Tuesday, September 3, 2013

first day of school: Walnut Kale Basil Pesto

What do you do when your baby is going into the first grade and you are panicking?
And not because she can't handle it- she's pretty wonderful. 
It's you. 
You're having trouble letting go. 

And by "you", I mean me, of course. 
The answer is fairly simple, it turns out.
What does a natural-born chub do for her daughter on the first day of first grade?
Well, first there's crying. Then she spends the weekend before stocking the freezer full of delicious snacks to send in her daughter's lunchbox.
And by "she", I also mean me.

I'm talking homemade Pop Tarts, muffins, pizza rolls, soup, refried beans, pesto- anything  and everything I could think of to make the mornings easier on me and lunchtime delightful for my first-grader. 

Showing off her shoes. I have taught her well.
I'm just realizing that it might be weird that I prepared the most for my daughter's Back to School experience by baking.
...Don't judge me, okay? I'm still working on the whole food ≠ love thing.

Mostly, I just want her to eat well and not run out of energy during her long days 
(away from me!! Waaaa).
And I don't want to spend the wee hours of the morning running around and hollering like a crazy person. I want to save that for when my hair is dry and there is company over.

Anyway, I'm pretty proud of my first attempt at a healthy school lunch and snack for my grown-up girl. 

Snack (above) and lunch.
For snack time, Avery made caprese skewers with chunks of mozzarella I had cut up the night before and grape tomatoes from the Farmer's Market (skewered onto plastic toothpicks). Then I added a big scoop of Walnut Kale Basil Pesto (ridiculous name, but how many superfoods does your pesto contain? Come on, it can show off a little. [recipe below]). In the other compartment I put some purple grapes.
Lunch is an apple, peanut butter and Craisin sandwich (with the extra slices from the apple on top, per Av's request - she couldn't bare to let her little sister eat them, I guess), greek yogurt with honey, sugar snap peas, a teeny bit of leftover applewood smoked cheddar (Av's fav - "I love this cheese! It smells like turkey!!!" she declares while I try not to gag in the background - I'm not big on cheese) and a banana bread muffin.

This weekend we got to help out at our Bountiful Baskets site, and I was struck anew at how much delicious fresh food we got for so little money! They provided the grapes, sugar snaps and apples (I got the LunchBox pack on top of our usual basket). 

You may find it silly, but I feel proud of what I sent with my girl on this huge day, and I am super happy to realize that incorporating packing her lunch in our busy mornings is going to be no big deal! Especially not if I keep prepping when I have the free time. I also love the ownership Av showed over her lunch- she was thrilled to get it all together, which I know will make a big difference when it comes time to eat.
 Anything to keep her healthy, happy, and full for a long day of learning and fun!
 
See how excited I sound?! 
Am I fooling you yet?! 
I still miss her.
 
And I have allowed myself one day of mourning. 
Tomorrow, just joy. Joy for my three beautiful children and my kind husband and our great life. 

But today, tears. 
And Ben and Jerry's.
I called No Judgesies, okay?

Walnut Kale Basil Pesto
 
Ingredients:
  • 4 leaves kale, thick stems removed 
  • 1 small bunch basil, stems removed
  • 1/3 cup walnuts, toasted and cooled
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1/4 cup olive oil (add more for a smoother pesto)
  • the juice and zest of one lemon 
  • 1 tbsp.grated parmesan or pecorino cheese (or to taste)
  • salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Fill a large bowl with ice and water.
  2. Blanch the kale and basil leaves for about 30 seconds, remove and place in the ice bath to stop the cooking process.
  3. Dry the kale and basil with papertowels, gently squeezing out the excess water.
  4. Blend everything together in a food processor. The longer you blend, the smoother the pesto. Taste and adjust - add more salt, pepper, lemon, olive oil, to taste.
And then spread on bread, pasta, tomatoes and cheese... eat with spoon... whatever. There's no judgement here.

Happy Back to School/Mourning Day!

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