Hot Summer day? Pesto. Cool Fall wind? Pesto. Cold Winter snow? Pesto. Rainy Spring day? Pesto. OK. Maybe I am on a pesto kick right now, but anyone else find it to be appealing despite the weather? With the right pesto recipe, you can use the veggies you have on hand and direct the flavor profile in many different directions. Lately our home garden has been producing beautiful celery, but the stalks are rather thin. The leaves though, wow! So full of deep green and fragrance. So naturally, I made celery pesto. Because it is our only celery plant, I couldn’t harvest it completely, so I added fresh kale to the mix. The kale not only pumped up the pesto in volume, but also in nutrients. To get the nutrition facts on kale, visit my post Green Smoothies.

My go-to recipe (see below) includes walnuts. Nuts in general do a great job of adding omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, but walnuts in particular have been shown to improve heart health. For the nitty gritty of the studies looking at walnuts and endothelial function check out The takeaway is that three studies on walnuts showed an improvement in endothelial function and arterial function. This means walnuts are protective against heart disease. Michael Greger, MD, FACLM recommends everyone consume an ounce of nuts a day, unless they have a nut allergy (which is only about 1% of the population).

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So what else do I use in my pesto? Not oil. It started as my husband not being a fan of oily pesto. This was compounded by the fact that we are trying to keep oil consumption on our diets to a minimum, especially coconut oil and palm oil. I have found that water works just as well in a lot of recipes or scenarios where oil is typically used. Sautéing vegetables? Use water. Needless to say, this pesto does not contain any oil, just water.

Next, I throw garlic in to my food processor. The amount really depends on how much I am in the mood for garlic. Don’t worry, I have listed an amount below, which will give a mid-range garlic flavor to your pesto. Of course, feel free to play around with the amount and add more if desired. Worried about garlic breath, well just remember all of the benefits of garlic. Again, I will refer to for their breakdown on the evidence-based medicinal purposes of garlic powder. The takeaways are- 3/4 tsp of garlic powder eaten daily reduced cholesterol by 16 points, slowed the progression of atherosclerosis (number one killer of men and women in the United States) and lowered the systolic and diastolic (blood) pressures enough to reduce the risk of a heart attack by 25%. Next time, wear that garlic breath like a badge of health honor.

Nutritional yeast gives this pesto a richness. It gives it a subtle cheesy flavor without overpowering the pesto, or adding the cholesterol that dairy cheese surely would. Looking for the nutrition run down on nutritional yeast? Guess where I will direct you… naturally. There are certain health conditions or diseases in which someone may not want to include nutritional yeast in their diet. For more details, follow my link and scroll to the end where there are videos regarding when to avoid nutritional yeast.

If I have some Vegan8 ricotta made I will mix it into the pesto, making it even creamier!

Raising Vegan Tip- Celery is a plant that regrows very easily. This can be a fun science experiment for the kids too! Buying your celery from the grocery store? No problem. Now that you have used the stalks, slice a thin amount off of the bottom of the stalk base. Place it in a shallow amount of water and place in the sun. The celery will regrow in a matter of weeks! You can also directly replant into the soil of a garden box. In a couple of months you will have a full regrown celery plant.

Celery and Kale Pesto Recipe:

1 packed cup of celery leaves

(2 cups if not using other leafy green)

1 packed cup of kale leaves

2 tbsp lemon juice

1/4 cup walnuts

4 tbsp water

2 tsp garlic (minced)

4 tbsp nutritional yeast

Put all ingredients in a food processor and blender until smooth and creamy.

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Green Smoothie

Smoothies are a fantastic way to boost your diet with nutrients and energy. As a fan of Brooke Goldner, MD, smoothies have been a stable in our diet for years. A healthy smoothie can provide the missing nutrients and fiber that your body may be craving. The healthiest smoothie is a green one. There are several ways and various ingredients you can add to your smoothie. However, if you are looking to add an abundance of vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids, then I highly recommend packing your smoothie with leafy greens. I like to choose the superfood kale for our smoothies. Kale is quite remarkable when you consider the amount of vitamins and minerals in one leafy green. If you want to read all about kale’s superpowers I highly recommend visiting Here you will find a variety of short videos explaining the different benefits of kale. If you have time and a greater interest to learn more, visit my resource page to find the book How Not To Die, where Michael Greger, MD, FACLM talks about different studies that proved kale’s cancer-fighting properties. Anyone else craving a kale smoothie right about now?

