High Protein & Oil-Free Basil Pesto



I’m a huge fan of anything that can be spread, drizzled, dipped, and of course, spoon fed from a bowl. Over the past couple years, I’ve found my favourite versions of the following:


I’ve had dinner guests beg for these recipes. I’ve had vegan skeptics go weak in the knees over this cheeze spread on a sandwich. I’ve had nephews eat 4 bowls of Mac n cheeze in a row!

I make these recipes again and again because they are quick, healthy, and I tend to have many of the ingredients on hand.

However, I would make pesto much more often (weekly? daily? Each waking hour?) if I didn’t think I would consume a full cup of oil in the span of…4 minutes. I seriously can’t control myself around that stuff. Until olive oil becomes its own food group, I tend to reserve classic pesto for those special occasions. Not to mention, organic cold-pressed olive oil is priced like liquid gold!


But, I’m impatient my friends. And let’s be real, special occasions don’t happen that often when you’re stuck in the country and your only nearby friend is your weirdo cat. Clearly, I need an everyday pesto.

And new friends.

And navy beans in pesto.


Before you think I’ve gone mad, hear me out. When navy beans are processed they add a lovely creamy and rich quality to recipes. I’ve used processed navy beans many times in recipes (like creamy soups!) and I’ve always been pleased with the result. I figured processed navy beans would provide this creamy quality to my pesto without missing the oil. Or so I hoped.


My week off must have been good to me because this pesto surpassed my expectations. Either that, or my standards have just dropped. I can’t be certain.

It called my name from the fridge, only this time, I didn’t have to fight it.



I kid you not, this stuff is addicting. And HEALTHY!


I spread it on bread, along with my favourite cheeze sauce on the other piece.

Now we’re talking.


I grilled tomatoes, peppers, mushrooms, zucchini, and spinach for layering.


You can use this pesto as a sandwich spread, mixed into pasta, or as a dip for vegetables and crackers. Really, everything else is simply a vehicle for this pesto to get into your belly. Spoons work great too.



While it’s not exactly like a traditional pesto, I just fell in love with it. Knowing that I was enjoying something naturally fat-free and high in protein made me eat eight times as much. Love that.


1. Green Monster Movement was mentioned in O Magazine in this September’s issue!! Whooo, rock on Green Monster fans!


2. I’m a little late to the party, but I finally figured out how to make an Oh She Glows Facebook Page. Click the image to be taken to the page. Basically, it’s me babbling on to myself…so in other words, totally lame fun. Stop over and say hi!


3. The winner of the Peas and Thank You Cookbook is Val! Congrats! I’ve contacted you this morning via email. Thanks to everyone who entered!

Let's get social! Follow Angela on Instagram (@ohsheglows + @theglowspot), Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+

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{ 216 comments… read them below or add one }

Brittany @ Itty Bits of Balance August 4, 2011

Yey for pesto & an Oh She Glows Facebook! Adding you now :)


Kristen @ Popcorn on the Stove August 4, 2011

I am definitely going to try this!! I’m always trying to get more protein and this is such a clever way of doing it!


Kristin August 4, 2011

I am on a huge smoothie kick now! I have one every morning for breakfast, and this week I even put in swiss chard! I couldn’t even taste it! http://listsonlife.weebly.com/3/post/2011/08/what-i-am-lovin.html

I am definitely using greenmonstermovement!


Angela (Oh She Glows) August 4, 2011

Glad you are enjoying them Kristin!


Blog is the New Black August 4, 2011

LOVE the idea of not using oil and upping the protein in pesto… LOVE pesto!


Alayna @ Thyme Bombe August 4, 2011

That is the most gorgeous veggie sandwich I’ve ever seen. The pesto is so creamy!


Lauren at Keep It Sweet August 4, 2011

This does look delicious! Love it.


Kathleen @ KatsHealthCorner August 4, 2011

This is pure genius!!! I LOVE IT!


VeggieGirl August 4, 2011

You’ve created THE perfect pesto, dear Angela! Love it.


Cassandra @ Earth & City August 4, 2011

yummmm the pesto + sandwich looks divine!

beautiful photography as usual angela.


Keelie (SweatEqualsSuccess) August 4, 2011

Oh. My. Goodness. I want this in my belly NOW!!!! :)


Holly @ The Runny Egg August 4, 2011

I love pesto but do not have it nearly often enough!

Congrats on having GMM mentioned in O Magazine!


The Teenage Taste August 4, 2011

Looks delicious! I want one of those sandwiches!


kris (everyday oats) August 4, 2011

ahh I absolutely LOVE basil. I think I need to make this today :)


Mushrooms Canada August 4, 2011

YUM! That sandwich looks delicious! I love layering sauteed mushrooms on my sandwiches… I often use thick-cut strips of portabella, they add such a meaty texture!
“Liking” your FB page right now… and congrats on the O Magazine mention! :)
– Brittany


Hayley @ Oat Couture August 4, 2011

I love pesto and eat it far too often so your version looks perfect! Just as much taste and zero guilt! Yayy! Thanks for another corker! :)


Becca August 4, 2011

What a fun post; really well written. Did you know you were going to be in O magazine or was it a surprise?


