Wednesday, October 21, 2020

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: Best Minestrone Soup

 "If your plan is for one year, plant rice.

If your plan is for ten years, plant trees.

If your plan is for one hundred years, educate children."

                                                                                     --Confucius


Fall is a great time to make your favorite soups.  Teach your children how to make several basic soups and you are giving them tools to feed themselves for a lifetime.  Kids can take an active role in making soup when you take them to the farmers market to shop for veggies and in the kitchen helping chop, dice, and slice (with parent approval and appropriate knife safety precautions, of course).  

Minestrone is one of my favorite soups because it is a perfect comfort food and it is so good for you.  You can also make it a thousand different ways with vegetable combinations and fun, small pastas.  Always choose organic vegetables and Italian pasta, whenever possible.  

This is the recipe that I prepare at least once every 2 weeks. Trust me on the lemon! 

GROWING HEALTHY KIDS:  Our Recipe Collection

MINESTRONE SOUP

INGREDIENTS:

·        2 Tablespoons olive oil

·        1 medium yellow onion, diced

·        2 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced

·        2 celery stalks, thinly sliced (or substitute bok choi, sliced)

·        3 cloves garlic, minced

·        ½ teaspoon dried oregano

·        ½ teaspoon dried thyme

·        3 Tablespoons tomato paste

·        1 15-oz can diced tomatoes, with the juice

·        1 cup vegetables, sliced or cubed (zucchini, butternut squash, spinach, green beans, potatoes, spinach, etc.)*

·        3 cups vegetable broth

·        1 cup water

·        1 15-oz can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

·        1 bay leaf

·        ½ cup small Italian pasta (elbows or shells)

·        Juice of 1 lemon*

DIRECTIONS:

Heat soup pan with oil to medium heat.  Add onions and saute for 5 minutes.  Add celery (or bok choi), carrots, and garlic and cook 2 more minutes.  Add remaining ingredients except for pasta and lemon. 

Bring soup to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer and cover, cooking for 15-30 minutes.

I prefer to cook the pasta separately (in case any soup is leftover) and add a little to each bowl before adding the soup.

Before serving, remove bay leaf.  Cut lemon in half and squeeze a little on each bowl of soup. 

*NOTE FROM NANCY:  Adding fresh lemon juice is the key to a great minestrone soup, in my humble opinion.  My favorite vegetables for minestrone soup are zucchini and green beans. 

With love,

Nancy Heinrich, MPH

Founder and Wellness Architect

Growing Healthy Kids, Inc.

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: Obesity and Vaccines

"The most ethical diet just so happens to be the most environmentally sound diet and just so happens to be the healthiest."

                                                                                                --Michael Greger, MD

Until 2020 brought coronavirus into our lives, I admit I was unaware of the relationship between obesity and vaccine efficacy. 

Obesity is a strange bedfellow.  Medicines do not work as well when one is obese.  It turns out vaccines don’t work as well either. 

On August 6, 2020 the “America’s Obesity Epidemic Threatens Effectiveness of Any COVID Vaccine,” by Sarah Varney was published by Kaiser Family Foundation on KHN.org.  It appears that obesity interferes with the body’s immune response. 

“Will we have a COVID vaccine next year tailored to the obese?  No way,” said Raz Shaikh, an associate professor of nutrition at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.  “Will it still work in the obese?  Our prediction is no.”  

America’s children deserve access to good foods that promote health and help them maintain a healthy weight.  Highly processed foods, especially those with added sugars, contribute to obesity and inflammation.  Protecting the health of America’s children is about more than preventing the consequences from obesity.  The risks of obesity are mounting, in unimaginable ways, as we work daily to protect ourselves and our children from exposure to COVID-19.   

Who knew that obesity would become a major risk factor for viral infection, morbidity, mortality, and interference with vaccine efficacy?  It is more important than ever that we work to ensure ALL kids have access to healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes, especially kids living in food deserts.  

With love,

Nancy Heinrich, MPH

Founder and Wellness Architect

Growing Healthy Kids, Inc. 

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: Healthy Foods Promote Disease Resistance

 "America's health care system is neither healthy, caring, nor a system." 

                                                                                --Walter Cronkite


The annual flu season is here, on top of 2020’s COVID-19 pandemic for which obesity is one of the major risk factors for increased susceptibility.  According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, since 2010 there have been between 12,000 and 61,000 deaths a year from influenza (seasonal flu).  More than 210,000 Americans have died in 2020 from COVID-19.   

A strong immune system is one of the best defenses against threats to our physical health, including the seasonal flu and COVID-19.  Eating foods such as blueberries, flax seeds, and broccoli build a healthy immune system. Limiting and eliminating foods that cause inflammation such as all animal foods (meat, chicken, milk, cheese, ice-cream, yogurt) and refined or added sugars, is crucial to our health. 

Every bite, every meal is a choice.  Do I choose to eat to create health or eat to invite disease and inflammation?  Will I choose to make a salad of local organic greens, tomatoes, blueberries, and cucumbers or a beef burger filled with saturated fats on a refined wheat bun for lunch? 

Build a strong immune system.  Make most of what you eat fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes.  Choose organic whenever possible. Buy from your local farmers.

With love,

Nancy Heinrich, MPH

Founder and Wellness Architect

Growing Healthy Kids, Inc.