Kale & walnut pesto

Pesto must be one of the most versatile items out there. The combinations are endless, as are the uses for it. Tossed with pasta, used as a pizza sauce, spread on a sandwich, mixed with eggs … pesto always adds extra flavour. I ate this kale & walnut pesto with penne and topped it with goat cheese – YUM.

Ingredients

Small bunch of kale (remove the thick part of the stems)
1/4 cup walnuts, toasted
1/2 to 1 clove of garlic
1/4 cup olive oil
Juice & zest of one lemon
Salt & pepper to taste

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Fill a large bowl with ice and water. Blanch kale for about 30 seconds, remove and place in the ice bath to stop the cooking process.

Dry the kale slightly, squeeze out some of excess water and set on a towel for a few minutes.

Blend everything together in a food processor. Pulse to create a chunkier pesto, blend longer to create a smoother one. Taste and adjust, adding more salt, pepper, lemon, olive oil, as necessary.

Source: Adapted from Love and Lemons

Posted in Eats | 1 Comment

Sugar leg scrub

This leg scrub is not only extremely simple to make at home, but it’s also super effective.  I do this every month or two, and afterwards, my legs feel softer than ever. It’s most useful in the summer, of course, but there’s no reason not to have silky legs year round :)

What you need:

White sugar
Oil of your choice (I use olive)
Citrus juice (I use lemon, you could use lime)

Mix about one cup of sugar with about 1/4 cup of oil, and the juice of one lemon or lime. The consistency should be thick, but liquid enough that it can be spread on your legs. Use your judgment – add more oil if it’s too dry, add more sugar if it’s too wet.

Soak in a warm bath, and shave your legs as you normally would. Then scrub each leg with the sugar scrub for a few minutes. Rinse, and shave your legs again. (Yes, again!) Rinse well afterwards, because you will have oily residue on your legs. Dry off & apply lotion, and enjoy the silkiest, softest legs ever!

Posted in Beauty | Leave a comment

Grain-free cookie dough bites

Each night after dinner, my sweet tooth takes over. I literally go on a mission for something – anything – sweet, to satisfy my craving. It’s like I can’t eat anything savoury unless I have at least a bite of something sugary to follow … very dangerous! That’s where these chocolate-covered goodies come in handy. They’re the perfect size – just a bite or two – and are made of ingredients I feel absolutely OK with eating a few times a week.

Ingredients 

1 cup almond butter
1/4 cup honey
2/3 cup unsweetened, shredded coconut
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup dark chocolate chips for dipping
 1 tsp. coconut oil for dipping chocolate (optional)

Combine almond butter, honey, coconut, salt and vanilla in a bowl and mix until all ingredients are incorporated. Put bowl in fridge until dough is easier to roll into balls. (This took me about a half hour, but can vary. If the dough is still too sticky to roll into a ball in an hour, try adding more coconut.)

Roll dough into 1″ – 1 1/2″ balls. Place on wax paper lined plate. After rolling all the dough into balls, place plate in freezer. Melt dark chocolate chips and coconut oil, if using, in a double-boiler over low heat. Dip frozen (or partially frozen) balls into chocolate and place again on wax paper lined plate. Return plate to fridge or freezer for chocolate to harden.

Note: Dark chocolate is messy! It will melt on your fingers quickly, so be sure to eat these out of the fridge or freezer.

Source: Adapted from fastPaleo

P.S. Hi! I’m taking a much more relaxed approach to blogging these days, and while I won’t be posting to a schedule, Brilliant Sugar will continue to exist. Check back sometime :)

Posted in Eats | 1 Comment

Low-fat chocolate chip cookies

As much as I love trying interesting recipes with new-to-me ingredients, I also love the basics – as you can probably tell from the recipes I share here. I love trying new things, but there’s something about classic food that will always appeal to me. A lot of my favourite comfort foods are also extremely calorie-laden, and while I definitely indulge quite a bit, I also enjoy finding lightened-up alternatives. Like these chocolate chip cookies! These babies are less than 100 calories per cookie.

