Recipes for Life Cookbook

Let's raid that pantry and get cooking!  With limited ability to shop for fresh produce and groceries, now is the time to be adventurous with your food pantry. 

Hummus is always a healthy go-to and easy to make if you don’t happen to have any in your fridge.  The following recipe is tahini free since that is not a typical pantry staple.  If you have tahini, by all means add it.  The cumin is optional and can be substituted with other herbs or spices depending on the flavor that you are looking for.   

Simple Hummus Without Tahini (source:

This simple hummus without tahini takes 5 minutes to prepare, uses common ingredients, and is so much cheaper than the packaged stuff.

Prep Time 5 minutes

Total Time 5 minutes

Servings: 10 (2 tablespoon) servings

Calories: 70 kcal


  • 1 (15 oz.) can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained and rinsed
  • 2 to 4 tbsp. water
  • 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove minced
  • 3/4 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp. salt


Add the garbanzo beans, 2 tablespoons of water, the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, cumin, and 1/4 teaspoon of salt to a food processor. Process until smooth and creamy. If needed, add additional water to thin out the hummus and 1/4 teaspoon of salt to your taste preference.  Store covered in the refrigerator.

Cashew cream cheese is another dip or spread option that can be whipped up using pantry ingredients.  Better yet, it is healthier than cream cheese. 

Cashew Cream Cheese (source:

Totally vegan cream cheese? Heck yeah! It's not only's delicious too! This dreamy cashew cream cheese will make you a believer!

Prep Time 10 minutes

Soak time 4 hours

Total Time 10 minutes

Servings 8


  • 1 cup raw cashews, soaked in water 4-8 hours, drained and rinsed
  • 1-2 tablespoons lemon juice, to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • Stir-ins of choice, such as chives, roasted garlic, veggies, strawberries, sun-dried tomatoes, or roasted red peppers


  1. Place the cashews, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, and salt into the bowl of a food processor.
  2. Blend until smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add a tablespoon or two of water to thin the mixture as needed. 
  3. Taste test and add additional salt and/or lemon juice if you like.
  4. Add any stir-ins to the food processor and pulse until finely chopped and well blended.
  5. Serve immediately or store in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days, or freeze for up to 2 months.

Pasta is a definite comfort food.  This recipe from using bean-based pasta is so easy to make.  For extra protein, stir in a can or two of chicken or fish, drained of course. 

One Pot Lentil Pasta

  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings


  • 12 ounces of lentil pasta
  • 3 1/2 cups of veggies broth (can also use water but the broth provides extra flavor that I recommend!)
  • 5 cloves of garlic, minced or roughly chopped depending on preference
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 of a medium sized onion, I used sweet onion but really any kind will do
  • 1 teaspoon of dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon of dried oregano
  • handful of fresh basil (could also use fresh parsley or both), chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste


  • In a large pot, combine all ingredients MINUS the basil. Stir to combine thoroughly.
  • Once boiling, reduce heat and let simmer for 13-15 minutes. Dish is done when the pasta is tender to the bite. Watch the pasta carefully because you don’t want to overcook it! Once done, take off of heat and let sit for a couple minutes to let the pasta absorb any remaining liquid.
  • Stir in the chopped herbs and season with salt and pepper if needed.
  • ENJOY!

Move over oatmeal packets.  The following sweet breakfast treat from is gooey and delicious.

Cinnamon Roll Baked Oatmeal

Total Time 25 minutes

Yield 1 serving


  • 1/2 cup rolled oats 50g
  • 1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • sweetener, such as 1 1/2 tbsp maple syrup or pinch stevia
  • 1/4 cup applesauce (or pumpkin or mashed banana)
  • 1/4 cup milk of choice, creamer, juice, or water
  • heaping 1/16th tsp salt
  • Optional for a buttery flavor: 1 tbsp oil or nut butter (if oil, scale the other liquid back)
  • Optional: handful of raisins, chopped walnuts, brown sugar for the top


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine raw oats, spices, applesauce, and liquid. Pour into a small baking pan, loaf pan, or 1-cup ramekin (or, for mini boats, two 1/2-cup ramekins). Cook for 15-20 minutes, or more until it’s firm. Finally, set your oven to “high broil” for 3 more minutes (or simply just bake longer, but broiling gives it a nice crust). Don’t forget to spray your ramekins first, if you want your cakes to pop out. Ideas: top with your favorite nut butter, pumpkin butter, banana butter, or apple butter!

Forget the pre-packaged sweets.  Your pantry holds all of the ingredients for a healthier sweet treat.  So indulge, and bring a little comfort at a time when we need it most.  The following black bean brownie recipe from will wow you.  I add walnuts to mine for a little crunch.  Check out her other dessert recipes, which are sure to satisfy any sweet tooth.   

Black Bean Brownies

Total Time: 15 minutes

Yield: 9-12 brownies


  • 1 1/2 cups black beans (1 15-oz can, drained and rinsed very well) (250g after draining)
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder (10g)
  • 1/2 cup quick oats (40g) (See nutrition link below for substitutions)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup pure maple syrup, honey, or agave (75g)
  • pinch uncut stevia OR 2 tbsp sugar (or omit and increase maple syrup to 1/2 cup)
  • 1/4 cup coconut or vegetable oil (40g) (See nutrition link for substitution notes)
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup to 2/3 cup chocolate chips (115-140g) (Not optional. Omit at your own risk.)
  • optional: more chips, for presentation


Preheat oven to 350 F. Combine all ingredients except chips in a good food processor, and blend until completely smooth. Really blend well. (A blender can work if you absolutely must, but the texture—and even the taste—will be much better in a food processor.) Stir in the chips, then pour into a greased 8×8 pan. Optional: sprinkle extra chocolate chips over the top. Cook the black bean brownies 15-18 minutes, then let cool at least 10 minutes before trying to cut. If they still look a bit undercooked, you can place them in the fridge overnight and they will magically firm up! Makes 9-12 brownies. If you make this recipe, don’t forget to leave a review! The trick with these: serve them first, and then reveal the secret ingredient. In all the times I’ve served bean desserts, not one single person who didn’t know beforehand has ever guessed!

Pantry based, nourishing, and comforting, creative cooking will help you maintain your health and happiness during this challenging time. 

"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