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Healthy Vegan Pesto Recipe

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Kim is a holistic health coach and a toxic-free lifestyle consultant. She obtained her studies from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition.


Easy and Healthy Vegan Pesto Recipe

I met up with an old friend from college last week for lunch. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that she had adopted the vegan lifestyle a few months ago for various reasons. What was more surprising to hear was that she was starting to doubt that there are any delicious vegan recipes.

She looked great, felt great, yet was constantly thinking about cheese and pesto sauce. The way she talked about it, you would think she was describing a long lost lover from the past.

"I miss it..."

"I'm always thinking about it..."

I was super excited to introduce her to my "vegan" pesto sauce. I knew the star ingredient, nutritional yeast, would be able perfectly to fill that "void." Although it will never be the same, the way cheese feels and taste...all that sinful goodness that comes along with dairy.

I was confident to set them up, since I knew nutritional yeast has so many health benefits that would treat her even better!

My friend tried the vegan pesto sauce and called me to say:

"It opened up my taste buds to a whole new dimension!"

Now it's your turn to try it! It is seriously a delightful pesto sauce for vegans, vegetarians, and anyone who wants to eat a nutritious, easy-to-make pesto sauce.

Pair this vegan pesto sauce with your favorite pasta. If you are gluten intolerant, try brown rice pasta, which is pasta made from a nutritious grain.

Considering the recipe can feed about 4 adults, vegan pesto sauce with pasta is a great family meal for those with allergies to gluten or dairy.

Vegan Pesto

Vegan Pesto

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Read More From Delishably

Vegan Pesto: A Highly Nutritious Sauce

Whenever I make this dish, I am reminded of how satisfying it is to eat pasta that is both healthy and flavorful.

Traditional pesto is made from the basic olive oil, basil, pine nuts, and Parmesan cheese. Substituting the cheese for nutritional yeast will still give it that creamy texture and rich flavor, with added nutritional bonus!

Most vegans I know had a hard time giving up cheese in the beginning, similar to my colleague. That's why nutritional yeast is such a popular substitution. Here's a quick rundown of how healthy nutritional yeast is. It didn't get its name for no reason!

  • 18 essential amino acids
  • Vitamin B12, vitamin B6
  • Chromium, magnesium, copper, and manganese
  • Folic acid, thiamine, riboflavin, niacine, zinc, pantothenic acid
  • Essential fatty acids
  • Low amount of sodium, fat, and zero cholesterol
  • Low glycemic index of 1

I have not even begun to talk about the other healthy ingredients!

  • Basil is loaded with antioxidants and vitamin K
  • Olive oil, pine nuts and walnuts contain "good fats" that protect your heart

Cook Time

Prep timeCook timeReady inYields

5 min

5 min

10 min

2 cups

TIP: To reduce the cost even further, you can substitute the pine nuts for walnuts or mix 50/50 ratio. You can buy pine nuts in bulk online to stretch your dollar further!

Another Tip: If you like a creamier and runnier consistency add a couple of tablespoons of water.


  • 3-4 cups basil, (I love basil, so I always put 4)
  • 3-4 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, (buy a really good quality!)
  • 1 organic lemon, (about 3 tablespoons)
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 6 tablespoons pine nuts, (optional: walnuts)

*Optional, substitute 1 cup of basil for parsley.

Healthy Vegan Pesto Sauce

Healthy Vegan Pesto Sauce

Simple and Quick Instructions for Vegan Pesto

  1. Put basil, garlic, pine nuts, salt, and lemon in a food processor. Process until everything is combined and has a finely ground consistency.
  2. Add olive oil and nutritional yeast and continue to process until you get a creamy sauce.
  • If you don't care for garlic, leave it out. It's your kitchen—do as you please! Just remember to taste as you go!
  • Don't add the pesto directly to the pan when the pasta is still hot. It will change to a dark color and lose its vibrant green when exposed to high heat.

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