek yogurt serves as the primary source of protein, offering a creamy and tangy base. On average, Greek yogurt has around 17 grams of protein, compared to 9 grams in regular yogurt. Layered with berries bursting with antioxidants, vitamins, and fiber, this parfait is a nutritious treat. Add a crunch of granola or nuts for added texture and a drizzle of honey for a touch of sweetness if desired.

Ingredients:

  • Greek yogurt
  • Fresh berries (such as strawberries, blueberries, or raspberries)
  • Granola or nuts
  • Honey (optional)

Recipe:

  1. In a small bowl or cup, layer Greek yogurt.
  2. Add a layer of fresh berries on top of the yogurt.
  3. Sprinkle granola or nuts over the berries.
  4. Repeat the layers until you reach the desired amount.
  5. Drizzle honey on top for extra sweetness if desired. Enjoy!

2. Hummus and Veggie Sticks

There’s something satisfying about crunching into some crisp vegetable sticks, paired with protein-packed hummus. Hummus, made from chickpeas, provides an excellent source of plant protein. Paired with colorful vegetable sticks like carrots, cucumber, and bell peppers, this snack offers a delicious medley of flavors. Plus, it couldn’t be easier! Dip the veggies into the creamy hummus for a wholesome and tasty treat.

Ingredients:

  • Hummus 
  • Assorted vegetable sticks (carrots, cucumber, bell peppers, etc.)

Recipe:

  1. Wash and cut the vegetables into sticks.
  2. Serve the vegetable sticks with a side of hummus for dipping.
  3. Enjoy the crunchy and protein-packed snack!

3. Peanut Butter Banana Bites

The natural sweetness of ripe bananas mingles with the creaminess of peanut butter in this yummy snack. Peanut butter is our star protein source here, providing a tasty dose of healthy fats and protein. Slice the bananas into bite-sized pieces, spread a dollop of peanut butter on top, and sprinkle chia seeds for added nutrition. You can enjoy these bites right away, or freeze them to eat a tasty frozen treat later. It can also be part of a delicious breakfast idea!

Ingredients:

  • Ripe bananas
  • Peanut butter
  • Chia seeds (optional)

Recipe:

  1. Slice the bananas into bite-sized pieces.
  2. Spread peanut butter on top of each banana slice.
  3. Sprinkle chia seeds over the peanut butter for added nutrition.
  4. Arrange the bites on a plate and serve. They can be enjoyed immediately or frozen for a refreshing treat.

4. Cottage Cheese Bites

Cottage cheese is a protein powerhouse and also provides you with a healthy dose of calcium. This snack gives you the creaminess of cottage cheese along with the crunch of your favorite crackers. Top it off with some cherry tomatoes, or an assortment of fresh fruits like pineapple, peaches, or grapes, for a burst of flavor.

Ingredients:

  • Cottage cheese
  • Crackers
  • Fresh fruits (such as pineapple, peaches, or grapes) or tomatoes 

Recipe:

  1. Scoop cottage cheese onto crackers. 
  2. Add fresh fruits or tomatoes on top.
  3. Enjoy the creamy cottage cheese with a burst of sweet or tangy flavors.

5. Edamame

Satisfy your snack cravings with edamame, a protein-rich snack that offers a delightful pop of flavor. Edamame, young soybeans, provides an excellent plant-based protein source. Boil the edamame pods, sprinkle them with sea salt, and enjoy them warm or chilled. With their vibrant green color and nutty taste, edamame is not only protein-packed but also a fun snack for kids—they often love getting to pop them out of the pods!

Ingredients:

  • Frozen edamame pods
  • Sea salt (optional)

Recipe:

  1. Boil water in a pot and add a pinch of salt.
  2. Add frozen edamame pods to the boiling water.
  3. Cook for about 3-5 minutes or until the edamame is tender.
  4. Drain the pods and sprinkle with sea salt if desired.
  5. Serve warm or chilled.

6. Hard-Boiled Eggs with Avocado

Satisfy your snack cravings with edamame, a protein-rich snack that offers a delightful pop of flavor. Edamame, young soybeans, provides an excellent plant-based protein source. Boil the edamame pods, sprinkle them with sea salt, and enjoy them warm or chilled. With their vibrant green color and nutty taste, edamame is not only protein-packed but also a fun snack for kids—they often love getting to pop them out of the pods!

Ingredients:

  • Frozen edamame pods
  • Sea salt (optional)

Recipe:

  1. Boil water in a pot and add a pinch of salt.
  2. Add frozen edamame pods to the boiling water.
  3. Cook for about 3-5 minutes or until the edamame is tender.
  4. Drain the pods and sprinkle with sea salt if desired.
  5. Serve warm or chilled.

7. Tuna Salad Lettuce Wraps

Enjoy a light and protein-rich snack with tuna salad lettuce wraps, or make it a full protein-packed meal by serving a few. These wraps combine the flaky goodness of tuna, a great protein source, with the freshness of lettuce leaves. Mix tuna with mayo or Greek yogurt, add crunchy vegetables like celery and carrots, and wrap the mixture in lettuce leaves for a satisfying and nutritious snack.

Ingredients:

  • Canned tuna
  • Mayonnaise or Greek yogurt
  • Celery
  • Carrots
  • Lettuce leaves

Recipe:

  1. Drain the canned tuna and transfer it to a bowl.
  2. Mix in mayonnaise or Greek yogurt to bind the tuna.
  3. Finely chop celery and carrots and add them to the mixture.
  4. Stir well to combine.
  5. Take a lettuce leaf, spoon the tuna salad onto it, and wrap it up.
  6. Repeat with remaining ingredients.
  7. Enjoy your protein-packed tuna salad lettuce wraps.

8. Protien Energy Balls

Indulge in your own homemade protein energy balls, a convenient and nourishing snack that is packed with protein and energy-boosting ingredients. These bite-sized treats are also perfect for on-the-go snacking. With a base of nut butter, these energy balls provide a good amount of protein, and you can add oats, chia seeds, honey, and mix-ins like dried fruits or chocolate chips for extra flavor and texture.

Ingredients:

  • Nut butter (such as almond butter or peanut butter)
  • Oats
  • Chia seeds
  • Honey
  • Mix-ins (dried fruits, chocolate chips, etc.)

Recipe:

  1. In a bowl, combine the nut butter, oats, chia seeds, and honey.
  2. Stir until well combined.
  3. Add mix-ins of your choice and mix again.
  4. Roll the mixture into small bite-sized balls.
  5. Place the balls on a baking sheet or in an airtight container and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  6. Enjoy the protein energy balls as an energy-boosting snack.

Bon Appetit!

After reading our list, hopefully, the thought of eating enough protein doesn’t sound too intimidating. Pick one snack idea to try this week, reward yourself for nourishing your body and your kids’ bodies, and enjoy!