Wednesday, September 13, 2017


"We are all farmers tending a little part of the Lord's vineyard."  
                                                                       --Sheri L. Drew

Visiting farmers markets when I travel gives me great joy.  The Saturday morning market in New Albany, Indiana is one of my favorites.   In the heart of downtown New Albany, it is a wonderful open-air market.  Amish farmers come with their organically grown cucumbers and beans.  Farmers growing hydroponic vegetables sell beautiful basil and dark Romaine lettuce.  Local bakers bring their finest pies made with ingredients such as locally grown strawberries and rhubarb.  Pure heaven!

On a recent visit to the New Albany Farmers Market, I bought some honey from local beekeepers Mike and Paula Whisman to use in several recipes, such as my favorite vinaigrette that I make every week.  Honey from bees close to where you live can provide relief if you have allergies; I forget where I picked up this little tidbit of information but I swear by it. 

Honey from Mike and Paula Whisman at the New Albany Farmers Market in Indiana.  

Honey is a key ingredients in my favorite, simple vinaigrette dressing for green salads.  I make a small container of this dressing fresh every morning when I am lucky enough to take a salad for lunch at work.  It is always delicious! 

Growing Healthy Kids:  Our Recipe Collection
The Best Vinaigrette Dressing!

MIX together in a small glass or plastic container:
  • 3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil
  • 2 Tablespoons of your favorite vinegar* 
  • 1 teaspoon local honey
  • Pink Himalayan sea salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

COVER and shake vigorously.
SERVE with your favorite green or pasta salad.
STORE unused dressing at room temperature for up to 3 days. 

Please pass the sunflower microgreens. 

With love and gratitude,
Nancy L. Heinrich, MPH

Founder, Growing Healthy Kids, Inc. 

*One of my favorite vinegars is Bragg's Organic Apple Cider Vinegar.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month

"If beef is your idea of 'real food for real people', you'd better live real close to a real good hospital." 
 --Dr. Neal D. Barnard, M.D., President, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (

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Teaching kids to eat better is one of the core competencies of Growing Healthy Kids, Inc., a charitable organization based in Vero Beach, FL.  The goal of Growing Healthy Kids is to teach kids, educate parents and empower communities to prevent obesity-related diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and certain cancers.   About 1 in 6 (17%) children in the United States has obesity and more than one-third of American adults (36.5%) have obesity.  Obesity is serious and costly.  When kids are overweight and obese, they are more likely to be obese as adults. 

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Sweet potato fries are easy to make and kids love them.
September is designated as National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month.  Consider how to best protect the health – and lives – of  your children. As a parent, knowing the consequences of childhood obesity can help you can make better choices for your familyHere is what you need to know:
  • Children with obesity are at higher risk for having other chronic health conditions and diseases, such as asthma, sleep apnea, bone and joint problems, and type 2 diabetes. They also have more risk factors for heart disease like high blood pressure and high cholesterol than their normal weight peers.
  • Children with obesity can be bullied and teased more than their normal weight peers. They are also more likely to suffer from social isolation, depression, and lower self-esteem.
  • Children with obesity are more likely to have obesity as adults. This can lead to lifelong physical and mental health problems. Adult obesity is associated with a higher risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and many types of cancers.
  • Children who are obese as teens are likely to live 17-20 less years than children who are at a healthy weight.

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, many factors can have an impact on childhood obesity, including what kids eat, physical activity behaviors, genetics, metabolism, family and home environment, and community and social factors. For some children and families, obesity may be influenced by the following:
·         too much time spent being inactive
·         lack of sleep
·         lack of places to go in the community to get physical activity
·         easy access to inexpensive, high calorie foods and sugary beverages
·         lack of access to affordable, healthier foods

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Nuts and dried fruits, in moderation, make healthy snacks.
Many people tell me they can’t afford to feed their kids healthy foods so they keep buying cheap, highly processed foods, sodas, and fast foods filled with the bad carbs, added sugars and salt.  
The fact is there are many things you can do to help your children maintain -  and get to - a healthy weight.  Here are a few ideas:

