This is not your traditional pesto!
This pesto recipe is slightly different than your traditional pesto recipe. Instead of using tahini, pine nuts, or parmesan cheese, this recipe uses walnuts and nutritional years. I love making food that is nutrient dense and this recipe is packed with nutritional ingredients.
The main ingredient, basil, is one of the easiest things to grow in your home garden. It grows quickly, abundantly, and doesn’t need a lot of attention. If you don’t have a home garden, you can purchase basil from the grocery store or your local farmer’s market.
Pesto is a great accompaniment to a variety of foods
In a matter of minutes, you can put this recipe together and enjoy it any time of the day. I love putting it on a grilled piece of salmon, organic chicken or grass fed beef. It also tastes pretty yummy on roasted veggies, dipped with raw veggies, on a healthy cracker, or mixed with pasta. And if the truth should be told, I have eaten this pesto straight from the food processor before putting it on anything. It’s that good, and thank goodness, it’s that healthy!
Each pesto ingredient has wonderful health benefits
Basil—There are studies that show that this herb, also known as sweet basil or ocimum basilicum, is not just a tasty, aromatic, culinary addition to food. It has medicinal properties. If food is medicine, then basil is a natural healer. It has antioxidant components that help our cells fight cancer. It is anti-inflammatory, showing to improve cardiovascular health. Sweet basil is also called St. John’s Wort and has been found to help with mood disorders like anxiety and depression.
Walnuts—Have you ever noticed that these beauties resemble our human brain? Yep, they are great for brain health. They contain high levels of healthy fats, protein, and fiber. Because of this combination, they are also helpful in balancing blood sugar. Dr. Mercola shares the health benefits to eating walnuts. He says that “one-quarter cup of walnuts provides more than 100% of the daily recommended value of plant based omega 3 fats, along with high amounts of copper, manganese, molybdenum, and biotin.”
Lemons—I consider the lemon a superfood and this fruit can be found in my kitchen at ALL times. One of the best ways to start your day is by drinking a glass of water in the morning with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice in it. Consuming lemon is a simple, effective way to help detoxify our liver.
Garlic—This culinary gems aids in boosting our immune system. It is helpful in reducing the common cold and flu. Garlic also has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. These qualities aid in preventing cancer and reducing heart disease.
Here’s a tip from Dr. Andrew Weil when using garlic: Slice, mash, or chop the garlic cloves you are using for a recipe. Le the sit, exposed to the air, for at least ten minutes. This releases allicin, which is garlic’s greatest medicinal property.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil—I’m a huge fan of olive oil. After all, every time I eat an olive, I’m tempted to eat the whole jar! Olive oil is that precious oil pressed from olives. I don’t think there is anything tastier. It’s a heart healthy monounsaturated fat. So, yes, it is a healthy fat that may lower your risk of heart disease. An important key when consuming olive oil is that you purchase a high quality one. If you want to absorb the health promoting polyphenol antioxidants (think anti-cancer) found in olive oil, purchase one that “extra virgin, cold pressed, and organic.”
Nutritional Yeast—These yellow flakes have been around for a long time, and yet are unknown to many people. Popular in the vegan and vegetarian communities, nutritional yeast is often used as a cheese (dairy) replacement. Nutritional yeast has a savory, nutty taste. I love the taste of nutritional yeast now, but I’ll be honest, it did take some time to acclimate my taste buds. You might relate to this, especially if you’re an avid cheese lover like I am. You can also add nutritional yeast to salads, soups, and pastas. It even tastes yummy sprinkled on popcorn. One of my favorite brands is BRAGG. In their description, they say their specific design is to help meet the needs of vegetarians, vegans, and anyone wanting a good source of B-complex vitamins including natural vitamin B12.
Fresh Basil Walnut Pesto
- 2 cups fresh basil, washed
- ¼ cup walnuts
- ½ small lemon, juiced
- 2 cloves garlic*
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- Put all ingredients into a food processor or high-speed blender. Blend until all ingredients are mixed together.
- Adjust taste to your preference.
*Here’s a tip from Dr. Andrew Weil when using garlic. Slice, mash, or chop the garlic cloves you are using for a recipe. Let them sit, exposed to the air, for at least ten minutes. This releases allicin, which is garlics greatest medicinal property.
Debbie Whitehead is a licensed professional counselor (M.Ed, LPC), certified personal trainer (CPT), and certified nutrition coach. She owns a practice in Plano, Texas where she helps clients break free from trauma and live a beautiful life – mind, body, and soul.