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April Recipe

SPINACH PESTO PEPPER TARTS &
SPINACH WALNUT PESTO

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This month's recipe features a spinach pesto topped with colorful bell peppers.  The pesto can be made on its own and can be used on pasta or served as an accompaniment to chicken.  I like to make the pesto in large batches and freeze them in Ziploc bags (Tip:  If you press the pesto so that it lies flat in the Ziploc bags, you can easily break off a piece of frozen pesto to heat up and use it whenever you want it).  

This is a recipe that we use in our middle school classes to teach adolescents about the importance of iron in their diets, particularly during pre-teen and teenage years.  Iron-deficiency anemia is the number one nutritional deficiency in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that about 75 percent of teenage girls and about 17 percent of teenage boys don't get enough iron in their diets.   Iron deficiency also “rears its ugly head” again for many women later in life.

Yes, Popeye had it right:  spinach makes you strong because it is an iron-rich food.  However, in order for the body to absorb the iron from most plant-based foods, you need to also consume foods rich in Vitamin C, like the bell peppers in our recipe. 


Spinach (IRON) + Bell Pepppers (VITAMIN C) =
strong, energetic, less tired

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SPINACH PESTO PEPPER TARTS
(a Jill Dahan recipe)
(makes 12 small tarts)

6-7 sheets Fillo pastry (found in the frozen section of your grocery store)

For Pesto Filling*:
1 cup packed baby spinach leaves
2 medium cloves garlic crushed
½ cup raw walnuts soaked in water (preferably overnight) then drained
1 tbsp lemon juice (about ½ a lemon)
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 large stems basil or 1 sprig rosemary leaves (optional)
2-3 tbsp fresh finely grated parmesan cheese

To Top Tarts:
1 cup chopped bell peppers (assorted colors – red, yellow, orange)
Extra virgin coconut oil or olive oil for brushing

Instructions:

Step #1:  Kids cut bell pepper into small pieces.
Bake the bell pepper pieces with 1 tbsp oil at 375F for 7-10 minutes until just softened.  Set aside.

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Step #2:  While the bell pepper pieces are baking, cut fillo into rectangles, squares, or circles (each child gets 6 sheets of fillo).

Step #3:  For the tart base, unroll Fillo dough and count out 6-7 large sheets.  If you make Fillo “cups”, cut the Fillo in half, and then half again in order to make squares.  The Fillo cups should each have about 6 layers of Fillo.  Working quite quickly brush or drizzle some of the olive oil on each square, and press into muffin tin.  Repeat this process of layering with olive oil and pressing into muffin tins until each cup has about 6 layers of Fillo. 

Rewrap tightly the unused sheets and return to a sealed plastic bag for another use. 

SPINACH PESTO

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Step #4:  To Make the Spinach Pesto:  Place lemon, garlic, and olive oil in a blender and top with the spinach, nuts, cheese, and basil if using.  Blend pushing down the leaves until all combined.  Set aside.

Ingredients For Pesto Filling*:
1 cup packed baby spinach leaves
2 medium cloves garlic crushed
½ cup raw walnuts soaked in water (preferably overnight) then drained
1 tbsp lemon juice (about ½ a lemon)
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 large stems basil or 1 sprig rosemary leaves (optional)
2-3 tbsp fresh finely grated parmesan cheese

Step #5:  Bake the Fillo pastry at 375F for about 7-8 minutes just until lightly browned. 

Step #6:  Remove from oven and gently remove from muffin tins.

Step #7:  Fill each Fillo cup with the pesto and top with the roasted bell peppers. 

Serve at room temperature.

JUNE RECIPE - ORANGE CHOCOLATE BANANA POPS

JULY RECIPE - ZUCCHINI "SPAGHETTI"

AUGUST RECIPES - ROASTED TOMATO GRILLED CHEESE, BASIL PESTO, & WATERMELON PEACH SLUSHIE

SEPTEMBER RECIPE - OATMEAL APPLE CINNAMON PANCAKE MUFFINS

OCTOBER RECIPES - WHOLE WHEAT VEGGIE PIZZAS, QUICK TOMATO SAUCE, CHIA SEED JELLO

FEBRUARY RECIPE - CHOCOLATE BEETROOT CUPCAKES

MARCH RECIPE - QUINOA FRUIT SALAD