Whether your children are allergic or intolerant to nuts and dairy or your daycare doesn’t allow nuts, it doesn’t mean they can’t have pesto! AND who wouldn’t want to get their children into eating nutritious basil and pumpkin seeds?
I’m not one to follow a recipe, so when I saw the idea to make pesto on pumpkin seeds (pepitas), I decided to throw my own ingredients into our Thermomix and see what we got 🙂 You can’t go too wrong – I added a bit ‘too much’ lemon juice once but it was nice and tangy and the boys still loved it! We grow our own basil, so the quantity of the remaining ingredients basically depends on how much basil we pick. So here is a rough recipe.
Daycare friendly pesto
Bunch of basil (about 2 cups of leaves)
About 1/2 cup pepitas (ideally soaked in water overnight to ‘activate’ them which makes their nutrients more available to your body and softer so they are a better texture for the pesto). You can always add more pepitas at the end if you feel you want the pesto ‘crunchier’.
Juice of 1/2 lemon
About 1/2 cup olive oil (ideally cold pressed, not processed olive oil) – but you may like to add more or a bit less depending how oily you want it. The pesto will go firmer in the fridge.
Himalayan rock salt and pepperto taste
Parmesan is optional
Blend all ingredients together and it’s ready for a healthy ‘green’ sandwich filling by itself or with avocado. Or a topping on roast sweet potato or of course pasta. Or even add to some mayonnaise as a salad dressing or in a vege soup for flavour and texture… Or a topping on any meat? As you can see, it doesn’t last long in our house 🙂 It should keep in your fridge for a good week.
Who doesn’t have time to make these ‘baked beans’? And who wants to give the extra salts, ‘flavours’ and thickeners to your kids, if you don’t need to? These are perfect for little ones who are starting to crave finger foods, perfect for little ones who are starting to practice scooping and just as perfect for any other ‘little one’ or adult who wants a health, nutritious snack or side!
Follow these quick steps while you’re doing the washing up or eating your breakfast and you’ll have snacks for the lunchbox for the next few days 🙂
1. Rinse a tin of cannellini beans and put them in a small saucepan.
2. Pour in about 1/3 of a tin of organic tinned tomatoes.
3. Add a few herbs – eg. rosemary, basil, parsley or a combination such as cumin and oregano for a more ‘mexican’ style.
4. Simmer for 5-10 minutes until the beans have softened a bit and the sauce is not too runny, not too dry.
5. Pour into a container to store in the fridge or eat with breakfast (or why not lunch or dinner?!).
Litter-free lunchbox helping the environment and stainless steel bottle, ‘cheetah’ banana (to engage master ‘Africa’ 3) and healthy lunch helping the boys grow and learn.
How many hours do you spend packing lunches? Yes it takes a lot of time but try to think of it as a worthy exercise in feeding your child wonderful nutrition for their growth and development! Master 3 and 1 are gluten and dairy free and with no nuts at daycare, we are definitely restricted but this also encourages some healthy eating. We also avoid all preservatives and are starting to turn to organic everything to avoid more health issues – see below for links to more information. The more you look into what preservatives, pesticides and chemicals are doing to us, the more you start wondering about what are we really putting into our bodies… 😦
Oh and not to mention avoiding sugar and salt as much as possible! Yes I spend some time in the kitchen but it feels good to know we are avoiding a lot of health and development issues by avoiding preservatives, sugar, salt and the boys’ allergens.
We use a ‘Nude food’ lunchbox which has enough compartments and containers to avoid any packages/cling wrap. It also saves money and sugar/salt by not buying any pre-packaged items and buying in bulk (such as sultanas, seeds, yoghurt when we used to buy it).
Here are a few of our ideas. Please add your own healthy ideas to this post too 🙂
Plain Sakata rice crackers (no preservatives or MSG) or rice/corn cruskits with dip such as homemade hummous/beetroot hummous or homemade refried beans – fry garlic and then blend with tin of red kidney beans, cumin and oregano. You can of course use other crackers if not GF. Just be careful of numbers and ‘flavours’.
Rice/corn thins with spread such as avocado or dip. Master 1 is happy when they go soft but otherwise I break into pieces for Master 3 to dip.
Roasted chickpeas – tin of chickpeas (preferably low/no salt), rinsed, put straight onto a baking tray. Bake 40mins at 200degrees celsius. Longer if you prefer more crunch.
Homemade baked beans – tin of cannelini beans rinsed. Add to saucepan with 1/3 tin of tomatoes plus some herbs. Simmer on medium heat until there is just enough sauce and the beans have softened (around 10mins).
Raw vege sticks – carrots, cucumber, green beans, capsicum.
Roasted vege sticks – we do more sweet potato over potato for better nutrition and low GI. Also pumpkin roasted with cinnamon.
Frozen veges such as corn, peas, broad beans, carrots.
Cut up pear/apple or any other fruit in season. And a banana.
I give the boys sultanas at home where I can brush their teeth a lot sooner. They are little morsels of sugar (albeit not white sugar) that will sit on their teeth for the whole day at daycare.
Pumpkin seeds/pepitas, sunflower seeds.
Yoghurt. Bornhoffen plain yoghurt is fantastic without the sugar and thickeners that exist in many others, including ‘baby’ yoghurts. It’s also full fat. Kids love the taste!! And don’t forget you can add texture for variety such as dessicated coconut (organic is the only type without preservatives..), frozen blueberries (start looking for organic frozen), crushed biscuit or cinnamon.
Cut up cheese. Cutting your own cubes saves money and is healthier than the kids’ cheese sticks or pre-cut cubes.
Sandwich with spreads such as avocado, hummous, refried beans, mashed roast pumpkin or cottage cheese if you can do dairy (avoid homebrand with preservatives).
We avoid vegemite/mighty mite (GF option) due to ‘yeast extract’ actually being MSG… 😦 And also any ham/deli meats as these also have the nasty preservatives 😦 Oh and butter or coconut oil to avoid the processed margarines and transfats in them (including nuttelex) 😦
Leftovers are also another good option.
Pair this with a drink (we use stainless steel bottles as any plastic is proving to be not so good for health) and a ‘cheetah’ banana and done.!
Some suggested facebook pages to follow and learn more about really eating healthily: