The 52 New Foods Challenge – Basil

basil in bowl 1000pxWhile working at the Campbell Farmer’s Market, basil was always a top seller for Tomatero. Tomatoes, strawberries, and basil always brought folks to the booth. In fact, one of my coworkers would often wave some basil through the air to release the scent to help lure them in like Yogi Bear. I love basil. I like making traditional caprese salads, basil pesto, and my awesome sister-in-law Amy, makes a watermelon caprese salad (watermelon subs nicely for tomatoes for those avoiding nightshades). Jennifer Tyler Lee suggests trying a nut free pesto – using sunflower seeds or adding fresh peaches and basil to ice cream! YUMMMY! What’s your favorite use for basil?

Food Facts:

  • Sweet basil is the variety that we typically eat, however Holy basil or tulsi is a variety that is coveted for its medicinal purposes and is native to India.
  • Excellent source of vitamins A, K, and C and maganese.
  • It is rich in antioxidants, especially carotenoids.
  • Basil’s essential oils are antifungal and antimicrobial and have been shown to inhibit the growth of bacteria and fungi.
  • It is also an anti-inflammatory and can be used to support conditions where inflammation is a factor.
  • Basil should be stored with stems in a glass of water on the counter. Putting basil in the fridge turns it black.
  • There are more than 60 varieties of basil.
  • It belongs to the mint family.
  • Some of the major medicinal uses include: digestive support, a mild sedative, headache relief, kidney support, poor circulation, and intestinal spasms.

From The 52 New Foods Challenge: A Family Cooking Adventure for Each Week of the Year, with 150 Recipes by Jennifer Tyler Lee, Encyclopedia of Healing Foods by Michael Murray, Joseph Pizzorno, and Lara Pizzorno, and Superfoods: The Healthiest Foods on the Planet by Tonia Reinhard.

Dill Pesto Recipe [Paleo, Vegetarian, GF, 21DSD]

During our travels this summer, we had an amazing dinner in Florence, Italy. The food was so good that we ate lunch AND dinner at Trattoria Il Francescano during the course of one weekend. The salad that I ordered came with pesto sauce on it. This may seem simple, but for me it was revolutionary. I’ve used pesto in soups, on pizza, and on salmon, but never on salad. Since then I’ve been pretty obsessed with making my own basil pesto. Last week at the farmers market, Tomatero had huge bunches of fresh dill. I only needed a little for my salmon dinner that night, so rather than let the herb go to waste, I decided to make Dill Pesto. Result = AMAZING. I have these cool little herb freezer storage containers that allow me to save the extra. Highly recommended!

Dill Pesto


2 small bunches of dill

1/3 cup pine nuts

1 lemon, juiced

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp. Simply Organic garlic sea salt

1 tsp. Simply Organic lemon pepper 


  1. Rinse the dill and trim the ends off.
  2. Add all ingredients to food processor and pulse until combined. A blender could be used instead.
  3. Serve on salads, veggies, or on salmon. Enjoy!

Olive Oil is a great source of omega-9 fatty acids, copper, iron, and vitamin E. Olive oil has been shown to help manage and prevent cardiovascular disease, asthma, arthritis, cancer, and blood sugar disregulation. It also helps to lower inflammation.

Dill is a member of the Umbelliferae family which includes, carrots, celery, parsley, and fennel. Dill has been shown to reduce flatulence and digestive ailments. It also has antimicrobial and anticancer effects. It helps the liver in detoxification. Dill is also a known sleep aid. In addition to its phytonutrients, it is rich in vitamins A and C and manganese and potassium.

Pine Nuts are a good source of protein – more than any other nut or seed! They are a good source of vitamins B1, B2, B3, and E and manganese, copper, magnesium, molybdenum, zinc, and potassium.


Murray, M., Pizzorno, J., & Pizzorno, L. (2005). The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods. New York, NY: Atria Books.

World’s Healthiest Foods. (November 8, 2015) Retrieved from: http://whfoods.com/index.php

DISCLAIMER: I am NOT a Registered Dietician or Medical Doctor. As such, I do NOT provide medical nutrition services, or diagnose and treat disease. Rather, I educate people on the benefits of a healthy lifestyle to improve their quality of life. I advise people with existing medical problems to consult with medical doctors. I shared evidence-based health information, whether to class participants, wellness counseling client sessions, or on this website.

My Food Story

Welcome to my site! Here’s a little (well maybe a lot) about me.

I was born and raised in the south San Francisco Bay Area and I’ve lived here my whole life. I’m very much a California girl. I’m married to the coolest person – Jim Leadbetter. He pretty much rocks. We have two boxers, Jax, a boxer/cocker/lab mix, and Zoe, a fawn boxer. Dogs are pretty much the most amazing creatures on this planet and I couldn’t live without them. I’m currently a teacher. I’ve taught first grade for four years and fifth grade for four years. I recently accepted a position in my school district to be a TOSA (Teacher on Special Assignment). Basically I’ll be teaching teachers (TK-5) in my district and helping them to feel prepared and equipped to teach the new CCSS Math, while using our new math curriculum.

