Engine 2 Diet: Oil-Free Avocado Pesto

When I considered trying to cook with little to no oil, the first recipe that popped into my head was pesto!  My beloved pesto sauce, ranking in the top 5 of my favorite foods of all time, contains 6 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil.  There is no way I would ever give up pesto for good.

So of course it is the first recipe that I tried to conquer, oil-free!  I had this crazy thought.  Why not use avocado in place of the oil?  It’s high in fat, creamy, and green to boot.  I’ve used avocado as a base for chocolate puddings and pies, so surely I could get away with using it in a pesto!  Well guess what?  It worked beautifully.  I simply used my awesome go-to pesto recipe (if you haven’t tried this yet, you MUST…it is sooooo good) and used one ripe avocado instead of the olive oil.  I served the pesto my favorite way, smothered on top of potato gnocchi.

I was a little worried it would taste like guacamole, but it really and truly did not.  The basil totally predominated the flavor.  My husband did suggest that next time I try using only half of the avocado, so that more of the basil texture would come through.  If you try this, I’d recommend starting with half an avocado and adding more if you want.  It was great as it was though, and all of us ate it up with gusto!  I’m not saying I’ll abandon my traditional pesto sauce, for that is perfection.  But I do think this is a healthier alternative.  Olive oil provides monounsaturated fatty acids…which is fine and good, but that’s about it.  An avocado provides a host of vitamins and minerals, including potassium, vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, magnesium, vitamin E, and much more.  Another interesting tidbit about avocados:  they contain a compound called Beta-Sitosterol which is similar in structure to cholesterol.  When you eat avocados, your body absorbs this compound which then blocks your absorption of cholesterol!   So eat your avocados!

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I have to be honest with you. I don’t think I’m actually going to do the Engine 2 Diet for 28 days.  It sounded like a good idea at the time, but I love experimenting with all sorts of recipes too much to limit myself to those types for a whole month!  I also have some recipes to test for the lovely Dreena Burton in the next few weeks, and while her recipes tend to be very healthy, they aren’t oil-free.   I will definitely continue to try out some oil-free, whole foods recipes and when I do I will post them under “Engine 2 Diet.”  I’ve appreciated your encouragement and I applaud those of you who are taking the full Engine 2 plunge!

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