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A pesto packed with goodness

This time last year I was in parenting hell. At just six months old, little Belle had a nasty case of gastroenteritis. From 10pm till five in the morning, my littlest threw up every 45 minutes. As I had chosen that day to introduce her to carrots, not only were we both covered in vomit, we were covered in bright orange vomit. The Lovely Husband had flown off on business and I was alone in the drama. He was very supportive over bbm …. from the comfort and safety of his hotel room. Fortunately, he was home just in time for Chloe to catch it. And then he caught it too. It was awful!

So no matter how many times I am woken in the night, or how many bowls of cereal are flung across the room (Belle is currently Asserting Her Independence), I am always grateful that today is not a gastroenteritis day. Imagine my dread then as a wave of norovirus passes through Bermuda. Norovirus (one of the causes of gastroenteritis) is common in the winter and annoyingly, catching it doesn't guarantee resistance for the rest of the year either (immunity only lasts about 14 weeks).

Tempted as I am to hide out in the house, it's not exactly practical. My two get ants in their pants after a morning at home so instead we have embarked on a slightly obsessive hand washing regime. I've also discovered this gem of a recipe for a tree-nut free pesto that is naturally antibacterial, antifungal and (some studies suggest) antiviral too. This is largely down to the garlic and the fresh basil. On the natural healthcare circuit, garlic is recommended as a natural anti-infective agent, due to its powerful sulphur compound, allicin. Basil has anti-parasitic properties and its essential oil helps to fight digestive infection. Both, as a bonus, help to combat yeast overgrowth.

If, like mine, your kids are keen on pasta, you might want to try stirring this one through for them. Go easy on the garlic though if they have a subtle palate. You can also feel good about the protein content as both pumpkin seeds and pine nuts provide a good source of plant-based protein. Pine nuts in fact are known as a “complete” vegetarian protein, meaning that you don't need to mix them with another plant-based protein in order to ensure protein uptake. Whilst high in total fat (so go easy) they are lower in saturated fat and packed with vitamins and minerals vitamin K, A, the Bs, potassium, magnesium, calcium and iron to name a few.

Finally, pumpkin seeds are rich in the very valuable omega 3 and 6 essential fatty acids. They also contain something called cucurbitin, another natural anti-parasitic. So while I would never suggest that you can treat or cure gastroenteritis with natural agents, including this pesto in your diet is a sensible and tasty step. Wash those hands too and good luck avoiding the bugs!

Pumpkin seed and pine nut pesto


6 tbs pumpkin seeds

3 tbs pine nuts

3 handfuls fresh basil leaves

2 cloves raw garlic

7 tbs extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp sea salt crystals


1. Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend to a course paste.

2. Stir through wholewheat, brown rice or quinoa pasta and serve.

Notes: this is great as a side dish or as a vegan main, in which case serve with a spinach and tomato salad. Pine nuts can be very expensive but I have found them most cheaply in the fridges at Down to Earth. This can be stored in an airtight container for several days in the fridge. If you prefer your pesto more runny, just add more oil.

The advice given in this article is not intended to replace medical advice, but to complement it. Always consult your GP if you have any health concerns. Catherine Burns BA Hons, Dip ION is a fully qualified nutritional therapist trained by the Institute for Optimum Nutrition in the UK. Please note that she is not a registered dietitian. She can be contacted at nourishbda[AT]gmail.com.

Pine nuts

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Published February 03, 2012 at 1:00 am (Updated February 03, 2012 at 6:04 am)

A pesto packed with goodness

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