Incorporating yogurt into a balanced diet for kids is easier than you might think. This nutrient-packed food offers a bounty of health benefits ranging from increased bone health to digestive well-being. MyPlate recommends at least 2½ to 3 cups of low-fat dairy products in your child's diet every day. Yogurt offers an abundance of ways to get your child to meet the recommended daily servings of dairy.
Kids may be skeptical of yogurt, especially if they have never had it before. The taste and texture may be unusual — so how do you get kids to not only eat yogurt but also enjoy it and have fun with it? It's all about being creative and making it an enjoyable experience.
Opt for low-fat and fat-free versions of yogurt, either plain or flavored. One cup of fat-free or low-fat yogurt provides 30 to 45 percent of the daily value for calcium, so you can get a lot of nutritional bang for your buck. If you are using frozen yogurt, 1 cup provides about 10 percent of the daily value for calcium.
Here are seven surprising ways to include yogurt in your child's diet.
- Dip it. Have fun in the kitchen with your child by using yogurt as a dip for a variety of different fruits. For a healthier alternative to a typical cream cheese based fruit dip, stir together 1 cup non-fat Greek yogurt with 1 teaspoon cinnamon and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.
- Sweeten it. While all yogurt has some natural sugar, take care to choose yogurts that have less than 15 grams of sugar per serving. You can add natural sweetness using honey (for children over the age of 1 year), and fresh or frozen fruits.
- Mix it. Start the morning off right by including yogurt at breakfast. Mix a 6-ounce container of low-fat yogurt with ½ cup sliced berries, a handful of granola and 2 tablespoons nuts for a quick and satisfying breakfast bowl.
- Blend it. Blend up a calcium-packed snack using this yogurt smoothie recipe: 1 6-ounce container low-fat yogurt, ¾ cup low-fat milk, ½ cup frozen strawberries, ½ cup frozen blueberries, 1 banana, 1 teaspoon cinnamon and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Then, mix it all together using a blender. Depending on your family's tastes, you also can offer nut butters, vegetables, seeds or other nutritious add-ins.
- Drink it. Have your children drink their bones strong with homemade yogurt beverages. Make your own by whisking together a 6-ounce container of low-fat strawberry-flavored yogurt and ¼ cup low-fat milk. Pour the mixture into cups and enjoy. If there's too much liquid, add more yogurt; if the mixture is too thick, add more milk.
- Spoon it. Spoon in a delicious topping for your next taco night with plain yogurt. Use ½ cup plain low-fat Greek yogurt, 2 teaspoons taco seasoning and 1 teaspoon lime juice for a fun alternative to sour cream. And that's not all: plain yogurt is a versatile ingredient and often can be substituted for sour cream in recipes.
- Dunk it. Dunk in the yogurt fun — and build kitchen skill confidence — with banana-yogurt-granola pops. Use half a banana with a popsicle stick placed in the bottom. Have your child dunk the banana in low-fat yogurt, roll in granola and enjoy!