Recipes for Life Cookbook

Celebrate International Mediterranean Diet Month! 

Baked Shrimp with Roasted Asparagus and Mushrooms

Serves: 4

Meal Time: 40 minutes

For the Asparagus and Mushrooms

1 pound Fresh Asparagus Spears, ends trimmed

4 Portabella Mushrooms

8 Grape Tomatoes, cut into quarters

5 tsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil

2 Tbsp. Aged Balsamic Vinegar

1/8 tsp. Sea Salt

¼ tsp. Freshly Ground Black Pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place asparagus and portabella mushrooms (hollow side up) in a single layer in a large baking dish coated with nonstick cooking spray, and toss on the grape tomatoes.  Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Bake on the bottom shelf for 20 - 25 minutes. 

For the Shrimp

1 pound Large Raw Shrimp

¼ tsp. Freshly Ground Black Pepper

1 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 Tbsp. Fresh Basil and Walnut Pesto (see recipe below)

2 tsp. Capers, drained

1 Tbsp. Fresh Lemon Juice

1 Large Clove Garlic, minced

2 Tbsp. Grated Parmesan Cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Rinse and de-vein shrimp, and remove shells.  Sprinkle the shrimp with pepper.  Add the next five ingredients to a small glass bowl, and stir until well combined.  Place shrimp in a single layer in a large baking dish coated with nonstick cooking spray.  Pour the mixture over the shrimp, toss to coat evenly, sprinkle with parmesan cheese, and bake on the top shelf for 10 – 12 minutes, until shrimp turn pink.  

Fresh Basil and Walnut Pesto

Prep. Time:  15 minutes

Serving Size:  1 Tablespoon

Servings:  12


1 cup Fresh Basil Leaves, packed (or more to taste)

1/3 cup Fresh Parsley Leaves, packed

1/3 cup Walnuts, chopped

2 Medium Cloves Garlic

¼ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

3 Tbsp. Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese

1 Tbsp. Fresh Lemon Juice

Combine basil, parsley, walnuts, and garlic in food processor and pulse a few times.  Add the olive oil slowly in a steady stream while food processor is on.  Scrape the sides of the food processor with a rubber spatula.  Add the parmesan cheese and fresh lemon juice and blend until smooth. 

Seared Swordfish with French Green Beans

Serves:  4

Meal Time:  30 minutes


20 ounces Fresh Swordfish Steaks

¼ tsp. Salt

½ tsp. Freshly Ground Black Pepper

¼ cup Whole Wheat Panko Bread Crumbs, crushed

2 Tbsp. Grated Parmesan Cheese

3 tsp. Olive Oil

1 ½ pounds French Green Beans (Hericots verts), stem ends trimmed

4 Tbsp. Low Fat, Trans Fat Free Margarine

1 Clove Garlic, minced

2 Stalks Celery, minced

½ cup  Minced Sweet Onion

½ tsp. Dried Rosemary, chopped

2 Leaves Fresh Basil, finely chopped

3 Tbsp. Fresh Flat Leaf Parsley, finely chopped


For the Swordfish:

Season the swordfish steaks with 1/8 teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a small bowl, mix bread crumbs with parmesan cheese, and pat the mixture onto the top and bottom of each swordfish steak so that it sticks.  Heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil in an oven safe sauté pan over medium-high heat.  Add swordfish steaks to pan and sear for 2 - 3 minutes on each side.  Place the pan in the oven for 10 - 15 minutes to finish cooking the swordfish (baking time will vary based on the thickness of steaks, but when done, the flesh should be opaque and separate easily). 

For the French Green Beans:

In a large sauté pan heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil over medium heat.  Add garlic, onions, celery, and ¼ teaspoon pepper, and sauté for 4 - 5 minutes, or until onions become translucent.  Add 2 tablespoons margarine, rosemary, basil, and parsley, and sauté until margarine melts, stirring occasionally.  In a large saucepan, bring 4 cups of water to a boil.  Add green beans, and boil for 5 – 8 minutes, or until tender.  Strain, and add green beans to the herb sauce in the sauté pan.  Top with the remaining margarine and salt.  Toss gently, coating the green beans with the herb mixture, and warm on medium-low heat for approximately 3 minutes. 

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. Fresh Basil and Walnut Pesto (see recipe)

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.      

