Heart Healthy Cilantro Pesto That Is Raw Vegan Keto, Too!

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Three jars of vibrant green cilantro pesto sauce sit on a wooden table. One jar has a spoon dipped inside, and a piece of bread topped with this heart-healthy spread leans against another jar. Fresh parsley is visible in the background, adding a touch of color and freshness to the scene.

Summer's officially here, and with it comes the joy of outdoor barbecues and endless play under the sun. But with all of the festivities, it's easy to get caught up in foods that don't quite align with our health goals. That's why this week, we're celebrating with a vibrant and nutrient-packed heart healthy pesto recipe. 

Unlike traditional pesto, which contains parmesan cheese, this pesto is dairy-free, making it a better option for those who prefer healthier, plant-based diets. Plus, dairy-free pesto is lighter and easier to digest, which can be beneficial during the hot summer months.

Perfect for anyone looking to support a loved one’s heart, this Cilantro Pesto recipe is brimming with heart healthy nutrition and ingredients that are also known for their benefits in maintaining balanced hormones and blood sugar levels.

What Is Cilantro Pesto Made Of?

This homemade Pesto takes the earthy richness of pumpkin seeds with hemp seeds and walnuts, and pairs it with the vibrant, zesty punch of fresh cilantro. Add in the smooth, heart-healthy boost of flax oil, a clove of garlic for that perfect kick, and finish with a sprinkle of Himalayan or Kimchi salt. This isn't just a pesto, it’s designed to support your heart, balance your blood sugar, and brings your meals to a whole new level.

You can serve this pesto in many ways.

-Serve the pesto as a dip with an assortment of raw vegetables like carrots, cucucumbers, jicama, celery, and bell peppers for a heart-healthy snack.

-Toss some zoodles or your favorite blood-sugar friendly pasta into the pesto and serve as a light meal. You can even sprinkle my dairy free Parmesan Cheese on top.

-Use the pesto as a topping for salad bowls, adding a nutty, herby flavor to your meal. Top off this Rainbow Crunch Salad with Cilantro Pesto.

-Try spreading the pesto on seed crackers or Pizza Crackers for a nutritious snack or side. 

A clear glass jar filled with heart-healthy cilantro pesto is sealed with a silver lid. The jar has a small, blank white tag attached to its neck with a piece of twine. The background is a plain, light gray surface.

How Do You Make Cilantro Pesto?

Making this homemade pesto recipe is fun and easy! 

Start by pouring pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, and walnuts into your food processor. Give them a whirl until they’re finely ground. 

Next, toss in a bunch of cilantro and blend until the mixture is well combined. Add in your flax oil, a clove of garlic, and a pinch of your chosen salt. Continue to process until smooth, then pour your vibrant green pesto into a bowl, and voila – it’s ready to enjoy!

Customize this pesto recipe to cater to different tastes, dietary needs, and nutrition goals. If you have a nut allergy, replace the walnuts with more seeds.

Vary the nuts and seeds

Almonds: Replace the walnuts with almonds for a slightly sweeter and milder flavor. Almonds are rich in vitamin E and magnesium helping with heart health and blood sugar regulation.

Sunflower Seeds: Swap the pumpkin seeds with sunflower seeds, which are high in selenium and vitamin E adding more antioxidants.

Chia Seeds: Add a tablespoon of chia seeds for extra omega-3 fatty acids and fiber to enhance the recipe’s anti-inflammatory and blood sugar-stabilizing properties.

Pine Nuts: Swap some of the nuts and seeds for pine nuts for a buttery taste and a good source of vitamins E and K, magnesium, and monounsaturated fats which support the heart and reduce inflammation.

Add more greens or swap out the greens for those who don’t like cilantro.

Spinach or Kale: Mix in a handful of spinach or kale with the cilantro for a boost of iron, calcium, and additional antioxidants promoting overall cardiovascular health.

Fresh Basil or Parsley: Substitute half of the cilantro with fresh basil or parsley for a more traditional taste and to add different antioxidants and more vitamin K.

Use a different oil.

