How to Make Healthy Creamy Pesto Sauce

By Ryan Kennedy, CCN, CFMP | Nutrition

Mar 03

Incorporating delicious, healthy sauces is one of the best ways to amplify the flavor of your food and make it taste outrageously good.  

Far too many weight loss diets provide bland, repetitive food options that leave people feeling deprived and unsatisfied.

Here at Living Phit, we won't stand for that!

We strive to educate you on how to eat nourishing, health foods, that also taste incredibly delicious. 

Sauces are an integral part of that and this healthy creamy pesto sauce is one of my all-time favorites! 

This classic sauce recipe contains Holy Basil, which is commonly regarded as one of the most versatile adaptogenic herbs, with many healing and health promoting properties. 

Creamy Pesto Sauce

Coupled with healthy fats like extra virgin olive oil, avocado, and walnuts, this creamy pesto recipe is packed with the nutrients your body needs to boost your energy levels and lose weight. 

Keep reading to learn the many health benefits of this creamy pesto and the detailed recipe on how to make it. 

Health Benefits of Olive Oil 

Being from Eastern Europe, my family used extra virgin olive oil in abundance on a daily basis. 

Back then we didn't know the science behind the health benefits. It was simply the way our parents and grandparents taught us how to eat from what they learned from the previous generations before them. 

The base of a good, authentic pesto is extra virgin olive oil.

Olive oil is loaded with healthy monounsaturated fats and contains many beneficial antioxidants. 

It's been shown in studies to have anti-cancer properties and help our bodies fend off disease. (1)

Additionally, olive oil can really help in stabilizing blood sugar and normalizing insulin sensitivity, a very important factor for weight loss and better health. 

Sadly, many extra virgin olive oils sold in the stores are diluted with toxic vegetable oils as a means to make more profits. It causes a dilemma and makes it difficult for people to know if they are actually getting real, high-quality EVOO.

Large scale testing has shown that approximately 70% of the olive oil sold in the United States are not actually olive oil!

Check out www.extravirginity.com to learn more about this issue and find out how you can find good pure extra virgin olive oil.

The Healthiest Nut 

Nuts contain many beneficial nutrients for our bodies and are a very healthy food to consume. 

Almonds, macadamia nuts, brazil nuts, pecans, the list goes on and on! 

Every nut packs it's own unique health benefits and all of them are great to consume! 

One of my personal favorite nuts that I believe to be one of the healthiest nuts of them all is walnuts

Walnuts have a great balance of omega-3, omega-6, and omega 9 fatty acids. The ratio of these fats are critical for mitigating inflammation in our bodies and having optimal cellular function. 

They are also excellent for your brain health! 

That's why for this recipe I did away with the traditionally used pine nuts (which cost a fortune by the way) and use walnuts as a healthier alternative. 

Avocado - The Nutrition Powerhouse 

The health benefits of this creamy, delicious superfood are virtually endless! 

Avocados are loaded with health monounsaturated fats, fiber, antioxidants, and beneficial nutrients.  (2)(3)

They are one of the best food sources of potassium, Potassium is an essential mineral that our bodies require for hydration and proper cellular function.  

Studies have shown that avocados are helpful with weight loss, beneficial for the heart, and can lower your risk for metabolic syndrome. (4) (5)

This is the key ingredient that provides the perfect texture, mouth feel, and creaminess to this healthy creamy pesto sauce! 

Holy basil 

Holy basil is a nutrient-dense, health promoting herb. 

It contains many compounds that improve your bodies resilience to stress and helps you adapt to various stressors, hence why it's known as a powerful adaptogen.

Studies have shown Basil to help flight cancer, reduce inflammation, and improve the immune system! (6)

Basil has a delightful aroma, sweet flavor, and is an integral ingredient in this recipe. 

Creamy Pesto Without The Cream 

What's even better if you get the delicious creamy flavor without having to use cream which is very important for anyone who doesn't do well with dairy or that doesn't have access to high-quality raw dairy

Conventional, pasteurized, and ultra processed dairy is very harmful to our bodies and should be avoided. 

Luckily, the creamy goodness of the avocado creates a wonderful taste and texture and serves as a perfect alternative to using dairy cream. 

As another option if you prefer a very creamy pesto, incorporate some coconut cream to the recipe which will bring in even more healthy fats

‚ÄčIngredients: 

  • 1 oz fresh basil (about 2 cups) 
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1-3 garlic cloves (or garlic powder to taste) 
  • 1/2 cup walnuts  
  • 1/2 freshly grated Parmesan cheese (ideally raw & grass-fed) 
  • 1 large avocado (or 2 small)
  • 1/2 fresh squeezed lemon or 1 whole lime 
  • Salt/pepper to taste 

Directions: 

  1. Add all ingredients to a food processor starting with the basil down first. 
  2. Mix until all ingredients are combined well 

Storage Tips 

After you make your pesto, put any extra into an airtight glass jar and store in the fridge. 

Pouring a thin layer of oil on top is an excellent way to preserve the pesto. The anti-oxidant rich olive oil will help reduce any oxidation from occurring so the pesto will stay fresh and won't turn color. 

This is a game-changer for storing your pesto so you can enjoy it days later without sacrificing freshness. 

Best Pasta to Use for Your Creamy Pesto 

Pasta on it's own has very little flavor. It's really just a vessel to carry all the flavorful sauces and toppings we put on it. 

Ironically, very often the sauce/toppings are healthy for us (like this pesto recipe) and the near flavorless pasta is terrible for our health. 

Zucchini noodles are a great alternative to conventional wheat based pasta and works wonderfully well with this creamy pesto sauce!

I love using my spiralizer to quickly make up some zucchini pasta and load on this creamy pesto, grass-fed beef or wild-caught shrimp, and various fresh veggies like tomatoes and bell peppers. 

Does it taste as good as real pasta? Don't be silly, of course not. Is it still really freaking good? You betcha! 

Creamy pesto is one of my favorite sauces to use on just about any savory food to amplify the flavor and increase the health benefits of any dish! 

Feel free to mix up the herb you use for your pesto. I have made this same recipe using watercress, which is one of the most nutrient-dense plants in the world, and it was delicious! 

Read next: The Perfect Human Diet

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