Trying to lose weight through strict diets, but fed up having to eat bland food?
We have a scrumptious solution for you. The perfect cure to your woes is a pesto sauce that can help you flavor up your food, without interfering with the progress of your weight loss journey.
Pesto can be considered a traditional sauce or paste, with its roots tracing back to ancient Romans. Pesto is an Italian word meaning to crush, thus explaining its original preparation process (11). The main ingredients for preparing this paste are pine nuts, garlic, olive oil, basil, and low-carb aged cheese. These are crushed or blended in the right ratios, and ta-da…
The sauce is ready!
Pesto allows your taste buds to dance joyfully while you shed pounds. Isn’t that tempting? Keep reading to discover the answer to the most frequent question – is pesto keto-friendly? We have also rounded up some pesto recipes to make your meals fun and yum!
Is Pesto Sauce Keto Friendly?
The keto or ketogenic diet is a low-carb diet that restricts the intake of carbohydrates, replacing them with fats and proteins. Doing this is said to make the body more adept at releasing energy by burning fats. Thus, the body’s metabolism is shifted towards fats and ketones (10).
Now, moving on to clarify whether pesto keto is friendly. You can rest assured, the answer is a definite yes. Pesto aligns with keto principles and has low carbs and high fats. Also, the mentioned pesto ingredients are all-natural and do not contain any added sugars. This means it is completely okay to eat pesto during the keto diet (5).
Some people prefer something other than green or leafy vegetables and herbs. If you are one of those but want to treat your taste buds to something tasty while losing weight, then try red pesto on keto diet. The main difference between green and red pesto is that red pesto is made from tomatoes (sometimes sun-dried) instead of basil. Other variations can also be made according to taste. For instance, leaving out garlic or adding red pepper flakes is also an option.
In short, green or red pesto sauce contains low carbs and provides a good source of fats for a keto diet. This resolves the confusion about whether pesto keto is friendly. You can easily enjoy flavorful food while on the keto diet. But, if you buy the pesto sauce instead of making it, have a look at the label, as some might have added sugars or other carbs. . If you consume these pesto carbs, the keto diet might be affected.
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Can You Eat Pine Nuts on Keto?
Pine nuts are one of the primary ingredients in pesto and enrich its taste. To understand if pesto is keto-friendly, we should know the nutritional value of pine nuts, as nuts usually contain carbs. The fact that pine nuts are keto-friendly should dissolve most of your concerns. It is low in carbs and high in fats, just as needed in a keto diet. One ounce of pine nuts only contains 3 to 4 grams of carbs (5).
Apart from being low on carbs, pine nuts also provide many other health benefits. They help lessen the appetite of a person and control the portion size. This can eventually help lose weight, whether on a keto diet or not (9).
Note that moderation is key. Everything can be harmful when used in excess.
What Are Other Ingredients of Pesto?
Apart from pine nuts, some other main pesto ingredients make it keto-friendly. Check them out below:
Basil is a natural, flavorful herb from the mint family. Its leaves are used in pesto. They are considered keto-friendly because they have a very low amount of net carbs, around 0.1 gram for 2 tbsp (3).
Besides this, basil may provide many other health benefits, like lowering blood pressure and preventing chronic diseases (1).
Olive oil is a liquid fat that has low carbs and brings taste to the pesto. Usually, high-quality extra virgin oil is recommended in foods. Olive oil has many other advantages, such as being beneficial for cardiovascular and brain health. It may also support bone strength (2).
Parmesan cheese is a low-carb, high-fat cheese. It is a granular cheese produced in Italy. It is keto-friendly and benefits one’s health as it is a great source of calcium and protein. It is virtually lactose-free and is brimmed with many vitamins (7).
These are some of the main ingredients of the pesto sauce that aren’t merely delicious but also beneficial for health. This sheds light on the confusion of whether pesto is keto-friendly or not. So, shrug off all your worries when on keto! You can savor finger-licking sauces when trying to hit your target weight.
How Many Carbs Are In Pesto?
Pesto sauce has low carbs if made at home or in-store without extra additives. A spoonful of pesto usually has around just 1 gram of carbohydrates (8). It typically has no added sugars, as all ingredients are natural and minimally processed.
However, know that pesto is a sauce used to enliven your food. Sometimes, it is combined with dishes that might have a considerable amount of carbs. This would ultimately negate one of the main purposes of using pesto.
