Wednesday, January 4, 2017

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: Planting Seeds

"Write it on your heart that every day is the best day of the year."  
                                                   --Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Every year is a fresh beginning.  For those already on a healthy path, each new year is an opportunity to keep improving our focus on what is important.  Each day is the gift of life! 

New Year’s resolutions often involve eating less, eating better, and exercising more.  This year, Wellness Wednesdays will bring you inspirations, tips, resources, and recipes to help you make this year your best year. As parents, we have a responsibility to give our children the best possible life.  Growing Healthy Kids is taking you along on our adventures to meet farmers and chefs PLUS our adventures with wonderful children.  We promise to inspire you to prepare your own delicious, healthy, and economical meals for your own family.  

We are planting seeds and growing healthy kids.  The team at Growing Healthy Kids remains 100% committed to our mission to prevent, halt, and reduce childhood obesity and obesity-related diseases.   All children deserve access to healthy foods and outdoor playtime. Watch us grow!  

When children know where food comes from, they learn to respect what they eat and make better choices.  When parents understand why children need access to foods that are organic and chemical-free that do not contain added and processed sugars, they change their shopping habits. 

People often tell me they think it is expensive to eat healthy foods.  Having cancer, diabetes, alzheimer's or a stroke is a lot more expensive.   Choose to eat the best foods you can afford to buy.  Seek out your local farmers and buy locally grown foods.  Your children will thank you in 20 years.

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Here is a recipe for Veggie Tots I have adapted from a recipe by Layla Atik in the Jan/Feb 2017 issue of RELISH from www.communitytable.com.

GROWING HEALTHY KIDS:  Our Recipe Collection
Veggie Tots

Ingredients

·         1 (12-oz) bag frozen broccoli and cauliflower blend
·         1 egg
·         ¼ cup diced sweet onion
·         ⅓ cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
·         ⅓ cup panko breadcrumbs
·         ⅓ cup dry Italian-style breadcrumbs
·         1 Tablespoon chopped parsley (or substitute dried parsley)
·        1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric (optional)
·         ½ tsp sea salt
·         ½ tsp pepper

Directions

Preheat oven to 400°F. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

1.     Steam vegetables according to package directions. Chop finely, using a potato masher or pulsing in a food processor. In a bowl, mix vegetables with egg, onion, cheese, panko, Italian breadcrumbs, parsley, turmeric, salt and pepper.
2.     Using your hands, make tots using 1 tablespoon mixture for each. Place on pan. Bake 18 to 24 minutes, turning halfway through, until golden brown and crispy.
With love and gratitude,
Nancy L. Heinrich, MPH

Founder, Growing Healthy Kids, Inc.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: Healthy for a Lifetime!

“Everyone should walk the dog twice a day…whether they have one or not.” 
                                                                             --Dr. Kenneth H. Cooper, MD, MPH

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The gift of health is the best gift we can give ourselves and our children.  What does it mean to you to be healthy?

Here are my ten essential elements for good health:
  1. Having family and friends who care about you.
  2. Living in a safe, comfortable home.
  3. Accessing good foods and knowing how to use them wisely.
  4. Spending time in nature and exercising every day.
  5. Loving yourself.
  6. Laughing every day.
  7. Looking for the good in people.
  8. Sharing your gifts to help those less fortunate than you.
  9. Being an honest person.
  10. Getting a good night’s sleep every night.
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Be kind to others.  Seek happiness.  Laugh often. Eat good food.  Repeat daily.  

In gratitude,
Nancy L. Heinrich, MPH

Founder, Growing Healthy Kids, Inc.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: Happy, Healthy Hearts and Minds

"Sugar itself is the culprit in numerous 
health problems."  

       --Dr. Robert Lustig, pediatric endocrinologist at University of California's San Francisco Benioff Children's Hospital

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How much sugar are your children consuming every day?  The answer is simple:  too much.

Most kids are eating and drinking added sugars, beginning before age 2.  The facts are clear: excessive intake of added sugars places children at risk for childhood obesity and other diseases.  
   
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A new study by Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at University of Connecticut* clearly shows that children are eating excess amounts of added sugars as a result of marketing and advertising to both parents and kids.  Added sugars cause inflammation in the body which is the underlying and/or contributing factor for type 2 diabetes, arthritis, and other diseases.  Protecting our children’s physical health is essential. 

According to National Alliance on Mental Illness, 1 in 5 children between the ages of 13 and 18 has a mental illness or will develop one.  This includes illnesses such as depression, anxiety disorders, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), bipolar, and schizophrenia.  Consuming added sugars puts unnecessary and preventable stress on young, developing brains and may be a contributing factor to some of these mental illnesses.  Protecting our children’s mental health is essential. 

Happiness and health are connected. Healthy minds and bodies are connected.  One of the simplest things parents can do is to reduce and eliminate their children’s consumption of added sugars, especially high fructose corn syrup.   Replace fruit juice with fresh fruit as part of a healthy breakfast.  Buy breads that contain 4 or more grams of dietary fiber per serving and where the word “whole” (as in whole grains) is part of the first ingredient ("The Nancy Rule").  Read food labels to identify how many different sugars are included (all ingredients that end in “-ose” are sugars).  If a breakfast cereal contains more than 10 grams of sugar per serving, choose one with less sugar.  Eliminate the use of artificial sweeteners.  Stop buying and drinking sodas – both regular and diet. 
What we buy and feed our children matters.  

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Cheap colorful sugar-filled fruit drinks, snacks, energy drinks and pop tarts are nothing but poison for kids’ bodies and minds.  Take the simple first step and plan meals around vegetables, some fruits, and whole grains and legumes.  Eliminate processed sugars from what you buy.   Become aware of marketing and food industry practices that mislead shoppers into buying foods that do not meet the nutritional needs of their babies, toddlers, and children. 

Making small changes will go a long way towards protecting children’s physical and mental health. Our children's health matters.  

In gratitude,
Nancy L. Heinrich, MPH

Founder, Growing Healthy Kids, Inc.

*To read the full report by UConn's Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, click here.

To watch Dr. Robert Lustig's Sugar: The Bitter Truth presentation on YouTube (with more than 6.8 million views), click here.