Add beans to tomato sauce for a healthy snack or lunch for your toddler.

Healthy Snacks for Toddlers With Kidney Beans

by Nadia Haris

Finding healthy snack foods for your sprouting toddler can be challenging. MayoClinic.com recommends kidney beans and other legumes as very versatile and nutritious foods -- and healthy cholesterol-free substitutes for meat -- for the whole family. Use a can of low-sodium kidney beans or boil dried beans and keep them on hand to create nutritious snacks that even your picky eater will enjoy.

1. Nutrition

Keeping your toddler "full of beans" is good for his health. Kidney beans are high in fiber -- 1 cup provides 13.6 grams, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Dietary fiber is important for your toddler's digestive health. Additionally, MayoClinic.com notes that kidney beans and other legumes are an excellent source of protein, low in fat and high in nutrients such as iron, potassium, magnesium and folate.

2. Chopped Beans

For a convenient snack, use canned low-sodium kidney beans that are rinsed and chopped into halves. Serve a handful of bean pieces alongside sliced cucumber, carrots and cheese pieces for a healthy, balanced snack for your toddler. You can also pair fresh fruit such as peaches and plums with kidney beans. Ensure that all the beans are chopped into smaller pieces to prevent accidental choking.

3. Sandwich Spread

A healthy alternative to mayonnaise is making your own protein and fiber-rich sandwich spread with mashed kidney beans. Combine the mashed kidney beans with low-fat cream cheese or even with tomato sauce if your toddler prefers it. Spread the mixture onto a slice of soft brown bread or a whole-wheat cracker for an open-sandwich snack.

4. Bean Puree

Kidney bean puree doesn't have the most appetizing appearance, but your toddler will enjoy the flavor. To make this food, blend a cup of cooked kidney beans in a food processor with a drizzle of olive oil and pinch of cumin powder, salt and pepper to taste. If you are using canned beans, use the low-sodium variety, drain the liquid inside the can and rinse off any salt off before blending. The smooth bean paste can also be combined with pureed avocado or other vegetable and eaten as a dip with soft tortilla wedges.

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