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Vegan Kale Pesto Sauce - Delicious sauce recipe with extra pine nuts, fresh basil and heart healthy olive oil. | ifoodreal.com

Lots of foliage in this vegan kale pesto to kick off 2016 right! And it is vegan not because I’m vegan but because I do not like Parmesan cheese in a pesto. I would rather sprinkle it on top of pesto noodles. And eating less dairy and more vegetables is a plus anyways.

Pesto sauce is a tough food item in my clean eating books. It is impossible to find organic or at least non-GMO in my neck of the woods. I have tried a few homemade versions before but they were OK. My kids are not crazy about pesto either so that is another issue. However, I think I finally nailed it – we like vegan kale pesto with a lot of pine nuts in it. For boys – on top of whole wheat spaghetti, for me – mixed with chicken zucchini noodles.

Vegan Kale Pesto Sauce - Delicious sauce recipe with extra pine nuts, fresh basil and heart healthy olive oil. | ifoodreal.com

Today is a tough day for me to write so I won’t write anything fake because I just can’t stand anything or anyone fake. You lose me right there and then…It is an emotional day for me and in a way it is hard to share my heartache but at same time I can’t just fake it. I spent morning cooking and photographing this vegan pesto which took my mind off things that have been on my mind for the past few weeks. The thing that is on my mind every day and will stay with me till the day I die.

So, if you are here for the vegan kale pesto I suggest you stop reading right here and just scroll to the recipe. Everything below would be useless to you. All I can say that the sauce is awesome! That is about it for my cooking inspiration today.

Vegan Kale Pesto Sauce - Delicious sauce recipe with extra pine nuts, fresh basil and heart healthy olive oil. | ifoodreal.com

My mom visited us for a few weeks and it was a bittersweet. I love seeing my mom but at same time it hurts me to see her so unhappy. In my 34 years I have never seen my mom truly happy because she has never been truly happy. It is an awful feeling. Why? Well, main reason is because my mom has an insomnia. She doesn’t sleep for nights straight or only a few hours. Can you imagine how unhappy you would be?! And she is 64 years old now.

Vegan Kale Pesto Sauce - Delicious sauce recipe with extra pine nuts, fresh basil and heart healthy olive oil. | ifoodreal.com

It is hard for her, it is hard for me, for her husband. It is hard on everybody. I grew up with unhappy mom. A mom who can’t function properly. She has a great heart but this disease made her who she is and I understand but at same time it is so hard to watch and experience it. I wish I could pay 20K and send her to a rehab. At least, with addiction all you have to do is get help and stop using. Everyone also knows about addiction issues and feels sympathy and understands what it is. For my mom’s insomnia we haven’t found the cure and no one can understand our pain…

Can you imagine if you didn’t sleep?! I remember sleepless nights with my kids and I felt like a zombie. Noises irritate you, you don’t want to be around people, nothing interests you. There is no excitement in life. You avoid life. You don’t want to deal with life because you do not have energy even to get in a car and drive to the store and have fun shopping.

Alex tells me that I want my mom to be who she is not. Yes, like any child wants a mom. A present mom, a functioning mom, a happy mom. A mom you can have fun with not depending on how the night went.

Vegan Kale Pesto Sauce - Delicious sauce recipe with extra pine nuts, fresh basil and heart healthy olive oil. | ifoodreal.com

So, this is my mom I grew up with. Add to the mix I have never seen my father after they divorced when I was 6 and poverty, and I can tell you I had a pretty lonely and harsh life until I met Alex at 20 years old. I always had to stand up for myself and go get things for myself. A huge upside is that those circumstances made me who I am today – happy, determined person with good surviving skills. I can’t stand complaining individuals about mediocre things. Unless it is something significant you can’t fix, like death or an uncured disease, do not waste mine and your time on negativity. Losing weight, quitting smoking and crying about your unhappy childhood are OK to mention a few times but then it is time to act and deal with it. We are all grown ups.

I also became a mom I never had. I am present in my kids’ lives every moment. My mom says I do too much for my kids. But I want to. They are all that I have and I do want them to have a happy childhood me and Alex never had ourselves. This doesn’t mean expensive stuff but rather being there, with them, every step of the way. Either enrolling them in sports or discussing their little dramas with friends, kids need parents. Providing food and shelter simply is not enough in my eyes as a parent.

