Protein can be a difficult concept for kids to understand. What foods have protein in them? What is protein? Why do we need protein? All questions we wanted to address with our garden and cooking program for kids – Sprouts Get Out and Grow.
Reasons you can tell your kids why is protein so important:
- It can build new tissue and cells – helping heal wounds and helping kids grow
- Helps build and maintain strong muscle
- Helps us stay satisfied from meal to meal
We even have a protein-containing plant in the garden this year. We wanted to try something new that is often seen in the fields in the Midwest – soybeans. So, we planted edamame, thanks to The Soy Foods Council.
To figure out what protein foods are, we showed the kids some foods and they had to identify which was protein and which wasn’t. Then we played “Party on MyPlate”, where the kids had to come up with a MyPlate meal as a group including all the food groups needed for a healthy, well-balanced meal.
And since the birds have been munching on our sweet strawberries, we had to devise a plan to protect them. Our horticulturist, Aimee, helped us. We cut strips of shiny mylar, long enough to be able to blow in the wind. We tied them around wooden skewers and pushed them into the strawberry bed. It’s been working like a charm! Birds dislike shiny things that move, so this was a perfect, low-cost, solution.
Our edamame wasn’t quite ready yet, so we improvised with black beans and threw in some store-bought edamame too. And we threw in a few green beans.
- 1 cup canned, no-salt-added black beans, drained
- 1 cup fresh, frozen or canned sweet corn
- 1 cup fresh cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1/2 cup fresh, thinly sliced carrots
- 1/2 cup fresh, diced green bell peppers
- 1 cup frozen edamame, thawed or fresh green beans, cut into bite-size pieces
- 1 cup mild salsa
- Combine black beans, corn, cherry tomatoes, carrots, bell peppers and edamame in a large bowl. Add in salsa and stir gently. Serve.
How can you have your kids help you build a MyPlate meal?