Way better than store bought!
Basil pesto has always been one of my favorite sauces. When I began making dietary changes (over 5 years ago!), dairy was one of the first things I had to cut out. Then garlic. Store bought pesto options became out of the question. And at that point in my life, I had never made pesto, much less known how easy it could be.
I avoided pesto for years because of this, only to find out that it was super easy to make from scratch! All you need is a food processor and a few ingredients. A high speed blender may even work. Plus, it tastes much more fresh and can be adapted to suit your dietary restrictions.
The other amazing thing about homemade pesto is that you can throw in SUPERFOODS like SPINACH! In this recipe, I used spinach to boost the nutrient content. Spinach is rich in calcium, choline, copper, magnesium, riboflavin (vitamin B2), fiber, folate, manganese, provitamin A carotenoids, potassium, thiamine (vitamin B1), pyridoxine (vitamin B6), vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, zinc, and iron. Wow! That’s a lot of nutrients. And many of these nutrients are lacking in the diets of those following SIBO diets. Especially those who are not under the care of a dietitian or nutritionist.
According to the Monash University Low FODMAP App, baby spinach is considered low FODMAP up to an amount of 150 grams. That’s about 4 cups! I don’t know about you, but I don’t know many people who eat 4 cups of baby spinach in one sitting. So if you follow the Monash University FODMAP recommendations, it looks like you could eat this whole recipe worth of spinach and still feel good!
Dr. Siebecker’s SIBO Food Guide sets a stricter limit on spinach than Monash, putting spinach in the moderate FODMAP column when eating 15 leaves or fewer. Since the guide lists “spinach” instead of “baby spinach”, I decided to measure the approximate size of a spinach leaf compared to a baby spinach leaf. What I found is that it takes about 4 baby spinach leaves to equal one full-grown spinach leaf. That would mean that 60 baby spinach leaves would fall under the “moderate FODMAP” category according to this guide. Okay, now let’s translate this into loosely packed cups because that’s what I used in this recipe. I counted out about 20 raw baby spinach leaves per 1/2 cup. Meaning 1.5 cups of baby spinach is about the maximum for remaining in the moderate FODMAP zone. So if you follow Dr. Siebecker’s SIBO Food Guide, don’t eat the entire recipe in one sitting! Okay?
If you stick to the serving size recommended in this recipe, you can rest assured that you are staying in the low FODMAP zone as I have done all the calculating for you.
- 2 ounces fresh basil leaves (approximately 2 cups loosely packed)
- 2 cups loosely packed fresh baby spinach
- ¼ cup raw unsalted sunflower seeds (or use pine nuts, macadamias, or walnuts)
- 2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (higher quality makes for better pesto)
- 2-3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice- or juice & zest of approximately 1 small lemon
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- In a food processor (a high speed blender may also work), combine basil, spinach, sunflower seeds (or other nut of choice), olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Adjust to taste.