Wednesday, December 6, 2017

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: The Perfect Comfort Food

"Soup puts the heart at ease, calms down the violence of hunger, eliminates the tension of the day, and awakens and refines the appetite."  
                                                                                                  --Auguste Escoffier

I love it when my mother says, “I made a pot of minestrone soup today.”  Soup is the ultimate comfort food and minestrone, with its delicious blend of vegetables and beans and flavors, always make you feel like you are home. 

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Look no further than the vegetable drawer in your fridge and your spice rack to create a filling meal and wonderful memories.  Let your kids grate the carrots and chop the celery.  Add zucchini, green beans, or spinach, depending on what you have on hand.  Use cannellini or kidney beans, depending on your preference  Add a handful of your kids’ favorite whole grain pasta and you’ve got soup for the family!

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GROWING HEALTHY KIDS:  Our Recipe Collection

 Minestrone Soup

  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • ¾ cup white onion, diced
  • ¾ cup carrots, diced or shredded
  • ¾ cup celery, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 2 cups cabbage, shredded
  • 1 medium Yukon gold potato, diced
  • 1 medium zucchini, sliced
  • 1 28-ounce can fire roasted crushed tomatoes
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 15-ounce can cannellini beans, drained
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

  • Saute onions, carrots, and celery in olive oil.  Cook about 6-7 minutes.  Add garlic and cook another minute.
  • Add herbs, potato, vegetables, crushed tomatoes, and broth.  Cook about 20 minutes.
  • Add beans and parsley.  Season with salt and pepper.  Remove bay leaf.  Cook about 5 minutes and serve. 

Make some cornbread muffins* or serve with sour dough bread if you live near a great bakery!

Preventing diabetes never tasted so good! 

With love and gratitude,
Nancy L Heinrich, MPH

Founder, Growing Healthy Kids, Inc. 

*For the Perfect Vegan Cornbread recipe, go to or click here.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: November is American Diabetes Month

At the conclusion of a ‘Healthy Cooking and Healthy Diabetes’ class at a senior center, I served the grilled pepper and mushroom quesadillas I prepared to illustrate the lesson about dietary fiber.  After everyone finished eating, one woman lingered.  She approached me and said she wanted to thank me for the class lesson.  Her husband was several steps behind her.  She gave me a hug and quietly whispered in my ear so her husband could not hear, “You are the answer to my prayers.  My husband has diabetes and I’ve been so worried about him.  You have just taught me how I can help him.  Thank you.”
     --excerpt from Healthy Living with Diabetes: One Small Step at a Time by Nancy Heinrich

Teaching adults how to control and reverse diabetes is very important to me. Teaching kids and parents how to prevent diabetes matters even more because one in six kids in America is obese.

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November is American Diabetes Month and an opportunity to talk about what diabetes is (too much sugar in the blood), why people get it (not enough exercise, not eating enough dietary fiber, being overweight or obese, eating too much sugar and too many processed foods, and eating too much foods) and how to prevent it (eat more fiber, eat mainly fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes, and exercise every day). 

People with diabetes are told by their doctors, “Take a pill.”  What about the kids being diagnosed with diabetes because they have been raised on a steady diet of Honey Buns, Pop Tarts, Lunchables, and Coca Cola and now are overweight?  Do we really want to put kids who are obese on diabetes medications where the main side effect is weight gain?  Or should we learn how to give our kids real food instead of highly processed food?  

For kids at risk of diabetes because of poor eating habits, it is essential that parents increase their awareness of why it is important to prevent diabetes.  When kids develop type 2 diabetes, they are at risk of developing complications such as neuropathy, eye problems including blindness, kidney problems, a 2-4 times increased risk for heart attack or stroke, amputations, and sexual problems.  When a teenager is diagnosed with diabetes, they can expect to have about a shorter lifespan than expected if they did not have diabetes by at least 15 years. 

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Preventing diabetes is a much bigger bang for the buck than treating diabetes.  How much does it does to amputate a foot?  A lot more than the cost of an organic apple.  

Kids needs fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes.  Real food.  

Soda and honey buns are not real food.  Apples are.

