Soyfoods for Kids
By Whitney English and Alex Caspero of Plant-Based Juniors
Soy foods are an excellent source of nutrition for children. They’re packed with nutrients of focus that support critical periods of growth and development and they come in a form and taste that kids love. They’re also a convenient food for busy parents; many forms of soy including edamame, tofu, and soy milk require little to no prep for a delicious, nutritious meal or snack.
Nutrition of Soyfoods
Many soy foods are good sources of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, the B vitamin-like nutrient choline, and minerals such as iron and zinc, all of which are priority nutrients for young children.
Tofu, for example, contains 11 grams of protein per 3 oz serving, which is 85% of the RDA for a 1-3-year-old. It also contains 2 grams of iron and more than 1 gram of zinc. Soy milk is another incredibly nutritious option for young children, providing 7 grams of protein per 1 cup serving and 4 grams of healthy fat.
Soyfoods are also the best plant-based source of choline, a B vitamin-like nutrient that is essential for brain health and development, especially during the first 1000 days of life. Choline content is one, of many, reasons we recommend including soyfoods in the diets of babies. One cup of soymilk contains 57 mg of choline, about ¼ of the daily needs of a 1-3-year-old.
Why We Love Soyfoods for Kids
Not only are soyfoods super healthy, they’re also incredibly convenient, palatable, and easy to prepare for kiddos.
Frozen edamame can be added to lunch boxes and snack bags to help keep meals cool and will thaw by the time they’re ready to be eaten.
Firm, extra firm, and super firm tofu is ready-to-eat and can be simply chopped, tossed with sauce or spices, and warmed up or even eaten raw. In fact, one of our kid’s favorite first foods was cold, unseasoned tofu cubes – not exactly the most appealing meal for adults, but approachable for children. This is because tofu’s neutral taste is easily accepted by picky palates. Tofu readily takes on whatever flavor you want to add, or no flavor if that’s what your kids prefer!
Tofu’s texture also makes it a perfect first food for babies. It’s firm enough to stay together when grasped by a baby’s palm, but soft enough to be mashed between their gums. Our kid’s loved tofu marinara strips when they were first feeding, which is essentially firm tofu cut into strips and marinated in a tomato-based sauce.
Our Favorite Ways to Serve Soy to Kids
There are endless simple, delicious ways to incorporate soyfoods into kid’s diets. Here are a few of our favorite:
Tofu nuggets: extra-firm tofu is torn into “nuggets,” tossed in cornstarch and spices, and cooked to crispy perfection.
Chocolate tofu pudding: silken tofu is blended with cacao and a little maple syrup for a decadent, healthy snack.
Tofu yogurt: silken tofu is blended with fruit for a tasty dairy alternative.
Miso paste blended with cashews for a creamy, savory pasta sauce
Steamed and lightly salted edamame pods – fun for kids to open!
Roasted tofu cubes served with BBQ sauce
Tofu egg sandwiches or a tofu scramble for breakfast
Tropical tempeh skewers – kid’s love getting to thread their own skewers
Soy milk and silken tofu blended into smoothies and smoothie bowls for a protein boost
Bottom Line: Soyfoods are delicious, nutritious and easy to incorporate! We recommend including 2-3 servings a day.