Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Dairy free pesto

As much as I try not to over-think my nutrition (it's easy to obsess), I'm always mindful of little things that may be hindering my progress, or potentially damaging my health. Store bought condiments can contain all sorts of ingredients we wouldn't expect to find in them, and since I do my best to avoid sugar and artificial preservatives, I usually make my own... just to be sure... (this isn't obsessing alright??!!)

I've said before that I've nothing really against dairy, but I don't make a habit of including it in my diet simply because I feel better without it. I don't think pesto lacks flavour by omitting it, so I always go dairy free. I've raved about the benefits of spinach before, so won't bore you again!

I use walnuts instead of pine nuts since they have so many excellent health benefits. They're a great source of Omega 3 fatty acids, making them a brilliant anti inflammatory food. If you have any sort of autoimmune disorder like eczema, psoriasis, arthritis or multiple sclerosis, you should be including walnuts in your diet....even if you don't, include them anyway because they're great for heart, hair and skin health :)  

You could use a mortar and pestle for this, but honestly a food processor is the way to go here. 

  • 100g baby leaf spinach
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 75g walnuts
  • 1 tsp almond butter
  • juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 75ml walnut oil 
Add all ingredients except walnut oil to food processor and blitz until well combined. 

Drizzle walnut oil in slowly with the processor still running. Don't add all the oil in one go, or it won't mix evenly and you'll be left with a green oily mess. Be patient and just add a little at a time. 
Once you have added all the oil, your pesto is ready to use. 

If you don't use a lot of pesto in cooking, you can freeze it in an ice cube tray and just pop out a cube whenever you need some fresh pesto. It will taste far superior to store bought pesto, and only takes 5 minutes to prepare. 

In general, it's not the little things like condiments that are wrecking our progress, but still it's good to know exactly what you're eating so I do like to make it myself. 

Out of curiosity, and pure nerdiness (that is totally a word!) I took a look at the ingredient list for Sacla Classic Basil Pesto which seems to be stocked in most supermarkets.  And we have...glucose, 'flavourings'... what sort of flavourings? Not sure I want to be eating unidentified 'flavourings' to be honest... oh and we have potato flakes...that's not one I'd have guessed was in there. My point is, we can go to all the effort of omitting dairy, wheat or sugar etc from our diets, but they can creep in where we least expect it. It's not the end of the world, and no it's not likely to kill you... but if you're concerned about where your food comes from, you might want to think again before buying condiments. 

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