Let’s talk nutrient density. In short, foods that are high in nutrient density are ones that give you the biggest bang for your buck in terms of macro and micro nutrients, vitamins, amino acids and all the other good stuff your body needs to grow healthy and strong.
I’m always looking for ways to maximize nutrient density in the meals I serve my family and especially my kids—their portions are so much smaller, that I want to pack in as many good things in the few bites they take.
My kids love traditional pesto, so I made this kale and avocado pesto which looks and tastes similar, but packs a healthier punch. The addition of avocado and kale provide brain-boosting fats, bone-building calcium, and loads of vitamins that their body needs. In place of pine nuts found in traditional pesto, I swapped in pepitas, or roasted unsalted pumpkin seeds, to keep this school safe in case you wanted to serve it as a topping to pasta salad or as a spread on sandwiches.
Baby kale tends to have the most neutral flavor so that’s what I use here — store leftovers in the freezer to make great addition to smoothies.
This recipe makes a lotta pesto, and I like it that way! I store leftovers in 4oz baby food trays In the freezer and use it to spruce up weeknight dinners. It’s so versatile! Here are some of my favorite uses:
-as a sauce for pasta
-stirred into rice
-as salad dressing
-as a spread on sandwiches
-brushed onto grilled chicken, shrimp, and fish
-drizzled atop a caprese salad
-stirred into hummus or mashed avocado (think a pesto guacamole)
-mixed into baby food to expose babies to new flavors. Try this with mashed peas, zucchini, chicken, and rice dishes.
makes 1 1/2 cups
1 cup packed baby kale
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
1/2 ripe avocado
1/2 cup avocado oil (sub extra virgin olive oil)
juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup roasted unsalted pepitas
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon salt
Combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until mixture is well chopped and combined but not completely puréed, pausing to scrape down bigger pieces from the sides of the bowl.
Pesto can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 3 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.