KANSAS CITY — There’s nothing like a pandemic to disrupt a diet, especially for children who have been attending school from their kitchen counters and stuck indoors for months.

To help parents provide nutrition for their children in this time of ravaged routines, food and beverage manufacturers have launched new foods and beverages that contain less sugar, more protein and more fruits and vegetables.

In December 2020, Danone North America introduced a plant-based yogurt alternative for children with less sugar and more protein than average flavored yogurt alternatives, according to the company.

Fortified with calcium and vitamin D, Silk Kids Almondmilk Yogurt Alternative is made with almond milk, fava bean protein, live and active cultures and organic coconut oil. The product is colored with fruit and vegetable juice and sweetened with cane sugar.

Silk Kids Almondmilk Yogurt Alternative contains 25% less sugar per oz than average flavored yogurt alternatives, Danone said. The offering is dairy-free, peanut-free, gluten-free, lactose-free and Non-GMO Project verified and comes in three flavors: apple cinnamon, strawberry and mixed berry, which includes blueberries and raspberries.

The yogurt alternatives contain 110 to 120 calories, 4 grams of protein and 7 grams of sugar per 4-oz cup.

“This is a crucial time for parents across the country, and Danone North America has convened an important conversation with industry experts to discuss the current challenges in children's nutrition due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Lia Stierwalt, senior director of marketing for Silk Plant-Based Yogurt Alternatives. “We are happy to announce the launch of Silk Kids Almondmilk Yogurt Alternative as part of the solution, expanding our company's kid's portfolio and platform with a delicious plant-based option that kids love and parents can feel good about.” 

Peekaboo Ice Cream in June 2020 launched unicorn swirl and cookie dough flavors, both with hidden zucchini. The two new flavors contain one full serving of vegetables per container and are USDA certified organic.

"Particularly during COVID-19, when parents are prioritizing the happiness of their kids over all else ... arguing over veggies just isn’t worth the mental energy." — Jessica Weiss Levison, Peekaboo Ice Cream

“We have benefited from incredible timing,” said Jessica Weiss Levison, founder and chief executive officer. “We launched a better-for-you product that serves two needs: veggies and ice cream. With Peekaboo, a consumer can justify spending a little more for a higher-quality organic product that crosses two items off of their shopping list.

“During this stressful time, consumers are seeking to maximize their health, boost their immunity while seeking moments of comfort. Peekaboo provides the comfort and nostalgia of a tried and true favorite. It’s indulgent ice cream that also delivers vitamins and minerals from immunity-boosting organic veggies. Particularly during COVID-19, when parents are prioritizing the happiness of their kids over all else, myself included, arguing over veggies just isn’t worth the mental energy. We have received hundreds of messages from parents grateful for an option that brings joy to their kids and serves as a vehicle to deliver veggies, without any unnecessary drama.”

The Luving Co.’s KidsLuv brand in June 2020 added a new flavor to its line of vitamin enhanced, zero sugar beverages for children. Packaged in 8-oz cartons, the new Peach Me, I’m Orange drink is Non-GMO Project Verified, vegan, kosher and certified gluten-free. The drink is made with water, coconut water, calcium lactate, green tea, pomegranate fruit extract, acai fruit extract and organic flavors and contains 10 calories, 2 grams of carbs and 9 essential vegan vitamins per serving.

“We’re thrilled to welcome our newest flavor, Peach Me, I'm Orange, to the KidsLuv family,” said Ashi Jelinek, founder and CEO of KidsLuv. “Summer might look different for many kids this year, but that doesn’t mean families have to settle for unhealthy kids' beverages. Our third and newest flavor is a welcome solution for parents who are wearing many hats these days; serving KidsLuv will ensure kids get the hydration and nutrition they need, especially as we move into warmer summer days.”

Protein beverage company Iconic Protein began catering to a new crowd in June 2020 with the launch of Iconic Kids protein drinks for children.

Featuring no sugar and one full serving of vegetables from organic kale, broccoli and spinach, the ready-to-drink beverages come in three flavors: Vanilla Vacay, Chocolate Carnival and Fruity Fiesta. The drinks contain grass-fed milk protein isolate and prebiotic chicory root fiber and are sweetened with stevia leaf and monk fruit. Each 8-oz serving provides 8 grams of protein, 4 grams of fiber and 80 calories.

“We always hear parents complaining that their kids have too much sugar, never eat their veggies and could use more protein for healthy growth.” — Billy Bosch, Iconic Protein

“We always hear parents complaining that their kids have too much sugar, never eat their veggies and could use more protein for healthy growth,” said Billy Bosch, chief executive officer and founder of Iconic Protein. “We’re here to help solve the problem and make parents’ lives easier, creating a first of its kind drink packed with a full serving of organic green veggies, 8 grams of protein, and zero sugar. The flavors are out of this world tasty, too — Chocolate Carnival, Fruity Fiesta (literally tastes like the milk from fruity cereal), and Vanilla Vacay. These flavors will make your kids’ taste buds go wild.”

In April 2020, This Saves Lives debuted Kids Krispy Kritter Treats, a new line of snacks for children that provide one full serving of fruits and vegetables per serving.

Containing 80 to 90 calories and 7 to 9 grams of sugar per serving, the marshmallow crispy rice treats feature a blend of apple, onion, broccoli, kale, cranberry and raspberry. Kids Krispy Kritter Treats are peanut-free, non-GMO, dairy-free, gluten-free and kosher and come in five varieties: Crocodile Chocolate Crunch, Unicorn Sprinkle Surprise, Mammoth Marshmallow Krisp, Bigfoot Campfire S’mores, and Dragon’s Dream Cookies N’ Cream.

“In thinking about creating our second kid line, it was important to us to develop a better-for-you version of a beloved sweet treat,” said Jensen Thome, CEO of This Saves Lives. “Our existing Kids Snack Bars have been a hit with parents and kids everywhere, and we knew they’d love better-for-you Krispy treats. The new snacks are safe for all kids to enjoy, have a great nutritional profile, and start a conversation about the importance of helping others. It is our dream to end severe malnutrition, and we hope mindful snackers everywhere join us in creating a world where every child has the chance to thrive.”

Additionally, This Saves Lives expanded its Kids Snack Bar and Classic Bar lines with new flavors, including Beehive Jive Honey & Oat and Elephant Apple Crisp Kids Snack Bars and Almond Mocha, Dark Chocolate Hazelnut, Dark Chocolate Caramel, and Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Classic Bars.

Each purchase of a This Saves Lives product sends a food packet to a child in need, and for a limited time, the brand is also matching every purchase on its website, providing its Classic Bars, Kids Bars or the new Kids Krispy Kritter Treats to a food insecure family in the United States in need as a result of COVID-19.

“Right now, it’s more important than ever to think of others and what we can each do to help our communities here and abroad,” said Kristen Bell, co-founder of This Saves Lives. “We may not be able to physically sit at the same table, but I firmly believe we can all still eat together. We created This Saves Lives to fight early childhood malnutrition, and I’m radically hopeful that we can continue to inspire action and save children’s lives. We’ve been working on our Kids Krispy Kritter Treats and new Kids and Classic Bars for some time, but it makes me feel good to launch them now, knowing they might help bring a little joy to families knowing they are sending life-saving food to children in need.”

View slideshow of new children’s products.