Angela (Oh She Glows) August 4, 2011

They let me know a couple months ago :)


jess @ cupcakes and kale August 4, 2011

so now i’m stuck with this question for you: is 9am too early for pesto?!
i got a huge bunch of basil with my csa last night and had pesto on the agenda for today – so i might just have to try out your white bean recipe in addition to the one i’m planning!


Melissa August 4, 2011

wow, you have my mouth watering. looks fabulous!!


AdrienneCarolyn August 4, 2011

Oh thankyou for this recpie!!! I have a serious pesto making problem. I love it so much! Now I can love it without feeling guilty :-)


Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat August 4, 2011

Congrats on FB AND Oprah Ange!! That’s great news! And the pesto… oh my! I’ve been looking for an oil-free pesto for ages. I might have to strip my basil plant right down until it’s nekkid, but I’m bound and determined to make this!


Noelle August 4, 2011

That is some healthy pesto! Yum and especially on that sandwich. :D


Cait @ Cait hates Cake August 4, 2011

I can’t wait to make this!!


katie@ KatieDid August 4, 2011

Store bought pesto doesn’t hold a candle to homemade. That’s one thing I never ever buy in the store anymore! This version looks fantastic. I’ve made strawberry pesto before and it came out wonderfully also.


Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table August 4, 2011

I LOVE the bean added for protein! I can’t believe I haven’t thought of this before – you’re awesome. I’m making this for lunch! :)


Elizabeth @ reads recipes runs August 4, 2011

Oh my goodness!! That looks spectacular! I have so many ideas for how to eat it already… including with a spoon :)


Brittany @ Runwithbritt August 4, 2011

I can’t wait to make this! It’s so refreshing to see a pesto recipe made without oil that looks delicious and guilt free! I bet it would be fantastic on pizza!


Faith @ For the Health of It August 4, 2011

How funny – I was actually planning on making a pesto tonight – your recipe was just in time to save me a gob of oil! I may drop in just a drizzle, for satiety’s sake, but it’s awesome to know it doesn’t have to be completely loaded!


Yolanda August 4, 2011

I have just recently found out that I ENJOY pesto, and so I can’t wait to try this. I have basil growing in my garden and I also just planted more basil. Yee-haw! Thank you-


Lauren @ What Lauren Likes August 4, 2011

This is perfect! My mind is buzzing with all the things I could put this on….or just eat by itself haha ;)


Katie @ Nourishing Flourishing August 4, 2011

Yes! I love navy beans — they can lighten up or protein-up or cream-texture-up almost anything :) Can’t wait to try this!


Cait's Plate August 4, 2011

I can completely see how that would be addicting. It really looks like the perfect thing (especially in this summer heat!)

So exciting the Green Monster Movement was mentioned in O! Have you ever seen the movie “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead?” I feel like you would enjoy it if you haven’t!


Angela (Oh She Glows) August 4, 2011

No not yet but its on my list!


Claire @ Live and Love to Eat August 4, 2011

Oh I love pesto but it’s so high in calories… this option looks phenomenal and would be a great pizza sauce… mmm.


Emilie August 4, 2011

Pesto is always fabulous in pastas and sandwiches. Just be sure you aren’t allergic to pine nuts first! ;)


Carolyn August 4, 2011

I have a hard time finding Nutritional Yeast that isn’t priced similarly to gold bullion! Can I omit the yeast in this recipe? My basil plant is going nuts and this sounds like an awesome way to use it up!


Angela (Oh She Glows) August 4, 2011

You probably could, but it won’t have that cheese taste to it.


Carolyn August 4, 2011

Awesome, thanks!


Lily December 7, 2012

I didn’t use any of the yeast and it was still good(:


Dawn @ Blonde on a Mission August 4, 2011

Congratulations on being mentioned by OPRAH!! That’s incredible :D And that pesto looks incredible! I made a pesto pizza back in the day and I think it needs to be revived now!


Abby August 4, 2011

You could put pesto on a shingle and it would taste delicious, and I’m pretty sure this would qualify as well. I might actually have to attempt to create this this weekend (no shingles involved in the consumption.)


Angela (Oh She Glows) August 4, 2011

haha very true


Hilliary @ Happily Ever Healthy August 4, 2011

Oh yum! This looks fabulous! I love pesto but don’t like that most recipes have tons of oil in them!


Rachel August 4, 2011

That sandwich looks amazing! I have a monster basil plant growing in the yard and I’m think this looks like the perfect way to use some of it up :)


Casey @ Pocket Full of Sunshine August 4, 2011

That looks so good. You’re really creative, Angela. My mind just does not work like that in the kitchen. :) But I’m grateful yours does! Can’t wait to try this!


Heather August 4, 2011

I’ve been searching for an oil free pesto for so long. I’m making this tonight, I’m so excited!! Thanks, Ange! PS- my cat also terrorizes me with evil kitty stares. Coping mechanism: http://theoatmeal.com/tag/cats


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