As one of the biggest advocates for eating dark leafy greens, I have to fit them into meals I prepare as often as possible in an extremely calculated way. The reason for this is because my boyfriend is the epitome of a “unhealthy eater”. If you say ” vegetables”, he will most likely not like it. Not only that, but to paint a better picture for all of you he can and will eat Mcdonalds, Burger King, and Taco Bell all in one day. That shows some form of dedication to food I guess. I have been bound and determined to improve his eating habits slowly but surely for years now and I has succeeded to an extent. It’s difficult to constantly eat every meal together, but have completely opposite food preferences because it creates twice the work, twice the money, and twice the time to prepare two totally different breakfast, lunch, or dinners everyday. I know nobody has time for that and I certainly do not either. Since I made it my goal to increase his produce consumption, I have been incorporating one item into a recipe each day I think he would enjoy. For women or men who feel they are in similar situations, this is a great idea to slowly create healthier eating habits for the ones you love. Personally, I enjoy thinking out of the box to make meals delicious and exciting for the ones I love, this just gave me one more reason to do so. I choose to make a pesto today because my boyfriend has been buying food while on his lunch break to make his own sandwiches, wraps, pitas, ect. Instead of continuing to buy his pre-made spreads, I thought it would be nice to create a special personalized one for him I knew he would find tasty and really leave him feeling satisfied.
For the record, I want to provide a disclaimer for this recipe because once you make it once, you will be addicted. I am a hummus obsessed feen and although this does not replace hummus because that is mostly carbs and some added protein, this pesto has taken over my number one spot. I now spread this on everything pushing hummus to second place. You will want to eat the whole batch and make it over and over again. Since this pesto just so happens to be healthy for you as well, trust me when I say, nothing will stop you from eating like it’s your last meal. Making large batches and freezing it is a solution I can up with to avoid demolishing the whole thing at once. To my surprise, the pesto freezes great! I froze it in an ice cube tray making is super easy to pop one or two cubes out at a time to make a quick and healthy meal even tastier.
Now to begin, for this recipe, my green of choice was kale. It’s no surprise to me why America has made kale one of the most popular and trending vegetables out there. It is virtually a powerhouse for good health packed with delicious flavor, many health benefits, and it’s nutrient dense. In fact, 1 cup of chopped kale will supply your body with 34 calories, 9% of the daily value of calcium, 206% of vitamin A, 134% of vitamin C, and 684% of vitamin K (I’m not kidding about the vitamin K). In fact, too much vitamin K can create serious issues for anyone taking anticoagulants such as warfarin or coumadin. By eating high levels of vitamin K a food-drug interaction may occur. Anyone thinking of adding kale to there diet on these medications should consult a doctor first.
It is also considered to be a good source of certain minerals such as iron, copper, potassium, manganese, and phosphorus. Notice kale has a high concentration of vitamins A,C, and K. These vitamins are all antioxidants that are associated with eye-health and cancer protection. Kale’s fiber content also helps lower blood cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease.
Tip: While eating kale raw can be delicious and simple, cooking it is a great way to increase the level of absorbed and digested fiber.
I am not entirely diary-free, however, I try my best to limit dairy to minimal consumption due to health issues. It is just so difficult because cheese and yogurt were basically my best friends all my life. I have been making cashew cheese to give me my fix, so naturally I thought why not use cashews to get the creamy texture and added flavor I would have gotten from cheese. By using cashews, we also get a lower fat content than most other nuts, added protein, and heart healthy fats(monounsaturated).
KALE CASHEW PESTO Preparation: 3-6 hr for soaking, 10 minutes for all other prep Serve: 18-20
- 1 1/4 cup cashews
- 4 cloves garlic
- 5 cups kale
- ½ cup olive oil (your choice of oil)
- Juice from 1 lime
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup parsley (half chopped, half for garnish)
- 1 Tbsp thyme
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- Lime zest (1 lemon)
1. Pre-soak, drain, and rinse cashews in a bowl of cold water 3-6 hrs ahead of time. I always soak my cashews the night before. This ensure their creamy texture and makes it easy to blend, plus it puts less work on the blades of your food processor.
2. If you have time an extra 10 minutes of time on your hands you can precook the kale before placing it in the food processor for better fiber absorption, but that is up to your discretion. It does create a smoother texture, but the texture of the recipe with raw kale yields a smooth product as well. I have made it both ways and I almost prefer the raw kale version because I do not like it overly creamy.
3. Place all of the ingredients into the food processor. After all ingredients have blended, turn off and open the lid once or twice to scrap sides down to ensure all the ingredients are evenly blended. If it’s too thick, add water in 1 Tbsp increments until desired consistency is reached. Serve immediately with Italian or French bread. Freeze leftover for later use.
Play around with the amounts of spices and herbs to find out what you like. I can never have too much garlic so the 4 cloves this recipe calls for might even be too much, unless your a garlic lover like me. I used about a 1/2 cup serving of pesto to make a weeks worth of wraps for my boyfriend and even used some for dinner that night to stuff white mushrooms and bake with. After eating and using some for food prep, I was still left with 2 whole ice cube trays to freeze. It’s so versatile, it’s uses are endless. Use as a spread, sauce for pasta or pizza, in place of dressing on salads, replacing cheese on burgers, or as a marinade. Needless to say, the pesto was a success and my boyfriend loved it. He said and I quote, “I can’t even taste that rabbit food.” (meaning the kale). I will definitely be making this again in the near future.
Hope you all enjoy this pesto recipe as much as I did! Happy weekend!
Kale Cashew Pesto: 1 serving (1/2 cup)
Calories: 90; Total Fat: 7.9 g (Saturated Fat: 1.1, Monounsaturated Fat: 5.4 g); Cholesterol: 0 mg; Sodium: 32.5 mg; Potassium: 124.7 mg; Total Carbs: 4.1 g; Dietary Fiber: 0.7 g; Protein: 1.7 g; Calcium: 3.2%