I’d also like to share a personal story of how kale helped my body to heal. It was right after the birth of my second child, delivered via a cesarean (due to medical reasons) that my body was not happy. All of my joints were throbbing and achy. As a Veterinarian, I knew to recognize the signs of autoimmune disease, and my body was waving a red flag. My body was trying to heal from the surgical trauma, produce breastmilk to support a growing baby, and have the energy to care for a toddler. It was a lot! My OBGYN was ready to perform the standard autoimmune disease blood panel after weeks of no improvement. I was terrified. I told my doctor that I was going to give kale a try. She agreed it certainly couldn’t hurt and if it worked, well awesome! So, I consumed a Vitamix size (64 oz) of smoothie every day in addition to our normal diet and drank a lot of water. Within a week the joint pain resolved. I stayed on the smoothie consumption for weeks to follow. Can I say 100% that it was the smoothies? No. Was I diagnosed with an autoimmune disease? No. What I do know is that my body was going through a lot of inflammation and my immune system was active. I do not want to promote ableism, so I will merely say that for me the addition of smoothies seemed to help my body and there is research to support the whys and hows of my recovery. Ready to buy some kale?

There are six different types of kale: Curly, Dinosaur or Lacinato, Red Russian, Ornamental, and Chinese. Curly and dino kale just happen to be our favorites and most readily available in our local grocery stores. We did plant curly kale this year in our small backyard garden. It was such as joy to go out and harvest fresh curly kale to put in our smoothie. The baby leaves have a milder taste. When comparing curly versus dino, the dino kale has a much stronger flavor. We like to have a 1:1 ratio in our smoothies, but often times due to availability it is 100% curly. We like to store our kale in the refrigerator sitting upright in glass jars with the ends of the stems in water. We have found the stays kale fresh longer this way. It also makes for a beautiful refrigerator.

You’ll see the recipe below mentions using a Vitamix. I am a huge fan of this high-speed blender because it is capable of creating the smoothest of smoothies. If you are sticker shocked like I was, I recommend purchashing a refurbished model. This reduces production waste and helps you save a little money. Ours was refurbished and it has been working well for 5 years now and we use it A LOT. Another item you may have noticed is our AquaTru water filter. It filters water by reverse osmosis removing more particles than traditional filtering. In the past, I was someone that did not love drinking water. I would only drink bottled water and it was a terrible habit. Bottled water is bad for the environment and the person’s health drinking it. However, tap water was a concern of mine too. And it has always tasted dirty to me. When we had kids I wasn’t sure what to give them- I knew I didn’t want to use plastic bottles (chemicals/toxins/bad for the planet) and I didn’t want to serve our tap water (Los Angeles County water supply). Initially, I purchased cardboard boxed water, Flow. This was fine for a while with one child, but it was costly and we didn’t want to run out. So, we decided to invest in the AquaTru. I am sure there are other reverse osmosis water filtering systems on the market. I am not an affiliate and don’t hold brand loyalty to this company. I just like the clean water it provides to our family. We’ve had our for 2 years now. We’ve replaced the filters when the machine tells us to, which as been 2 or 3 times. The water tanks stay clean, yet must be cleaned regularly. The biggest benefit- I will drink this water! It tastes pure and that makes me happy. The one linked below is sold via Amazon. The AquaTru company will have sales from time to time, so I recommend pricing it out from various retailers.

Green Smoothie Recipe:

Using a Vitamix:

Pack 1/2 to 3/4 of the Vitamix with fresh destemmed kale.

Chop and add 1-2 medium sized carrots

Chop and add 1/2 or 1 whole apple

Peel and add one banana

Add 1/2 avocado

Add 1/2 cup of whole flaxseed, optional 1/4 cup chia seed

Add 1/2 cup of frozen blueberries

Optional: Add any other variety or fruit or veggies you’d like, such as celery, cucumber, bell pepper, pear, parsley

Add water filling the packed Vitamix halfway. Next add plant-based milk (soy, almond, cashew, oats, etc) topping the Vitamix off just below the top line.

Blend on high speed until smooth and creamy

Raising Vegan Tip- Slowly introduce the green smoothies to your kids and remember modeling a behavior is key. The more they see you drinking and enjoying your smoothie, the more interest they will show. If they don’t like it at first keep trying! Kids need expose to new foods 15-20 times! Keeping that in mind will help you stay positive. I have found using a novel glass or bottle can also help spark their interest. My kids drink their smoothies our of glass mugs with a silicon straw. This isn’t always readily available to them, so the seemingly special mugs was an added bonus.

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