Paula Recommends ...Sweet Potato and Black Bean Casserole

Try this delicious combo of cinnamon-scented sweet potato, layered with black beans and a crust-like spread of millet. Sweet white miso makes for the most spectacular sweet potato whip. It's wonderfully hearty, loaded with complex carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins and protein.

4 sweet potatoes
1 Tablespoon sweet white miso
1 teaspoon Umeboshi vinegar (no Umeboshi? You can substitute with red wine vinegar)
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 cup black beans, soaked overnight with a 1” piece of Kombu, drained
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1⁄2 cup white onion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon cumin
Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
Pinch of sea salt
1 1⁄2 cups of millet
1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil


1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. Bake the sweet potatoes for one hour or until a fork goes in easily. Remove to a bowl and let cool.
3. When cool, remove the potatoes from their skins and place the pulp in a large mixing bowl and mash with a potato masher until smooth.
4. Combine miso, vinegar and cinnamon with the potatoes.
5. While the sweet potatoes are baking, put the beans in a large stock pot and cover with water by 2”. Add the garlic, onion, cumin, crushed red pepper and salt and bring to a boil.
6. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 45-60 min, until tender. Drain and set aside.
7. In the meantime, put the millet in a large pot with 4 cups of salted water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover and simmer over low for 40/45 min until the water is absorbed. Set aside.
8. Oil a large casserole dish and spread the millet over the bottom. Spread the black beans over that, and then spread the layer of sweet potatoes.
9. Bake for 45 minutes. Remove and let cool a bit before serving. Serve slices of the casserole over steamed kale.


Nutritional information: Makes 6 servings. Per serving: 225 calories; 6.6 grams protein; 47 grams carbohydrate; 1.6 grams fat; 0 grams saturated fat; 8.4 grams fiber; 310 milligrams sodium 

Mineral Magic: Presenting Magnesium

From Healthline  |  10 Evidence-Based Health Benefits of Magnesium

Excerpt: "Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in the human body. From boosting exercise performance, fighting depression and lowering blood pressure to reducing inflammation and more, magnesium plays many important roles in the health of your body and brain. It is actually involved in more than 600 reactions in your body, including protein formation, gene maintenance, muscle movements and nervous system regulation. Top sources of magnesium include pumpkin seeds, boiled spinach, boiled Swiss chard, dark chocolate, black beans and cooked quinoa."

For the complete article, click here.


Could Eating Spicy Food Help You Live Longer?

From CBS News |  By Ashley Welch

 "A study by an international team of researchers led by the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences found that regular consumption of spicy food is associated with a lower risk of death.

...Though more data is needed to confirm the findings, previous research has suggested that spices and their bioactive ingredient, capsaicin, have anti-obesity, antioxidant, anti-inflammation and anti-cancer properties."

For the complete article, click here.


Paula Recommends ...Roasted Butternut Squash w/ Apple & Pomegranate

It is squash and apple season and what better way to enjoy them both than with this dish which is filled with antioxidants, vitamins and tons of flavor--a perfect fall side dish.  - Paula Meyer, Mission Training Center Nutritionist 

1 medium butternut squash, about 2 lbs, peeled and diced
1 medium onion, diced about the same size as the squash
1 medium apple, diced about the same size as the squash; any variety will do
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 ½ teaspoons herbs de provence
½ pomegranate or about ¾ cup if you are buying seeds pre-packaged

*See below for how to easily separate pomegranate seeds from the skin

1. Peel and dice squash. You can also buy pre-packaged if no time/desire to chop
2. Peel and dice onion
3. Dice apple with peel intact
4. Combine squash and onion in bowl and toss with olive oil
5. Line sheet pan with foil or parchment paper (easier cleanup) and spread vegetables in one layer for best results.
6. Sprinkle herbs de provence over mixture. Salt to taste
7. Bake at 400 to 45o degrees F (depending on your particular oven) for about 15 minutes
8. Add apple after 15 minutes
9. Continue to bake until squash and apple are tender when poked with a fork.
10. When done, add pomegranate seeds and serve.

Nutritional information: Makes about six servings. Per serving: 110 calories; 27 grams carbohydrate; 1.5 grams fat; 3 grams fiber; 2 grams protein. 


 *To easily remove pomegranate seeds from skin with no mess, fill a bowl with cool water and immerse half pomegranate under water, seed side pointed toward bottom of bowl; gently bend peel back and release seeds into the water. Seeds will fall to bottom, pith will rise to top and you will have beautiful seeds with no mess in only a few minutes. 

Foods That Fight Inflammation

From Harvard Health Publishing  |  Harvard Medical School

Excerpt: "Your immune system becomes activated when your body recognizes anything that is foreign—such as an invading microbe, plant pollen, or chemical. This often triggers a process called inflammation. Intermittent bouts of inflammation directed at truly threatening invaders protect your health.

However, sometimes inflammation persists, day in and day out, even when you are not threatened by a foreign invader. That's when inflammation can become your enemy. Many major diseases that plague us—including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, depression, and Alzheimer's—have been linked to chronic inflammation.

One of the most powerful tools to combat inflammation comes not from the pharmacy, but from the grocery store. ...Choose the right foods, and you may be able to reduce your risk of illness. Consistently pick the wrong ones, and you could accelerate the inflammatory disease process."