Olive Oil: Replace flax oil with cold-pressed, extra virgin olive oil, which is high in monounsaturated fats that help lower LDL cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease.

Add more flavor.

Lemon Juice: Add a tablespoon of fresh lemon juice to brighten the flavor and add a dose of vitamin C aiding in collagen production and boosting the immune system.

Nutritional Yeast: Sprinkle in a tablespoon of nutritional yeast for a cheesy taste and a boost of B vitamins, which are essential for energy metabolism and hormonal balance.

Roasted Garlic: Use roasted garlic instead of raw for a sweeter, milder flavor.

Herbs and Spices: Add more fresh herbs and a pinch of red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper for a spicy kick.

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For more recipes like this one, check out Dr. Ritamarie’s Body Freedom Nutrition Lab trial course.

A brown wooden bowl filled with fresh green cilantro leaves rests on a bed of more cilantro leaves, perfect for making a heart-healthy cilantro pesto. The vibrant green color of the cilantro leaves contrasts beautifully with the rich, earthy tone of the wooden bowl.

How Do These Ingredients Help With Blood Sugar Balancing and Other Hormones?

Every ingredient in homemade pesto is chosen for its healthful properties. What makes this pesto healthy is it's combination of healthy fats, antioxidants, fibers, vitamins and minerals that provide a synergistic effect, promoting overall metabolic health and reducing the risk of chronic diseases associated with hormonal imbalances. This pesto is a nutrient-dense addition to your diet that supports hormone balancing, blood sugar regulation, and cardiovascular health.

  • Magnesium: The pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, and walnuts are all rich in magnesium. Magnesium helps regulate heart rhythm, control blood pressure, and reduce inflammation. It also maintains electrolyte balance which is essential for normal cardiac function. 

  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Hemp seeds, walnuts, and flax oil are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s help reduce inflammation which is a critical factor in preventing heart disease. They also lower triglyceride levels, reduce blood pressure, and improve arterial function. 

  • Fiber: Pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, walnuts, and cilantro are rich in dietary fiber. Fiber helps lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels by binding to cholesterol in the digestive system to be eliminated from the body. This process helps reduce the buildup of plaque in the arteries, decreasing the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Additionally, fiber aids in maintaining steady blood sugar levels by slowing the absorption of sugar.

  • Lignans: Flax oil is loaded with lignans. They help reduce inflammation, lower blood pressure, and improve overall lipid profiles by reducing total and LDL cholesterol levels. Lignans are known to support hormonal balance by mimicking estrogen, which can be beneficial for cardiovascular health, particularly in postmenopausal women. 

  • Antioxidants: Cilantro and garlic are packed with antioxidants. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals, reducing oxidative stress and preventing damage to the cells lining the blood vessels. This protective effect helps prevent atherosclerosis, a condition where plaque builds up inside the arteries. Antioxidants support overall cardiovascular health by reducing inflammation, improving blood vessel function, and lowering blood pressure. 

A bowl of heart-healthy cilantro pesto garnished with pumpkin seeds and basil leaves sits on a dark grey plate alongside a spread of mixed nuts, lemon wedges, and fresh herbs, including parsley and kale. The background features a dark slate surface.

In addition to these nutrients, these pesto ingredients protect the heart in numerous ways.

Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin seeds are a rich source of high-quality plant-based protein, containing all nine essential amino acids, and are packed with zinc. These seeds support cardiovascular health by reducing LDL cholesterol and inflammation. They also promote better sleep due to their tryptophan content, enhance bone health with phosphorus and manganese, help regulate blood sugar levels, and improve digestive health.

Hemp Seeds

In addition to their omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, and antioxidants, hemp seeds are a complete source of protein, offering all essential amino acids, and are packed with gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), which helps regulate hormones and inflammation. These seeds also support skin health due to their balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, contribute to brain health with their rich content of essential fats, and boost the immune system with high levels of vitamins and minerals such as vitamin E, potassium, calcium, iron, and zinc.

