Wednesday, August 20, 2014

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: Thank a Farmer, Feed a Child

“Weight sits like a spider at the center of an intricate, tangled web of health and disease.  Three related aspects of weight – how much you weigh in relation to your height, your waist size, and how much weight you gain after your early twenties – strongly influence your chances of having or dying from a heart attack, stroke, or other type of cardiovascular disease; of developing high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes; of being diagnosed with postmenopausal breast cancer or cancer of the endometrium, colon, or kidney; of having arthritis; of being infertile; of developing gallstones; of snoring or suffering from sleep apnea; or of developing adult-onset asthma.”
                                              --Walter C. Willett, M.D., from Eat, Drink and Be Healthy

When I was a kid, I always looked forward to the trip to visit my grandparents and their farm in Indiana.  When we woke up in the mornings, my grandfather would have already been up for hours milking the cows.  Days were filled with helping (or at least we thought we were helping) plow the fields or taking tractor rides around the farm’s back roads.  Afternoons I would help my grandmother with a task in the kitchen to help get supper on the table.  Evenings my brothers and I chased lightning bugs around the front yard while my mother and grandparents rocked on the porch swings and my grandfather relaxed, smoking his pipe.

Thinking about those wonderful summers on the farm with my family reminds me about how important my grandfather’s job was.  He was a farmer.  He grew corn and soybeans and provided a safe home for his dairy cows.  He respected the land by growing his cash crops and then letting the soil rest and replenish by planting alfalfa.  He always planted a big vegetable garden for my grandmother out behind the farmhouse.  The tomatoes and beans we ate in the summertime were bursting with flavor in every bite, unlike the hothouse-raised tomatoes you often see in stores today.  Enjoying the flavor of fresh-picked vegetables lovingly prepared by my grandmother was the essence of childhood memories on the farm.  We ate the food that had been grown by my grandfather and prepared by my grandmother;  when it was gone we went outside to play.  Every day, we seemed to eat just the right amount of food and enjoyed lots of physical exercise and fresh air.  

Next time you buy vegetables, think about who grew them and how they got to your store and your table.  Better yet, visit your local farmers market and buy vegetables directly from the farmer who grew them.  The shorter the distance vegetables have to travel to get to your family’s dinner table, the better for your health. Support your local farmers.  Give them your respect.  When we have access to foods grown without chemicals, we have a better chance of not triggering cancer and staying at a healthy weight.  Kids deserve good foods.  Thank you to all the farmers working to grow good food! Thanks, Grandpa, for teaching me about respect.  

Here is an easy recipe that we have been working on in the Growing Healthy Kids Test Kitchen.  My grandfather would have loved it!  You can substitute yellow cornmeal if you cannot find blue cornmeal.  Blue corn is higher in nutritional value and has a nutty taste.  Kids love to make these and they make a great addition to a healthy school lunchbox! 

GROWING HEALTHY KIDS:  Our Recipe Collection
Blue Corn Cakes

In a medium mixing bowl, combine:
  • ·        ½ cup blue cornmeal
  • ·        ½ cup flour (I like to use oat flour)
  • ·        1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • ·        1 teaspoon salt

In a small saucepan, sauté for a few minutes over low heat:
  • ·        3 Tablespoons butter
  • ·        Corn kernels, cut off 1 ear of fresh corn (or use 1/2 can of corn, drained)

Pour corn mixture into dry mixture. 
  • ·        2/3  cup unsweetened almond milk (or a little more if needed)

Whisk together until batter is smooth.  Let rest for a few minutes.  Add more milk if needed.  

Ladle ¼ cup batter onto griddle coated with just a little grapeseed oil.  Cook until sides of cakes bubble gently and cakes are light golden brown, about 2 minutes. 
Gently turn them over with a spatula and cook for another 2 minutes or until golden brown. 

Serving suggestions:  Top with chopped tomatoes, fresh cilantro and fat-free sour cream OR sautéed red peppers and Vidalia onions.

Makes 8 griddle cakes. Enjoy! 

In gratitude,
Nancy Heinrich

Founder, Growing Healthy Kids