Low-Fat Cilantro Pesto Pasta

07. 05. 2017

Italian food may not be so enjoyable for heartburn sufferers. That acidic tomato sauce is something you are advised to avoid. But even if you’re on a special diet to control symptoms, know that you have other options. Pesto is a great substitute pasta sauce, but if you’re not careful, it can be like trading one trigger for another. Some pesto sauces can be high in fat because of the type or amount  of oils, nuts and cheeses that are included.  Plus, pesto is usually flavored with lemon juice and fresh garlic, which can be an issue for some people.

I cut the fat content in half in this pesto by substituting some of the oil for water, just using a small amount of nuts, and omitting the cheese. This makes the pesto just around 10 grams of fat per serving. Most of the fat count comes from the olive oil, which has monounsaturated fatty acids (a healthy fat). The rest of the fat comes from the almond slices, which have low acidity and prevent flare-ups. If cheese is not a trigger, you can add 1-2 tbsp of grated parmesan cheese to your pesto, or just sprinkle a little on top of the pasta. If you are not sure, just leave it out. I left out the lemon juice and used garlic powder instead of fresh garlic, as some people may be sensitive to these items.

See, a low-fat pesto sauce can make it possible for you to enjoy pasta. When eating out, just be mindful that many pesto sauces can be high in fat and loaded with oils, nuts, and cheeses. You might feel more comfortable just making your own at home.


Ingredients (Serves 2):

  • 2 cups whole wheat rotini pasta, dry (makes about 3 ¾ cooked)
  • ¼ cup (or about 2 pieces) turkey bacon, chopped 
  • ⅓ cup kale, chopped

Pesto (makes ¼ cup):

  • 1 cup cilantro
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp almond slices
  • 1 tbsp parsley
  • 3 tsp water
  • ⅛ tsp garlic powder
  • ⅛ tsp sea salt
  • ⅛ tsp pepper


  1. To make pesto, place cilantro, olive oil and sliced almonds in a blender and mix together. Then add parsley, water, garlic powder, sea salt and pepper and blend for a few minutes until creamy. Set aside.
  2. Boil water in a pot and then add dry noodles, bring to boil again, and cook 8-10 minutes or until soft. Once pasta is done, drain the noodles and place into a medium mixing bowl.
  3. Cook the turkey bacon slices in a pan on medium-low heat with a little oil. Allow bacon to cool for a minute or two, and then chop and mix with pasta.
  4. Add a few inches of water to another pot and place a steamer basket inside (you want the water to rest just below the basket). Bring water to a boil. Place chopped kale into basket and steam for a couple minutes until kale is bright green. Then chop it further and mix with pasta.
  5. Spoon pesto into mixing bowl with pasta, turkey bacon and kale, and mix together. Serve warm or cold. 

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