Calories in Food: Pesto Change-O

Basil Pesto

It’s bad enough that a serving of tomatoey pasta sauce is just half a cup, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). (Of course, that’s all it takes to coat the FDA’s tiny one-cup serving of cooked pasta, which is more like a side dish.)


And it’s not clear if the FDA’s quarter-cup (four-tablespoon) serving for pesto would cover a cup of pasta well enough to satisfy most people.

But whole Foods 365 Traditional Basil Pesto uses a one-tablespoon serving. It’s hard to see a good rationale for that…other than to make a sauce with 280 calories in four tablespoons look like it has just 70.

Other relevant links:

5 Replies to “Calories in Food: Pesto Change-O”

  1. Just a small “wait a minute” here — one can’t wring one’s hands and bemoan the portion sizes served in most restaurants as gargantuan, and then turn around and opine that a one-cup serving of cooked pasta is “tiny.”

    Secondly, pesto is not your Chef Boy-Ar-Dee glorified ketchup pasta sauce — it’s an intense, concentrated mix of fresh basil, garlic, oil, pine nuts, and grated cheese (parmesan or romano). Four tablespoons of pesto added to a cup of cooked pasta would be overpowering; Whole Foods 1T to 1c actually sounds right to me.

    What is more worrisome about most commercial pestos is SODIUM content, and whether olive oil or something less healthful is used as the base.

  2. I think the serving size of pasta and tomato sauce is just fine. No one needs more than 1 cup of pasta at a time, it is our society that has been accustomed to super-size portions. However, I do agree that the Nutrition info for the pesto is absurd. Consumers needs to be educated on how to read nutrition labels AS WELL AS what a proper portion looks like.

  3. Foe many people one tablespoon is a generous serving. It’s plenty to coat a serving of linguine or other pasta or spread in a sandwich. When I make extra pesto. I freeze it in one tablespoon servings.

  4. Make your own. Make it with real, whole ingredients. Put all the good stuff in your pesto that should be there: fresh basil, olive oil, nuts, cheese, garlic – maybe a PINCH of salt. Slop on as much or as little as you want. Forget about the calories. Eat it, enjoy it. Just don’t eat it by the rounded cupful every day of the week. And don’t buy the damned stuff in a jar!!

  5. My mouth is dry from medication, so I need to use a 1 to 1 ratio, half spaghetti and half sauce. It likely isn’t too healthy, so I don’t eat it very often, though I love it.

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