If you’re not used to eating greens, pesto can especially be a great place to start. This recipe tastes traditional, but sneaks in foods you might not otherwise pair together in a pesto. And as you know, no recipe placed on PCOSbites goes without getting personally tested and approved. Even my five kids loved this!
A couple of things to know about why you should eat this…
- Basil is rich in Vitamin K as well as other vitamins and minerals including iron, calcium, manganese, magnesium, vitamin C and potassium (see chart below). Basil also has antibacterial properties and contains DNA-protecting flavonoids making it a power food for helping your body’s cells do their job!Basil is the main foundation to the pesto, so you will want it as fresh as possible. We encourage you to grow your own in either a pot with soil or in a Tower Garden off your back deck/inside your house. (We’ve especially have found basil to grow well in the hydroponic/aeroponic systems, like the Tower Garden!) Basil germinates within 8-14 days from seed and is ready to start harvesting as soon as 3 weeks. This is a staple plant in our home — we always have basil growing. If you’re not familiar with how to grow basil, check out our helpful tips on growyourhealthgardening.com
1 cup of chopped basil has:
- Vitamin A 1477 IU
- Vitamin C 5 mg
- Vitamin E 0.2 mg
- Vitamin K 116 mcg
- Folate 19 mcg
- Choline 3.2 mcg
- Calcium 49.6 mg
- Magnesium 17.9 mg
- Potassium 82.6 mg
- Phosphorus 15.7 mg
- Iron 0.9 mg
- Sodium 1.1 mg
- Watercress (or also referred to sometimes as Upland Cress) is a peppery flavored green and is chalk-full of vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, calcium, phosphorus, iron, and magnesium, all of which benefit the body. Watercress is also known for lowering blood pressure, improving thyroid gland function, increases diuresis (which efficiently eliminates toxins from the whole body), and improving weight-loss. Watercress also has an antioxidant known as alpha-lipoic acid meaning it will lower glucose levels, prevent changes brought on by oxidative stress, and increase insulin sensitivity. In short, you want to eat this green whenever possible — add it to salads, incorporate it into soups, sauces, casseroles, or even a little bit of gluten-free pasta. We’ve included it in this recipe in place of black pepper and encourage you to think of using it the same way in other dishes!1 cup of chopped watercress has:
- Vitamin A 1085 IU
- Vitamin C 6 mg
- Niacin 1 mg
- Folate 1 mcg
- Vitamin K 0 mcg
- Calcium 8 mg
- Magnesium 1 mg
- Phosphorus 4 mg
- Sodium 9 mg
- Hemp heart seeds are rich in healthy fats and essential fatty acids. They are also a great protein source and contain high amounts of vitamin E, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, magnesium, sulfur, calcium, iron and zinc. You can purchase this in powder form making it a great addition to your pesto and increasing your protein intake. Further, if you suffer from PMS symptoms and painful cycles, research has found that the Gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), found in hemp seeds, produces prostaglandin E1, which reduces the effects of prolactin. If you aren’t keen on using hemp heart seeds, simply substitute another plant-based protein powder.
- Why do we use pumpkin seeds, walnuts and almonds instead of the traditional pine nuts? For one, they are less expensive and secondly, these three nuts are rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, antioxidants, and fiber. In fact, pumpkin seeds have been found to aid in managing insulin levels and even improve blood pressure.
- Swerve can also be used as a straight swap for sugar to sweeten drinks such as coffee and tea. Erythritol is absorbed in the small intestine and then eliminated by the body, so it’s never metabolized and can’t contribute calories to the diet. Some do get stomach cramps from erythritol, so listen to your body and adjust as needed. If you’re not keen on taking a sugar-alcohol (erythritol), simply swap this element with the same measurement of natural honey. It’s not a deal-breaker for still making this a healthy recipe if you opt for honey in leu of Swerve.
Once you’ve made your pesto, you can place a spoonful on a piece of chicken breast for a yummy lunch or dinner. Store up to one week in refrigerator. For long-term storage, place in freezer-safe container and remove any air and store in freezer for up to one year. When you’re ready to use, simply take out and thaw. For portion-control pesto, pour into a ice tray and then pop out when frozen and place into a freezer bag (remove as much air as possible.) Don’t forget to note the date that you made your pesto!
Garden-grown Healthy Homemade Protein-packed Pesto
• 3 cups of Basil (freshly harvested, rinsed & spun on salad spinner) Get Basil Seeds
• 1/2 cup Watercress (freshly harvested, rinsed & spun on salad spinner) Get Watercress Seeds
• 4 TBS of EVOO or MTC Oil
• 1/2 cup of rough chopped Pumpkin Seeds + Walnuts + Almonds (I just do a equal part mix of all)
• 3 TBSP of Hemp Hearts Powder (or a protein powder of your choice)
• 5 tsp of Garlic (minced)
• 1 tsp Swerve Natural Sweetener
• 1/2 tsp Pink Himalayan Salt (Fine)
• 1/2 cup Water
• 1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese (Reduced Fat)
• 1 TBSP Lemon Juice
- Make an ice bath and add 1 TBSP of Apple Cider Vinegar. Take bowl to where your basil and watercress are growing.
- Harvest 3 cups of loose basil leaves from your personal Tower Garden. To harvest, take a sharp pair of clean pruning scissors and cut about 1/4″ above two leaves. Remove leaves from stem and place basil leaves immediately into ice bath after cutting. Leave in ice bath for about 10-15 minutes. Place basil leaves in salad spinner and spin until all water droplets have been removed. Put in a ziplock bag and set aside in refrigerator until you’re ready to make your pesto.
- Harvest 1/2 cup of loose greens of Upland Cress or Watercress from your personal Tower Garden. To harvest, take a sharp pair of clean pruning scissors and cut about 1/4″ from base of plant. Leave some leaves in plant to encourage further growth. Remove leaves from stem and place Watercress leaves immediately into ice bath after cutting. Leave in ice bath for about 10-15 minutes. Place watercress leaves in salad spinner and spin until all water droplets have been removed. Put in a Ziplock storage bag and set aside in refrigerator until you’re ready to make your pesto.
- After your greens have been cleaned and water removed, you can begin to make your pesto. Take your blender and add the ingredients listed above.
- Blend on low speed at first and then scrape down sides down as needed.
- Increase blend speed until on high and all ingredients have been well macerated and combined. I usually blend for around a minute.
- Pour pesto mix into a refrigerator safe storage container and place lid on top. Store up to one week in refrigerator. For long-term storage, place in freezer-safe container and remove any air and store in freezer for up to one year. When you’re ready to use, simply take out and thaw.
- When you’re ready to use your fresh pesto, simply scoop desired amount — remember a little goes along way! Enjoy!!!
This recipe is Gluten-free, Corn-free, and Refined Sugar-Free