Secrets to Make the Best Protein Shakes for Kids
Making protein shakes for kids is a great way to boost kids’ nutrient intake, including healthy fat, protein, and vitamins and minerals. Even better, they’re easy to make and a mess-free snack to enjoy on-the-go. If your child is hesitant to indulge or you’re not sure how to make the shake more nutritious, it’s time to re-think your approach.
Use these ideas to make the best protein shakes for kids—and modify as you uncover what your little one does and doesn’t like.
Choose Kid-Friendly Flavors
Kids are all about the taste—and if their first sip isn’t good, you’ll be hard pressed to get them to take another. While ingredient choice will affect the flavor, start with a great base so they’ll come back for more time and time again. Most protein powders, including Healthy Height, come in a variety of flavors, including most kids’ go-to favorites: chocolate and vanilla:
“My oldest daughter is a chocoholic just like me, and my youngest prefers all things vanilla, so it worked out perfectly!” shares Stacey Garska Rodriguez, Healthy Height users and founder of The Soccer Mom Blog.
Make it Creamy
While you may assume every shake is creamy, if you blend your protein powder with frozen berries, and miss the “creamy” ingredients, you’ll find to be chunky and seedy, rather than smooth and creamy. To get that perfect consistency, add any of the following ingredients into the blender:
- Nut butters (more about this below)
- Chia seeds
- Cooked sweet potato
Boost the Fat Content
Smoothies made with fruit can be high in sugar. Boosting the fat content ensures that they stay full longer—rather than experiencing the slow and steady sugar crash. Not to mention, many nutrients can only be absorbed in the body when paired with fats:
“Fats are also a crucial part of nutrient absorption. Certain vitamins, like vitamin A, D, E, and K, are fat-soluble vitamins. That means that your body can only absorb these nutrients from the digestive system if you eat them with fats,” explains Dr. Edward Group DC, NP, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM.
Just remember: even small amounts of fat are high in calories. For example, one tablespoon of almond butter has 9 grams of fat and one half of an avocado has about 15 grams of fat. Your goal is to keep it to a healthy minimum. To do so, keep the daily fat intake recommendations in mind:
- 1 year: 30-40% of caloric intake intake
- 2-3 years: 30-35% of caloric intake
- 4-13 years: 25-35% of caloric intake
For example, an 8 year old girl has a daily caloric intake recommendation of 1,200 calories. Her daily fat intake, then, should not exceed 420 calories, or 46 grams of fat. Want to do this math yourself? Find your child’s daily caloric intake at Heart.org and then use the following equation:
- Total caloric intake x percentage (25-35%) = daily calories in fat
- Daily calories in fat / 9 (total number of calories in 1 gram of fat) = grams of fat per day
Up the Veggie Content
Boost the fiber and nutrient value of protein shakes for kids by blending in some vegetables—and if you know your little one will protest, keep this as a secret ingredient. While adding vegetables significantly increases the health value of their protein shake, it doesn’t change the flavor when added with fruit, a natural sweetener or just tasty protein powder.
Experts at Precision Nutrition share some ideas and examples:
“Spinach is usually your best bet, as it is virtually flavorless ... Canned pumpkin is great too. It goes well with vanilla. When using beets, try roasting them and removing the skin first. Beets pair well with chocolate. If you add celery or cucumber, you’ll need to use less liquid in your shake. Add 1 to 2 handfuls.”
We love frozen cauliflower for sneaking veggies into your kids protein shakes too. Weelicious suggests buying riced frozen cauliflower for creaminess.
Add a Fun Topping
How many times have your kids laid eyes on something and looked away squealing, “EWWW!” Probably a lot, because kids, like us adults, eat with their eyes first. That’s why toppings make protein shakes more appealing and fun for kids, which can increase their likelihood of indulging.
If you’re little one isn’t sure about drinking protein shakes, add a fun straw, sliced fruit, a dusting of cinnamon, or a kid-friendly drink umbrella. They’ll be so excited about the added feature, they won’t even ask, “What did you put in this?” or “Why is this brown?” and every other question you know you would otherwise have coming. Luckily, as soon as they see how yummy it is, they may be easier to indulge again and again.
Protein Shakes for Kids: You Have the Secrets
Use these tips and ideas to make your child’s protein shake tastier and healthier. Always add veggies, toss in a little fat, and don’t forget to make it look as good as it tastes. Protein shakes for kids are a great way to boost their nutrient intake, so don’t let picky preferences stop you from making them for the growing kids in your house.