So, this is my pain. I’m more than sure each and everyone of us has their own pain or battle they are fighting inside. I thought of everyone I know and could see their pain they live with every day. It is a human mind that has memories and feelings. It is what it is. Just today was very hard for me to write much about vegan basil pesto sauce. I already feel better and I am so grateful for my own happy healthy little bunch of boys and this blog! Those two things make my days shine bright no matter what. Add another night cuddling in bed watching “Real Housewives” and a night of good sleep, and I’ll be back to normal tomorrow painting doors and kicking kids’ butts.:)

I was thinking I feel like writing about what it is like to be an immigrant. Maybe soon. But next I will share amazing light dinner recipe using this vegan kale pesto. Come back in a few days.:)

Vegan Kale Pesto Sauce - Delicious sauce recipe with extra pine nuts, fresh basil and heart healthy olive oil. | ifoodreal.com

Vegan Kale Pesto

Vegan Kale Pesto


  • 2 packed cups kale, stems removed & chopped
  • 2 packed cups basil, including stems
  • 1 medium garlic clove
  • 3/4 tsp himalayan pink salt
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup pine nuts
  • 1/2 cup olive oil, extra virgin


  1. In a food processor, add all ingredients, except olive oil. Process on High for a few minutes, pausing and scraping the walls.
  2. With food processor running on High, slowly pour olive oil and let processor run for a few minutes to make sauce fluffy and creamy. Transfer to a glass jar.
  3. Storage Instructions: Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to a few weeks.

Nutritional Info

Servings Per Recipe: 12

Amount Per Serving = 2 tbsp:
Calories: 160.0
Total Fat: 15.5 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 152.8 mg
Total Carbs: 6.4 g
Dietary Fiber: 3.4 g
Protein: 2.5 g
WW Points+: 4

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  1. Nevila

    You are so brave. thanks for sharing your story with your readers. And thanks a lot for the recipe,
    I’m on Whole 30 this month so I need these ideas because I’m running short 🙂
    Nevila (a reader from Albania)

    • Olena

      Hi Nevila from Albania.:) You are welcome. Oh, then you would love next recipe and probably many more because lots of vegetables.:)

      • Nevila

        I made this recipe (but substituted pine nuts with almonds) and it was awesome ( even though I think its better with pine nuts :-)))

    • sandy

      Your mother needs to ask a doctor about depression medicines. Her condition, as you describe it, is just a few of the sypmtoms of clinical depression. It runs in my family and my grandmother could sleep 15 minutes in an 18 hour time span. Yes, I also suffer from it. It is NOT something you choose to have, it IS hell. Please have her checked so maybe you have a few happy times together with her and your boys. As to the pesto, I just found this site,but am going to try this next weekend. Thanks for sharing. And here’s to a healthy new year.

      • Olena

        Hi Sandy. Yes, her condition is definitely very complex. I now get it. If she only agreed to that. She thinks she doesn’t have a depression at all. She thinks she is fine just has an insomnia because her mom was very stressed out during pregnancy while carrying her. So…we can’t seem to move past that for decades.
        Let me know how you like pesto. Happy healthy 2016 to you too!

  2. Anneli

    You’re amazing! When you can overcome hardship and not dwell on it and make it your future you have succeeded. Many people can’t do that. They hang onto all the unhappiness and never really move on or find happiness. You have! You’ve become a stronger person because of it and this makes you a wonderful wife and mother.

    … and the pesto looks amazing. I’ll try this recipe for sure. I never make pesto because it generally calls for walnuts and of course I can’t have that in my home 🙂

    • Olena

      Thank you for your kind words, Anneli. Well said, that is true. I wish I could find a way not to get upset about it when being with my mom and put behind me completely. Be more understanding and patient but it is hard! Seems like my kids need my patience, and my mom too. I feel caught up in the middle…Maybe one day I will grow to that.
      Wow, interesting. He is not allergic to pine nuts but is to walnuts. I always wondered how pesto with walnuts tastes. Walnuts have such a prominent flavour…

  3. Kitterbugg

    I have been wondering if these worked well for a really long time. Temporarily, I did buy the hand held one but never got past one carrot because it was entirely too hard for hands with arthritis! I have yet to see any in the U.S. for under $50.00, granted, I dislike shopping ‘for fun’ so it is mostly groceries and clothing online on a must have basis and sometimes even thrift if it suits our retirement budget!

