Skinny pesto has half the calories of regular pesto but all the flavor! It’s perfect for pasta, sandwiches, wraps, veggies, pizza and more!
I have to be honest. The name of this recipe makes me cringe a little bit. Skinny and light are two words I left behind in 2015 and never looked back. And since then, it’s never been easier to maintain my weight. But Google has its own opinions on what recipes should be named, so sadly, the name stays so that people can actually find it.
I’m updating this recipe today, posted in the first six months of this blog, in September of 2013. Literally ten years ago! Wow, a lot has changed regarding my philosophy on nutrition—a lot. Don’t get me wrong. I do think aesthetic goals are important, and I still help my clients reach them every day. BUTTTTTTTTT and this is a big BUT, I don’t think calories in and calories out is the most important, nor is obtaining a physique that requires you to be so restrictive you hate your life, and you hate food.
Calories do make an impact. It’s true. You can’t lose weight without a calorie deficit. But the truth is, calories are delicate. This is something most people don’t understand like all those commenting on this YouTube video of mine telling me I’m lying or don’t know how to track. Too much restriction creates physiological backlash (hormones, gut health, and more) and psychologically creates a terrible relationship with food. I love my uncle’s saying and remind my clients that restriction breeds obsession. Truer words were never spoken.
So, if you are really craving a delicious batch of full-calorie pesto, I encourage you to make it. I encourage you to eat it and move on with your life. But if you’re in an 8-week cut (because we don’t “diet” or cut calories more than eight weeks without a reset) and changing up your pesto recipe to have a lot of flavor but not so many calories doesn’t immediately make you feel like your restricting, then this one is for you! You can put it on everything. It will amp up the flavor while being macro-friendly.
Thanks for coming to my Ted Talk. Let’s make some pesto!
How to Make Skinny Pesto
This is a visual how-to section. The full recipe card is at the end! Put all the ingredients in a food processor and blend. The end, now you have pesto.
Swaps and Substitutions
This recipe is vegetarian and gluten-free. It can not be made dairy-free and still taste the same. For a dairy-free and/or nut-free pesto, I suggest trying my lemon basil pesto hummus. It’s DELICIOUS and still very light on calories.
- Basil – do not omit and substitute. None on hand? Try my arugula pesto!
- Pine Nuts – you could swap cashews, walnuts, or macadamia nuts here.
- Water – do not omit or sub
- Garlic – ideally, use fresh or freeze-dried garlic; could sub 1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic per garlic clove if necessary.
- Black pepper – adjust to taste.
- Salt – adjusted to taste.
- Parmesan Cheese – do not omit
How to Store and Freeze Skinny Pesto
To Store: Store in an airtight container for up to five days in the refrigerator.
To Freeze: Freeze for up to 3 months in a freezer-safe container. Remember to fill the container only halfway, as the sauce has enough liquid in it. It will likely expand in the freezing process.
How To Use Skinny Pesto
You can enjoy this pesto with just about everything! Here are some ideas:
- Pasta – I love Banza, but all types of pasta work!
- Spaghetti Squash/Zucchini Noodles
- Combine all ingredients in the food processor and process until smooth.2 cups basil, 3 tbsp pine nuts, 1 tbsp olive oil, 2 tbsp water, 2 cloves garlic, 1/4 tsp black pepper, 1/4 tsp salt, 10 tbsp parmesan cheese