Healthy Super Bowl Snack: Vegan Spinach Pesto Dip

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Healthy Super Bowl Snack:  Vegan Spinach Pesto DipIn all fairness, I came up with this bright green pesto before I knew that the Seattle Seahawks would be facing the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl.  But, doesn’t the bright green color coordinate nicely with the pop of green in the Seahawks’ uniforms? 

If you’re not cheering for the Seahawks, then this can just be a dip.  Ignore the color.  For the record, our family is loyal to the Broncos, since my husband is a Colorado native.  With all the moving I did as a kid, and now as military family, my four years in Colorado make it just as much home to me as anywhere.

This healthy snack came about when I needed something to take to a get-together with fellow military spouses.  This particular group of ladies enjoys good food so it’s fun to take something a little different.

Since I was busy working on the day I needed to put something together I needed to make something using ingredients I had on hand.  The biggest kink was that I’m on a 108-day vegan, no refined sugars/grains experiment.  What in the world was I going to make?

“Greens and nuts,” I thought.  That’s what I always have on hand these days.  Then naturally my next thought was, “Greens + Nuts = Pesto!”  Vegan pesto?  No Parmesan?  I was a little worried about how it was going to turn out, so I picked up some dark chocolate at the Exchange, just in case, so I wouldn’t have to show up empty-handed in case of a disaster.

My chocolate insurance was not necessary.  The pesto was great!  I found this recipe from Whole Foods to use as a jumping off point, making substitutions based on what I had on hand.  Several people asked me for the recipe.  I served it with whole grain crackers, but it also makes a nice dip for fresh veggies or a sandwich spread.

This healthy dish can be used to add color and variety to your Super Bowl spread.  However, there are several ingredients that you’ll probably have to find outside of the commissary walls. 

Miso – This is a traditional Japanese seasoning, made up of fermented soybeans, rice, barley, or a mixture of these.  It is a paste that I found in a non-refrigerated vacuum-packed bag, and also in a refrigerated tub.  If you’re curious about the many health benefits of miso, this Mind Body Green article was particularly easy to digest.  But is soy good or bad for you?  It depends on who you read. I went to a neutral, non-vegan, non-Paleo source for the answer.  Clearly mainstream, Dr. Oz recommends eating whole soy foods like tofu, edamame, and fermented soy foods (such as miso!).  Worried about GMOs?  Check your labels.  The tofu in my commissary is clearly marked as non-GMO.

Nutritional Yeast – This is an inactive yeast, rich in the vitamin B-12, that offers a cheesy flavor and texture to vegan food.  I found it in the vitamins/supplements section of my health food store.  Comparing prices, bulk was the way to go.

Vegan Spinach Pesto Dip

Ingredients

  • 1 cup seeds and/or nuts (pecans, walnuts, pine nuts, pumpkin seeds, etc.  I get out my measuring cup and start filling it with odds and ends from my pantry.)
  • 1 clove garlic (My garlic this winter has been super strong.  Increase this to taste if you have nice sweet garlic, or you’re just a garlic lover.  For parties though, error on the safe side!)
  • 4 cups baby spinach, packed
  • 1 tablespoon miso
  • 1 15-ounce can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
      

Directions

  1. Using the large bowl of a food processor, pulse the seeds/nuts until mealy. 
  2. Add the garlic and give a few more pulses.
  3. Throw in the baby spinach a handful at a time, and process until leaves are finely chopped.
  4. Add the remaining ingredients and process until creamy.
  5. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Do you have a healthy recipe that you’re serving for the big game? Who are you cheering for?