Wednesday, October 4, 2017

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: Top 5 Food Groups for Healthy Tummies

"The primary reason diseases tend to run in families may be that diets tend to run in families."  
                            --Michael Gregor, MD, author of How Not to Die: Discover the Foods Scientifically Proven to Prevent and Reverse Disease

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Every time I speak with a parent who tells me their school-age child eats mainly fast foods, sodas, and is on the free and reduced meal program at school, I usually ask, “How often does your child complain of a stomach ache and ask to stay home from school?"  The “How did you know” look in their eyes says it all. 

When kids complain of tummy aches, the cause may be a lack of dietary fiber.  There is no dietary fiber in meat, chicken, cheese, honeybuns, or white bread.  There is no fiber in soda or fruit drinks.  The refined grains found in most breads have been stripped of dietary fiber to increase their shelf life.  Most Americans eat far less than half the dietary fiber they need for their digestive health. The basic rule of thumb is to get 14 grams of fiber per 1,000 calories consumed.School-age kids should be getting at least 28 grams of fiber a day and most adults should be aiming for about up to 40 grams a day.  As you begin to eat more foods containing fiber, it is important to drink more water.  

If kids are not getting enough fiber (found in fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains), they are at risk for: (1) eating more calories than needed and may be on their way to an unhealthy weight, (2) getting backed up in their digestive system, as evidenced by having bowel movements less than once a day, and (3) experiencing stomach pain due to constipation from eating highly processed foods, too much sugar, and not enough whole grain plant foods.

The fact is there is no fiber in ANY foods that come from animals.  Fiber is ONLY found in plant foods.  Fiber is what fills us up so we feel satiated and stop eating.  There is no fiber in a McDonald’s hamburger bun or in the meat between the bun.  There IS fiber in lentils, carrots, broccoli, and pineapple. 

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Here is my list of Top 5 Food Groups for Healthy Tummies:
1.   Whole grains such as oats and quinoa.  Use “The Nancy Rule” for buying breads and pastas: (1) select items with 4 or more grams of dietary fiber per slice or per serving and (2) the first ingredient includes the word “whole” as in “whole wheat flour”.   
2.   Vegetables such as spinach, kale, carrots, Brussels sprouts, and butternut squash.
3.   Fruits such as pineapple, organic apples, blueberries, oranges and strawberries.  
4.   Fermented foods and beverages such as pickles, sauerkraut, tempeh, kimchee, and kombucha. 
5.   Legumes such as lentils, split peas, pinto and black beans.  

The next time someone says their child has a tummy ache or has bowel movements only once or twice a week, please share this article with them.  This is educational information and is not a substitute for medical advice.  NOTE:  If your child has ongoing stomach issues, complaints of stomach pain, and/or less than daily bowel movements, consult your pediatrician.  

Eat mainly fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes.  

Please pass the pineapple.

With love and gratitude,
Nancy L. Heinrich, MPH
Founder, Growing Healthy Kids, Inc.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: Fruits and Vegetables - More Matters Month

"We are not taught about the power of food in medical school." 
        -- Michelle McMacken, MD, Assistant Profession of Medicine,                    NYU Medical School

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Apples, bananas, and tomatoes.  Kale, spinach, and squash.  What are YOUR favorite fruits and vegetables?  Last week I wrote about making apple sandwiches with Ellie.  Fall is a wonderful time of year to incorporate freshly picked apples into your favorite dishes.  Making food fun -- and making fun food  --  with kids is something we do in the Growing Healthy Kids Test Kitchen and in our healthy cooking classes. 

What fruits and vegetables are being harvested where you live?  For the healthiest way to eat, plan meals around what is in season (and whenever possible is locally grown).   Plant foods have the most nutrients when they are freshly picked;  every day that passes, they contain less nutrients.  Look for farmers near you who are growing organically (chemical-free).  Buying frozen vegetables and fruits is the next best choice because they are frozen immediately after being harvested, which ensures optimal nutrition. 

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My recipe for Mango Chutney (see below) is one that kids love to make and eat because everyone loves the natural sweetness of fresh mangoes! Teaching kids how to blend the flavors of seasonal fruits and vegetables to make chutneys and salsas is a great lesson in the art of healthy eating for Growing Healthy Kids!

GROWING HEALTHY KIDS:  Our Recipe Collection


·        1 teaspoon organic cumin
·        3 jalapenos, seeded and minced (substitute green peppers if kids will be eating the chutney) 
     1 clove garlic, minced
·        3 apricots, diced  
     1-2 teaspoons coconut sugar
·        1 large mango, peeled, seeded, and diced
·        ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
·        2 teaspoons lime juice 
     1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
·        1 teaspoon fresh cilantro, finely chopped

Place all ingredients in a medium glass bowl.  
Toss to mix.  
Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or until ingredients are chilled.  
Serve over grilled fish or basmati rice with roasted vegetables.   
Makes about 1 cup.

Please pass your favorite fruit and vegetable! 

With love and gratitude,
Nancy L. Heinrich, MPH

Founder, Growing Healthy Kids, Inc.

PS - September is Fruits & Vegetables - More Matters Month.  For great recipes to make with your kids, click here.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: Making Apple Sandwiches with Ellie

"A healthy diet can help prevent cancer since up to 60% of cancer cases are diet-related."  

I was in Louisville, Kentucky recently visiting family.  My mother and I spent a perfect Sunday afternoon with my nephew, Robbie, his wife, Sara, and their two children, Ellie (5 years old), Max (2-1/2 years old), and Stella the dog. While young Ellie and I watched the sky and the clouds from the hammock and dreamed about life, she agreed to be a Growing Healthy Kids ambassador and we ran into the house to play with food.

Ellie and I headed to the kitchen.  Her mother was cutting up apples.  We got out the nut butter.  We cut one apple into very thin slices and organized them into pairs on the cutting board.  We put a little nut butter on one slice of each pair.  Ellie was in charge of putting the tops on each apple slice with the nut butter.  Then we cut each “sandwich” in half, make small little delicious and crunchy bites and went back outside with a plate of sandwiches for everyone to taste, Stella in tow.  

Apple sandwiches are now a popular afternoon treat at Robbie and Sara's farm. 

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When kids participate in the preparation of foods made with simple ingredients, they become engaged and curious.  Our goal is for kids to connect with the world of healthy foods.  Plan meals around fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes (beans, lentils).  

Keep it simple.  Follow Ellie's formula:  one apple + fresh ground nut butter (with no added sugars salt or fat) + one kid = one growing HEALTHY kid eating apple sandwiches!

Please pass the apples (buy organic apples whenever possible). 

With love and gratitude,
Nancy L. Heinrich, MPH

Founder, Growing Healthy Kids, Inc. 

PS-September is Fruits & Vegetables - More Matters Month.  For information about why eating fruits and vegetables are so important to health and for some great recipes, please click here.