In place of the basil and pine nuts in a traditional pesto, this pesto uses kale and walnuts. Kale is a nutrient-dense winter green packed with flavonoids to increase the antioxidant capacity of cells when combined with the vitamin C from the vegetables in the dish. In addition, the walnuts add heart healthy omega-3 fats. With cheese, nuts and oil, traditional pesto can be a calorie-dense dish, however this version is lightened with zucchini, mushroom, carrots and roasted red peppers.
All dishes are comprised of three macronutrients - carbohydrates, protein and fat. These macronutrients are the main sources of energy in our diet and all are necessary for overall health.
The USDA recommends 20-35% of calories come from fat; however, there are good fats and bad fats. Unsaturated fats are considered good fats and are found in nuts, seeds, most vegetable oils, poultry, and fish. Olive oil is largely monounsaturated and a key component to the Mediterranean diet pyramid. Omega-3s are polyunsaturated fats and found in soy, walnuts, flax and chia seeds, fish and shellfish. Saturated fats are not as good for us and therefore should not represent more than 10% of total calories in our diet. Sources of saturated fats include red meat, high-fat dairy (butter, cream, cheese, etc.), palm and coconut oil.
SPE promotes the use of ingredients with higher amounts of unsaturated fat than saturated fat. The fat in this dish comes largely from the oil. Saturated fat makes up 5% of the calories in this dish.
The USDA recommends 10-35% of calories come from protein; however, some protein sources are better for you than others. Proteins from lean meats, poultry, seafood and low-fat dairy provide the essential amino acids your body needs without too much additional saturated fat. Plant-based protein sources such as legumes, nuts and soy are also good choices with higher quality fats.
The protein in this dish comes from the chicken.
Carbohydrates are called many things: starch, sugar and fiber, complex and simple. They mainly come from grains, legumes, fruits, vegetables, dairy and sweeteners. The USDA recommends 45-65% of calories come from carbohydrates. In SPE, we target sources of carbohydrates that offer more than just quickly-absorbed calories such as intact or unrefined grains, legumes and whole fruits and vegetables.
Sugars are naturally occurring in grains, fruits and dairy and added sugars come from sweeteners such as corn syrup, cane and beet sugar, honey, agave, maple syrup and molasses, among others. The natural sugars in this dish come largely from the carrots and small amount of cheese. There is no added sugar in this dish.
Below are descriptions of a handful of vitamins and/or minerals found in this dish. The percent of the daily value recommended by the USDA’s Dietary Guidelines for most adults is shown for each vitamin or mineral listed.
The iron in this dish comes from the pasta and kale. Iron is a mineral that participates in many important functions including the transport of oxygen around the body and normal immune system function.
The vitamin C in this dish comes from the vegetables. Vitamin C acts as an antioxidant to neutralize free radicals in the body and also may contribute to immune and bone health.
The vitamin A in this dish comes from the carrots and kale. Vitamin A may promote vision, immune function, bone health, and cell integrity.
The USDA Dietary Guidelines recommend eating a variety of vegetables and fruits daily and replacing refined grains with whole grains. The recommended number of servings of fruits, vegetables and whole grains vary based on your specific needs and can be found at the USDA’s MyPlate Daily Food Plan website. The chart below shows the numbers of servings of each food in this dish, with each icon representing a serving.
= 1 serving of fruit (1/2 cup).
= 1 serving of vegetables (1/2 cup).
= 1 serving of whole grains (1 oz.).