If your child has a metabolic disorder that causes a dangerous buildup of amino acids in the body or suffers from liver or kidney problems, chances are your pediatrician has recommended a low-protein diet. Even if you've got a picky eater on your hands, going low protein for breakfast doesn't have to be painful. It's possible to start your child's day off right with a variety of low-protein foods that are both nutritious and delicious.
Almost all foods contain some amount of protein, but you can keep your breakfast intake low by sticking to fruits, veggies and whole grains -- with the occasional little "cheat" tossed in to hold your child's interest. When designing a low-protein breakfast that appeals to kids, you'll want to avoid falling into the trap of relying on starchy or sweet carbs. Doughnuts and pastry tarts may be low in protein, but they won't do your little ones good in the long run.
Not only is oatmeal filling, it's a whole-grain food that can help lower cholesterol and regulate blood sugar levels so you won't experience that ugly dip in mood that typically occurs after eating a typical carbohydrate-rich breakfast. Top your oatmeal with a handful of fruit, such as strawberries or raspberries, and sprinkle cinnamon on top for added color and flavor. If your kids won't touch cereal without milk, nondairy creamer will satisfy their craving without adding any protein.
Veggies may not make a regular appearance at most breakfast tables, but that doesn't mean they aren't a great way to start the day. A mix of sauteed veggies, such as bell peppers, potatoes and zucchini, wrapped in a tortilla and sprinkled with an ounce or so of cheese is both low in protein and tasty. To make those veggies a little more kid-friendly, try adding mayonnaise or creamy salad dressing to the wrap. Low-protein diets don't always provide adequate amounts of fat, so a spoonful or two of dressing is a good way to ensure your child is getting enough fat in her diet.
Fruits are virtually protein-free, so this is one area where you can let loose. Most kids love fruit, so combining several different kinds to make a salad is sure to be a breakfast hit. Cut some pineapple, melon, grapes and strawberries into small, bite-size chunks and then toss in some blueberries, raspberries, blackberries or other fruits into the mix. Try tossing them with a mild creamy dressing such as ranch for a breakfast version of Waldorf salad; leave out the high-protein walnuts. One bad apple can truly spoil this dish, so try to choose fruits that are both in season and at the peak of ripeness.
Breads and Cereals
Bread tends to be an easy sell with kids, and if you stick to whole grains it can make for a filling and nutritious breakfast. If your kid isn't quite on board with the rich, nutty taste of whole grains, feel free to spread a little butter and jam on top to make it more palatable. Butter and jam are both protein-free foods.
- National Kidney Foundation: Enjoy Your Own Recipes Using Less Protein
- Health Resources and Services Administration; Center on Human Development and Disability; University of Washington; "Low Protein Food Pattern"; Beth Ogata, Christine Trahms, MS, RD
- The George Mateljan Foundation: World's Healthiest Foods: Oats
- Hamilton Health Sciences: McMaster Children's Hospital: Your Child's Low Protein Diet
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