One of the most common questions we get here is how do I get my kid to eat more protein? The truth is, unless your child’s pediatrician has expressed concern, they are probably fine. (In general, most nutrition experts and pediatricians we’ve talked to over the years say that protein is not an issue for most American children.) That said, it’s never a bad idea to get more healthy, lean, plant-based protein in your child’s diet (and into yours too!), especially if it’ll make you feel less stressed. And this recipe is one easy way that you can do exactly that.
The great thing about protein, besides all the good things that it does for growing bodies, is that it makes you feel full longer. And with active kids, that’s a major deal. Getting them to eat a high-protein meal or snack over one that’s packed mostly with carbs will sustain them with an even energy longer. And that’s when you avoid the dreaded crash.
This high-protein recipe, a quick and versatile Bean Salad, is a favorite in my house because it can be made in advance — I make it on Sunday to have on hand all week — and use it in a million ways at both snack and meal times. For school lunch or lunch at home, I pack it as is, spoon it over leftover rice, toss it with leftover elbow pasta or quinoa, or even with greens (because, yes, my kids like salad). For dinner, you can pretty much do the same things, just in bigger portions. Or serve this as a ready-to-eat side with chicken, steak, or really, whatever.
As for snack time, honestly, my kids like this enough that they eat it plain, and I do too. It’s not that different than eating hummus, if you think about it. In fact, a small bowl of this with crusty bread after school is like heaven for my kids, but then again, they are bean lovers. It’s an easy sell. Maybe in your house too?
As for the recipe, well, there isn’t really one. (Told you it’s easy to make!) In the video, I whip up a version with chickpeas and kidney beans, but you can certainly add or substitute black beans, Cannellini beans, or whatever other beans you have on hand. Toss the drained, rinsed beans with some veggies: chopped carrots and celery are always staples for me because they’re always in my fridge and lend a bright flavor. Other options include: radish, scallion, bell pepper, chopped broccoli, and even shredded kale.
After you’ve got your beans and veggies of choice, toss the whole salad with a simple vinaigrette (my simple vinaigrette is the perfect dressing for this). Because the salad is just beans and hearty veg, they will hold up great even after a few days. Finish with salt and pepper to taste, and you’re done.