Love pesto and want more ideas on how to eat more of what you love?
If you have been following me this year, you'll have seen that I've got the pesto bug too! My all time favourite topping for pancakes (check out my egg free pancake recipes)! Utterly scrummy!
Basil is a rich source of antioxidant carotenoids such as beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin. So you're quite right to listen to your body when it draws you towards basil loaded dishes! More of my personal favourites include: putting basil into scones, spreading basil pesto over warm pancakes, mixing it into pasta or courgetti, or pinching the leaves straight off of the plant to load into salads - Packed with flavour & truly delicious!
Great but what do antioxidants do? Why are they important to eat?
Antioxidants help protect against the harmful effects of 'free radicals' (unstable molecules that can damage the body's living cells) on the body's cells. Free radicals form from the food we eat and the environment that we live in. Food that is deep-fried, for example crisps or chips, are high in free radicals and must be counteracted by consuming lots of vegetables (fresh and cooked) to provide the body with a constant supply of antioxidants. By eating a variety of foods, we also ensure a range of different nutrients, important for protecting the body from all angles!
Get Adventurous With Pesto Making...
Basil is so important for good health, it is my 'go-to' comfort food, especially if I am feeling a little under the weather. Like carrots, basil is a rich source of beta-carotene which is needed for good vision, strong immunity and general good health. Because I can't be without it, I've come up with a few new and alternative ways to use basil and create something really special:
1) Straight up: Basil with ground almonds
2) Sweet Nut: Basil with sundried tomato & macadamia nuts
3) Super Green: Parsley, Basil & Kale (or baby spinach)
4) Fiery Kick: Basil, ginger & wild garlic
5) Fresh Zing: Basil with lime, lemon & pumpkin seeds
Use the FoodAtOne Super Quick Pesto recipe as a basis to create all of these.
Mix It Up With More Variations:
Vinegar For Lemon Juice or ACV
For some digestive health benefits, swap vinegar for lemon juice or even, apple cider vinegar.
Olive Oil, For Me, Is The Highest Grade Of Oil To Use
Keep heating to a low temperature to preserve the oil, no higher than 150'c. Heating oil above this temperature turns it rancid, thus causing an influx of free radicals.
Nuts & Seeds
I have already swapped pine nuts for ground almonds, macadamia nuts and pumpkin seeds in the above ideas. Try to swap in a nut or seed that has a good nutritious benefit, great examples are hemp, flax, chia, brazil etc.
When it comes to pesto, there is a need for some part to be basil. When I swap it around, depending on the other ingredients, basil is normally equal, if not a little more, to all the other ingredients involved. For example, ⅓ basil to ⅓ parsley and ⅓ kale or ½ basil to ¼ parsley and ¼ kale.
When playing with flavour, it is best to understand how everything works together. For example when working with ginger, just a very small amount is needed; 1 teaspoon should be enough to give quite a kick! The kick of ginger awakens your metabolism by giving a little 'digestive fire', as well as helping to clear sinuses of any blockages! I like to use lemon & lime instead of vinegar, as I like the sharpness and the boost of vitamins & minerals too. If you prefer to avoid salt in your recipes, I find that lemons help provide a great taste balance too.
Don't just stop at pasta (courgetti)...
Pesto isn't just a pasta or courgetti accompaniment. How about spreading it over a piece of salmon or mackerel for a perfect marriage with oily fish for omega 3 benefiting nutrients. Or spooning it onto roasted, mashed or steamed sweet potatoes - delicious.
Pesto makes a great salad dressing or sauce for chickpea burgers. Drizzle over greens to create a more exciting taste for your palette! (Personally I love greens, but I know that they aren't everyone's cup of tea - this idea could be the perfect encouragement!). And for a real wild card... how about a pesto protein bar? I am still working on getting the taste right with mine but if you've got a formula that works, then work the pesto in for a seriously flavoursome, savoury bite!
I hope you enjoy these ideas - feel free to let me know how you get on and tag me in your social media creation images!