Wednesday, August 7, 2013



“It is extraordinarily difficult to fight the headwinds of our society that has promoted obesity in our children.  We have a lot to do to truly tackle this epidemic.”  
                                   --Lawrence J. Cheskin, M.D., F.A.C.P.

Here are some questions to ask yourself:  Where do I buy food?  How much of my weekly food expenses are spent on vegetables, fruits, and whole grains?  How much am I spending on prepared foods that come in boxes?  Is my child getting a healthy meal at school?  How many hours of “screen time” is my child having on average every day?  How often do my child and I exercise together?

We’ve all heard this phrase:  “It takes a village to raise a child.”  I like to say, “It takes an educated village to raise a healthy child.”  Children deserve access to foods that will help them maintain healthy weights.  Children deserve to be surrounded by informed adults who will provide guidance and love to help shape children and youth into healthy and happy adults. 

Improving health literacy of adults is a big part of what we are doing in the Growing Healthy Kids movement to reduce, halt, and prevent childhood obesity.  As Dr. Cheskin said, we have a lot to do to tackle the childhood obesity epidemic in light of all the added sugar, fats, and salts found in packaged foods and the pharmaceutical industry looking to profit from overweight and obese adults and kids who develop high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes as a result. Here are three habits which can position your family for better health:

HABIT ONE.  Keep a log for 3 days of how much time your child – and you - are spending on “screen time” a day.   Include TV time, computer time, and texting time.  Use the logs to determine if your child is spending too much time watching TV and playing computer games and not enough time outside playing.  How much screen time is too much for children?  Current recommendations from American Academy of Pediatrics are to limit screen time to no more than 1 to 2 hours of quality programming a day. By comparison, a 1999 study found that children spent an average of 6 hours and 32 minutes a day in front of a screen. Click here to read the full statement from American Academy of Pediatrics.

HABIT TWO.  Rate your plate.  Half of your dinner plate should be veggies.  To be able to have fresh vegetables every week, find out what is in season and what your local farmers are growing.  Veggies at the height of their growing season can be bought for the best price.  Click here to find a local farmer near you.

HABIT THREE.  Cut your sugar consumption in half.  Sugar contains what we call “empty calories” – calories with no nutritional value.  Start with sodas and fruit juice.  At the Growing Healthy Kids program, we teach kids two rules:  “Drink water not soda” and “Eat fresh fruit.”  Soda is loaded with sugar.  Become a nutrition detective:  divide the grams of sugar per serving by 4.  The result is the number of teaspoons of sugar one serving contains.  A typical carton of flavored milk served in public schools contains about 7 added teaspoons of sugar.  Start the new school year off right and find out what your kids will be drinking at school by scheduling to have lunch with them at least once a month. 

Kids love to grate the zucchini and carrots!

Zucchini patties with fresh cilatro

As promised to our readers several weeks ago, here is the debut of our newest addition to the Growing Healthy Kids Recipe Collection, featuring zucchini, a great vegetable that is abundant this time of year and easy on the family food budget. These store well for a day or two and make a great healthy lunchbox item!

GROWING HEALTHY KIDS:  Our Recipe Collection

Zucchini Patties

  • ·  2 cups grated zucchini (about 1 large or 2 medium)
  • ·  ½ cup onion, shredded
  • ·  1 small carrot, grated finely
  • ·  1/2 cup potato flour (I like Bob's Red Mill brand)
  • ·  1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ·  ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ·  ½ teaspoon pepper
  • ·  1 teaspoon Italian seasoning (optional)
  • ·  1/3 cup Braggs Nutritional Yeast (or substitute grated Parmesan cheese) (optional)

IN ANOTHER BOWL, whip until they “hold a peak”:
  • ·  2 egg whites

FOLD egg whites into zucchini mixture and gently mix well. 

Add a little more flour if mixture is too wet.

MIX in a shallow plate or small bowl:
  • ·  1 cup panko bread crumbs
  • ·  2 Tablespoons smoked paprika

USING a measuring cup (1/4 cup), scoop batter and roll into balls.  Roll lightly in panko and flatten to about ½ inch.  
Fry on griddle, using spray oil.  Patties should be about 3” in diameter. 
COOK for about 5 minutes, then flip and cook about 3 more 

SERVE with a spoon of fat-free sour cream, salsa, and 
chopped cilantro or flat leaf parsley.  

Hope you enjoy putting these 3 habits to work for your family’s health.  Enjoy the remaining few days and weeks of summer vacation before the kids return to school!  

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