 Ingredients

1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp butter, melted
1 egg white
2 tbsp apple sauce
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly spray cookie sheets with cooking spray. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt and stir to blend. In another bowl, whisk the sugars, butter, egg white, apple sauce and vanilla together until light and fluffy.

Whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients in two additions until the batter is very well blended. If the batter looks more crumbly than smooth, add just a drop of water at a time (only if needed) until it smooths out. Fold in chocolate chips.

Drop by level spoonfuls about one inch apart onto baking sheets. Bake 8-10 minutes. Remove from the oven, and let them stand five minutes before removing the cookies from the pans to cool on wire racks.

Makes two dozen cookies.

Source: Gina’s Skinny Recipes

Posted in Eats | 5 Comments

Kale and mushroom lasagna rolls

Kale, mushrooms, cheese & pasta. This recipe didn’t have to try very hard to make its way onto my dinner plate, and I’m so happy it did. It instantly became a favourite of both mine and J.’s and I suspect anyone else who tries it will experience the same thing. I absolutely love that these are made in rolls instead of as a full lasagna – it allows for easy portion control and one roll with a salad made a perfect lunch the next day! This would be an ideal dish to serve guests or at a potluck, too. Enjoy!

Ingredients

10 (9 oz dry) lasagna noodles, cooked
2 1/2 cups marinara sauce
5 cups kale, stems removed, chopped fine
8 oz mushrooms, chopped fine
1 tsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
15 oz part skim ricotta cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg, whisked
salt and fresh pepper
3 oz (10 tbsp) part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 350. Ladle about one cup sauce on the bottom of a 9 x 12 baking dish. Place kale in a food processor and pulse a few times until chopped, or chop by hand into fine pieces. In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add garlic and sauté until golden, about a minute. Add kale, salt and pepper and sauté about five minutes. Add mushrooms to the pan, cook until soft, an additional five-six minutes.

Combine cooked kale, mushrooms, ricotta, Parmesan cheese, egg, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Place a piece of wax paper on the counter and lay out cooked lasagna noodles. Make sure noodles are dry. Take 1/3 cup of mushroom kale mixture and spread evenly over noodle. Roll carefully and place seam side down onto the baking dish. Repeat with remaining noodles.

Ladle one cup of sauce over the noodles in the baking dish and top each one with one tbsp mozzarella cheese. Put foil over baking dish and bake for 40 minutes, until cheese melts.

Makes 10 rolls. Serve with extra sauce on the side.

 Source: Gina’s Skinny Recipes

Posted in Eats | 3 Comments

Tofu noodle bowl with peanut lime sauce

I can truly attest to being obsessed with this dish for about two weeks straight this fall. Peanut sauce and I … let’s just say we tight. This recipe was adapted from an Oh She Glows recipe for summer rolls with spicy peanut lime sauce. I wanted to make her rolls, but couldn’t find wrappers in my grocery store. I bought rice noodles instead & adapted from there. The sauce is all hers :)

Ingredients

1 block firm or extra-firm tofu
1/2 English cucumber
1 red bell pepper
Rice noodles (I followed the package instructions to make two servings)

For the sauce: 

1-2 garlic cloves
2 tbsp sesame oil
1/4 cup peanut butter
1/2-1 tbsp peeled & roughly chopped fresh ginger
3 tbsp fresh lime juice
2 tbsp low sodium tamari
2 tsp sugar
1-3 tsp water, to thin out as needed

Press the tofu while you prepare the vegetables, noodles and sauce. Slice the vegetables into long, thin strips. (You can also use carrot, green onion, lettuce, cilantro – whatever suits your tastes!) Cook noodles according to package instructions, and set aside. I serve the noodles cold with this dish.

For the sauce, process all ingredients in a processor until smooth, or mince and whisk by hand. Adjust to taste.

Slice pressed tofu into long thin strips, and add to bowl with vegetables and noodles. Cover with as much peanut sauce as you like & enjoy!

Source: Adapted from Oh She Glows

Posted in Eats | 1 Comment