Nut-Free, Vegan Parsley Pesto

Pine nuts are expensive, sunflower seeds are not — that’s the main reason I decided to go nut-free with this parsley pesto. This isn’t my first pesto without pine nuts… actually, I’m not sure I’ve ever made a pesto with pine nuts.

In the past, I’ve used walnuts, cashew and almonds. It really just depends on what I have in the pantry. Sunflower seeds are a great source of protein, vitamin E (antioxidant) and omega-6 fatty acids. Those omega-6s are known to reduce inflammation, help build cell membranes, reduce heart disease risk and improve brain health (FYI: Our brains are 60% fat).

The pestos you have at restaurants are usually made with basil. I chose parsley because I love the stuff. Plus, parsley has a small amount of protein and more vitamin C than most citrus fruits. Other vitamins in this leafy green include vitamin A, several B vitamins and vitamin K. It’s a great immune system booster and prevents agains all kinds of autoimmune diseases.

Did you say vegan?

Your typical pesto has parmesan cheese, but not this one. I make use of nutritional yeast (called “hefeflocken” here in Germany). By the way, I still can’t believe I live in Germany. It get’s more and more real every day. I won’t get into that now… PESTO TIME.

Nut-Free, Vegan Parsley Pesto


  • 2 cups parsley, de-stemmed and packed tightly
  • 1/4 cup raw sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice (~1/2 lemon)
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt


  1. Prep your ingredients.
  2. Put everything in the food processor or high-speed blender. Process until smooth.
  3. Serve with veggie noodles or try it on my simple sweet potato lentil dahl.

Store in an airtight jar in the refrigerator for 1-2 weeks. But, believe me, it won’t last long. Enjoy!

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