· By Julia Boase

Veggie Loaded Nut Free Pesto for School

As a pediatric dietitian, I see many kids that don't get their fair share of nuts and seeds in their diets. It's not entirely surprising, especially given the prevalence of nut-free policies in schools, which can limit kids' exposure to these nutritious foods. However, did you know that seeds offer many of the same health benefits as nuts? They are packed with essential nutrients such as protein, zinc, and magnesium, and they also provide a generous dose of heart-healthy fats.

To help you embrace the goodness of seeds, I've crafted a delicious nut-free pesto recipe that not only introduces seeds into your child's diet but also boasts a generous helping of vegetables – a whopping 4 cups of baby spinach, to be precise! Now, you might be wondering how to make the most of this nut free pesto. Well, the possibilities are as diverse as your child's tastes and preferences.

For instance, you can simply stir pesto into your child's favourite pasta and pack it into a thermos for a comforting hot school lunch. Or toss it through some shredded, store-bought BBQ chicken and place it in a crusty roll with a handful of fresh rocket leaves (see my chicken pesto and mozzarella rolls). Another fun option is to spread it over puff pastry, top it with cherry tomatoes and mozzarella, and bake it to create an easy light meal, or try my pesto halloumi burgers. 

Pesto will keep for up to 4 days in the fridge. If you find yourself with extra pesto or want to stock up for the future, simply freeze it, and it will remain perfectly delicious for up to six months.


4 cups baby spinach

2 cup basil leaves

3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/2 cup finely grated parmesan cheese 

1 clove garlic

1 cup sunflower seeds

3 Tbs lemon juice

salt & pepper


Add all ingredients to a food processor, season well and blitz until into fine paste. Check seasoning and adjust if needed. Refrigerate for up to 4 days or freeze for up to 6 month.  


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