Vegan Spinach Basil Pesto

Vegan Spinach Basil Pesto

All the Italian in me

To the best of my knowledge, I have zero Italian in me. But I was born in Manhattan and raised in New Jersey, so I know good pizza and I know good Italian food. And I’ve been to Italy. The bread. The cheese. The pasta. The gelato…. I ate alllll of it. I could literally eat my way through Italy. In fact, that’s pretty much exactly what my sister and her husband did on their honeymoon… #goals.

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All the purity please

Unfortunately, none of the typical Italian cuisine is particularly friendly for my current eating habits. Though, the food in Italy is arguably fresher and less processed and many people find that foods that don’t agree with them here in the US, such as gluten and dairy, pose no problems for them abroad. It’s tricky to find the science to back up these claims, but the fact is, anecdotal reports of gluten intolerance being specific to processed food in the United States are not few and far between. People report this experience all the time.

Coffee is a little different, but when I was food tested the other month, I tested negative (as in my body said ‘no thank you’) to regular coffee, but it was totally fine with organic coffee. Hm. I also tested definitely not to most dairy, but was ok with feta and other sheep’s and goat’s milk cheeses. The dairy industry in this country is notorious for being unclean and untrustworthy and loaded with antibiotics and hormones and pesticides. Is it a coincidence that my body doesn’t love foods like cow’s milk products that are processed and impure but seemingly fine with foods that are generally less processed and more pure? My guess is no, Not a coincidence at all. But while I reside in the US, I plan to stick to a dairy-free, gluten-free diet to keep my body happy.

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Home Cooked Italian

So when I crave Italian, I make dishes like zoodles with organic sugar-free marinara, my own vegan pesto, and organic gluten-free meatballs. And for father’s day, I went a little wild and attempted a vegan, gluten-free sweet potato crust pizza with pesto, arugula and portobello. I’m testing a couple tweaks to the sweet potato crust recipe so I hope to post that soon, but I gotta say, it was seriously delish! And fortunately, my dad loved it.

So for now, I’ll share the super simple vegan pesto recipe that works equally well with zoodles, kelp noodles, or as a dressing for any other Italian-ish recipe for that matter. Omg just writing this is making me crave it!

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Vegan Spinach Basil Pesto

What you need:

  • 1 cup spinach
  • 1 cup basil*
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts*
  • 1-2 cloves garlic (or 1/2 – 1 tsp garlic powder)
  • 1/2 cup avocado oil (or extra virgin olive oil, or 1/4 cup each)
  • 4 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste

*Or 2 cups of preferred leafy green and half cup of preferred nuts. Kale and arugula also work well, especially with walnuts. 

How to make:

  1. Place the spinach, basil, pine nuts, and garlic cloves in a food processor (high speed blender works here too).
  2. Slowly drizzle the oil in, then add the nutritional yeast, lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Serve and enjoy! Store in an airtight container in the fridge.

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