Wednesday, June 5, 2013



"Healthy citizens are the greatest asset any country can have."                  -- Winston Churchill

This past week, the Growing Healthy Kids project has been teaching people of influence about healthy foods and fitness (see last week’s column about Instant Recess).  Our goal is simple:  to improve health literacy and prevent obesity-related diseases.   

Starting conversations about our relationship with food and fitness is fundamental to achieving this goal.  In a class last week for staff of a regional local food bank, I instructed a man how to cut tomatoes for the quinoa recipe we were preparing (see below).  I noticed that he was cutting off,and discarding, almost half of each tomato.  While I silently freaked out about how much he was wasting, I interrupted him and matter-of-factly said the tomatoes were hydroponically grown and had been harvested just several hours earlier that afternoon.  I asked him if he had tasted the tomato.  Of course he said no.  So I gave him permission to pop a slice into his mouth.  He did, then exclaimed with joy about how wonderful it tasted!  I simply asked him to respect the work and effort that when into growing the tomatoes I had brought for the dish he was learning to prepare and told him that at my house I am very careful about how I cut the core out of the tomato.  After he tasted this beautiful tomato, he totally changed how he was cutting them.  Health literacy is a beautiful thing!

The lessons I taught to the staff of the regional food bank are the same as those I teach to parents every day and eating good foods to prevent obesity-related diseases.  Getting to a healthy weight is easy when you use these 3 tips every day:

1. Eat less of the bad foods (foods and drinks high in sugar, fats, and salt) and more of the good foods (fresh vegetables, fruits, grains, whole grains, and lean proteins). Choose locally grown foods when available.

2.  Drink enough water.  Cut back on the soda and juice.

3.  Get enough sleep.  Adults need 7-8 hours, kids needs more.  

QUINOA is a great grain for kids!

Speaking of eating more of the good foods, here is my recipe for a simple, delicious, easy-to-make salad.  Quinoa (pronounced “keen-wa”) is the only grain which is a complete protein.  It is easily digestable and high in dietary fiber (yeah!!).

GROWING HEALTHY KIDS:  Our Recipe Collection

Quinoa Salad

  • ·        1 cup quinoa, rinsed
  • ·        2 cups water (or low sodium chicken-broth)
  • ·        1 cup grape tomatoes, cut in half
  • ·        1 medium zucchini, diced
  • ·        ½ red onion, sliced thin
  • ·        Fresh cilantro, parsley, or mint, chopped
  • ·        Salt and pepper to taste
  • ·        Juice of 2 lemons
  • ·        1/3 cup Braggs apple cider vinegar
  • ·        2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Combine quinoa and water in small pot and bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer and cover. Cook about 20 minutes or until liquid has been absorbed. Let cool completely.

In a large mixing bowl, combine cooled quinoa with remaining ingredients. Toss to mix thoroughly.

Serve chilled on a bed of locally grown greens.  This makes a great lunch for kids at school and parents at work!  

To learn how you can support your local food bank, go to click here.

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