We have been busy camping, celebrating Fourth of July, kids returning from camp… Wishing summer would slow down! But no matter how busy we become, we are still striving to meet our family’s goal of cooking together once a week with the United States of MyPlates Challenge. And one thing I have learned is whatever you invest your time and energy in becomes your priority.
One thing I think is so cool and can be invested in as a family (yet I wish the products were made in America too), is the new line at Target: The Feed USA Program. Every FEED item purchased provides meals for children and families across America. All kinds of items are available including clothes, kitchenware, bags, and more. Started by Lauren Bush Lauren, FEED’s mission is to create good products that help FEED the world.
I was so inspired by this, I wanted to head to Target to participate. My kids were interested too and we bought a few things to support feeding 41 people in America.
What a great concept – working together to provide healthy meals for families. And those of us that do have the power to put together a healthy family meal – we have one for you!
We have been looking forward to this one for awhile since it incorporates one of my favorite condiments: pesto.
Adapted from The Healthy Lunchtime Challenge Cookbook, recipe submitted by Jonah Schaik of Illinois.
Quick family connection idea: have your kids find and share a fact about Illinois and name some foods that grow there. I offered googling or reading a book to find out. Bring the facts to the table during family dinner.
Ingredients for pesto:
4 cups loosely packed fresh basil
4 cups fresh spinach
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3 cloves garlic, pressed
Ingredients for pasta:
1 pound whole – wheat rotini
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound chicken breast tenderloins
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup diced onion
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
2 garlic cloves, pressed or minced
Pinch dried red pepper flakes
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1. Cook pasta until al dente in a large pot of boiling water. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water, then drain the pasta and return it to the pot.
2. While the pasta is cooking, heat a deep skillet over moderate heat and add olive oil. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Add the chicken and cook until lightly browned on both sides. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest for 5 minutes. Slice into bite-size pieces.
3. Also, layer pesto ingredients into a blender. Blend with 1/4 cup reserved pasta water until smooth. Set aside.
4. In the same skillet, add the onions and bell pepper, saute and stir occasionally until softened, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds before adding dried red pepper.
5. Add the pesto to the cooked pasta, loosening with 1/4 cup of reserved pasta water. Place pasta in dish, topping with pepper mixture, sliced chicken and freshly grated Parmesan.
Make it a MyPlate Meal by adding mandarin oranges and chocolate milk.
MyCart Shopping Tip: If you have the capability which means if you have just a windowsill, plant some basil. It’s easy to grow, grows fast and can be used to freshen up so many dishes. Seeds may still be available!
Husband: 1 – He’s crazy, but still his opinion! Loved the chicken, too much basil.
Adventurous Son: 5 – Loved it.
Cautious Daughter: 3 – Loved the chicken.
Dietitian Mom: 5 – Awesome.
We had a blast.
And by the way, the new Healthy Lunchtime Challenge winners were invited to The White House today for the Kids’ State Dinner. More on that in a future blogpost!