Wednesday, April 3, 2013



When I hear a parent say, “I can’t afford to feed my kids healthy foods,” my response is, “Spent an hour shopping and cooking with me.”  Due to the increase in situational poverty, where people are losing their jobs and being forced onto food stamps and their kids onto free and reduced school meal programs, more and more kids are eating cheap calories and processed food.  Pop tarts and honey buns are what I call "weak foods" that are wreaking havoc on the health of America’s children.  The result of eating processed food such as pop tarts and $1 McDonalds menu items is that children are living sicker and dying younger.  Hunger and obesity are directly related.  We are not supposed to be diagnosing type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure in 12 year olds, but it is happening.  Just ask your pediatrician.

To raise awareness about eating healthy foods, one of Growing Healthy Kids' core education programs is our GIANT SALAD PARTY.  Yesterday the party was at the Fellsmere location of Indian River County Boys and Girls Clubs. After meeting Ms. Keisha Rainey last year during The Art of Healthy Eating for Growing Healthy Kids poster contest, she invited us to throw a GIANT SALAD PARTY for some of the child she and other staff provide afterschool services to.  The typical snack given to these children is free food from the local school district.  The free food consists of processed foods high in white sugars and white flours.  Staff has said the club cannot afford to provide healthy snacks, such as fresh fruit and veggies.  I hold a different opinion. I believe they can afford to provide healthy snacks for the children - it just hasn't been their priority...yet.  


Ms. Keisha Rainey (in orange shirt) and Ms. Mayra (on the left)
served the children a delicious afterschool snack!

Our young chefs for the day loved learning how to make the simple vinaigrette dressing!

At yesterday’s GIANT SALAD PARTY, the kids loved the food, especially some of their favorite items:  chopped apples, whole grain pasta (I used the Dreamfields brand), and sunflower seeds.  It was a wonderful scene to see 24 beautiful 6 year olds all eating fruit and veggies for their afterschool snack.  

In addition to learning some basic kitchen skills, the children learned to make a simple vinaigrette dressing.  They are now empowered to be catalysts for starting new family traditions with their own salad parties.  I can just hear it now, all across America:  “Mom, please don’t buy those pop tarts.  I’ll make a simple vinaigrette dressing and we can have a salad party instead!”  We can all learn the same lessons that the 6 year olds learned yesterday:  to be smart, healthy, and strong, you need to eat rainbows and other healthy foods.

Here is the recipe for you to try with your own family:

GROWING HEALTHY KIDS:  Simple Vinaigrette
(French Dressing)

   MIX together in a bowl:
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar or balsamic vinegar (the kids used apple cider vinegar)
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • ¼ teaspoon dry mustard or 1 teaspoon prepared Dijon mustard
  • sea salt
  • fresh ground pepper
BEAT  in gradually with a whisk or a fork until the mixture emulsifies:
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil    

If you live in the Vero Beach area, please join me the evening of April 25 for A Place at the Table at The Majestic Theatre, followed by a community discussion.  This film is by the same producers of Food, Inc. To see a preview of the movie, click here:  

Be part of the solution.  Help us ensure that all kids (and parents) have access to healthy food. 

A special thank you to Kevin O'Dare of Osceola Organic Farm for providing the fresh salad greens, tomatoes, and green peppers for yesterday's party!  

In gratitude,
Nancy Heinrich
Founder, Growing Healthy Kids