Friday, May 12, 2017

Amazing & Versatile Parsley Almond Pesto Ketogenic Paleo & Vegan Friendly!

Super Versatile Delicious & Nutritious Parsley Almond Pesto


After years of preparing plant-based meals, I have now jumped into a new arena ~ making very low-carb, high-fat meals.  What a switch!  It's been a fun chance to get creative.  The best part is how simple meal prep has been.  I can have my creative outlet without spending hours in the kitchen, freeing up a lot of my time and energy.

Pesto is always a great way to use fresh herbs which provide a lot of great nutritional benefits.  And parsley happens to be one of my favorite herbs as it has such a fresh, lively taste.



Parsley  is a good source of Vitamins K, C, and A (beta carotene), along with many other minerals, along with important flavonoids, and volatile oils.  According to the Worlds Healthiest Foods, one of those volatile oils in particular ~ myristicin ~ has been found to block tumor growth in animal studies, earning its status as a chemoprotective herb.  Myristicin  also activates the enzyme glutathione transferase, which also acts as a  great antioxidant for the liver.

Sounds great!  Let's make some pesto!




Parsley Almond Pesto ~ Ketogenic, Paleo, Vegetarian 

(Can be easily modified to be made vegan)




Ingredients:

  • 2+ big handfuls of parsley ~ up to 1/2 a bunch, major stems removed
  • 1/4 cup almonds* (see below)
  • Juice of 1/2+ lemon
  • 1 tbsp. nutritional yeast
  • 1 garlic clove
  • Pinch sea salt & optional grind or two of black pepper
  • 1/4 cup xv olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. ghee*, melted (or just use more olive oil to make this vegan)







Instructions:

  1. Place the almonds in the food processor with about half of the parsley, and process until the almonds are fairly well chopped, without becoming a paste.
  2. Add the rest of the parsley, lemon juice, garlic, nutritional yeast, ghee, salt, and pepper.  
  3. Begin to process while pouring the oil in as it processes.
  4. Adjust as needed with more lemon, parsley, or whatever to suit your taste.  

Use the pesto on anything you like!  Good on chicken, pork, as an egg salad, or on a spaghetti squash for a gluten-free pasta.  

If eating a vegan diet, add pesto to white beans, tofu, or zucchini noodles.  Since beans also contain phytates that are difficult for some to digest, we are avoiding eating them, and recommend paying attention to how you feel if consuming them.  

Take the 30-Day Challenge, and add beans afterwards to see how well they are tolerated after completely eliminating them, along with whole grains and all grain products for one month.

When I made the pork dish, I pan-seared center cut pork loin in ghee along with onion and mushroom, then added the pesto, and some spinach, and let it all steam for several minutes.  Super delicious!   

Pork is high in Vitamin B1 (thiamine), and is a good source of monounsaturated fat and potassium (believe it or not),  and many other nutrients.  

Don't like pork? Use chicken or turkey thigh or breast meat instead.

Pork with Parsley Almond Pesto ~ Super moist and very flavorful!


Pork with Parsley Almond Pesto

Ingredients:
  • 1-2 tbsp. ghee, or other cooking oil
  • 2 pork chops, such as boneless center cut, sliced
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • Several mushrooms
  • Parsley Pesto recipe above
  • A bunch of spinach
  • Pinch of sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
Instructions:

  1. Warm your pan, and add the ghee or cooking oil.  
  2. Add onion, and sauté for several minutes before adding the mushrooms.
  3. Add pork.  Season with a little salt and pepper.  
  4. Stir with a wooden fork to evenly brown the pork on both sides.
  5. Add pesto, and stir to combine.  Add the spinach, cover and simmer on low for about 5 minutes, until cooked through.  
Notes:  
If needed, add a bit more ghee or olive oil while cooking to prevent scorching.  

Also, add whatever other vegetables you like.  It would be good with thin sliced sun-dried tomato, a little red bell pepper for some color.

We liked the pesto so much, I made it again the next day.  I used it in lieu of mayo on hard boiled eggs mixed with sardines.  It came out great!

Egg & Sardine Salad w/ Parsley Almond Pesto

This batch contained 4 XL hard boiled eggs, and 1 can of whole sardines in spring water (drained), along with 2 stalks of celery, chopped, 6 chopped black olives, and the entire batch of pesto.  

Add whatever you like.  We topped ours with a chopped avocado.  Perfect!

It is a great way to sneak sardines into your meal.  Sardines are an excellent source of calcium, and Omega 3, DHA and EPA.  Eggs are a good source of choline, among many other nutrients.

Here is our Egg & Sardine Salad with Parsley Almond Pesto packed to go for lunch at our clinic.  I packed it on a bed of arugula, and shredded carrot that had a spritz of citrus flavored liquid fish oil that we purchased while still vegan:






Notes:

Nuts contain phytates similar to grains which can block absorption of certain minerals, and be difficult to digest.  To get around this, soak them over night to help make them more easily digested.  In the Personal Paleo Code, Chris suggests taking this one step further by then dry roasting them for 4-5 hours on the lowest setting in your oven.  I roasted the almonds on a tray lined with parchment paper for 5 hours at 150º.  A dehydrator could be used as well.  

Once done, they are softer, but still have a crunch.





Ghee is clarified butter.  We make our own, by bringing the butter to a low boil, removing the white solids that surface, and continuing to do so until it quits boiling.  The boiling noise can sound like a washing machine as the air is boiled out.  The solids removed can be saved in a jar.  We have been putting it in our Chicory Coffee when we have some around.  

Our homemade ghee, which is liquid because it is pretty warm here.  Parsley Almond Pesto


The remaining clarified butter, or ghee, can be used to cook at a high temperature.  It has a nice, rich, slightly nutty flavor.  I really like it in the pesto, but just use more oil if you don't have it.

Butter contains acids that are very beneficial for your health, believe it or not.  Kerrygold butter is a delicious grass-fed Irish butter available at Trader Joe's, and even Walmart.  One of the healthy trans fats in butter, especially grass-fed butter, is conjugated linolenic acid, or CLA's which have many health benefits, including being anti-inflammatory, and potentially helping weight loss, among other benefits explained in Kresser's book.

I'll share my various favorite hot beverages, including our Chicory Coffee in another post.

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