I’m not a nutritionist, but I’ve always had an interest in reading and learning about nutrition. I feel good about providing my kids with an example of healthy eating, moderation, balance, and variety as I help guide them to make their own healthful choices about what they put into their bodies.
This journey starts as soon as little ones are off the breast or bottle and we introduce new foods. Yogurt is a terrific early food with great nutritional benefits.
Here are some creative yogurt ideas beyond smoothies and breakfast as a great way to offer kids healthy options.
*I received no compensation of any kind for this post.
The Health Benefits of Yogurt
- The American Academy of Pediatrics says that yogurt is an ideal first food for toddlers and is a great source of protein and calcium.
- Yogurt contains live and active cultures which are beneficial bacterias for a healthy digestive tract and immune system. My GI doctor said that we should be having these kinds of probiotics in our diets daily.
- Greek yogurt is high in protein and calcium keeping kids, and you, satisfied longer while also contributing to bone health.
- Like other dairy foods, yogurt is a good source of not only calcium, but B-2, B-12, potassium, and magnesium.
- In our family, we are partial to Chobani’s products. They contain 25% less sugar than competitors and more protein per serving – there is no high-fructose corn syrup, artificial flavoring, modified cornstarch, or preservatives and I love that Chobani donates 10% of their profits to charity. Click here to read about Chobani’s beliefs.
- Click here for more health benefits of yogurt on WebMD.
7 Fun Yogurt Ideas for Kids and Families
1. Yogurt Pops
Freeze your kids’ favorite yogurt flavors mixed with a little bit of unsweetened fruit juice in ice cube trays and put Popsicle sticks in each cube. Allow to freeze, pop them out and into a plastic freezer bag or container. They’re the perfect summer treat or great for a teething child. It’s a dessert or snack you can feel happy about giving them!
2. Healthy Party Fun – Yogurt Bar
Not just a fun idea for a brunch, set up a yogurt bar for a tween’s sleepover party breakfast, a camping trip snack, or a special weeknight dessert treat. Put out a bowl of vanilla or plain yogurt and bowls full of toppings including: nuts, dried fruits, shredded coconut, fresh or frozen berries, sliced bananas, Chia seeds, milled flax seed and wheatgerm (see #4).
3. Yogurt for Dessert
We have yogurt instead of dessert as is or with some fresh or frozen fruit. Growing up my mom served fresh strawberries for dessert and we dipped them into sour cream, then into brown sugar. My kids love this too, it’s especially amazing after our annual strawberry picking trip. Instead of sour cream, serve it with plain yogurt to get the added nutritional benefits of yogurt. My absolute favorite Chobani flavor is coconut. If I need something sweet, it’s the perfect thing and I feel satisfied without having had something unhealthy.
4. Add Even More Nutrition
We’ve always added flax seed and wheatgerm to our yogurt to add more nutritional punch. When the kids were little, it was so funny when another parent would ask me after their child came home from our house, “What do you put in your yogurt? Lilly has been asking for it all week.”
My brother used to tease me when my kids hollered out, “Mommy, can I please have more wheatgerm?” I believe whatever we grow up with becomes normal, they just accepted that yogurt had wheatgerm and flax seed sprinkled on it.
5. Yogurt as a Recipe Substitute
Add yogurt to bread recipes, make a cucumber salad with plain yogurt, use yogurt as a dip substituting sour cream. You can really use yogurt in any recipe that calls for sour cream – soups, dips, baking, chili, sauces, guacamole, salad dressings … Many things that call for mayonnaise can also be substituted for yogurt, such as cole slaw and pasta, egg, tuna, or potato salads.
6. Make Yogurt Cheese
Create a fun activity to do with kids that is also a healthy snack. Kids are always more likely to love foods they help prepare or grow. (Click here for our story of gardening with kids and groundhogs.)
-To make soft yogurt cheese, rinse about 16 inches of cheesecloth in cold water and wring it out then fold it in half and lay it inside a large strainer (the sides will hang over.)
-Place the strainer over a large bowl and scoop 2 3/4 cups of plain yogurt into the strainer. Cover the whole thing with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight (or for 10 to 12 hours.)
-There will will liquid in the bowl, throw it away. Lift the ends of the cheesecloth and put the cheese into the clean bowl then enjoy! You can store your yogurt cheese in the fridge for up to 4 or 5 days.
7. Frozen Yogurt Drops
Place little blobs (yes, that is a technical cooking term) of yogurt onto a cookie sheet lined with wax paper. You can use a piping bag or a plastic bag with a corner cut off if you prefer neater looking drops, they kind of come out looking like the old-fashioned candy dots on paper strips. Use different flavors of ice cream to create different colored drops.
Once the blobs are all over the wax paper. Place the cookie sheet into the freezer for about an hour – if you have bigger dots it will take longer. Once they’re frozen, transfer them to a container and keep in the freezer, or serve right away.
© Copyright Leah DeCesare 2015
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