    I am now more interested in spending the money on the easier version of spiralizer! Your recipe looks so good! Not any vegetable that I dislike. Only eggplant, and I do like it, I just wish it didn’t itch my throat. I think Okra is the only veg that I can think of that I really dislike. It is not the taste, it’s the texture. I’m not southern so maybe if I’d grown up on it.

  4. Aneatha

    Hi there,
    I came to your site just looking for a recipe for Vegan Pesto and came away with so much more. I cook a lot and basically it’s my version of therapy. Some people go shoe shopping or get spa treatments… I cook. But I just wanted to thank you for sharing part of your story with me. I found so much to relate to and some good advice, hard advice that I really needed. I don’t even know your name, I assume this is your blog, but wanted to let you know that you made a difference in a stranger’s life today. What I took from your story is that I can’t change anyone but myself and I should stop complaining and start doing what will make me better to set an example for my own son. Someday I hope that you read me comment and your own blog post again and find some peace of mind in worrying about your mother.

    Wishing you and your family all the best!

    • Olena

      Hi Aneatha. Yes. It is my blog and I read every single comment. I helped you. Someone helped me. I appreciate your advice to reread this post and find piece with my situation. It is my goal this summer to let go off things I have no control over. It is a process. I just learnt that no one has it all and life is what we make out of what we have. That is how we live. I definitely want to have no regrets and live in the moment. And some things, even close to my heart, I learnt to deal with like with a lost arm or a leg. It is what it is. Life goes on. Especially when you have kids. Gotta move on!

  5. Kim

    Hello! I was looking for inspiration on a variety of vegan pesto besides good ‘ol basil. Kale sounds great and it’s such a brilliant way to boost the nutrient content of such a simple sauce! I’m going to make this for my toddler 🙂 Thanks for sharing the story about your mom. My mom was exactly the same too- “chronic” insomnia- she worried too much about everyone and everything. Nothing seemed to make her happy either. Now that her children are all married and grown up, she still worries about them. It affected her health without her even realizing it. She’s getting much better though, with better nutrition, meditation, and more walks with her friends. So I totally understand what you’re going through. 🙂
    I also think it’s wonderful that you choose to be more present with your children! I’m so glad to have found your blog….I’ll be back often to read more!

    xo Kim

    • Olena

      Hi Kim. I am so glad to hear your mom is coming around. I guess it is possible…My mom will never change. She still worries about everything and all this anxiety is at the root of insomnia. But when you refuse to get treatment or look at it from a different angle, how can you expect improvement?! It is a hard case I am dealing with. I accepted it the way it is and at the end of the day it is everyone’s choice. Can’t have everything in life. For me I guess it means no functional parents. Moving forward though…

  6. kate

    It’s very refreshing to find your site. I’m telling you, there are many people out there who have food sites, and they complain, and talk about all sorts of things….it’s as if i’m reading their journal instead of just getting a recipe. This writing about your mom, i feel is very sensible, the way you have written it. It’s hard when a person is in their 60’s to change. It can be done, but you have to really really want to do it. Well, i hope for the best for her. And I am glad that you are a happy mom, with your little family. take care. and the pesto recipe was just the one i was looking for . xo thanks.

    • Olena

      Hi Kate. Thank you for your sweet words. I came to a conclusion that people don’t change and I know my mom won’t. I don’t think I will ever accept it because I have to, I just can’t, it’s too hard and painful. Especially now seeing what my kids have and realizing what I didn’t have. But people don’t change and I try so hard not to dwell on it and move on, in whatever ways I can manage to do it on my own. I just know for sure this issue will be with me and with her for the rest of our lives and I made my peace with it, most days. Nobody has it all, you can’t have it all. If majority of days are good days then life is well lived, and my life is amazing now compared to when I was a kid. I love every day, almost.
      Blogging world is very confusing nowadays. It has evolved from what blogging should be – writing about whatever you like to write, to blogging for money thanks to some other creative bloggers. But not everyone can cook, and write, and those who don’t love it but do it for money, copy the recipes and don’t know what to write about. I think those are the ones that tick you off, which I agree with. But there are still quite a few great blogs out there to read. Enjoy the recipe!

  7. Roann Karns

    This is exactly what I was looking for. Going to spread it on roasted veggie quesadillas and add a bit of nutritional yeast for a cheesy flavor.



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