The ketogenic nature of pesto will no longer matter if it is used alongside food loaded with carbs.
If you want to avail yourself of all the advantages of pesto and its taste, you must be careful of the food combos you opt for. Some savory keto-friendly foods have low carbs and go perfectly with pesto. This includes keto pesto chicken casserole, keto pesto pasta, and keto pesto pizza.
Here are some recipes that could help you go keto without compromising your taste.
Read more: Keto and Sugar: Can You Have Them Both?
Keto Pesto Pizza
It might be shocking how foods like pizza could contain low carbs, but it is true. Everything can bring you the desired benefits when used with the right ingredients and amount. Here is an example of keto pesto pizza to assure you that it does serve the purpose.
Serving Size: This recipe makes approximately 8 slices.
- ¾ cup almond flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1 egg
- 2 cups basil
- ½ cup olive oil
- 3 tbsp minced garlic
- 3 tbsp pine nuts
- ½ cup parmesan cheese (or any other low-carb cheese)
- Salt and pepper (according to taste)
- First, prepare the pesto sauce by blending basil, olive oil, pine nuts, garlic, and parmesan cheese. Blend until a smooth paste has formed.
- In a separate bowl, mix almond flour and baking soda
- Melt mozzarella and then add it to the dry batter
- Add egg to the mixture and stir or mix it until combined well
- Then, knead it into a dough. When a well-combined dough is formed, place it between two parchments and roll out to the required size or thickness.
- Bake it for 25-30 minutes at a temperature of 175 degrees
- When the crust is ready, spread the pesto sauce to your heart’s content. Enjoy a delicious meal without worrying about your diet!
This recipe is the courtesy of thehungryelephant.ca.
If you want to add colorful toppings, you can add tomatoes, capsicum, or onion. Also, add some tomato sauce or red pesto if the regular pesto sauce does not satisfy your cravings. People often ask if tomato sauce is keto. Well, yes! It can be if you go for a simple homemade tomato sauce without added sugar.
Keto Pesto Chicken
If you are non-vegan and want some meat on your pizza or simply a chicken sandwich, you can use keto pesto chicken to spice up your pizza. Here is the recipe:
- Boneless chicken
- Salt and pepper
- Pine nuts
- Lemon juice
- Parmesan cheese
- Olive oil
- To prepare pesto sauce
- Blend basil, pine nuts, garlic, lemon juice, and parmesan cheese. Drizzle some olive oil into it until the required consistency is reached.
- Marinate the chicken with pesto sauce and salt and pepper according to taste
- Bake the chicken for 20 minutes or until golden brown
- Use this chicken as a delicious topping for your keto pizza, or you can eat it separately as an appetizing snack with low-carb
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The Bottom Line
To sum up, pesto, a traditional sauce made of some natural ingredients, is keto-friendly. The keto or ketogenic diet is a method of losing weight by limiting carb intake, causing your body to burn fats for energy. Pesto has low carbs and high fats and adds flavor to the food. Still, you should make sure to pair it with foods with low amounts of carbs.
Several options out there combine keto-friendly dishes with pesto. This helps satisfy your taste buds and pay attention to your weight simultaneously. If you use a store-bought pesto sauce, read all its ingredients and nutritional contents carefully. They might have some extra ingredients that would raise the amount of carbs.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- 5 Health Benefits of Basil (2023, health.clevelandclinic.org)
- 12 Surprising Health Benefits Of Olive Oil (n.d., aboutoliveoil.org)
- Carbs in Basil Fresh Or Raw Herb (n.d., carbmanager.com)
- Carbs in Tomato Sauce (n.d., carbmanager.com)
- Is Pesto Healthy? Here’s What a Dietitian Says (2023, eatingwell.com)
- Is Pesto Keto-Friendly? (2023, delightfullylowcarb.com)
- Parmesan Cheese: Important Facts, Health Benefits, and Recipes (2023, relish.com)
- Pesto Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits (2022, verywellfit.com)
- The 13 Best Nuts and Seeds for Keto (2019, healthline.com)
- The Ketogenic Diet: A Detailed Beginner’s Guide to Keto (2023, healthline.com)
- The Science of Pesto (2020, labroots.com)
- What Nuts You Can And Can’t Eat On Keto (2022, delish.com)