Pesto is one of the simplest and most versatile recipes I know to get great nourishment into our family’s diet. Here’s a little rundown of the key ingredients and the benefits they provide to our bodies, small and large.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Extra Virgin Olive Oil brings healthy fats, bio-active antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory properties into the body which in turn provide multi-faceted benefits from anti-ageing effects to helping prevent heart disease, strokes and weight gain, Type 2 Diabetes and even the Big C (to name just a few).
In this recipe, I switch around which nuts I use depending on what is in the pantry. Each has different flavours and textures. My kids tend to prefer the sweeter ones, like cashews. You can also mix in sunflower seeds if you like.
Almonds are very high in calcium, and also fibre, vitamin E and magnesium. They help the body to lower cholesterol and reduce risks of both heart disease and diabetes.
With more iron than almonds, cashews are also higher in magnesium. They contain the same unsaturated fat as olive oil oleic acid. In these ways, they promote healthy hearts, strong bones and great skin and hair (as they’re high in copper). They may even help prevent cancer.
Walnuts are a good source of omega 3 fatty acids, antioxidants, as well as phytosterols. They are known to be good for helping to protect against cancer, depression and Alzheimer’s.
Hazelnuts are great for providing unsaturated fats (again with oleic acid), and they are also a good source of magnesium, vitamins B and E as well as calcium. As with the above, they help your heart, help reduce cancer risk and play a part in skin, muscle, joint, bone and digestive health.
Basil is one of those under-rated super herbs I think.
Basil heals upset tummy / indigestion, increases mental clarity (for study), restores natural pH levels and feeds healthy gut bacteria, supports healthy liver function to help in eliminating toxins from the body, helps to moderate blood sugar (which effectively helps prevent Type 2 Diabetes), aids in prevention and eases symptoms of depression and anxiety as an adaptogen or anti-stress agent; and contains a range of natural antioxidants, which can help protect body tissues against free radical damage.
Here’s my version of pesto, and believe me there are many! Mine is dairy free so those that wish can add parmesan when they serve it up.
1 clove garlic, peeled and trimmed.
1-2 handfuls of nuts of your choosing (I like a mix of sunflower and cashews)
1/2-1 cup of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Two large handfuls of basil leaves
Salt and pepper to taste
In a small food processor blend the garlic, most of the oil and the nuts to course texture. Add leaves and blend again till it is the texture you like, use rest of the oil if necessary to keep it moving – otherwise use when serving.
Best served with pasta, fresh tomato and either fresh baby spinach leaves or rocket depending on your preference. I usually splash a bit more quality olive oil over the top on serving too.
Alena Turley/ The Soul Mamma is a writer, educator, ethical digital creator and mum of three little darlings based at Freshwater Beach, in Sydney. Come join the party and bumble through this parenting malarkey together with other lovely souls by following Soul Mamma on Instagram