Recipes for Life Cookbook

Healthy lifestyles include fun, fresh recipes.  Enjoy the flavors of winter, like sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts, and winter squashes in these tasty cool-weather recipes.   

Spaghetti Squash with Sausage in a Spicy Tomato Sauce

Meal Time:  1 hour and 15 minutes   

Serves:  4


1 Medium (2 – 3 lb.) Spaghetti Squash, halved lengthwise and seeded

2 tsp. Olive Oil

2 Links Bell & EvansÒ Basil and Parmesan Chicken Sausage, cut into ½ inch rounds

½ cup Sweet Onion, diced

½ Medium Fresh Fennel Bulb

1 Large Clove Garlic, minced

2 tsp. Crushed Red Pepper Flakes (reduce or eliminate for less heat)

¼ cup Red Wine

1 Green Bell Pepper, diced

1 (8 oz.) Package Mushrooms, sliced

2 cups Canned Crushed Tomatoes, No Salt Added

1 ½ tsp. Capers, drained

2 tsp. Italian Seasoning

2 Tbsp. Fresh Flat Leaf Parsley, chopped

1/3 cup Freshly Grated Pecorino Romano Cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place squash cut side down in a baking dish with enough water to cover the bottom of the dish. Bake squash for approximately 45 minutes or until the skin gives easily under pressure.  While the spaghetti squash is baking, heat 1 teaspoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.  Brown the sausage pieces for 1 – 2 minutes on each side.  Remove from pan and set aside.  Cut the fennel stalks away from the bulb and rinse the bulb with water.  Cut the bulb in half vertically, remove the base and hard center core, and dice.  Add onion and fennel to the skillet, and sauté for 3 - 5 minutes, until onion is translucent, stirring occasionally.  Add 1 teaspoon olive oil, garlic, crushed red pepper, and sausage, and sauté for 2 minutes.  Add red wine, and reduce heat to medium until most of it cooks away.  Add green pepper and mushrooms, cover, increase heat to medium high, and sauté for 6 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add tomatoes, capers, and Italian seasoning, cover, reduce heat to medium, and simmer for 3 - 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Remove cover, stir in the parsley, and simmer for an additional 3 - 5 minutes.  If you have a meat thermometer, make the sausages should reach a temperature of 160 degrees.  Once the squash has cooled for 10 minutes, scrape the flesh from the squash with a fork (it will separate into noodle-like strands).  Separate into 4 portions.  Spoon sauce over the spaghetti squash “noodles,” and sprinkle with Romano cheese.

Alternative Cooking Option:

The spaghetti squash can also be cooked in the microwave.  After halving the squash, pierce a few holes in the skin with a knife or fork.  Place squash halves cut side up in a microwave safe dish with ¼ cup water and cover with pierced plastic wrap.  Microwave on high for 15 – 20 minutes or until skin gives easily under pressure.

Easy Substitutions

For a vegetarian dish, use 2 links TofurkyÒ Italian Sausage with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Basil in place of the chicken sausage in this recipe.

			Pumpkin Chick Pea Stew

Serves 8

Prep. Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes – 1 hour


2 tsp. Olive Oil

2 Cloves Garlic, minced

1 Green Bell Pepper, chopped

1 Red Bell Pepper, chopped

1 Medium Onion, chopped

1 ½ tsp. – 1 Tbsp. Adobo Seasoning

(Frontier Organic and Goya Adobo Light are low in sodium)

½ tsp. Ground Cumin (or more to taste)

1 Large Tomato, chopped

1 (8 oz.) Can Tomato Sauce, no salt added

2 (15.5 oz.) Cans Low Sodium Chick Peas (Garbanzo Beans), strained and rinsed

2.75 lb. Pumpkin or Butternut Squash, cut into small pieces with skin

¼ cup loosely chopped Fresh Cilantro Leaves (or more to taste)

Add olive oil to a large pot over medium heat, and sauté the garlic, bell peppers, and onion until tender.  Stir in the adobo to taste, cumin, chopped tomato, tomato sauce, chick peas, and ½ cup water.  Bring to a boil and stir in the pumpkin and cilantro.  Simmer for 45 minutes to one hour, or until the pumpkin is tender, stirring occasionally.  Add an additional ½ cup of water during cooking if stew is not the desired consistency.

