Wednesday, November 15, 2017

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: Protecting Children's Heart Health

“Modern medical care has mostly evolved into a drug-distribution arm of the pharmaceutical industry, rather than being a profession primarily centered on improving people’s health.”
                   --Joel Fuhrman, M.D., The End of Heart Disease (2016)

 Image result for vegetables "org"
New guidelines released this week by American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology call for Americans with blood pressure 130/80 or higher to be treated for hypertension.  A normal blood pressure is considered as less than 120/80.  Based on this new classification, 103 million American adults, or almost half of adults (46%), now have high blood pressure.

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Risk factors for high blood pressure (hypertension) include:
  • Consuming too much sodium 
    • People with hypertension, all African-Americans, and anyone age 50 and older should consume less than 1,500 mg of sodium a day.
  • Obesity
  • Lack of exercise
  • Unhealthy diet
    • Consider that some animal foods, such as chicken, are injected with sodium to increase their weight before they are sold.
  • Drinking too much alcohol
  • Smoking and tobacco use
  • Stress
  • Race 
    • African-Americans tend to develop high blood pressure more often, according to, than any other group in the U.S. 
  • Age 
    • There is a direct correlation between older age and high blood pressure.  Blood vessels lose elasticity the older we get. 
  • Family history 
    • If your parents have high blood pressure, you have an increased chance of developing high blood pressure.

The last time you took your child to the pediatrician, did they check your child’s blood pressure?  Did they ask how often your children eat foods high in sodium? Did they ask if your kids get an hour of exercise a day?  According to Dr. Fuhrman, "doctors need to make it crystal clear to their patients that food is the cause of, and should be the primary treatment for, heart disease."  

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Consider these facts:

  • McDonald’s quarter pounder with bacon and cheese contains 1,440 mg of sodium.  
  • McDonald’s bacon, egg, and cheese biscuit contains 1,300 mg of sodium. 
  • A large order of French fries from McDonald’s contains 290 mg of sodium.
  • Burger King's double whopper with cheese has 1,440 mg of sodium.
  • A Big Fish sandwich from Burger King has 1,180 mg of sodium. 
  • A Wendy's Baconator has 1,810 mg of sodium.  
  • One teaspoon of salt has about 2,300 mg of sodium.
Sodium is hidden in processed and fast foods, to the detriment of our children's blood pressure and heart health.  The next time your kids ask to stop at McDonald's or another fast food restaurant, check the sodium content and other nutrition facts at the company website.

Feeding kids a steady diet of fast food and highly processed foods only pushes them towards an earlier diagnosis of high blood pressure and a lifetime of addiction to Big Pharma.   

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Our children deserve better.  Knowing there is a direct correlation between sodium intake and high blood pressure, I hope you will choose foods low in added sodium for your kids.  The more sodium you consume, the higher your blood pressure.  Got it?

Eat real food.  Fruits.  Vegetables.  Whole grains.  Legumes.

Please pass the organic apples.  

With love and gratitude,
Nancy L. Heinrich, MPH

Founder, Growing Healthy Kids, Inc.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: November is American Diabetes Month

“Sugar is celebratory.  Sugar is something we used to enjoy.  Now it basically has coated our tongues.  It’s turned into a diet staple, and it’s killing us.”  
                                                              --Robert Lustig, MD

Nancy Heinrich's typical lunch

The other day I passed by a coworker, alone in her office.  She was sitting down to eat lunch, opening up a large McDonald’s bag filled with highly processed foods.  Every one of the foods she was about to eat was engineered to be addictive with added sugars, salt, and/or fat.

It worked.  She is morbidly obese.  She is also the mother of a young toddler.  The adult can make her own choices.  Her child cannot. 

organic watermelon radish 

Food companies like McDonald’s consciously and intentionally create foods to be addictive.  It is how they keep you coming back for more. It is why McDonald’s and other fast food companies are highly profitable companies.  Who can resist the salty, savory taste of a big Mac or a sausage and egg biscuit sandwich? When you are hungry and on the road, why not just pull in to the golden arches (I call them the golden arches of solid, saturated fat and inflammatory disease) and pick up a couple of sandwiches to eat while driving to your next destination?  After all, McDonald’s are in 120 countries around the world, serving 68 million people every day.  They have made it easy and cheap for us to eat highly processed foods.  The problem is eating those foods make us sick. Just ask Morgan Spurlock, star of the 2004 documentary, Super Size Me.  


What I really wanted to say when I walked past my coworker’s office was, “Please don’t eat that.  Put down that bag of processed, addictive food.  I would love to share my beautiful organic salad with you.  Do you realize that you are morbidly obese and eating foods from McDonald’s will only keep you fat?”

another typical lunch for Nancy Heinrich

November is American Diabetes Month.  A key risk factor for diabetes is obesity.  Eating highly processed, engineered foods is a path to diseases like obesity, diabetes, arthritis, and heart disease.   Many people with whom I speak know they are addicted to processed foods and want help breaking the addiction so they don’t have a heart attack or stroke.  