While I have a passion for teaching public education, in the past several years, I knew that I wanted something more. That’s when I decided to go back to school to become a Holistic Nutrition Consultant. I’m currently attending Bauman College. But let me back up just a little and explain how I became interested in nutrition in the first place.

In my junior year of high school, for my anatomy and physiology class, we went to the morgue. And while it was a cool experience, I left thinking, “those human muscles, look a whole lot like the meat I’m eating”. For the next eight years, I was a lacto-ovo-pesco vegetarian. Mind you, I was a carb-aholic vegetarian. This was not the healthiest time of my life. I’m not saying that there aren’t healthy vegetarians out there, but I wouldn’t place myself among them. I really didn’t miss meat much at all. I even worked at Outback Steakhouse for one year during my years as a vegetarian.

Around year seven of vegetarianism, I started craving of all things, pepperoni. In my head, I thought, “what?!?! is going on!! I didn’t really even like pepperoni pizza before becoming a vegetarian. It took me a full year before telling anyone that I was craving pepperoni (I was one of those sorta preachy vegetarians, you know, animal cruelty, CAFOs, etc.). My then boyfriend, Jim, and I were on a date at a swanky pizza place and he had pepperoni pizza. I told him, “I really want some pepperoni”. He was shocked and tried to convince me otherwise saying things like, “You won’t be able to wear you vegetarian t-shirts anymore”. But in the end I caved and had a half a slice of pepperoni. I can only describe the experience as the heavens above opening up and raining down delicious pork upon my tastebuds [insert inappropriate joke here]. I keep saying things like, “it’s so delicious and so spicy!”. There was no turning back for me. My friend Travis calls pepperoni my gateway meat. He is totally correct.

After that, it was slow going back into the meat world, but I embraced it fully and so did my friends and family. During my best friend Sarah’s, bachelorette party weekend in Napa, we went to Whole Foods to buy a wonderful assortment of beef jerky because that was the other meat I had been craving since reentering the meat eating world. Friends even called me their “meat-eating vegetarian friend”. HA!

While I was a vegetarian I read a lot of books on food production in this country. Some of my favorites include: The Omnivore’s Dilemma (I LOVE Michael Pollan and I often call him my Food Guru; AND this book was one of the other reasons I decided to eat meat again), Fast Food Nation, The Dirty Life, and Tomatoland. I started to realize that I really do have a passion and love for food.

Also shortly after I began eating meat, I took a weekend summer job working for a friend’s farm. Tomatero Organic Farm (based out of Watsonville, CA) needed part time help at the local farmers markets, so I thought I’d give it a try. When I first started working, I felt sort of useless. I didn’t know much about the stuff we sold: three types of kale, rainbow chard, fava beans, dandelion greens, beets, and three varieties of strawberries (who even knew there were three varieties of strawberries – not ME!). But after a few weeks, I got better at identifying the subtle differences between the berries and I began trying to sauté the greens or make kale chips or roast the beets. I LOVED talking about the nutritional benefits of certain foods and giving new recipe ideas out and also getting new recipes from customers.

Then my husband read The 4-Hour Body by Tim Ferris. He started eating slow-carb, high protein, and veggie six days per week, with one “cheat day”. I was very resistant at first. I tried and failed at least twice before sticking with it. Once I stuck with it, I noticed weight loss, improved energy, and less sluggishness in the afternoons. But here was the big revelation: when I ate wheat on my cheat day (i.e. toast) I would get MAD heartburn and acid reflux. I had been experiencing acid reflux and heartburn since high school (notably when I ate muffins and pizza). I finally put all the pieces of the puzzle together: I had a gluten sensitivity. I went gluten free in July of 2012 and never turned back. I currently eat an 80/20 paleo diet (80% of the time “strict” paleo, ~20% cheat meals).

I started at Bauman in March of 2014. At the age of 31, in June 2014, I was diagnosed with Stage 2b Breast Cancer (DCIS – Ductal Carcinoma In Situ and IDC- Invasive Ductal Carcinoma). I underwent 6 rounds of chemo, bilateral mastectomy with immediate reconstruction, and 25 sessions of radiation. I also learned that I have the BRCA 1 mutation. I will have my expanders traded out for “real” implants this fall. Before age 35, I will have an oophorectomy (ovaries and fallopian tubes removed). Since my diagnosis, my nutritional focus has changed from eating well to look and feel well, to a focus on eating for survivorship, including eliminating toxins and preventing a recurrence. You can read more about my journey with breast cancer on my #teamklb blog.

Thanks for taking the time to learn about me, I would love to learn more about you. Let’s connect!

DISCLAIMER: I am NOT a Registered Dietician or Medical Doctor. As such, I do provide medical nutrition services, or diagnose and treat disease. Rather, I educate people on the benefits of a healthy lifestyle to improve their quality of life. I advise people with existing medical problems to consult with medical doctors. I shared evidence-based health information, whether to class participants, wellness counseling client sessions, or on this website.

Health & Hugs ❤