Hearty Minestrone Soup

Serves 6

Meal Time:  1 hour


1 Tbsp. Olive Oil

1 Large Clove Garlic, minced

1 Small Sweet Onion, diced

2 Carrots, diced

2 Celery Stalks, strings removed, chopped

2 Medium Idaho Potatoes (skin on), diced into ½ inch cubes

2 (32 oz) Cartons Low Sodium Vegetable Broth

¼ Head Cabbage, chopped

1 ½ tsp. Italian Seasoning

½ tsp. Freshly Ground Black Pepper

12 oz. Green Beans, ends trimmed

4 oz. Whole Wheat Penne or Shell Pasta (I used chiocciole)

1 (15.5 oz) Can Dark Red Kidney Beans, drained and rinsed

1 (14.5 oz) Can Diced Tomatoes Packed in Juice, No Salt Added, drained

¼ cup Fresh Flat Leaf Parsley, loosely chopped

1 oz. Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese

Heat oil in large saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add garlic, onion, carrots, and celery, and sauté for 5 – 8 minutes, or until onions are translucent.  Add potato, broth, cabbage, Italian seasoning, and pepper, and bring to a boil.  Reduce to simmer for 20 minutes, or until potato is tender, stirring occasionally.  Cut green beans in half.  Boil water in a small saucepan, and add pasta.  Cook until al dente, strain, and set aside.  Transfer ½ of the kidney beans into a food processor or blender and puree into a paste.  Add green beans, bean paste, whole kidney beans, tomatoes, and parsley to soup mixture and stir.  Simmer for 20 minutes.  If all of the soup will be eaten, add the cooked pasta for the last 5 minutes.  If some of the soup will be refrigerated or frozen, add pasta only to the soup portions being served immediately.  Store the remaining pasta in an air tight container in the refrigerator, and add it when warming the soup to serve.  Top each portion with grated parmesan cheese before serving.

Spinach Stuffed Acorn Squash

Prep Time: 1 hour

Serves 4 (as a side dish)


1 (10 ounce) Package Frozen Spinach

            (or a 7 ounce package of Fresh Spinach, chopped)

2 Medium (~ 1.25 pounds each) Acorn Squash (with level bottoms)

            (or 4 small, if you can find them)

1 tsp. Olive Oil

1 Small Sweet Onion, diced

2 Cloves Garlic, minced

1/8 tsp. Freshly Ground Black Pepper

1/8 tsp. Salt

2 Tbsp. Low Fat Trans Fat Free Margarine

2 Tbsp. Whole Wheat Panko Breadcrumbs 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Thaw spinach and squeeze out water.  Cut the top ¼ of each squash.  Scrape out seeds and discard.  Place squash upright on baking sheet and replace the cut lid.  Bake for approximately 45 minutes, until fork tender.  While the squash bakes, heat olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat.  Add onions, garlic, and black pepper, and sauté for 3 – 5 minutes, until onions become translucent.  Add spinach, salt, and 1 tablespoon of margarine, and sauté for approximately 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Remove acorn squash from oven, uncover, and stuff with spinach mixture.  Top each with ½ tablespoon of margarine and 1 tablespoon of breadcrumbs. Bake uncovered for 15 - 20 minutes or until topping browns.  Reserve the lids for plating.

