Recipes for Life Cookbook

Healthy lifestyles include fun, fresh recipes.  Enjoy all of the flavors of summer with the following recipes.     

Toothpick Caprese

Prep. Time:  30 minutes

Serving Size:  10 – 11 pieces

2 Pints Grape Tomatoes

1 Bunch Basil Leaves, large leaves can be torn in half

1 (8 oz.) Container Mini Mozzarella Balls

(Suggested: Belgioioso Pearls)

Balsamic Vinegar Spray (Suggested: Roland Balsamic Spritzer)


Slide one grape tomato, folded basil leaf, and mozzarella ball onto a toothpick, and spray with balsamic vinegar.  Place on a serving dish, and continue with the remaining grape tomatoes. 

Roasted Tomato, Sweet Onion, and Cannellini Bean Stew

Serves 8

Meal Time:  1 hour and 20 minutes


2 - 4 lb. Large Tomatoes, cored and halved

1 lb. Cherry or Grape Tomatoes

1 lb. Sweet Onion, cut into large pieces

2 cloves Garlic, cut into eight pieces

1 tsp. Sea Salt

1 tsp. Sugar

¼ - 1/3 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

2 (15 oz.) Cans Cannellini Beans, No Salt Added, strained and rinsed

¼  - 1/3 cup Shaved or shredded Parmesan Cheese (optional)

¼ cup Loosely Chopped Basil Leaves 

Preheat oven to 425 degrees, and move oven rack to the top 1/3 of the oven.  Toss tomato halves, cherry tomatoes, sweet onion, and garlic with salt, sugar, and olive oil in a 4.8 quart baking dish.  Arrange the tomato halves cut side up.  Roast until the large tomatoes are tender and begin to brown and the cherry tomatoes are falling apart, 1 hour – 1 hour and 10 minutes.  Remove baking dish 50 - 55 minutes into roasting and gently add the cannellini beans in between the tomatoes, leaving the tomatoes cut side up.  Sprinkle with basil and cheese, and finish roasting (8-10 minutes or until cheese melts).  Serve and enjoy. 

Lemon Basil Orzo Salad with Asparagus and Grape Tomatoes

Serves 4

Meal Time:  20 minutes 

6 oz. Whole Wheat Orzo Pasta

½ lb. Thin Asparagus Spears, trimmed and cut into 2 inch pieces

1 ½ Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil

½ pint Grape Tomatoes, quartered

½ medium Red Onion, diced

3 Tbsp. packed Fresh Basil Leaves, loosely chopped

2 Tbsp. Fresh Parsley, finely chopped

1/8 tsp. Salt

¼ tsp. Freshly Ground Black Pepper

1/3 Lemon

4 oz. Feta Cheese, crumbled

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Add orzo and cook for 8 – 10 minutes.  One minute prior to draining, add asparagus.  Strain orzo and asparagus, but do not rinse.  Transfer to a large bowl, and stir in olive oil, grape tomatoes, red onion, basil, parsley, salt, and pepper.  Squeeze the juice of 1/3 lemon into the salad, and stir gently.  Divide into 4 servings, and sprinkle each with 1 ounce of feta cheese.

Parchment Baked Pesto Orange Halibut

Meal Time:  30 minutes

Serves 4


4 (15 x 15-inch) Squares Parchment Paper

20 oz. Fresh Halibut, cut into 5 oz. portions

¼ tsp. Salt

¼ tsp. Freshly Ground Black Pepper

4 Tbsp. Pesto, store bought or homemade

12 oz. Bag Broccoli Cole Slaw

2 Small Summer Squash, julienned

2 Tbsp. Low Fat Trans Fat Free Margarine

1 cup Frozen Shelled Green Soybeans (Edamame)

4 tsp. Orange Zest

2 Tbsp. Fresh Orange Juice

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Sprinkle halibut with salt and pepper.  Place parchment squares on work surface.  Coat the left half of each square with nonstick cooking spray.  Place 5 ounces of halibut in the center of the left half of each parchment paper square.  Spread 1 tablespoon of pesto on each serving of fish.  Divide broccoli cole slaw and summer squash into 4 servings.  Arrange vegetables around each fish filet.  Add edamame.  Sprinkle each with 1 teaspoon orange zest and 1 ½ teaspoons orange juice.   Place ½ tablespoon low fat margarine on each fish filet.  Fold parchment over fish and vegetables, folding and crimping edges tightly to seal parchment completely so that steam doesn’t escape.  Place packets on 2 baking sheets, and bake for 15 – 20 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish filets.  Cut each packet in the center, open, and enjoy. 

