Tag Archives: spinach

Spinach, Sunflower Seed and Sun Dried Tomato Pesto

Pesto is a great shortcut to many healthy and delicious meals.

Pesto is a great shortcut to many healthy and delicious meals.

I’m a big fan of pesto.

I like to top salmon, steak or chicken with it. It’s great on all kinds of noodles. A big dollop in a bowl of soup completely changes the flavor. You can pretty much use it on anything. It freezes well. And it’s usually made up of good for you ingredients. What’s not to like!? One of the reasons I’m so drawn to making pesto is that when you try to eat a mostly whole foods diet, sauces and condiments that are made with good ingredients in the store are hard to come by. Many store bought pestos use soybean oil or other vegetable oils and I prefer not to eat those when I can help it so having a few things in your cooking repertoire that you can make in just a couple of minutes can make all the difference between eating food that makes you feel good and gives you energy or grabbing some take out that will make you feel crappy an hour after you eat it.

Try it on salmon, chicken or steak, as a sauce for pasta, raw zucchini noodles or spaghetti squash or as a dip for fresh vegetables.

Try it on salmon, chicken or steak, as a sauce for pasta, raw zucchini noodles or spaghetti squash or as a dip for fresh vegetables.

Good basil is hard to come by in the middle of winter here in NH so I like to make pestos with whatever else I have on hand – tonight it was spinach, sunflower seeds and sun dried tomatoes. Yum!  You can literally make this in 2 minutes.

Don’t feel like you have to stick to this recipe exactly. Pesto is a very forgiving sauce! For greens, try spinach, basil, arugula, mizuna parsley or cilantro (or a mix of a couple). Blend them with walnuts, pine nuts, almonds, sunflower seeds or cashews.  Add lemon or lime juice, olive oil and salt and you have a pesto! You can jazz it up for flavor with garlic, shallots, olives, capers, sun dried tomatoes, pecorino or parmesan.  Avocado can be used in place of some of the greens and oil and you can also add a tbsp of tomato paste for a different flavor. Go crazy!

2.5 oz baby spinach (I used half of a package of Olivia’s 5oz)
a big handful of fresh parsley
1/2 cup raw unsalted sunflower seeds
6 or 7 sun dried tomatoes in olive oil (dried ones would work too but you’ll need to soak them in hot water first)
3 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 – 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
sea salt
1 clove garlic or 1/2 tsp garlic powder

Pour the sunflower seeds in a food processor and blend them until they are pretty well broken down (about the size of bread crumbs).

Pulse the sunflower seeds until they look like breadcrumbs.

Pulse the sunflower seeds until they look like breadcrumbs.

Add in the tomatoes and blend again (sometimes they can be tough) until the mixture is pretty evenly reddish colored. Scrape down the sides with a spatula and add the spinach, parsley, lemon juice, garlic and salt.  Blend again until well blended.  You may need to scrape down the sides again, especially if you used any parsley stems – they love to wrap around the blade! Pour in the olive oil while pulsing until it’s all blended.  Adjust seasoning if needed.

If you eat dairy, feel free to add some fresh parmesan into this like you would with a regular basil pesto. For storing, cover with a fresh layer of olive oil (it will prevent browning) and it will stay fresh in the fridge for a week. You may also freeze it. I recommend freezing in ice cube trays and then wrapping individually so that you can use a small amount at a time.

What’s your favorite type of pesto or homemade sauce?
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Secret Green Chocolate Banana Smoothie



Green Smoothies!  They’re all the rage these days, aren’t they? They’re a great way to get some veggies in, especially if you are someone who doesn’t have a lot of time to prepare vegetables or you don’t really like them.  But, if you are really squeamish about veggies, the idea of a “green” smoothie is about as appealing as eating grass clippings as you mow the lawn.  That’s where sneaky secret green smoothies can help!

I published this one on social media before I even thought about putting it in a blog post.  My veggie hating clients really enjoyed it and that was a big win and I wanted to share.  I figured I should probably have it in a more permanent place too so up on the blog it goes!  This is a sneaky little bastard.  It doesn’t look or taste like there are any vegetables in it.  It tastes like Chocolate Banana pudding and it’s so thick (especially if you use chia seeds) that you can actually eat it with a spoon.  It’s so good!

This badboy has about 15 g fiber, 15 g protein and 15 g fat to get you through your day.  It is a meal replacement more than just a snack. I can drink one of these at 9 am and not need to eat anything else until at least 2pm, sometimes later. So filling!

It also has almost 100% of the Vitamin A you need each day, 30% of your Iron, 50% of your calcium and it’s also a great source of potassium and magnesium. To help absorb the iron, have a glass of water with lemon with your smoothie. And it has less sugar in it than most protein bars out there (the banana is the sole source).

Secret Green Chocolate Banana Smoothie
1/2 cup cooked oats (i like steel cut) or 1/3 cup raw rolled oats
1 heaping tbsp cacao or unsweetened cocoa powder
1 banana, peeled
1 tbsp unsweetened nut/seed butter of your choice
1 tbsp chia or hemp seeds
1 cup of unsweetened almond, rice or hemp milk
1/2 cup romaine lettuce
1/2 cup baby spinach

If using raw oats, blend them with the cocoa powder and chia seed first until ground finely, then add the rest of your ingredients blend, chill and enjoy! It also freezes well but be sure to stir well after defrosting (before drinking).

This recipe is gluten free (if you use gf certified oats), dairy free, soy free and vegan.

I prefer to use cooked oats in mine – I think it adds a creamier texture!  You can also use water in place of any of non-dairy milks.  It will change the color/texture slightly but the chocolate banana flavor will still dominate.  If the 1 cup of greens in this freaks you out as a first timer, start with just a few leaves.  If you feel ok with that, add a few more each time you make it.  And someday you’ll be amazed that you even needed your greens to be masked!

Do you hate your veggies? Try this and let me know what you think and please share with your friends if you think they would enjoy.