Brown Rice Seafood Paella in a Flash

Serves 6

Meal Time 50 minutes


1 pound Raw Extra Large or Jumbo Shrimp

1 pound Littleneck Clams and/or Mussels

1 Dried Bay Leaf

¼ tsp. Adobo Seasoning

¼ tsp. Freshly Ground Black Pepper

1 Tbsp. Olive Oil

1/8 tsp. Crushed Red Pepper Flakes (add more for spicy paella)

2 Cloves Garlic, minced

1 Medium Onion, finely diced

2 Tbsp. Low Fat Trans Fat Free Margarine

½ cup White Wine

½ Green Bell Pepper, diced

6 assorted Mini Sweet Peppers, diced

2 cups Instant Brown Rice

½ tsp. Crumbled Saffron Threads

½ tsp. Paprika

1 Tomato, chopped

1 lb. White Fish, like Haddock or Cod, washed and cut into cubes

1 ½ cups Frozen Artichoke Hearts

            (if you can’t find frozen artichokes, you can use strained low sodium

             canned artichoke hearts, like Cento)

1 cup Frozen Peas

¼ cup Chopped Fresh Flat Leaf Parsley

For the Seafood Broth:

Wash, peel, and de-vein the shrimp.  Add the shells, bay leaf, adobo seasoning, and black pepper to a saucepan and cover with water.  Scrub the clam and/or mussel shells thoroughly with a brush under cold water to clean.  Add clams and/or mussels to the saucepan with the shrimp shells.  Simmer over low heat until the clams and/or mussels open.  Strain out the shrimp shells and remove the bay leaf.

Since this dish comes together quickly once you start cooking, chop and measure all ingredients first.

For the Paella

While simmering the seafood broth, heat the olive oil in a large, deep sauté pan over low heat.  Add crushed red pepper flakes, garlic, onions, and margarine, and sauté until the onions are translucent, stir occasionally and do not brown the garlic.  Add white wine and increase heat to simmer until it is reduced, approximately 4 – 5 minutes.  Add bell peppers, and sauté for 3 – 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Remove pan from heat, add the rice, saffron, paprika, and tomato and stir.  Return pan to heat, pour approximately 1 – 1 ½ cups of the seafood broth over the rice mixture, and simmer for 3 – 5 minutes.  Add another ½ cup of seafood broth.  Evenly distribute the fish and shrimp over the rice mixture, and top with peas and artichokes.  Simmer for 10 – 15 minutes or until most of the liquid is absorbed, stir gently halfway through.  Additional seafood broth can be added to your liking.  Add cooked clams and/or mussels for the last few minutes to warm.  Garnish with parsley, serve, and enjoy.

Creamy Escarole with White Beans

Serves 4 as a side dish

Prep. and Cook Time: 20 minutes


1 Tbsp. Olive Oil

1 Large Clove Garlic, minced

½ Medium Sweet Onion, diced

1 tsp. Capers, drained

¼ tsp. Crushed Red Pepper Flakes

1 Large Head Escarole, leaves removed and washed

1 (15.5 oz) Can No Salt Added or Low Sodium Cannellini Beans, drained and rinsed

1 Tbsp. Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice

2 Tbsp. Low Fat Trans Fat Free Margarine (Suggested: Brummel and Brown Spread)

¼ tsp. Freshly Ground Black Pepper

1/8 tsp. Ground Sea Salt

2 Tbsp. Chopped Fresh Flat Leaf Parsley

¼ cup Feta Cheese, crumbled

Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-low heat.  Add garlic, onion, capers, and crushed red pepper flakes and sauté until onion becomes translucent.  Tear escarole leaves into large pieces and add them to the pan with the cannellini beans, lemon juice, margarine, pepper, salt, and 1 tablespoon water.  Sauté until escarole is wilted to your liking, approximately 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add feta cheese halfway through sautéing the escarole, and toss gently.  Sprinkle with parsley.  Serve and enjoy!

Serving Suggestions: For even more flavor, sprinkle with freshly grated parmesan cheese before serving. 

Caramelized Onion and Roasted Red Pepper Portabella Pizza

Serves 4

Meal Time: 40 Minutes


4 Large Portabella Mushrooms (with a deep underside)

½ Medium Vidalia Onion, chopped into strips

1 Tbsp. Low Fat Trans Fat Free Margarine

1 tsp. Brown Sugar (optional)

8 oz. Can Tomato Sauce, no salt added

8 oz. Roasted Red Peppers, chopped into strips

2 Tbsp. Fresh Basil, finely chopped

2 Tbsp. Fresh Parsley, finely chopped

4 oz. Part Skim Mozzarella Cheese

4 Tbsp. Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Carefully remove stems from underside of mushrooms and chop.  Place caps, hollow side down, in baking dish coated with nonstick cooking spray.  In medium sauté pan, heat 1 tablespoon low fat margarine on medium-high heat until melted.  Add onion and sauté for 2 minutes.  Sprinkle brown sugar over onions, add mushroom stems, and sauté for approximately 8 minutes or until browned.  To each mushroom cap, add ¼ cup tomato sauce, caramelized onions with mushroom stems, and roasted red peppers.  Sprinkle on basil and parsley.  Top each mushroom with 1 ounce mozzarella cheese, and bake for approximately 20 minutes.  Sprinkle each with 1 tablespoon parmesan cheese and serve.


"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