Zesty Arugula Hemp Pesto!

April 13, 2016

 

The fresh, strong and peppery spice of arugula makes it one of my favourite greens.  I still remember when I first tasted it- it took making a salad with a Brit in a hostel in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to come across "garden rocket".  I fell fully and immediately in love.  At that point in my life, I was so used to leaves being useless filler (as I still feel about iceberg lettuce, though there is something to be said for its crunch), so this was a wild party for my taste buds... that matched the intense street party outside our hostel door.  Strong statement, but true.  I take my greens very seriously.

 

So, with that, I introduce Arugula Hemp Pesto!  Arugula has such a strong flavour that it can nearly match that of basil, an aromatic herb.  And if you have no pine nuts nor parmesan, creamy nutty hemp hearts replace very well.

 

In addition to its deliciousness, with arugula you're gaining excellent antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.  Furthermore, arugula is part of the brassicae family, which can help balance estrogen levels in the body.  Also, the vitamin C in the lemon juice (and within arugula itself) actually makes iron in arugula more bioavailable, so that you can absorb it.  Vegetarian iron sources (non-heme iron) are extremely hard to absorb, so it's great to maximize that absorption with some vitamin C.

 

Hemp hearts are one of my favourite seeds- they're very easy to digest, they don't even need to be sprouted to be very bioavailable.  They're full of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats, protein, and fiber, and many excellent vitamins and minerals.  When blended, they become quite creamy, and their subtle nutty flavour is very delicious.

 

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Zesty Arugula Hemp Pesto- makes 1 cup

 

4 medium-packed cups/handfuls of arugula

4 tbsp hemp hearts/seeds

4 garlic cloves

2 tbsp fresh-squeezed lemon juice

2.5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

.5 tsp garlic powder

salt and pepper to taste- don't be shy!

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Blend all ingredients together with immersion blender or high-powered blender, or even just chop it all up together for legit grandma-style pesto (except that it has almost no original pesto ingredients...).

 

Pro-Tip:

- I put this on lightly steamed zucchini and carrot noodles and it was excellent.  To make veggie noodles, you can use a spiralizer or a hand-held "Vegetti", or even a grater- it's very easy, and a great way to replace grains with powerful veggies!  Lightly steam veggies, especially in the cold winter months or if you have digestive concerns, to make them more digestible.

- Be sure to add a protein source to make it a more complete meal- there is protein in the hemp hearts, but you won't be getting too much in just a few tablespoons of sauce.  You could add eggs, organic tofu, nuts/seeds, goat cheese, or any meat.  It tasted great with chicken!

- You can also use the pesto as a dip/spread.

 

Enjoy, and let me know how it turns out for you!

 

 

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