Official Newsletter of the President's Challenge


Seeds and Weeds: Making Pesto with a Variety of Nuts and Greens

kale-pesto Pesto is an easy and nutritious summer dinner, especially when served over whole grain pasta. Like the garlic in pesto, the olive oil is beneficial in reducing cholesterol. Olive oil is also rich in Vitamin E and antioxidants which help protect our cells from the damage of unstable molecules called free radicals. While we are most familiar with basil and pine nut pesto, mixing up a batch of the basic recipe using various combinations of nuts and greens will keep everyone guessing and add superfoods like kale and chard to your diet. Basil, the typical herb used in pesto offers beta-carotene, Vitamins K, A, and iron to the diet. Kale, chard, spinach, arugula, and herbs like parsley, cilantro, and mint will add the same nutrients. Vitamin K helps blood clot, keeps bones strong, and prevents hardening of the arteries. Beta carotene protects against cancer and aging. As a fat soluble nutrient, the olive oil and nuts in pesto will help the body absorb the beta carotene from the greens.

Because of the high calorie and fat content of pesto, a little bit can go a long way in flavoring pasta, veggies, potatoes, and sandwiches. Pesto can also be blended with a can of white or garbanzo beans for a flavorful green hummus.

Choose from these greens/herbs:

Mix in greens for superfood nutrition. Mix in herbs for nutrition and flavor.

Kale, Spinach, Swiss Chard, Arugula

Basil, Parsley, Cilantro, Mint

Choose from these seeds/nuts:

Walnuts, Almonds, Pecans, Pistachios, Pine Nuts, Cashews, Pepitas

Choose from these grated hard cheeses:

Parmesan, Romano, Asiago, Pecorino

Choose from these juices:

Lemon juice (try with parsley), Lime juice (try with cilantro), Orange juice (try with mint)


3 cups greens or herbs

1/3 – ½ cup seeds or nuts

1-2 cloves garlic

½ cup olive oil

1-2 tablespoons juice

½ cup grated hard cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

  • Add greens, seeds, and garlic to food processor and pulse until you have a paste.
  • Slowly add olive oil and juice until well blended.
  • Add cheese, salt, and pepper and process until blended.

my-plate My Plate’s Pinterest Recipe Collection

Pinterest fans, The Partnership for a Healthier America, Let's Move!, USDA's MyPlate, and the nation's top recipe creators have come together to offer hundreds of tasty and nutritious recipes at Find the perfect recipe on twenty-nine different boards ranging from healthy desserts, casseroles, and sandwiches, to beans & legumes, vegetarian meals, make and take items, summer salad, slow cooker meals, and even the First Lady’s favorites. One board’s pins will explain the My Plate concept of filling your plate with the proper portions and a healthy variety of foods.