There's more to basil than pesto
We all know that basil is the main ingredient in pesto (and what mozzarella and tomato “caprese” salad would be complete without a few fragrant leaves), but basil can be used to provide delicious seasoning to many other recipes – from strawberries smoothies to potato salad.
There's lots of it around in the summer – you just need to remember to use it because this versatile herb contains many phytochemicals with important disease preventing and health promoting properties.
Basil leaves contain essential oils with known anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties. They also contain exceptionally high levels of antioxidants that help mop up the free radicals that play an important role in ageing and diseases like cancer and age-related macular degeneration.
Basil leaves can also an excellent source of iron – if you eat lots!
100 grams of basil leaves will supply you with 25 percent of your daily requirement. But since that’s about 4 cups of the fresh stuff, you can see how pesto is the ideal way of consuming it if you’re looking to top up your levels of this important nutrient. Because iron is a component of the haemoglobin inside our red bloods cells, it helps carry oxygen around our body, so is vital for energy production and preventing fatigue.
Try pesto with spaghetti made with spiralised courgettes instead of with pasta. It’s a light and satisfying meal that’s low in calories but high in many of the essential nutrients, minerals and vitamins we need for optimum health.
And don’t limit basil leaves to pesto – add them to salads too!
This recipe appears in the Meal Plan in the Foodwise Inflammatory & Immune Conditions Program.