The first time I had pesto, was literally out of a jar – bought straight from a farmer’s market in Los Angeles. It was 2005, the year I lived in LA and began my romance with food – it was also the year I fell head over heels for fresh produce. Good pesto has everything going for it, the first couple of smells you get are the garlicky, aromatic notes from the garlic, basil and herbs in it. When you taste the pesto the garlicky flavour seeps through the creaminess of the parmesan and olive oil – and then true magic happens when you mix pesto with pasta, meats, bread, crackers, rice – it’s a sauce that’s so easy to prepare and so transformative at the same time!
Left to right: raw sunflower seeds, fresh sweet basil and Chinese parsley, extra virgin olive oil, fish sauce On right: garlic, sesame seeds Center: waist-friendly green goddess pesto
Classic pesto recipes are usually a combination of basil, olive oil, nuts, cheese and garlic.
My waist-friendly green goddess recipe has all of the taste of a classic recipe with much less calories (trust me you don’t want to waste calories that can be saved for other treats!). My version is also nut and cheese free, lower in fats and higher in antioxidants – and can be eaten by anyone with food intolerances or allergies.
Working on toasting my sunflower seeds to golden perfection.
I’ve kept the recipe simple enough by using the basics – basil, garlic and olive oil, and instead of the cheese and nuts, I’ve opted to use sunflower seed butter (roasted sunflower seeds that have been ground into a spread/butter) and fish sauce (use salt if you’re vegan) and to add more flavour to the pesto and nutritional value – I’ve added in Chinese parsley/coriander and sesame seeds.
What do sunflower seeds and sesame seeds have in common? Magnesium. Unfortunately, most diets Asian and Western are generally low in magnesium. And if you are feeling tired or fatigued, or have difficulty sleeping most of the time – it’s very likely you may have a magnesium deficiency. Magnesium in short; is responsible for energy production. The metabolism of carbohydrates and fats to produce energy requires numerous magnesium dependant chemical reactions.
What else does magnesium do? Magnesium supports a healthy immune system, enables proper muscle and nerve function and helps in bone building. Magnesium has also been used to treat headaches, inflammation, chronic pain, asthma, sleep disorders, heart disease and palpitations, hypertension, diabetes and even depression.
My list of must have allergy friendly magnesium rich foods:
- Dark leafy greens (kale and spinach are great sources)
- Seeds (pumpkin seeds and chia seeds rank the highest, followed by sunflower, sesame, flaxseeds etc)
- Fish (salmon, mackerel, halibut or tuna)
- Soya beans (fermented is even better in miso, tempeh etc)
Given magnesium plays such an important role in daily nutrition, and as a mom who needs to play catch up with her children, I’m constantly finding ways to up my energy and the key to that is increasing my magnesium! A great way to sneak in any of the foods mentioned above is to for example, make smoothies or slow juices from kale/spinach. Have a bunch of toasted seeds premade in glass bottles that you can add easily to salads, toasts, oats and shakes. Roasted seaweed with avocado toast is also delish, sprinkled with sesame seeds and sesame oil drizzle. Just a couple of ideas here to fire up your imagination!
Not to forget another excellent way to get your magnesium dose is via this waist-friendly green goddess pesto recipe we were in the middle of making, let’s get on with it!
Step 1: Get a good quality sunflower seed butter. Or you can try making your own.
Well, I burned out one food processor with my sunflower seed butter experiments. It’s the most cumbersome butter to make of the lot of seed/nut butters, I make my own because I’m fussy about the quality and taste.
If you aren’t keen on making your own do consider our freshly made tayste organic sunflower seed butter pictured below:
Our in house, Tayste artisanal handmade extra creamy organic sunflower seed butter – so good it almost tastes like peanut butter (did I tell you it’s much lower in calories too!). To order preview here.
Step 2: On the pulse setting of your food processor/stick blender add in all your ingredients the basil, chinese parsley/coriander, garlic, sunflower seed butter, sesame seeds, fish sauce, salt and olive oil and blend till smooth.
Step 3: Store and save the finished product in 4 ounce – ball jars with plastic caps these can be frozen straight away for future eats.
Rice pasta with our waist-friendly green goddess pesto.
Homemade green goddess pesto makes a great gift!
Waist-friendly Green Goddess Pesto
Makes 3 freezable ball jar servings (4 ounce each)
Each jar is 2 serves
4 bunches of sweet basil
2 stalks of Chinese parsley/coriander
3 cloves of garlic
2 to 3 tablespoons tayste organic sunflower seed butter (or store bought sunflower seed butter)
½ tablespoon of ground sesame seeds
¼ teaspoon fish sauce (or salt if vegetarian)
½ cup olive oil
Salt to taste
¾ cup olive oil to finish before storing pesto
Blend leaves of sweet basil with garlic, Chinese parsley/coriander, sunflower seed butter, sesame seeds, fish sauce and ½ cup olive oil in a food processer. When the mixture becomes a finely blended paste, taste and add salt according to your liking.
Finally stir in ¾ cup of olive oil to finish. Recipe makes 3 small 4oz freezable ball mason jars.
Use the pesto in pasta or salad dishes, as a marinade for fish and chicken. As a spread for toasted bread or stir it into rice for some extra flavour and colour.
Pesto is easy to make and store away – once frozen it can be kept for up to 12 months in a deep freezer.
No basil at home? Substitute with dark spinach instead to add more magnesium in your diet!