Basil Hemp Pesto Sauce
I've been all about the fresh herbs lately. Herbs are one of those things that often slide under the radar. We often think of them as merely flavor-boosters or decor. However, herbs pack a major punch when it comes to nutrition. Although I have yet to find an herb I don't like, basil is one of my favorites. It's loaded with antioxidants that fight that the free-radical damage that contribute to disease and aging, acts as an antibacterial and antimicrobial agent, helps to lower inflammation, promotes healthy digestion, normalizes blood pressure and tastes amazing! Now that summer is here, I have been incorporating basil into as many dishes as possible.
Adding to the nutrient-density of this sauce are the hemp hearts (shelled hemp seeds) and nutritional yeast. Hemp seeds are one of my favorite superfoods, as they are loaded with plant-based omega 3 fatty acids, fiber, protein, vitamin E, magnesium and manganese. Nutritional yeast is another nutrition superstar packed with B vitamins and other minerals important for energy production, blood sugar regulation and hormone balance. Both hemp hearts and nutritional yeast are also super low in net carbohydrates (total carbs - fiber), which lessens their impact on your blood sugar. Just be careful when buying nutritional yeast, as many brands are fortified with synthetic folic acid, which the body cannot easily use and can be dangerous when it accumulates. My preferred brand for nutritional yeast is Sari Foods.
This sauce is a thinner consistency than most pestos, which makes it a little more versatile than most pestos. I love using pesto as a sauce on top of salads, bowls with roasted vegetables and chicken / fish / beef / turkey, spaghetti squash, zucchini noodles or in place of marinara sauce on my favorite cauliflower crust pizza.
PALEO / GLUTEN-FREE / DAIRY-FREE / LOW FODMAP
- 2 heaping cups packed basil (leaves only)
- 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil *
- 1/4 cup hemp hearts / shelled hemp seeds
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast (I use this brand that is not fortified with synthetic folic acid)
- 2 cloves garlic (omit for low FODMAP)
- 1/4 tsp pink Himalayan salt
- Few cracks of fresh black pepper
* Use avocado oil in place of EVOO if you will be heating the pesto (like if using as a topping for a pizza).
- Rinse and dry the basil.
- Transfer all ingredients to a hight-speed blender or food processor and process until smooth.