Walnuts

Walnuts not only contain magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, lignans, and antioxidants, they also have polyphenolic compounds that help reduce oxidative stress and inflammation. They support a health body weight by promoting satiety due to their protein and healthy fat content. Walnuts also enhance gut health by promoting the growth of beneficial gut bacteria and provide essential vitamins and minerals like vitamin B6, folate, and copper.

Cilantro

Cilantro not only contains fiber and antioxidants, it is rich in vitamins A, K, and C. These vitamins are important for immune function, bone health, and skin health. Cilantro also has antimicrobial properties that can help protect against foodborne illnesses. Its detoxifying qualities, attributed to compounds such as dodecenal, support liver function and help in the elimination of heavy metals.

Flax Oil

Flax oil, in addition to its omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, and lignans, is known for its anti-inflammatory properties. It supports skin health by maintaining skin moisture and reducing skin irritation. It can also help regulate hormonal balance, particularly in postmenopausal women, due to its phytoestrogen content.

Garlic

Garlic is well-known for its cardiovascular benefits, its antioxidant properties, and its medicinal qualities. It contains allicin, which has been shown to reduce blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Garlic also has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties, and supports immune health. It can enhance detoxification processes in the liver. Additionally, garlic is known for its potential anticancer properties due to its bioactive sulfur compounds.

Himalayan Salt

High-quality salt contains trace minerals that are often stripped from regular, processed table salt. These minerals include potassium, calcium, and magnesium, which are essential for maintaining electrolyte balance, muscle function, and bone health. This salt can improve digestion by stimulating the production of digestive enzymes and promoting nutrient absorption. 

With its combination of heart-friendly ingredients, this Cilantro Pesto is delicious, full of nutrition, and helps with a healthier heart and balanced blood sugar. Enjoy the first week of summer with this delicious dish and take a heart-smart approach to your meals!

A white bowl filled with heart-healthy cilantro pesto topped with pumpkin seeds. The bowl rests on a rustic wooden surface, with some pumpkin seeds and a pinch of coarse salt scattered around. A few green herb leaves are partially visible on the left side.

Heart Healty Cilantro Pesto

This handmade pesto combines the earthy depth of pumpkin seeds with the zesty, vivid punch of fresh cilantro and hemp seeds and walnuts. Finish with a dash of Himalayan or Kimchi salt, a clove of garlic for that extra spice, and the silky, heart-healthy boost of flax oil. This is not your average pesto—it is made to elevate your meals to a whole new level, assist your heart, and regulate your blood sugar.
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Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 0 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Course Appetizer
Cuisine Italian
Servings 4
Calories 286 kcal

Equipment

  • food processor

Ingredients
  

  • 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 cup hemp seeds
  • 1/2 cup walnuts soaked and dried
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon cold-pressed flax oil or extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon of Himalayan Kimchi salt, or other quality salt or to taste

Instructions
 

  • Process pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, walnuts, and garlic in a food processor until crumbly.
  • Add the cilantro and process, again.
  • Add the flax oil and salt and process until you reach your desired consistency.
  • Pour into a serving bowl.
  • Enjoy in wraps, on “pasta,” or as a dip.
  • You can always make extra, and freeze it in ice cube trays to have on-hand for later.

Nutrition

Calories: 286kcalCarbohydrates: 5gProtein: 14gFat: 25gSaturated Fat: 2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 18gMonounsaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0.01gSodium: 1mgPotassium: 132mgFiber: 2gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 134IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 54mgIron: 5mg
Keyword cilantro, cilatro, Easy vegan recipes, heart health, heart health recipe, heart-healthy recipe, Nutritious plant-based recipes, plant-based, Quick vegan meals, vegan pesto, vegan pesto recipe
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Where Can You Find This And Other Nutritious And Delicious Recipes Like It?

This recipe is adapted from Dr. Ritamarie’s Protect Your Heart from the Sweet Danger of Sugar ebook, which can be found in the Healing Kitchen Show recordings of the Unstoppable Health Community.

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Join us for the "Your Genes, Your Diet & Your Heart" 2-day online event on July 13-14, 2024. Gain profound insights into your genetic makeup, diet myths, and heart health with empowering live sessions, expert speakers, and practical resources.

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