Protein pesto

Admittedly basil isn’t my favorite herb.  Over the years, you may have noticed how infrequently I make Italian recipes… This isn’t a fluke.  Garlic, oregano, rosemary, onion, and other such flavors just don’t whet my palate. 


But I do have a thriving basil plant.  And I do enjoy raw pates.   So it would only seem natural to find a way to unite these two things.  Right?


My goals in making a raw pesto were the following:

(a) to make it only minimally reminiscent of a true pesto

(b) to make it protein packed

(c) to make it delicious


The best way to up the protein content in pesto without altering the flavor is using hemp

Hemp is available in 3 forms: seeds, powder, and oil.  The above are (raw) seeds, which come straight from the plant and have omega-3 & omega-6 fatty acids as well as all 10 essential amino acids.  In other words, they are a complete protein.  They are also alkaline forming, with extremely high levels of vitamins, minerals, quality fats, antioxidants, fiber, and oh, did I mention they are FODMAPS free?  Small and mighty!

The benefits of raw hemp seeds are numerous, but the best thing of all is how digestible the protein is.  Since it’s raw, it’s own digestive enzymes are intact; and since it’s got a high pH, it doesn’t place much strain on the digestive system. 

So now that you’ve gotten the deets on hemp, how about a recipe?


Protein pesto (v, gf, raw)


  • 1/2 cup soaked raw pine nuts (20 mins – 1 hour is sufficient time to soak)
  • 1/2 cup raw walnuts
  • 1/4 cup raw hemp seeds
  • 1 bell peppers (I used ~10 baby bell peppers)
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice (or the juice from half a small lemon)
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 tbsp water (add/subtract depending on desired consistency)


Drain pine nuts and then add them to the food processed with the fresh water and pulse.  Be more conservative with liquids at first if you plan on making a pate/dip as opposed to a sauce.  You can always add more water to thin it out later.


Next add all the other ingredients, except the walnuts, and pulse some more. 


Stop to scrape down the sides as needed.


Once it’s pretty well blended, add in the walnuts.


Pulse, pulse pulse away.

IMG_2142 IMG_2140 

It really won’t take long before you have this gorgeousness.


Let’s zoom, shall we?




If I said this pesto is the best-o would you roll your eyes?  I figured as much.  But really.  It’s damn tasty. 


It’s delicious on top of pasta…or with a beastly salad.


Leftovers for lunch the next day were hardly available.  It was SO good.


Spinach, (steamed) kale, carrots, and protein pesto.  Shake ‘n bake grub. 


There are a million variations of this recipes – sundried tomatoes, miso, apple cider vinegar, and nutritional yeast are all FODMAPS friendly additions.  But this recipe is pretty fantastic as is. 

Do you like pesto?  Have you ever tried hemp?

PS Don’t forget about the giveaway!!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Comments (21)

  1. Lou

    Wow that looks great – I’ve never tried hemp; seems to be another one of those products which is hard to find over here. Might have embark on a mission to find some, the nutritional stats are pretty awesome!

  2. Kaitlyn@TheTieDyeFiles

    I’ve been wanting to try hemp but I can’t find it anywhere. It’s supposedly a good addition to smoothies!! I’m going to have to do some ordering.

  3. Courtney

    Wait, what?!? No nutritional yeast?! The horror! *Everything* is better with nutritional yeast!!


  4. Anna @ Food Fitness and Frolicking

    Wow! This pesto looks so tasty!!

    PS Check out my giveaway as well!

  5. Tt in nyc

    Brilliant idea! Did you happen to try any version without pine nuts or swapping sunflower seeds for them? I suffer sticker shock wih trying to find them in nyc… Maybe i could just up the hemp seeds and walnuts by a quarter cup each?
    My sister suffers ibs and has been loving your tummy friendly posts lately as much as i always do-
    Have you ever done the WIAW at peas n carrots??

  6. BroccoliHut

    I love both pesto and hemp…but never thought to combine them! I’m already dreaming up ways to use this delicious sauce…

  7. Alexis @ hummusapien

    I put hemp seeds in my veggie bowl the other day. they’re pretty great..packed with protein and you don’t even taste them! what a creative pesto!

  8. Joelle (On a Pink Typewriter)

    That pesto looks great! I’m on a gluten and dairy free diet for a bit as a test by my doc to see if I’m a little bit gluten or lactose intolerant, and this pesto definitely sounds like the perfect solution for spreading on sandwiches or GF pasta dishes..

  9. Elise (Post author)

    they are so so great. i was worried they would taste like dirt, because the hemp powder has a distinct “earthy” flavor, but they were great! all they did was add to the nutty/cheesy protein packed sauce. yummmm.

  10. Elise (Post author)

    well thats true. but this was mighty fine anyways.

  11. Elise (Post author)

    i will! thanks anna. 🙂

  12. Elise (Post author)

    ive only tried hemp in its powder form in smoothies…its more “earthy” flavored than the seeds – just as a heads up. just mask it with fruit and other flavors. still great stats though.

  13. Elise (Post author)

    i did one WIAW once. i used to do posts like that all the time. nowadays its few and far between that i do all my eats in a day. maybe ill do one soon…

    as for the pesto…yeah, pine nuts are crazy pricey. so weird. im sure you could add the others in bigger amounts. or maybe add cashews or macadamia nuts in the place of the pinenuts. not that theyre much cheaper…

  14. Red Deception

    We must have very different palates!

    I love garlic, basil, oregano, and anything with Italian seasoning! I am a total pesto lover, the more garlic and basil the better!

    If you have too much garlic or basil, send it my way! 😛

  15. Lenna

    The recipe sounds great! Unfortunatelly pine nuts are incredibly expensive here, but maybe I can sub them with cashews… I like some kinds of pesto, like the roasted tomatoes pesto, but the “typical” one? Not that much. I need to buy some hemp seeds, I didn´t know they were that amazing!

  16. Pingback: Shifty

  17. Pure2raw twins

    YUM! love hemp seeds, eat them daily!

  18. Pingback: Pizza salad

  19. fleur

    What can I use instead of walnuts or just use a mixture, pinenuts are a shocking price here also, so will lookk at the other option mentioned.

  20. Elise (Post author)

    i totally get it. id either increase the amount of walnuts or use cashews or macadamia nuts. it wont be quite the same, but it;ll still be tasty.

  21. Pingback: I gotta stop pushing it these weekends

Comments are closed.