Looking for nutrient-rich snacks that will fuel your kids with the protein they need? Read on for our favorite protein snacks for kids that will keep them going strong.Jump to Recipe
What Are Some of the Benefits of Protein for Kids?
Protein provides building blocks for healthy growth and development. Our body needs 20 amino acids to grow and function, and while it makes eleven, nine essential amino acids come from proteins. Protein helps repair cells, build muscle, improve immunity, and regulate hormones. It also helps to control appetite, so you’ll feel fuller after eating high protein snacks than you would after eating fruit bars, for example.
So giving your kids a low-sugar, high-protein snack instead of something with empty calories like processed cheese puffs or candy really makes a difference in overall growth and development. These protein snacks for kids will also help your child develop strong nutritional habits that will last a lifetime.
How Much Protein Does My Child Need?
While these snacks are a fantastic alternative to some less nutrient-dense options, according to the National Institute of Health, only about 30% of your daily calorie intake needs to be from protein. This translates into a daily protein requirement of 19 grams of protein a day for kids between 4-9 and 34 grams for kids from ages 9-13. So if your 9-year-old has an egg and glass of milk for breakfast, peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch, a piece of string cheese at snack time, and some chicken for dinner, they’ll easily meet the daily requirements.
Ideally, your kids will be getting high-quality protein from whole foods versus extra protein powder and supplements. Unless your kids are underweight or not getting their standard nutrients from food sources, you probably don’t have to supplement here. Of course, protein bars, power balls, and other enriched foods can be perfect snacks in moderation as part of a balanced diet.
Many kids are incredibly observant to presentation and food colors and textures. They might go crazy if their carrot sticks touch hummus on the plate, even though they have every intention to dip their carrots in the hummus in a minute. While you don’t have to be a short-order cook, presenting your food in appealing ways can make healthy snacks more enjoyable for everyone.
Don’t be afraid to put your fruit slices in a pretty array before you dip them in chunky peanut butter or cut a slice of cheese with a star cookie cutter. If your kids are more likely to eat healthy snacks when they feel like they have nice options, it’s worth making a little extra effort before snack time.
Unless you have dietary restrictions, present your kids with a wide variety of foods over the course of any given month. In addition to ensuring your kids don’t get bored with the same flavor options, you’re also exposing them to more nutrients and expanding their culinary palate. Of course, if you have incredibly picky eaters, who will only drink the same yogurt pouch every day, do what works for you. But variety is the spice of life, so switch out your cheese sticks with crunchy edamame or a handful of nuts.
What Can I Give My Child for Protein?
There are lots of delicious protein options for even the pickiest eaters. Keep in mind there’s a difference between healthy snacks and protein-rich foods. Avocado toast, for example, is rich in minerals and has health benefits for kids but doesn’t have an exceptionally high protein content. Of course, if you put some smoked salmon and a poached egg on top, you’ve got a complete meal with lots of nutrients. But it might not be your kids’ favorite snack.
Here are a few of our favorite protein-packed snacks for kids.
What Are Some Vegan Protein Snacks for Kids?
Milk and cheese can be excellent sources of protein, but many protein-rich plant-based snack ideas will be big hits with your kids. Here are a few of our favorites.
1. Apple slices with almond butter. They’re the perfect balanced snack for kids that’s both sweet and salty. If almonds aren’t your favorite, use another nut butter like cashew butter or even peanut butter (yes– we know peanuts are technically legumes, but they’re still great protein sources.)
2. Hummus and baby carrots. We’re big fans of hummus and anything related to chickpeas. If your kids don’t love carrots, cherry tomatoes, bell peppers, or cucumber slices are equally tasty snacks.
3. Roasted chickpeas. You can roast them yourself, but it’s also easy to buy these delicious crunchy snacks at the store.
4. Edamame. Whether you eat it in the pods or roasted, edamame is an excellent quick snack that’s also an ideal source of protein.