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American Diabetes Month is about raising our awareness of what diabetes is, what the complications of diabetes are, and why we need to be hypervigilant about preventing obesity and diabetes in America's children. 

Here are 6 Healthy Eating Tips for Kids (and anyone else who does not want to get diabetes): 
  1. Drink water, not soda.
  2. Eat fruit instead of drinking fruit juice.
  3. Keep a bowl of fresh fruit on the kitchen table for afternoon snacks. 
  4. Eat breads and pasta that meet “The Nancy Rule” (first ingredient includes the word “whole” and bread or pasta has 4 or grams of dietary fiber/serving).
  5. Stop buying foods and drinks with high fructose corn syrup.
  6. Make at least half of the grains you eat whole grains.  “Enriched wheat” is not a whole grain. 

Please pass the whole grain tortillas.

With love and gratitude,
Nancy L Heinrich, MPH

Founder, Growing Healthy Kids, Inc. 

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: Are Your Kids at Risk for Diabetes?

“These chronic diseases are the cash cow of the pharmaceutical industry.”  
                                                            --Michael Gregor, MD, author of How Not To Die

Fresh cranberries:  1/2 cup has 30 calories and 2 grams of fiber.

Most Americans, including children, consume too few fruits and vegetables.  A poor diet (eating too few vegetables, fruits, beans and whole grains and too many foods high in sugar, fat, salt and foods from animals) is linked to obesity, diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers.  

Public health officials endorse eating a diet full of fruits and vegetables.  Yet, study data just released this week from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2015 Behavior Risk Factor Surveillance System revealed that only 1 in 10 Americans is eating enough fruits and vegetables.  “The study confirms years of data demonstrating that Americans do not eat their veggies,” said Marian Nestle, professor of nutrition and food studies at New York University in a recent interview to The Guardian.

The study found that only 12% of Americans meet the daily fruit recommendation (1-1/2 to 2 cups/day) and only 9% meet the daily vegetable recommendation (2-3 cups/day).  Men, young adults and people living in poverty all had especially low rates of fruit and vegetable intake. 

Pumpkins are high in fiber and beta-carotene.
One principle taught in every Growing Healthy Kids workshop is, “Eat Rainbows,” by eating fruits and vegetables that are the colors of the rainbow.   We bring blueberries, bananas, kale, kiwi, cucumbers, strawberries, and blenders to teach people how to make delicious healthy shakes and jumpstart their day with fruits and vegetables.  

Replace fruit juice with fresh or frozen fruit.  When you make this one simple change with your kids, you are reducing their sugar consumption and increasing their fiber consumption.  Fiber is found only in foods in plant foods, like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes.     

The author's healthy breakfast shake

One of my healthy habits is to eat most of my day's fruit in my breakfast shake and then eat a big green salad for lunch.  Pictured above is my typical breakfast shake containing blueberries, bananas, pomegranates, cucumber, chia seeds, ground flax seeds, matcha, ceylon cinnamon, and almond butter.  

Most days, I have consumed 2 cups of fruit and 3 cups of vegetables by 1:00 PM.   How easy is that?

Lunch:  green salad with locally grown
red romaine lettuce from Osceola Organic Farm

Eating enough fruits and vegetables is key to getting enough dietary fiber, staying at a healthy weight, not developing diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers.  Fruits like blueberries are high in antioxidants and help detox the body and prevent memory disorders.  Vegetables, whether kale, sweet potatoes, or broccoli, contain vitamins and minerals that strengthen our bones and create strong bodies. 

Here are my Top 7 Tips to protect kids from developing diabetes: 
  1. Make seasonal fruits and vegetables the centerpiece of your meals and at least half of what you eat every day.
  2. Choose locally grown seasonal fruits and vegetables, when available. 
  3. Eat rainbows.
  4. Choose organic, non-GMO foods whenever possible.
  5. Eat whole grains and legumes like farro, barley, oats, quinoa, lentils, and beans every day.  
  6. Be physically active every day.
  7. Set limits for screen time.
Remember to support your local farmers. 

With love and gratitude,
Nancy L Heinrich, MPH

Founder, Growing Healthy Kids, Inc.