Skinny Pesto has all the flavor of your favorite basil pesto with half the calories and fat as traditional pesto. It works for all your favorite pesto recipes including this amazing Pesto Chicken and our favorite Pesto Shrimp with Zucchini Noodles.
It makes a great quick and easy pasta sauce, it divine as a marinade for chicken or beef, is the perfect pizza sauce, and even tastes amazing with your morning eggs. Seriously, this pesto tastes good on almost anything and has so many different uses. I recommend doubling or tripling the recipe and storing it for when you need some quick recipe inspiration.
Pesto has always been a refrigerator staple in our house. Before I started cooking, it was usually the store-bought variety and now that I cook all the time, it’s always a big jar of homemade pesto. It’s also almost always in my freezer. Yes, pesto is freezer friendly too and one of the best things to keep on hands for quick meals.
When it comes to pesto, it’s one of those ingredients that people almost always want to know if its healthy or not. This is actually a tricky question to answer and really depends on your diet and needs. On its own, pesto is relatively healthy. It contains fresh basil, garlic, lemon, pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, and olive oil.
Other than the Parmesan cheese, all those ingredients are pretty healthy on their own. However, there is a lot of oil in traditional pesto. Although olive oil is a healthy fat, if you are trying to lose weight or watch calories, those extra calories can be a problem. Whether you make it the traditional way or use our skinny pesto recipe, here are some of the specific health benefits of pesto:
Fresh basil is a powerhouse when it comes to antioxidants and is also known to be anti-inflammatory and has natural anti-bacterial (or infection-fighting) properties. A recent study also showed that it may help reduce stress and have natural adaptogens.
Garlic has long been known as a medicinal food and has been used for centuries to treat infection and illness. In addition to its ability to help fight infections, it also has been shown to reduce blood pressure, cholesterol, improve bone health, and lots of other benefits.
Lemons are packed with Vitamin C, fiber, and contain many beneficial plant compounds. They have been shown to help with digestion and can also help detoxify the body.
Olive oil ranks as one of the healthiest choices when it comes to cooking oils/fats. It is full of monounsaturated fats, that are shown to help reduce cholesterol and promote heart health. It is also full of antioxidants and has been shown to help fight against numerous diseases.
Traditional pesto is an Italian sauce made with fresh basil, pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, lemon, garlic, and olive oil. It is traditionally made with a mortar and pestle but most people use a food processor or blender now for convenience. Although basil is the traditional herb used, you can make pesto with all kinds of different combinations herbs and greens. Considering making pesto with cilantro, arugula , parsley, spinach, kale, or arugula. You can also combine herbs/greens to create your own flavor combinations.
Many people also like to switch out the nuts in pesto since pine nuts can be really expensive. You can use walnuts, almonds, pistachios, or cashews for different styles of pesto’s. You can also leave the nuts out entirely if you have a nut allergy.
Pesto traditionally has about 120 calories and 12 grams of fat for every two tablespoons. This lightened up skinny pesto has just 60 calories and 6 grams of fat since it uses less olive oil and cheese.