Veggies, every kids dream! Unless your kid is a little foodie, you probably struggle with the daily intake of greens. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics “Specific intake recommendations based on the DGA call for a minimum of 1 to 1.5 cups of fruit and 1 to 1.5 cups of vegetables daily for children 2 to 8 years old”. 1.5 cups seems manageable, but somedays is just not worth the fight. While I don’t advocate hiding foods, I do think we can figure out creative ways to add veggies to our meals.
In my first attempt at home garden, I started growing basil. Turns out basil is a great resilient plant and grows a lot. So we started testing recipes and playing with different ingredients. It didn’t take long before we added pesto to our menu plan, but as with anything else I kept trying to find ways to add more nutrient rich ingredients to it. That is how we landed on our latest family favorite: Hulk Pesto.
When I was growing up we had Popeye’s love for spinach, but that reference doesn’t resonate with my 5 year old. When we started to make the pasta, we began talking about how great and powerful green foods are. My boys were receptive but as always nothing works better than the visual of a superhero. Enter The Hulk and the enthusiasm about dinner reaches a new level.
This past Halloween I made the recipe for my son’s classroom. Pesto requires no more than a blender and all you need is a mixing bowl. I can’t say all kids loved it, but we had about a 90% reception and double thumbs up from one the little ones. I will take that as a win. The highlight was the sight of green pesto mustaches on some of the kids faces. They loved being involved in the process and still talk about it.
The following recipe is very versatile, plat with it and adjust it to your family’s pallet (and allergies if applies). So get your greens ready and bring a superhero recipe to your dinner table!
- 4 oz of baby spinach
- a handful of basil
- 1/4 cup of pine nuts
- 1/4 cup of olive oil
- 1/3 cup of apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup of shredded pecorino cheese
- 1 clove of garlic
- 1 zucchini
- 1 packet of spaghetti
- Cook pasta according to instructions and drain
- Julienne the zucchini and mix with pasta
- Wash and dry all vegetables
- In your blender, mix the greens with the olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. Blend until puree start to form. Stop and add the shredded cheese. Return to blend until reach the desired texture
- Place pasta mix into a big bowl. Add as much sauce as you would like and serve with grilled chicken, shrimp or preferred protein.
- Store the remaining sauce in an airtight container and keep if for a quick lunchbox.
- If your family has any allergies, omit the pine nuts. No replacement needed.
- Add a little hemp seed for extra fiber.
- Play with the greens and add a little Kale.