  • Make water and nut milks the primary drinks at your house.  Limit fruit juice (no dietary fiber, all sugar).  When babies stop nursing, they don’t need cow’s milk.  Milk from cows is for baby cows, not human babies.
  • Provide fruits, vegetables, and nuts for healthy snacks.
  • If you have a local farmers markets, take your kids shopping there.  Talk with local farmers.  Buy cool vegetables like acorn squash, jicama, and sweet potatoes and learn how to cook them. 
  • Plan meals that are mainly fruits, vegetables, legumes (like beans and lentils), and whole grains. A whole-food plant-based way of eating is good for you AND good for the planet.  
  • Reduce consumption of animal products, which contain saturated fats (the “bad” fats), especially fried, smoked, and aged foods.  There is plenty of protein in plant foods. 
  • If your child’s school does not provide physical education every day, start a conversation with the principal to change it.  Make sure your kids are active for at least an hour every day.  When I was growing up, we played outside until it was dark and our parents had to drag us inside.  Play should be fun.  Playing on a computer is not the same as playing outside.
  • Limit screen time to no more than 1 hour a day for kids ages 2-5.  Limit screen time for kids older than age 5. 
  • Most importantly, be a great role model for your kids.  Kids look up to us, especially when they think we’re not looking.  If you’ve always got your hand in a bag of potato chips, kids think it is fine for them to do the same.

Please pass the jicama*.
With love and gratitude,
Nancy L. Heinrich, MPH
Founder, Growing Healthy Kids, Inc. 

*Jicama is a crunchy tuber that tastes like an apple.  It is great for people with diabetes and prediabetes.  For a delicious snack, use it as a dip for hummus.  

Wednesday, August 30, 2017


“If we avoided animal protein and instead increased consumption of fruits and veggies, we could substantially prevent and treat most of the type 2 diabetes we encounter.  This may be in part due to the high fiber in the plants, but it is also due to the reduction in inflammation by avoiding animal protein and fat.” 
                                                               – Garth Davis, MD, author of Proteinaholic (2015)

From the author's recent trip to the New Albany, Indiana Farmers Market

Can you imagine taking 18 medications every day for your diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol but not having enough money for fruits and vegetables? One of the advisors to Growing Healthy Kids asked if I could teach a friend of hers (the person described above).  I said yes and offered to start a conversation about food choices and eating foods full of dietary fiber that can put people on a different path.  

It blows my mind how people accept more and more pills from their doctor and never ask, “What else can I do besides take more pills?” The fact is that most doctors only receive about an hour of nutrition education in medical school.  Instead of being trained how to prevent diseases, they are trained in depth on how to prescribe medications for diseases.

The number of Americans with diabetes (30.3 million or 9.4% of the population) and prediabetes (84 million or 33.9% of Americans age 18 and older) is staggering.  What Americans are spending on diabetes ($245 billion estimated for direct and indirect costs) is even more staggering.  Medications for diabetes are 18% of the total cost.  The cost ($245 billion in 2012) is 41% higher than for the previous 5 years ($170 billion in 2007).  Pharmaceutical companies are profiting so much from people who have diabetes; do you really think they want people to know there is a way to reverse diabetes? 

Thanks to doctors like Garth Davis, MD (author of Proteinaholic), Neal Barnard, MD (founder of Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine), and Joel Fuhrman, MD (author of The End of Diabetes), there is irrefutable evidence that when people eat primarily plant-based foods (fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains), not only do can they control diabetes, high blood pressure, and cholesterol but they can often reverse these diseases and conditions without the use of pills.  

If this article resonates with you and you are ready to take the first step towards better health, especially if you have diabetes or prediabetes, then start by reducing your consumption of meat and animal products (cheese, yogurt, milk, ice-cream).  All foods that come from animals contain saturated fats.  Saturated fat causes inflammation. Do not be afraid of not getting enough protein; most Americans consume too much protein. There is more than enough protein when you eat plants. What do you think cows eat?  The question you should be asking yourself is, "Am I getting enough fiber?" instead of "Am I getting enough protein?"

Pills vs Food?  Pharmacy vs Farmacy?  The choice is clear to me.  Hippocrates said it best:  “Let food be thy medicine.”

Please pass the butternut squash. 

With love and gratitude,
Nancy L. Heinrich, MPH

Founder, Growing Healthy Kids, Inc.