Changing the way you eat starts with knowing your “Why”:  

Why do you want to change what you eat? 
Why do you want to no longer be carrying around 50 or 100 extra pounds? 
Why do you want to sleep better? 
Why do you want your clothes to fit better?  
Why do you not want to be the next person in your family to develop diabetes?
Why do you not want to have a stroke?  
Why do you care about your own health?  
Why do you want to be able to breathe better?
Why do you want to feel better?

On a scale of 1 to 10, how much do you care about your own health and the quality of your one life on this planet? 

Eat real food.  Please pass the organic watermelon radishes.    

With love and gratitude,
Nancy L. Heinrich, MPH

Founder, Growing Healthy Kids, Inc. 

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: Choosing Plant-Based Foods

"If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be a vegetarian." 
                                                        --Paul McCartney

A friend with diabetes recently reached out to me for help.  She said she needed to lose about 50 pounds.  We met in her home, outside on the pool deck while the sun set in paradise.  She told me she wanted to lose about 5 pounds a week and go on a 1300 calorie diet. 

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I gently suggested that 5 pounds a week weight loss was unrealistic (a 2-4 pound weight loss/week is the recommended amount for people who want to lose weight and keep it off) and introduced the idea that if she chose plant-based foods and decreased or eliminated her consumption of foods from animals, she would not need to count calories. 

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Changing one's attitudes about dieting can be threatening.  It can also be the beginning of a very healthy life, free of the shackles that come with dieting.  One thing I know for sure: when you adopt a whole-food plant-based way of eating, your body gets what it needs AND you lose weight. 

Dieting and counting calories are outdated ways to get to a healthy weight.  The evidence is overwhelming that eating primarily plant-based foods can get you on the path to a healthy weight in as little as 2 weeks, but also can reverse type 2 diabetes, gout, arthritis, gastro-intestinal reflux disease, and many other diseases. 

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This country is facing catastrophic expenditures for diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.  We should instead be spending money on improving education about and access to healthy foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes.  Preventing diseases is paramount.  The evidence is clear that processed foods and foods from animals are making us sick and killing us. 

Take a disease like diabetes, a preventable disease in most cases.  The cost of diabetes can bankrupt our country, if we stand by and do nothing.  With obesity as a major risk factor for diabetes, we must create simple solutions to obesity that are affordable and achievable. 

All kids deserve access to healthy foods.  When they do, they become captains of their own health – and their lives. 

Please pass the sunflower microgreens. 

With love and gratitude,
Nancy L. Heinrich, MPH
Founder, Growing Healthy Kids, Inc.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017


"Winter is an etching, spring a watercolor, summer an oil painting, and fall a mosaic of them all." 
                                                                             --Stanley Horowitz

Image result for three sisters corn beans squash

Freshly picked apples.  Pumpkins.  Wild rice.  Sweet potatoes.  Butternut and acorn squash.  These are some of my favorite fall comfort foods.  

Planning menus for your family is fun this time of year.  Take your kids to your local farmers market and look for locally grown squash and pumpkin.  Winter squash are great foods to include in your weekly meal plan because they are so colorful and full of beta-carotene.  They are also high in dietary fiber, satiating you which prevents overeating. 

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Here is one of my favorite fall recipes which features squash, corn, and beans.  Make this simple, economical, and oh-so-healthy entree one of your favorite fall comfort foods, too!

GROWING HEALTHY KIDS:  Our Recipe Collection
Three Sisters Soup

Native Americans view squash, corn, and beans as “The Three Sisters”.  In some legends the sisters are also the daughters of the Earth Mother. 

PEEL and dice: 

  • 1 large butternut squash (about 2 pounds)

STEAM squash for 20 minutes or until tender when pierced with a fork.  

HEAT in a large soup pot:

  • 1 Tablespoon olive or avocado oil

ADD AND SAUTE until onion is translucent:

  • 1 medium red onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced 

ADD AND SIMMER 20-25 minutes, covered, until all vegetables are tender:

  • 1-1/2 cups water
  • ½ red bell pepper, sliced into thin strips
  • 1 14- to 16-ounce can diced tomatoes, with liquid
  • 1 16-ounce can organic pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cups thawed frozen corn 
  • 1 4-ounce can chopped mild green chilies (look for New Mexican "Hatch" chilies)
  • 2 teaspoons organic cumin
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano

SEASON with:

  • Pink Himalayan sea salt and organic black pepper

LET soup sit for 1-2 hours so flavors blend. 

HEAT soup and serve with:

  • Minced fresh cilantro 
  • Pumpkin seeds, lightly toasted in a pan over low heat

This fall, be inspired by the flavors of delicious seasonal foods.  Cook comfort foods with your family. Enjoy dinner together.  Take a walk in your neighborhood.  Look at the colors of the trees.  Tell your kids how much you love them every day.