For the complete article, click here.

Paula Recommends ...Zucchini and Summer Squash with Lemon Cilantro Pesto

Nothing says summer like zucchini and yellow squash ...full of fiber, vitamin C, and the phytochemicals that plants provide in abundance. Paired with lemon cilantro pesto, this delicious recipe can be a side or a main dish. We added a bit of shaved parmesan and the result was molte bene!  - Paula Meyer, Mission Training Center Nutritionist 

2 medium zucchini (about 8” each)
1 medium yellow summer squash (about 8”)
1  and 1/2 cups fresh cilantro
1 garlic clove, peeled
3 Tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon pine nuts, toasted
1 and ½ Tablespoons lemon juice
3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon sea salt


Preparing the Pesto
1. Place all ingredients except 1 teaspoon of pine nuts in food processor until combined
2.Transfer to a medium bowl and set aside to allow flavors to blend

Preparing the Squash
1. Slice zucchini and summer squash in half lengthwise and scoop out and discard seeds.
2. Julienne the remaining squash.
3. Place a steamer rack into a medium size pot, add enough water to cover bottom of pot by 1 inch and bring to a boil.
4. Place all squash on steamer, cover and cook 3 minutes or until squash is just tender.
5. Remove from heat, transfer squash to bowl with pesto and toss to combine.
6. Top with remaining teaspoon of tasted pine nuts and serve.

Note: Squash can also be spiralized and blanched for 30 seconds in boiling water.

Nutritional information: Makes about four servings. Per serving: 150 calories; 2.5 grams protein; 14 grams fat; 1.7 grams saturated fat; 42 mg sodium; 2 grams fiber; 6.8 grams carbohydrate


Why Dried Beans Are Better Than Canned

From  |  by Jennifer Pantin

Excerpt: "Beans are one of the healthiest things you can eat. But canned beans may not be as healthy as you think.

Try this on for size: a standard, 3 1/2 ounce serving of boiled red kidney beans has only 2 milligrams of sodium. The same serving of canned red kidney beans has 231 milligrams of sodium — that’s almost 10% of your recommended daily sodium intake. There are other “fun” ingredients found in canned beans as well, such as calcium chloride, animal fats and sugars, which can alter beans’ nutritional value and drive calories up.

The simple alternative is to buy dried beans and soak them."

For the complete article, including tips for preparing dried beans, click here.

Paula Recommends ...Cucumber Dill Dressing

Dill is rich in antioxidants, vitamins like niacin, pyridoxine and dietary fibers, which help control blood cholesterol levels. Fresh dill is an excellent source of antioxidant vitamin C as well. Vitamin C helps the human body develop resistance to infectious agents and it scavenges harmful, pro-inflammatory free radicals. Dill is also a good source of body-healing minerals such as copper, potassium, calcium, manganese, iron and magnesium. - Paula Meyer, Mission Training Center Nutritionist 

1 cup sliced, seedless cucumber (peel if desired)
16 oz container non-fat, plain yogurt
2 Tablespoons canola oil
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
Pinch of ground cumin
2 Tablespoons fresh dill leaves
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1. In a blender, puree cucumber, yogurt, canola oil, feta cheese, cumin, dill, pepper and salt
2. Toss with greens
3. Serve and enjoy

Advance prep note: Refrigerated, dressing will last up to one week.

Nutritional information: Makes 12 servings (2 Tablespoons each). Per serving: 38 calories; 3 grams fat; 1 gram saturated fat; 1 gram carbohydrate; 1 gram protein; 45 mg sodium. 

Paula Recommends ...No Bake Five-Ingredient Granola Bars

Peanut butter and honey complement each other perfectly in this ideal portable breakfast or snack.  - Paula Meyer, Mission Training Center Nutritionist 

1 cup packed dates, pitted  (deglet nour or medijool)
1/4 cup honey (maple syrup or agave for vegan option)
1/4 cup creamy, salted natural peanut butter or almond butter
1 cup roasted, unsalted almonds, loosely chopped
1 & 1/2 cups rolled oats (gluten free for GF eaters)

1. Process dates in a food processor until small bits remain (about 1 minute). It should be a dough-like consistency and form a ball. (You may need to lightly moisten dates so they form a ball.)
2. Optional step: Toast your oats in a 350-degree oven for 15 minutes or until slightly golden brown - recommended.
3. Places oats, almonds and dates in a large mixing bowl. Set aside.
4. Warm honey and peanut butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir and pour over oat mixture then mix, breaking up the dates to disperse throughout.
5. Once thoroughly mixed, transfer to an 8 x 8 inch baking dish or other small pan lined with plastic wrap or parchment paper so bars lift out easily.
6. Press down firmly until uniformly flattened. Use something flat such as a drinking glass to press down or roll to really pack the bars, which helps them hold together better.
7. Cover with parchment or plastic wrap and put them in the fridge or freezer to firm up (15 to 20 minutes).
8. Remove bars from pan and chop into 16 squares. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer.


Nutritional info: Serving size-one bar: 77 calories, 3.8 g total fat (0.5 g saturated fat), 8.6 g carbohydrate, 2.3 g protein, 1.3 g dietary fiber, 10 mg sodium