Presto Pesto!

Homemade Pesto With Basil, Spinach and Walnuts

This homemade pesto incorporates the goodness of spinach (which offers folate, vitamin K and vitamin C) along with omega-3 fatty acids from walnuts, which may help to reduce inflammation. While pesto is naturally caloric and a good source of fat, this version is lightened up by using minimal amounts of olive oil and cheese and is lower in sodium than many store-bought brands. I like to make it on a quiet Sunday so that I can have an easy grab-and-go topping for zucchini noodles, pasta or fish after a hectic Monday – it can stay in the fridge for a few days to save some time on days when you are busy.

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Ingredients (yields approximately 1 cup or about 8 two-tablespoon servings):

2 C basil leaves, loosely packed

1 C spinach, tightly packed

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 oz shredded Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese (about 1/4 C)

1/4 C walnuts, chopped (use unsalted or reduced sodium to lower salt content of dish)

1/4 C extra virgin olive oil

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp ground black pepper

All set to blend together!

All set to blend together!

Directions:

  1. Wash spinach and basil and pat dry with paper towel, making sure to remove all excess water. Place in food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped (you may need to sweep the sides with a spoon a few times to get all spinach and basil leaves incorporated).
  2. Add minced garlic, cheese, chopped walnuts, salt, pepper and about half of the oil to basil spinach mixture in food processor. Secure the lid and turn the food processor to high for about 1 minute.
  3. Add remaining oil, give the mixture a stir, replace the lid of the food processor and continue on high until pesto is smooth. Use as a sauce to accompany your meal or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 1-3 days.

The Goods: What’s Inside?

Nutritional Analysis Per Serving

Calories 102 calories, Total Fat 11 g, Saturated Fat 2 g, Cholesterol 4 mg, Carbohydrates 2 g, Fiber 1 g, Protein 2 g, Sodium 267 mg, Calcium 46 mg

I served my pesto with zucchini noodles and baked salmon

I served my pesto with zucchini noodles and baked salmon

Chilled Quinoa With Citrus, Cilantro and Sunflower Seeds

Chilled Quinoa with Citrus, Cilantro and Sunflower Seeds

I know I’ve given you all a lot of quinoa recipes, but this one is my favorite to date, and is sure to become my new go-to for summer! Not only is this chilled quinoa salad refreshing, but it’s hearty in all of the right places (offering a significant amount of protein and fiber) and low in all of the right places, since it is low in total fat, saturated fat, sugar and sodium! Also, this vegetarian dish offers complete protein (i.e. all of the body’s essential amino acids) from quinoa and edamame, so it’s great as a main dish or as a smaller portion as hearty side or snack!

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Ingredients (yields about five Р3/4 C servings):

1 C quinoa, dry (rinsed and drained)

2 C water

1/3 C shelled edamame, unsalted (or rinsed and drained to remove excess salt)

1/2 C grated carrots

2 Tbsp sunflower seeds, shelled and unsalted

3 Tbsp cilantro leaves, washed, dried and finely chopped (optional: plus additional for garnish)

Juice from 1/2 a lemon (about 2 Tbsp)

1 Tbsp red wine vinegar

1 tsp extra virgin olive oil

dash salt

dash ground black pepper

Directions:

1. Combine quinoa and water in medium-sized pot and bring to a rapid boil, uncovered. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer and cover the pot. Allow quinoa to absorb the water (this should take about 15 minutes).

2. Remove quinoa from heat and allow to cool for a few minutes before transferring into a large mixing bowl. Add edamame, carrots, sunflower seeds, cilantro leaves, salt and pepper.

3. Whisk together lemon juice, red wine vinegar and extra virgin olive oil in a small bowl. Drizzle over quinoa salad and mix all ingredients. Garnish with extra cilantro leaves (if desired) and chill in refrigerator until cold (about 2 hours) if serving that same day.

*This dish is great for quick grab-and-go leftovers and keeps well in the fridge for about 5-7 days if sealed in an airtight container!

The Goods: What’s Inside?

Nutritional Analysis Per Serving (1 serving ~3/4 C)

Calories 194 calories, Total Fat 6 g, Saturated Fat 0 g, Cholesterol 0 mg, Carbohydrates 28 g, Fiber 4 g, Protein 9 g, Sodium 44 mg, Calcium 56 mg