The days of pesto being known as pasta’s tasty green companion are over.
Well, maybe not over but reinvented.
A nutrient-dense, delicious spread or sauce that kicks up the taste factor on just about anything. Originally made with pine nuts, olive oil, and often cheese, I’ve taken this favorite global dish and put my own little healthy spin on it.
Olive oil is a powerful ingredient but I tend to believe we overdo it on oils and fats these days. If you’re incorporating avocado, nuts, seeds, and/or nut butter into your diet daily and cooking with olive or coconut oil, although they are all healthy fats, that adds up!
Fat is good and healthy but more is not better. The industry loves to take healthy food and go buck wild with it making everyone believe more is better. That is not the case. In the ’90s fat-free was all the rage then after studies proved saturated fats provided us with energy and were healthy…well you know what happened from there. The pendulum swung the other way now you’re seeing forms of fat in everything. Bulletproof coffees, smoothies loaded with nut butter, heavily oiled dressings, and more.
According to a Pub Med study found here, it is recommended by the World Health Organization and the Dietary Reference Intakes that one should aim to have between 20- 30% of the daily food caloric intake come from fat. This means if you are aiming to eat 1800 calories a day, 360-540 calories should come from healthy fats like avocado, nuts, seeds, and oils like coconut, avocado, or olive.
Let’s take a look at what our daily intake of fat can look like:
- ½ avocado (in a salad or on toast)
- 1 tbsp coconut oil (in cooking)
- 2 tbsp chia seeds (in a smoothie or on top of a salad)
- 1.5 tbsp nut butter (in a smoothie or on toast)
= 37g of fat, 402 calories
The one sneaky thing about fat is because it is so calorically dense, it’s good to measure because 1 tbsp of nut butter is NOT the same as 1 heaping spoon we often toss into the blender or eat off a utensil.
ANYWHO that a long-winded informative bit about why I decided to keep this recipe oil-free.
WHY YOU’LL LOVE IT:
- Diverse! Great on toast, salad dressings, pasta salads, or vegetable dip.
- Easy to make obviously! That’s what my recipes are all about!
- High in nutrients that support hair and nail growth and glowing skin.
- Make a batch and freeze it for nights when you throw all your leftover veggies in a pasta dish and you need a sauce to go with!
A NUTRITIONIST’S CHOICE:
Pumpkin seeds– High in magnesium and zinc.
Magnesium: An incredibly important mineral that plays a vital role in many of our body’s daily functions. Magnesium also supports our energy, nervous system, boosts mood and so much more!
Zinc: Incredibly important for our immune system, zinc also supports our body’s ability to heal wounds, keep skin healthy and clear, decrease inflammation, and more.
Because our body doesn’t produce zinc, it’s important to supplement or use foods that contain high amounts like pumpkin seeds!
Pumpkin seeds also help fight parasites. Ew, I know but parasites are incredibly common. I will often include an extra dose of pumpkin seeds into my diet after traveling. Be sure to pair them with high fibrous foods to help flush the parasites out.
Pumpkin seeds are also high in antioxidants, healthy fats, fiber and have been said to promote better sleep because of their tryptophan content. Tryptophan is an amino acid that promotes sleep and can be converted by the body into serotonin and further into melatonin which helps regulate our sleep cycles.
OK- so not you got the deets on how healthy this homemade vegan pesto is, now time to put it into action.
OTHER WAYS TO ENJOY THIS RECIPE:
- Lightly steam the zucchini noodles and heat the pesto for a warm comforting dish
- Use edamame, black bean, lentil, soba or regular spaghetti noodles instead of zoodles for a heartier dish
- Toss pesto with your favorite cooked and cooled spiral or shell noodles with some cherry tomatoes and spinach for a delicious pasta salad
- Add pesto to avocado toast or yam toast shown here
Pepita Vegan Oil-Free Pesto
- 1 lemon peeled
- 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
- 3/4 cup zucchini
- 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
- 1/3 cup fresh basil
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1/2 tsp salt rock, sea or Himalayan
- 1/4 cup water
- In a blender add all ingredients and blend for 60 seconds
- Heat up in a sauce pan or enjoy chilled. Store in fridge.