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vegan spinach and hemp seed pesto

by Jackie Newgent  |  December 4, 2014  |  3 Comments

Vegan Spinach and Hemp Seed Pesto_main

I like to start the day off with a great big spoonful of Hemp Hearts to help kick off my protein intake for the day. They’ve got 10 grams of protein in a 3-tablespoon serving! But I don’t stop there. I really love the cool little seeds for their taste and texture in so many recipes. So here’s my newest creation … a pesto that tastes luscious, but provides far fewer calories than the original. It’s vegan. But if you’re a little bit more of a traditionalist, you can just stir a little bit of grated Parmesan cheese into the finished pesto recipe.

To add to the newness of it all, I whirled this up in the food processor bowl of my new NutriNinja® Blender Duo. Gosh it’s powerful!

Calories saved: 220

Why it’s better for you? It’s got hemp seeds and a splash of herbal tea.

Disclosure Note: I received a complimentary Ninja® Blender Duo from NutriNinja® as a member of the food media. I was not compensated to write this blog post. The recipe and opinions in this post are mine.

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vegan spinach and hemp seed pesto

  • Yield: 6 servings 1x


Units Scale
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened freshly-brewed herbal tea (made with 1 tea bag), hot
  • Juice of 1/2 small lemon (1 tablespoon)
  • 3 cups packed fresh baby spinach leaves (3 ounces)
  • 1 cup packed fresh basil leaves (1 ounce)
  • 3/4 cup raw shelled hemp seeds
  • 3 large garlic cloves
  • 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil


  1. Add all ingredients to a food processor, cover, and puree well.
  2. Serve as desired, such as tossed with pasta or quinoa or spread onto roasted or grilled fish. Or refrigerate for later use.


Per serving: 160 calories, 13g total fat, 1.5g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 310mg sodium, 6g total carbohydrate, 1g dietary fiber, 1g sugars, 7g protein


  • Serving Size: about 1/4 cup


The “Before” Version

Inspired by: Classic Pesto

Per serving (about 1/4 cup): 380 calories, 39g total fat, 7g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 10mg cholesterol, 680mg sodium, 3g total carbohydrate, 1g dietary fiber, 1g sugars, 7g protein


Tasteover Tips

  • Create intrigue by using hemp seeds in pesto in place of pine nuts.
  • Instead of drowning pesto in extra-virgin olive oil, use just the right amount of oil and replace part of it with a full-flavored herbal tea.
  • Add lemon juice to brighten the flavor and balance the slight bitterness from the basil and spinach.

Vegan Spinach and Hemp Seed Pesto_bowl

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  1. Love this recipe. I only had a third of the basil that was called for, so I added more spinach & a little parsley. It tasted superb!!! My husband said to add this to our regular meal schedule. ❤️