5. Peanut butter and banana slices. Elvis’s favorite for good reason! Cut a banana in half length-wise, add some peanut butter, then sprinkle in some mini chocolate chips for dessert.
6. Roasted seaweed snacks. One pack has about 5 grams of protein but only 100 calories and has salty crispiness similar to potato chips. This is an excellent snack option for kids who like chips.
7. Almonds, walnuts, or other nuts. They’re a classic for a reason. A handful of nuts is rich in healthy fats, essential minerals, and proteins.
8. Pumpkin seeds. We often roast pumpkin seeds in the fall, but these are fantastic snacks all year long. Sunflower seeds are another favorite.
9. Trail mix. You can make your own trail mix with nuts, dried fruit, and maybe even a chocolate chip or two. They’re a favorite balanced snack for kids and hikers alike.
10. Homemade protein bars. We’re big fans of natural protein sources and getting necessary nutrients from real foods. That said, if you need a delicious protein snack for kids on the go, these bars are a fantastic option.
Chocolate Protein Bars
- 1 Mixing bowl
- 3 cups peanut butter Crunchy or creamy is fine. Can sub any other type of nut butter or alternative.
- 1 1/2 cups collagen peptides Or you can use any type of protein powder, but preferably unsweetened.
- 1/2 cup honey can sub with maple syrup or agave
- 1 tsp salt
- 8 oz chocolate melted
- Combine all ingredients except chocolate in a bowl. You can use a food processor or blender for a smoother texture. Pour into a 9"x13" baking pan lined with parchment paper.3 cups peanut butter, 1 1/2 cups collagen peptides, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 cup honey
- Chill bars until firm, about 30 minutes.
- Melt chocolate in microwave or on stovetop.8 oz chocolate
- Pour the chocolate over the protein bar mixture. You can also cut the bars and dip them individually into the chocolate.
- Put the bars back in the refrigerator to set for antoher 30 minutes or so. Enjoy!
What Are Some Nut-Free Protein Snacks for Kids?
Even if you have nut allergies, there are several delicious protein snacks for kids to enjoy. Here are some more favorite healthy snacks, all of which are gluten-free and totally delicious.
11. Cottage cheese and fruit- It’s the perfect balance of salty and sweet.
12. Fruit and cheese kebabs– Get some kebab skewers and add some grapes and cheese cubes. It’s fun to eat for kids of all ages.
13. Chia seed pudding. While chia seed pudding is more often considered a source of healthy fats, chia seeds contain lots of protein and are a fantastic option for kids.
14. Beef jerky. A favorite road trip snack for a reason. It doesn’t need to be refrigerated and is always delicious.
15. Turkey roll-ups. Take a slice of deli turkey, and roll it up with some hummus or cheese inside. You can substitute any favorite deli meat for a similar roll-up.
16. Greek yogurt and fruit– This can be an excellent breakfast, but it’s also one of our favorite nutritious snacks.
17. Mini Babybel cheese. Kids love peeling off the red wax coating to reveal delicious cheese inside. String cheese is another nutritious snack that’s also a portable cheese option.
18. Hardboiled egg.- It’s an excellent and balanced source of protein. Hardboiled eggs can often be a polarizing food for kids due to the smell, but if your kids are fans, it’s a perfect protein snack.
19. Cheese whisps– This crunchy protein-rich snack for kids is a favorite at my house and is perfect for school snacks.
20. Cheesy popcorn– Sprinkle an ounce of parmesan cheese onto your popcorn for extra nutrition and 10 grams of protein. Not only does it elevate the flavor of an already nearly perfect snack, but it transforms high-carb popcorn into a healthy protein snack.
Enjoy the Best Protein Snacks for Kids!
Whether you give kids a tablespoon of peanut butter for dipping their celery sticks or put a stick of string cheese in their lunchbox, there are endless ways to boost your little one’s protein intake. Protein-rich food often has simple ingredients but provides extremely complex benefits for kids and adults alike.
What are your favorite protein snacks for kids? Let us know on social #getfamilyapp!