Oil Free Basil Spinach Pesto

Do  the scents of certain foods take you back to happy days?  Oh the memories!  This Basil Pesto brings us back… 🙂

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As kids, every day after school we’d have a play date with our best friend and next door neighbor, Mary.  Our routine?  As soon as we got home, Mary would come over to our house for a snack.  Both our mom and Mary’s mom had super health-food filled homes.  The exception to the healthy rule? Our mom had cream cheese and Mary’s mom had Skippy peanut butter (vs. the pure crushed peanuts, where the oil often separated out, at our house).  So we’d have two snacks—first we’d stuff celery with cream cheese at our house, we’d giggle for hours as we always did when we were together, and then we’d go to Mary’s and stuff celery with Skippy peanut butter.  By the time we’d arrive at Mary’s it was closer to dinner time and her Mom always had something fragrant cooking on the stove that she was preparing for dinner.   One of the dishes that smelled the best—and that stole our attention away from celery with Skippy peanut butter was Mary’s Mom’s Basil Pesto.  Mary’s mom, Janet, would find us with our spoons in her pesto rather than in the Skippy jar where they were on other days.  We still dream about that pesto!  This Oil Free Basil Spinach Pesto was inspired by Mary’s mom’s pesto.  But as registered dietitians, we’ve lightened up traditional pesto and had to share it with you!

 

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Pssst… looking for more healthy recipes?  Please feel free to search this site! And here are a few to try…

 

Lime Shrimp with Coconut Rice

Greek Quinoa Salad

Smoked Paprika Chips

Chocolate Drizzled Granola Balls

Breakfast Quinoa Nibbles

Coconut Fruit Pops

 

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Typically, pesto contains a lot of oil and dairy, and adds mega calories.  To make this zippy condiment a bit more nutritious and lower in calories, we removed the oil and cheese, added lemon juice, nutritional yeast, and spinach (we promise you can’t taste it!)—and you won’t believe how delish it is!

 

Wondering what nutritional yeast is and why we add it? We actually learned about this vegan, cheese alternative months ago and curious what it tasted like, we gave it a whirl, and we were hooked! We’ve been sprinkling it on everything we eat since! 😉 It’s got a cheesy, nutty flavor and looks like a yellow powder that is actually an inactive form of yeast.  It’s the same strain of yeast that bakers use to leaven bread, but bakers use the active form.   It’s a vegan source of protein and vitamin B12 (so it really hooks a plant-eater up!) and provides a savory quality to dishes it is added to and has zero sodium.  Yes please!

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Other star ingredients in this Oil Free Basil Spinach Pesto:

  • Walnuts | Omega 3 Fatty Acids (hello, gorgeous, moisturized skin and a healthy heart!), Copper, Manganese, Biotin
  • Spinach | Vitamin K, Vitamin A (goodbye damaging free radicals, beta carotene from vitamin A mops up these trouble-makers and fights cancer, aging and inflammation), Iron, Manganese, Vitamin C
  • Basil | Vitamin K (hello healthy bones and proper healing from cuts and blemishes), Manganese, Copper

 

Add this flavorful and nutrient-packed condiment to your summer (or spring, fall or winter, for that matter!) meals!

 

Oil Free Basil Spinach Pesto

This is one of our favorite ways to add flavor to just about any dish (think chicken, shrimp, salmon, zucchini noodles, veggie dip…)!

Makes 16 Tbsp Servings

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cup basil leaves, gently washed
  • 1/2 cup spinach
  • 3 Tbsp walnuts pieces
  • 1 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp chives, optional
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1-2 Tbsp water

Directions:

  • Using a steel blade in the bowl of a food processor (or a high-powered blender), add the basil, spinach, walnuts, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, chives, and salt.  Blend until evenly ground.
  • With the machine running, slowly add 1-2 Tbsp of water to the mixture and blend until smooth.

Nutrition Information per Tablespoon:

  • Calories:  20 Fat:  2g Cholesterol:  0mg Sodium:  8mg Potassium:  37mg Carbohydrates:  1g Fiber:  0.5g Sugar:  0 g Protein:  0.7g

 

Oil Free Basil Spinach Pesto
 
Nutrition Information per Tablespoon: Calories: 20.2 Fat: 2g Cholesterol: 0mg Sodium: 8mg Potassium: 37mg Carbohydrates: 1g Fiber: .5g Sugar: .1g Protein: .7g
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1½ cup basil leaves, gently washed
  • ½ cup spinach
  • 3 Tbsp walnuts pieces
  • 1 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp chives, optional
  • ⅛ tsp salt
  • 1-2 Tbsp water
Instructions
  1. Using a steel blade in the bowl of a food processor (or a high-powered blender), add the basil, spinach, walnuts, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, chives, and salt.  Blend until evenly ground.
  2. With the machine running, slowly add 1-2 Tbsp of water to the mixture and blend until smooth.

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