Homemade Paleo Pesto Recipe!

I am a pesto FANATIC!  I feel like I could put pesto on everything given the opportunity.  Having dairy issues for a while and now gluten, I find that I still love pesto, but I am a little bit more attune to the ingredients.

Once you start paying close attention to allergens and ingredients on food labels, you start noticing how much more fluff and unnecessary stuff is in all your favorite foods.  Condiments is one you have to watch closely, especially while following a paleo diet, Whole 30, or whatever you are needing to address your gut health.  Sneaky, sneaky, sneaky.

Pesto is no exception. Here are two main brands and their ingredients:

Classico Traditional Basil Pesto

Basil, Soybean Oil, Garlic, Romano Cheese (Milk, Cheese Cultures, Salt, Enzymes), Olive Oil, Spice, Salt, Lactic Acid, Torula Yeast, Citric Acid, Natural Flavors (Soy)

Unofortunately, as I've discussed on this blog in the past, the majority of soy and its related derivatives are largely GMO.  In addition, you will find soybean oil in processed foods is usually hydrogenated and high in omega-6 fatty acids, which contribute to chronic inflammation in the body.  

Another troublesome ingredient is torula yeast.  While pleasant sounding, this is another name for yeast extract, which interestingly enough, is another name for MSG.  Yes, food companies are smart and know how to trick consumers by calling the same thing different names when really it's the same thing.  Even if a manufacturer tells you there is no MSG in a product, there may be autolyzed yeast, hydrolyzed pea protein, carrageenan, sodium caseinate, enzymes, or other ingredients that contain or create processed free glutamic acid (MSG) during manufacture. Due to labeling protection by the FDA, many food companies can get away with labeling products "No MSG" and "No added MSG" when glutamic acid is a constituent of an ingredient. Symptoms of torula yeast allergy mimic MSG allergies and can be located at http://www.livestrong.com/article/551432-torula-yeast-allergy/

Here's another one:

Trader Joe's Trader Giotto's Pesto Alla Genovese

Basil, sunflower oil, potatoes, olive oil, grana padano cheese (pasteurized cow's milk, salt, rennet (animal), egg proteins), pecorino romano cheese (pasteurized sheep's milk, salt, rennet (animal)), cashews, salt, pine nuts, lactic acid, garlic

Holy moly! Now I am a big fan of Trader Joe's but there are WAY too many ingredients in this pesto. I was actually in the store when I looked up rennet, as I noticed it in a few of their products.  Even though I'm pregnant, it totally grossed me out ;o( Rennet is a complex of enzymes produced in stomachs or ruminant mammals which is used in the production of most cheeses.  While this is a common cheese ingredient, it doesn't mean it's optimal for consumption. 80-90% of this ingredient is GMO.  Since the labeling doesn't identify animal rennet as GMO, consumers should stick with microbial rennet cheeses, traditionally produced cheeses or organic cheeses.

To avoid all the hassle and allergen/dietary hazards, here is my homemade pesto recipe that is not only nutritious and simple, but it is also dairy-free and gluten-free. I have used it on pizza, with veggies, in dips and dressings, and it's delicious.  Enjoy!

Homemade Paleo Pesto Recipe
1 cup packed basil
1/4 cup pine nuts
1 lemon squeezed
1/4 cup EVOO
seasonings of your choice (I used dash of pepper and Himilayan sea salt)




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