Wednesday, May 15, 2013



“If we cut our skin or break a bone, we take it for granted that the body will heal.  But we can also heal from heart disease, weight problems, and diabetes-yet that will never happen if we do not get away from the foods that are causing the problem and take advantage of foods that heal.”  
                                               -- Neal Barnard, MD                                                                             

Later today I will be giving a talk which I hope will be the first of many talks in my education campaign for parents (for details about today's talk, go to the end of this column).  If we don’t start eating less of the foods that cause disease, as Dr. Barnard suggests, and start eating more of the foods that promote health, then our nationala childhood obesity epidemic will continue to take a great toll.  When kids are diagnosed with obesity, their risk for obesity-related diseases usually diagnosed in older adults will fuel new epidemics of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, sleep disorders, joint problems, and more in younger and younger folks. 

We Americans love to have freedom of choice.  We want to have choices about what we can eat, what doctor we see, and what school our children can attend.  The problem is that we have so many choices, we are killing ourselves with the wrong foods.  So, back to my talk called, “How to Feed Your Kids for LIFE-tips for eating more of the good and less of the bad”.  One food that is causing the problems mentioned by Dr. Barnard is refined sugar, which is why you can be sure that we will be talking about sugar and its impact on kids.  

Did you know there are more than 75 different names for sugar?  The fact is that sugar has no vitamins, no minerals, no protein, no enzymes, and no nutritional value.  It does contain calories.  Sugar is a carbohydrate (the BAD kind) and we are eating way too much of it.  Sugar will kill you, not heal you.  The added sugars in the processed foods we love to choose to eat are making us fat and causing us to develop diabetes, depression, joint diseases, hypoglycemia, and more. 
Serve fresh fruit for a delicious dessert!

Here are 3 simple tips to get you started keeping your kids healthy: 

TIP 1:  If you are a parent and want to put your family on the path for a lifetime of better health free of disease, then start reading food labels to identify how much sugar is in a serving.  

TIP 2 :  Compare labels and choose the food with the lowest amount of sugar. 

TIP 3:  Start reading the ingredients for sugars, starting by learning to spot any ingredients that end in “–ose” and “–tol”.  

Use your parent power and be a role model for eating more of the good foods – and less of the badLet your kids see you reading food labels while you are shopping for foods.  Exercise that great American freedom of choice and choose health!  
School will soon be out and if you and your kids are ready to “play in the dirt” as we like to do in the garden-based Growing Healthy Kids movement, then you’ve got to check out what the Man in Overalls (and cofounder of the Tallahassee Food Network) is doing in Tallahassee, Florida.  Click here.

Next, if you are concerned about what your kids are (or are not) eating at school, or if you have joined your son or daughter for lunch in their school cafeteria and you didn’t like what you saw, then get educated by learning more about the farm to school efforts.  The more you know, the more you will be able to be a voice for improving access to locally grown foods at school.  Lots of good info for parents when you click here:

Life is about enjoying good food, so here is an easy, fast, and inexpensive recipe for all us working parents.  Enjoy making this delicious main dish for a fun, healthy dinner.  Let the kids help with chopping and slicing the greens!

Fast Pasta and Greens

Serves 4-6.


  1. One 10-ounce package whole grain pasta (Growing Healthy Kids’ Seal of Approval goes to the Dreamfields brand)
  2. One 16-ounce jar pasta sauce (our favorite:  whatever’s on sale) 
  3. 1 large bunch kale, roughly chopped, stems removed
  4. 1 zucchini, sliced
  5. 1-3/4 cups sliced mushrooms


Heat a pot of water to boiling.  Add pasta to the water and set a timer for 3 minutes less than the pasta cooking directions recommend.  While the pasta is cooking, heat the pasta sauce in a covered saucepan over medium heat until it just begins to bubble.  Reduce heat to low and simmer gently until ready to use. When the timer goes off, add the kale to the water and cook about 3 more minutes until the kale is tender. 

While everything is cooking, put the zucchini in a nonstick skillet over medium heat and dry fry until just brown, then flip the slices over and brown the other side.  Push the zucchini to the side, then add the mushrooms and stir-fry until soft.  Remove from heat.  When pasta and greens are cooked, drain them and put in a large casserole dish.  Add the hot pasta sauce and stir.  Put mushrooms and zucchini on top and serve. 
Check out the boxes of Dreamfields pasta from a recent Growing Healthy Kids program
at Vero Beach Elementary School.  The kids loved the recipe and the pasta!!

Recipe is from Fork Over Knives: The How-To Companion to the Feature Documentary Forks Over Knives, 2011.

Details:  Today's talk will be at the Vero Beach Main Library on 21st Street, 2nd floor, 3:45 PM sharp! And yes, you will learn a lot of practical tips about how to eat less sugar. 

In gratitude,
Nancy Heinrich, MPH
Growing Healthy Kids, Inc.