When the kids head back to school, it’s a hectic time for the entire family. Carpools, after-school activities and homework can make it difficult to incorporate wholesome meals into the day. But it’s important to make sure your child is eating a nutritious diet to keep energy levels high and concentration focused in school.
With vegetarian versions of many popular foods available these days, you may be curious about whether they’re worth it. Many soy-based foods contain nutrients and minerals such as iron, calcium, potassium and complete protein, setting kids up for a healthy future, without the need to eat meat.
Introducing kids to soy:
While some kids are picky eaters, others are just reluctant to try new things. Here are some simple ideas for introducing soy foods into your child’s diet.
• Blend it in: Soymilk and tofu both blend well with other ingredients, so it is easy to sneak into your child’s favorite dishes, from mac and cheese and quesadillas to pizza and brownies, reducing saturated fat and cholesterol in dishes.
• Make it fun: Get creative and make snack time enjoyable. Serve little ones a variation of ants on a log, but fill the celery with soynut butter before placing the raisins on top.
• Focus on finger foods: Edamame is a nutrient-dense snack that’s easy to grab and eat. Kids will enjoy popping the beans out of the pods and straight into their mouth. Honey-roasted soynuts are also a favorite alternative to peanuts.
• Serve familiar dishes: Try swapping the meat in your child’s favorite dishes with soy foods. For instance, serve veggie burgers rather than hamburgers or use soy crumbles in place of ground meat in chili, spaghetti or tacos.
Pack a healthy lunchbox
One way to make sure your child is eating well throughout the day is to send a healthy lunchbox to school. Here are some items to pack in your child’s lunch to boost the nutritional value.
• Pack a salad-in-a-jar by layering the ingredients in a mason jar, including shelled edamame as a filling protein.
• Serve pita pockets filled with fresh vegetables, tofu, lettuce and dressing.
• Pair sandwiches with mini rice cakes or cheddar soy crisps, rather than potato chips.
• Include protein-packed options like chocolate soymilk or a whole soy and fruit nutrition bar.
For an easy weeknight meal, try this recipe for Asian Chicken Edamame Pizza. Not only will your kids love it for dinner, but the leftovers will make a perfect lunchbox addition the next day. For more ideas and recipes, visit www.soyfoods.org.
Asian Chicken Edamame Pizza
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 8-10 minutes
3 tablespoons peanut butter
2 tablespoons water
1 1/2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons white rice vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh ginger, minced
1 pre-baked pizza crust, 12-inch
1/2 cup reduced-fat mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 cup cooked chicken breast, diced
1/2 cup edamame, shelled, cooked according to package directions
1/2 cup red bell pepper, sliced
1/4 cup chow mein noodles
Preheat oven to 450°F. Combine peanut butter, water, soy sauce, vinegar and ginger in small bowl; stir until smooth.
Place pizza crust on foil-lined baking sheet. Spread peanut butter mixture evenly over pizza crust. Sprinkle cheese, chicken, edamame, bell peppers and chow men noodles evenly over crust.
Bake 8 to 10 minutes until cheese is melted. Cut into eight slices and serve.
Nutrition Information Per Serving (1 slice): 160 calories; 10 g protein; 19 g carbohydrate; 2 g fiber; 6 g fat; 1 g saturated fat; 10 mg cholesterol; 400 mg sodium.