Vegan, Nut-Free Pesto

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A rare find, this nut free kale pesto uses toasted sunflower seeds to add a rich and nutty flavor to this vegan pesto #vegan #pesto #migrainediet

It’s been a crazy few days. It started with a terrifying 4 hour drive in the pouring rain to drop off the dogs with my parents. Then I hopped on a plane again for our 2nd wedding in Arizona this month. I sort of partied…hard. My sleep schedule was all out of whack, especially with the time change. And finally got hit with a vestibular migraine on my plane right back to Texas. All in all, I would have been pretty shocked if it didn’t happen. I avoided my big known triggers, but my diet overall wasn’t really on point for a few days, as is tough to do at any wedding. I feel like I should have Usher’s “Confessions” playing right now…

The good news is after a good sleep on Sunday, I was back to feeling good enough to pick up the dogs. This is actually a huge win for me because just a few months ago, driving more than 30 minutes on a highway was so difficult. I couldn’t stand the visual sight of passing the white poles that block the HOV lane without it triggering my dizziness. Usually just one late night or plane ride would put me out for the rest of the day. I can’t say driving in the rain was easy. I think the return flight triggered my migraine attack even with my ear planes and sea bands. But in times like this I can really see how following the diet and sticking to a sleep schedule has greatly reduced my overall trigger load.

Trying a Gluten Free Migraine Diet

Another interesting part of my trip was a visit with a comprehensive rheumatologist that focuses on naturopathic treatments. We took a long look at some of the supplements I’m on as well as my dietary restrictions. While I do feel 90% most days and even 100% some, I have felt lately that I’ve sort of hit a plateau…although reading the above reminds me of how far I have come since even just last year. My ultimate goal is to feel 100% all the time and completely go into remission. The biggest takeaway is that he wants me to try gluten free. Ugh, gluten free! I’ve been tested so many times for it with no diagnosis that I had any issue. Still, my doctor told me it can still be a source of inflammation. I had been toying with the idea of trying it for a month, but he told me 4-6 months will give you the best read on if it’s helping. While it’s a “maybe” for triggers on Heal Your Headache, I have a few migraine buddies who have also made this change and it’s been beneficial for them. So after my vacation, the gluten free life begins.

A rare find, this nut free kale pesto uses toasted sunflower seeds to add a rich and nutty flavor to this vegan pesto #vegan #pesto #migrainediet

Pesto without Nuts or Cheese

As you now know, nuts are considered triggers on this migraine diet as well as lemon juice and aged cheese – basically everything that’s in a good pesto. I’ve tried a few different versions, some with broccoli, some with spinach, but this one is probably my favorite. I even ran out of olive oil while I was whipping up this batch for pictures and it was still delicious. Toasted sunflower seeds is what gives it the nutty flavor you might miss from an aged parmesan.

I love the versatility of pesto. It can be put on grilled chicken or fish, thinned out and used as a salad dressing, and it’s wonderful on a roasted sweet potatoes stuffed with veggies and fresh mozzarella.

A rare find, this nut free kale pesto uses toasted sunflower seeds to add a rich and nutty flavor to this vegan pesto #vegan #pesto #migrainediet

For more vegetarian migraine diet ideas, see this post.

5 from 2 votes
A rare find, this nut free kale pesto uses toasted sunflower seeds to add a rich and nutty flavor to this vegan pesto #vegan #pesto #migrainediet
Vegan, Nut-Free Kale Pesto
Prep Time
10 mins

Toasted sunflower seeds add the flavor you might miss from an aged parmesan. 

Author: The Dizzy Cook
  • 1/3 cup toasted sunflower seeds, unsalted
  • 1-3/4 cups kale, stems removed, lightly packed
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves, lightly packed
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, skin removed if you love garlic, use 2
  • 1.5 tsp distilled white vinegar
  • 1/3-1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  1. Add toasted sunflower seeds to a food processor and process until chopped. Add other ingredients except for the olive oil and chop till combined. Slowly add 1/3 cup of the olive oil through the top. I typically like my pesto a little thicker for adding to pastas. If you like a thinner consistency or want to use as a dressing, add another 3tbsp or so till you reach your desired consistency. 

  2. If you'd like to spice it up, a few shakes of red pepper flakes will do the trick. 

A rare find, this nut free kale pesto uses toasted sunflower seeds to add a rich and nutty flavor to this vegan pesto #vegan #pesto #migrainediet

Alicia was diagnosed with Chronic Vestibular Migraine in 2016 and has been able to successfully manage her symptoms through medication, supplements, lifestyle changes, and the Heal Your Headache Diet by Dr. David Buchholz from Johns Hopkins. She's the owner of The Dizzy Cook.


  1. Jhanelle

    5 stars
    I love pesto and kale but I never thought about putting them together. This is such a great idea that I will definitely be giving a try! Thanks for sharing!


  2. Lindy Anne Pals

    5 stars
    Oh, my goodness! This was amazing! I almost cried because it was so good, and I think I’ve gone about 10 years without being able to eat pesto. I mixed it in with a safe ricotta cheese, and it tasted just as good (if not better) than traditional pesto. Thank you! 🙂


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