Lemon Garlic Brussels Sprouts

Serves 4 as a side dish

Prep. and Cook Time:  20 minutes


2 tsp. Olive Oil

1-½ lbs. Brussels Sprouts

1 clove Garlic, minced

½ medium Sweet Onion, chopped

½ tsp. Italian Seasoning (to taste)

¼ tsp. Freshly Ground Black Pepper

2 tsp. Capers, drained

2 Tbsp. Low Fat Trans Fat Free Margarine

½ Lemon

¼ cup Grated Parmesan Cheese

1/3 cup White Wine

2 Tbsp. – ¼ cup Chopped Flat Leaf Parsley (optional)

Cut small Brussels sprouts in half and quarter larger ones.  Add olive oil to a sauté pan over medium heat.  Once olive oil is heated, add garlic, onion, Brussels sprouts, Italian seasoning, black pepper, capers, and 1 tablespoon of margarine.  Sauté, stirring occasionally, for approximately 3 minutes, sprinkle with fresh lemon juice (reserving half of the lemon juice for use later in the recipe) and 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese.  Toss and cook for an additional 3 minutes, or until Brussels sprouts begin to brown.  Pour in the wine, and simmer until alcohol burns off, approximately 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  If you are looking for more sauce, add ¼ cup of water and bring to a simmer.  Stir in the remaining margarine, lemon juice, and Parmesan cheese.  Sprinkle with parsley.  Serve and enjoy!

Easy Additions

For even more flavor, try adding a dollop of homemade pesto along with the final ingredients. 

Sweet Potato Casserole

1 pound (16  ounces) Sweet Potato(es) or Red Potatoes

2 Tbsp. Low Fat, Trans Fat Free Margarine

½ Sweet Onion, chopped

¼ tsp. Ground Sea Salt

¼ tsp. Freshly Ground Black Pepper

2 - 3 Tbsp. Water

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Clean sweet potato thoroughly, scrubbing the skin.  With a sharp knife, score the surface skin from the top to the bottom of the sweet potato(es) evenly around the outside (with approximately one inch between each cut).  Slice potato(es) crosswise into thin rounds.  Coat a 6 x 10 inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray, and place 3 teaspoon-size dollops of margarine around the bottom.  Layer the baking dish with sweet potato slices, then onion, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper.  Continue layering until all of the potato slices have been used.  Finish with the remaining onion, salt, and pepper.  Place 3 teaspoon-size dollops of margarine on the top, and sprinkle with 2 - 3 tablespoons of water.  Cover with aluminum foil, and bake for 30 - 35 minutes, or until tender when pierced with a fork.  

This recipe can be grilled in individual foil packets.  Add a small dollop of trans fat free margarine to the bottom of a large square of aluminum foil.  Stack one potato sliced and onion slices and surround with the aluminum foil.  Top with one more small dollop of margarine, sprinkle with water, close the foil packet, and grill.    

Steamed Cauliflower with White Sauce

Serves 4 as a side dish

Meal Time: 30 minutes

1 Large Head Cauliflower (6-7” in diameter), washed

2 Tbsp. Corn Starch

1 cup Fat Free Milk

1/8 tsp. Salt

¼ tsp. Freshly Ground Black Pepper

1/8 – ¼ tsp. Ground Nutmeg

1 Tbsp. Low Fat Trans Fat Free Margarine

Remove stem and cut into florets.  Cover the bottom of the pan with water and add florets to steam. Cover and bring to a simmer.  Steam for 10 - 15 minutes, or until cooked through. Drain and return to pan on low heat.  In a small saucepan over low heat, add milk, salt, pepper, and corn starch, and stir continuously until thick, approximately 10 minutes.  Stir in the margarine to melt.  Add steamed cauliflower to a serving dish, pour milk sauce over the top, and sprinkle with nutmeg.





"My favorite aspect of my job is that I help people improve their lives.  It is truly fulfilling to see a client succeed and lead a healthier lifestyle. Don't Diet! EAT HEALTHY, LIVE HAPPY!"

                                                                                 -Yours In Health,

                                                                                   Kristin Niessink MS, RD, LDN

                                                                                   Phone: (401) 368-7614