Friday, August 9, 2013

Thinking Outside the (Lunch)box: Nut Free Pesto Pasta

For our last day of Thinking Outside the Lunchbox Week we are delighted to have Emma Stirling from Scoop Nutrition visiting, sharing a nut-free recipe that will be a hit with the kiddos! And I love the pasta that she found for her daughter. What a great way to make lunch even more appealing!

Nut free pesto pasta

 A big hello everyone from Australia.  And a huge thanks to Cherie and Britney for having me guest post this week.

 Most kids in our country have a packed lunch every day, as there is no school lunch program. So as a mum to Miss 11 and Master 8 let’s just say I’ve been packin’ it for quite a few years now.  And as a dietitian, I’m always trying to strike a healthy balance between good choices and not being the family food cop! Luckily my Miss 11 is growing up to be a veggie lover…Master 8, well let’s just say he’s a work in progress.  You can read more about my vegetable love affair and how to get your kids to dig them too, over on my blog The Scoop on Nutrition

Miss 11 is a super active gymnast and trains 5-8 hours a week, so she likes a substantial lunch and I like to slip in a dairy serve for those weight-bearing, growing bones.  But she is unfortunately over the simple solution of a cheese and salad sandwich and much prefers leftovers or today’s recipe: Nut free pesto pasta.  Most of our primary (elementary) schools are nut free zones due to the rising rates of allergies, so this is a safe but super nom alternative.  You can also switch out half the basil for spinach leaves or kale and slip in more veggies too. 

2 cups fresh basil (or 1 cup basil and 1 cup leafy green like baby spinach leaves
1 clove garlic
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper

Around 1/3 cup olive oil

Pasta of choice – kids love penne, bow ties (farfalle) or character shapes

Extra cheese for garnish.

Don’t you just love this Hello Kitty version of pasta I found? Writing a little note on a banana or serving up healthy food with style, can help with peer acceptance.  Miss 11’s friends are constantly telling me that they wish their parents made pasta and veggies for lunch too!


Place all the pesto ingredients in a blender or food processor apart from the olive oil and blend for a few seconds until combined.  With the machine still going slowly stream in olive oil until you have enough to form a smooth consistency.   Store in a sealed jar in the fridge for around 1 week – if it’s not eaten first!

When packing lunch, take cold leftover pasta or cook up a super cute version and toss the pesto through.  Garnish with extra cheese.  

So there you have it: Nut free pesto pasta.  We always pack at least four types of fruit and veggies.  Plus a sweet, homemade cookie or slice too from the tin. Or a store bought Oreo if we are caught out on blogging day, like right now!

Emma Stirling is an Australian Accredited Practising Dietitian, blogger and health writer with a busy nutrition consultancy in Melbourne.  She has a great passion for kids nutrition plus cooking skills for all people as a recipe for good health.  Follow her on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest or Facebook.

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