Summer Squash and Zucchini Fauxsagna

Serves 4

Meal Time:  1 hour and 30 minutes


2 Large Zucchini

2 Large Summer Squash

3 Medium Tomatoes

1 cup Part Skim Ricotta Cheese

½ tsp. Italian Seasoning

1 Large Clove Garlic, minced

2 tsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil

¼ tsp. Salt

½ tsp. Freshly Ground Black Pepper

2 Tbsp. Chopped Fresh Basil Leaves

4 oz. Mozzarella Ball, cut into thin slices


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  With a long chef’s knife or slicing machine (such as a mandoline), cut the zucchini and summer squash on a slight diagonal into 1/8 inch thick slices.  Cut the tomatoes into thin slices using a serrated knife.  In a small bowl, combine ricotta cheese, Italian seasoning, and garlic.  In a 9 by 13 inch baking dish coated with nonstick cooking spray, layer half of the zucchini and summer squash, alternating the vegetables and overlapping them.  Drizzle with one teaspoon of olive oil.  Layer half of the tomatoes, and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and 1 tablespoon basil.  Spread the ricotta mixture over the tomatoes and top with mozzarella slices.  Make another layer the same as the first, ending with tomatoes, salt, pepper, basil, ricotta mixture, and mozzarella.  Cover with aluminum foil, and bake for 45 minutes.  Remove cover, and cook for an additional 15 minutes so that the cheese browns.  Slice and serve.    

Kale Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette, Avocado, Goat Cheese, and Walnuts

Serves 6

Prep. Time: 25 minutes (plus marinating time)


16 ounce Bag Kale Greens

½ cup Sweetened Dried Cranberries

¼ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

¼ cup Red Wine Vinegar

Zest of One Orange

1 ½ Tbsp. Freshly Squeezed Orange Juice

1 Tbsp. Honey

¼ tsp. Ground Sea Salt

1/8 tsp. Freshly Ground Black Pepper (or more to taste)

¼ cup Walnuts

1 Ripe Hass Avocado

1/3 cup Crumbled Goat Cheese

Remove large stems and tear kale leaves into small, bite size pieces, and place them in a large bowl.  In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, red wine vinegar, orange zest and juice, honey, salt, and pepper.  Pour half of the mixture over the kale leaves, add the dried cranberries, and massage the dressing in with your hands.  Let the kale marinate for 1 ½  hours before massaging in the remaining dressing to taste.  Marinate for another 1 ½ to 2 hours (or more) and then add the remaining ingredients.  While the kale is marinating, toast the walnuts in a small sauté pan over medium heat, stirring frequently for approximately 5 minutes.  Once cooled, roughly chop the walnuts.  Remove avocado skin and seed, and cut the flesh into bite size pieces.  Add avocado, goat cheese, and toasted walnuts to the kale, and toss gently.  Serve and enjoy.

Raw Corn and Black Bean Salad (source:

  • 3 ears (I use 2 ears) fresh raw corn, silks and husks removed
  • 1½ cups (or 1 can) cooked black beans, drained, rinsed and cooled
  • 1 medium tomato, cut into ½ inch pieces
  • ¼ tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley (or cilantro), chopped
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 4 lime wedges, to serve


  1. Cut the corn from the cob: Stand the corn on end in a large mixing bowl or plate and insert a sharp knife just at the bottom of the kernels. Slowly cut all the way to the other end of the corn. Turn the corn and repeat until all the kernels are cut from the cob.
  2. Put the corn in a medium mixing bowl. Add the black beans and all remaining ingredients except the avocado (if you aren’t serving immediately) and lime wedges. Mix well and serve immediately or cover and refrigerate a couple of hours (or overnight) to allow flavors to blend.
  3. When ready to serve, add avocado, stir and serve with wedges of lime to be squeezed over the salad at the table, if desired. (you should definitely do that!)



"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