Pumpkin Seed Pesto
Pumpkin goodies are a plenty right now and jack-o-lantern carving is about to be in full effect. Often in the process of carving, in all the ick of messing with the goo, it’s easy to forget there’s buried treasure in there. Yes…the seeds! Pumpkin seeds are nutritional powerhouses, and can be used to make fun things like this pumpkin seed pesto.
Traditional pesto is made from pine nuts, but really you can make pesto out of any old nut or seed ya want. So why bother making pumpkin seed pesto? Well, for lots of reasons…
Pumpkin seeds are rich in magnesium, which helps your nervous system relax and keeps your bowels moving. They are also rich in zinc giving your immune system a boost (just in time for cold & flu season 😷). Not only that but pumpkin seeds are a food with one of the highest levels of tryptophan (take that turkey!). Which means if you enjoy this pumpkin seed pesto as part of your dinner a couple hours before bed, you’ll be snoozing soundly.
Pumpkin seeds are also a good source of plant based protein, packing 10 grams of protein in a 1/4 cup serving. They are a great option for peeps with nut allergies as well. No one should have to go pesto free. 😉
One of the lesser known health benefits of pumpkin seeds is that they are a folk remedy for expelling parasites. Pumpkin seeds contain high levels of compounds called cucurbitins, which are believed to paralyze the worms so your body can naturally expel them. I know, I know… you’re figuring if you haven’t been swimming in murky water or traveled out of the country that shouldn’t be an issue. But intestinal parasites are far more common than people realize. So why not up your pumpkin seed intake to make sure the little buggers don’t have a chance to set up shop?!
Typically I serve this pesto atop some zoodles (here is the spiralizer I use), but you could use whatever pasta you have on hand. Although this pesto packs plenty of plant based protein, you can easily add some cooked chicken for a heartier meal. This pesto would also be yummy served as a dip with crackers or raw veggies, or even just a topping to add some fun to your salads.
If you plan to serve this pumpkin seed pesto with zoodles and live near a Trader Joe’s I would suggest shopping there for the ingredients. Trader Joe’s has very affordable prices on both organic zucchini and organic basil. Although I do not eat 100% organic (thank you teacher salary 😐), I do try to buy zucchini organic as it’s on the list of top GMO foods. Just something to consider…
Pumpkin Seed Pesto
Pesto pumpkin seed style... packed with plant based protein. Serve this pesto atop zoodles or your favorite pasta. Would also be lovely as a dip for crackers or raw veggies.
- 1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds (hulled, aka no shell)
- 2 cups packed fresh basil
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 tbsp. nutritional yeast
- 1/2 tsp. sea salt
- 1 squeeze lemon (about 1/4 lemon juiced)
Add pumpkin seeds into food processor outfitted with an S-blade. Process until grainy and chunks are gone
Add basil, garlic, nutritional yeast, salt, and lemon juice to food processor. Process until well combined.
While food processor is running slowly add olive oil.
Serve pesto atop zoodles or your favorite pasta and enjoy!
If you want a heartier meal or just want to up the protein you can easily add some cooked chicken. Also if you don't have nutritional yeast on hand you can just leave it out altogether or swap it for some parmesan cheese.