With love and gratitude,
Nancy L. Heinrich, MPH
Founder, Growing Healthy Kids, Inc.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: The Evil Empire Ingredient

“Pediatric obesity is a prevalent and complex problem that resists pharmacological treatment.  This has fueled interest in more extreme approaches, such as bariatric surgery in adolescents (gastric banding or bypass).  Although surgery can result in weight loss and reversal of type 2 diabetes, it is associated with vitamin deficiencies, chronic malabsorption, and other significant risks and should be reserved for carefully screen, dangerously obese adolescents.”  
                                  --Andrew Weil, MD, Mind over Meds, 2017

When parents ask for one tip feed their kids better, my answer is always the same: “Cut out all foods and drinks containing high fructose corn syrup.”  

This highly processed sugar, found in sodas, breads, ketchup, cookies, and other processed foods, is simply one of the worst ingredients you can put in your body.  When teaching kids about healthy eating, we teach that high fructose corn syrup is the Evil Empire ingredient and should always be avoided. 

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Sugar is highly addictive.  It’s addictive like crack cocaine.  To eliminate high fructose corn syrup and other added sugars, read food labels to identify the processed foods and drinks that contain them.  Something as simple as buying a bottle of ketchup, however, becomes a mission.  Stand in front of all the ketchup bottles  Start picking up one bottle at a time and scan the ingredients section below the Nutrition Facts rectangle.   I always feel victorious when I finally find a bottle without high fructose corn syrup.  It usually costs more than the others.  Food manufacturers use high fructose corn syrup because it’s a cheap ingredient. 

Cheap.  Addictive.  And bad for you.  

The next time ketchup is on your shopping list, scan the ingredient list.  Choose a brand without high fructose corn syrup.  Added sugars are empty calories with no nutritional value.  They are used in processed foods and are highly acidic and disease-promoting.

For a list of more than 50 names of added sugars, check out my book, Nourish and Flourish: Kid-Tested Tips and Recipes to Prevent Diabetes, available at  Click here for a link to order Nourish and Flourish.

Feed your kids real food. 

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Please pass the baked sweet potato fries and real ketchup. 

With love and gratitude,
Nancy L. Heinrich, MPH

Founder, Growing Healthy Kids, Inc. 

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: Eat Healthier, Lose Weight, Reverse Diabetes

"Think about it:  heart disease and diabetes, which account for more deaths in the U.S. and worldwide than everything else combined, are completely preventable by making comprehensive lifestyle changes.  Without drugs or surgery."  
                                          ---Dean Ornish, MD

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Diabetes is a very expensive disease, not just in terms of financial costs, but more importantly in the human costs such as loss of limbs, loss of vision, loss of sexual function, loss of feeling in the extremities, and loss of life.  

The number of people with diabetes and prediabetes is staggering. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 30.3 million people of all ages (9.4% of the U.S. population) had diabetes in 2015.  About 7.2 million Americans with diabetes are undiagnosed.  Approximately 84 million adults (more than 1 in 3 American adults) have prediabetes, which is asymptomatic.  The risk factors for prediabetes are sedentary lifestyle, obesity, large waist size, poor diet, being 45 years or older, and having a brother, sister, mother or father with type 2 diabetes. 

Can diabetes be prevented?  Yes. 
Can diabetes be reversed?  Yes, in most cases. 
Can prediabetes be prevented?  Yes. 
Can prediabetes be reversed?  Yes. 

The reality is that most people with diabetes and prediabetes are overweight.  The best medicine for preventing and reversing diabetes is to get to a healthier weight.  I am not advocating that you go on a diet.  I am advocating for eating healthier and being physically active for the rest of your life.  

Moving to a whole-grain plant-based way of eating comes with a wonderful side effect:  weight loss.  Making the decision to eat fewer animal products is a powerful first step for anyone with diabetes or prediabetes who knows that losing weight will improve their health. 

Eliminating foods from animals eliminates saturated fats, also known as the bad fats.  Our brains need a small amount of the good fats, called unsaturated.  You find unsaturated fats in foods such as olives, avocados and flax seeds.  Fats are the largest (no pun intended) type of calorie consumed at 9 calories per gram, while carbohydrates and protein weigh in at only 4 calories per gram.  

The easiest way to get to a healthier weight is to cut back on fat calories.  Eliminate foods from animals such a meat, chicken, dairy, and cheese.  Speaking of cheese, make our fabulous, easy and oh-so-delicious recipe for cashew parmesan to use next time you make grilled zucchini, mushroom pizza, or spaghetti squash. 

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 Image result for cashew tree "org"

GROWING HEALTHY KIDS:  Our Recipe Collection
Cashew Parmesan

Place ingredients in a food processor and process until well mixed:
  • ¾ cup + 1 Tablespoon raw, unsalted cashews
  • ¼ cup nutritional yeast
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon onion powder
  • ¾ teaspoon pink Himalayan sea salt

Store in a glass jar in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. 
With love and gratitude,
Nancy L. Heinrich, MPH
Founder, Growing Healthy Kids, Inc.