I can’t get enough of basil these days. Seriously, even a whiff of the sweet, sweet aroma of basil gets me gitty (and mouth-watery). This year mama Teresa (aka my mom) planted extra basil in her garden so I had the pleasure of experimenting with it for all sorts of recipes. After several attempts at a delicious pesto this one became an instant hit. The preparation is really quite fast and simple (it took me about 10 minutes to make a batch — start to finish) and the results are lip-smacking delicious! Plus, unlike traditional pesto that is loaded with cheese, my Almond n’ Hemp Basil Pesto is dairy-free and full of nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids, protein, B vitamins, vitamin E, calcium, magnesium, zinc and iron. Omega-3 fatty acids are like a dime -a-dozen in today’s SAD (Standard American Diet). Most of us don’t consume nearly enough omega-3s and that imbalance could lie at the root of many modern health problems! Plus, if we’re overly consuming omega-6s (via vegetable/hydrogenated oils) then the little omega-3s we are consuming barely get converted into the useable EPA/DHA that the body needs to function at its optimal. Bottom line, load up on omega-3s wherever you can! With the addition of hemp seeds, this nutritional take on the traditional pesto guarantees an omega-3 boost!
I grow basil all year round — indoors most of the time — but there’s nothing like freshly picked basil from the garden. It is a nutritional rockstar boasting an astounding number of healing properties. I’ve listed just a few below but I could dedicate a whole post to this honorable herb.
- Anti-bacterial — our intestines are jam-packed with bacteria — some good, some bad. It is important to keep the bad bacteria in-check and prevent overgrowth so that the good bacteria or gut flora can thrive and fulfill its important roles like breaking down food particles and absorbing nutrients, strengthening immunity, regulating bowel movements/removing toxicity from the body to name a few.
- Heart-healthy — Basil is a very good source of beta-carotene/vitamin A which is a powerful antioxidant that protects the cells that form the lining of numerous body structures including the blood vessels from free radical damage. It also helps prevent free radicals from oxidizing cholesterol in the blood stream. Only after it has been oxidized does cholesterol build up in blood vessel walls, initiating the development of atherosclerosis, whose end result can be a heart attack or stroke.
- Beautifying — As mentioned above, basil is a rich source of antioxidants like vitamin A which protects skin cells from free radical damage and thus, slows premature ageing. Because of it’s anti-inflammatory, skin-protecting properties, spas have recently deemed it as the “new beauty ‘it’ herb”!
I just love that this pesto is so versatile. I add it to absolutely everything. It makes for a perfect butter/margarine substitute and adds so much flavor and extra crunch thanks to the almonds and garlic. Plus, the nutritional yeast in the pesto adds a hint of cheesiness — yum! For breakfast, I like spreading it on a piece of sprouted whole grain toast or my favorite gluten-free toast followed by a slice of tomato and poached egg. It is also a delicious addition to my zucchini spaghetti recipe. Completely guilt-free, full of fiber and totally satisfying. Real, whole food has never tasted better — see for yourself and try this homemade Almond n’ Hemp Basil Pesto!
- 2 cups basil
- 3/4 cup avocado oil (or olive oil)
- 1/2 cup raw, unsalted almonds
- 1 garlic clove
- 2 tbsp hemp seeds
- 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- Himalayan pink salt+pepper to taste
- Add all ingredients to food processor and pulse until almonds have broken down to a grainy consistency. If you like it to be a little more creamy, continue to pulse until desired consistency has been reached.
- Store in a glass jar in the fridge for 1 -1 1/2 weeks. This may sound like a short period of time but trust me, you'll get to the bottom of the jar sooner than you think!