Tuesday, March 27, 2012


The Growing Healthy Kids Project conducts lots of healthy cooking classes for kids (of ALL ages).   In the process of planning unique events, foods, and menus, we create some really good recipes.  This recipe is one of them. 

Teaching kids to play with new flavors and spices is a fun way to improve what kids are eating.  Kids who eat lots of fast foods kill their taste buds.  Reclaiming kids’ right to eat and enjoy real foods is part of what we do in this project.  If we as a country are going to reverse childhood obesity and prevent diabetes, then we have to find ways to eat more of the good foods like veggies, lentils, and beans so kids eat less of the bad foods.   

I recently created the following recipe in the Growing Healthy Kids Test Kitchen and have asked many people to sample it.  EVERYONE has given it a “thumbs up” review.  Miss Nancy’s Sweet Potato and Lentil Burgers are extremely versatile.  They are filled with the spices known to have anti-inflammatory and disease preventing properties.    With sweet potatoes and lentils as the two main ingredients, it is very high in dietary fiber, something most kids (and adults) are lacking.  You can prepare these sweet potato and lentil burgers as a main dinner dish with roasted vegetables and couscous, then enjoy leftovers for lunch the next day as crazy awesome veggie burgers on whole grain flatbreads and a slice of your favorite cheddar cheese.   This recipe is my new favorite and I hope it will be yours, too! 

Miss Nancy’s Sweet Potato and Lentil Burgers

PULSE for 15-20 seconds in food processor:
  • 1-1/2 cups cooked lentils*

PLACE lentils in large mixing bowl and add:
  • 1 more cup cooked lentils
  • 2 cups raw sweet potato, finely grated  (leave skin on)
  • ½ cup corn meal
  • 2 Tablespoons Hot Curry Paste**
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt

MIX well.  Scoop burgers using a 1/3 cup measuring cup.  Roll between hands into a ball.

PLACE the following 3 ingredients in a ziplock sandwich bag, mix, then pour contents onto a plate.  Roll each burger until thoroughly coated.
  • ½ cup corn meal
  • ½ cup panko bread crumbs (if you are gluten-sensitive, then eliminate this ingredient)
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika

FLATTEN burgers between your hands and cook in a frying pan sprayed with a nonstick spray such as Pam.  Cook on medium heat approximately 4 minutes on each side.

MIX the Zesty Lime Sour Cream in a small bowl:
  • 1 cup fat-free or low-fat sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon lime zest
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • ¼ cup cilantro, very finely chopped

SERVE burgers on a bed of mixed lettuce greens and sliced heirloom tomatoes (where available).

TOP with a generous dollop of the Lime Zest Sour Cream and a pinch of lime zest. 

MAKES 10 burgers. 

Miss Nancy's Sweet Potato and Lentil Burgers
*Cook lentils according to the directions on the package of dried lentils.  To make this recipe, I use 1 cup of dried lentils and 3 cups of water and cook covered over low heat for 20-30 minutes.  Cool, then store in the fridge overnight.  Make burger mixture the following day.   If you have leftovers, they make a great lunch:  reheat 2-3 minutes in the microwave.  Serve on a whole grain bun with lettuce, sliced tomato and onion and a slice of your favorite cheddar cheese.

**For demonstration purposes, Patak’s Hot Curry Paste was used in the preparation of this recipe.

**If unable to locate Patak’s Hot Curry Paste, then substitute 3 teaspoons no-salt added tomato paste plus 3 teaspoons of Miss Nancy’s Magic Spice Mix:
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon powdered garlic
  • ¼ teaspoon chipotle chili pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric

Enjoy the great flavor of sweet potatoes, lentils, and these great spices!  Stay tuned for more great foods from the Growing Healthy Kids Test Kitchen.

Thank you,
Nancy Heinrich
Founder of the Growing Healthy Kids Project to halt, prevent, and reverse childhood obesity, one sweet potato and one child at a time


Friday, March 16, 2012


If America is up to the challenge of reversing our childhood obesity epidemic, then we need the right tools for the job.   It’s safe to say that we need lots of different tools in our tool bag if we're going to right this wrong.  

With 2/3s of adults in this country overweight and obese and 1/3 of American children overweight and obese, we (the adults) need to be better role models for children.  It is wrong for children to grow up eating primarily highly processed foods filled with too many calories, and too much sugar, fat, and refined carbohydrates.  It is wrong that many kids go days without eating fresh fruits and vegetables. It is wrong that school districts do not require physical education  (PE) classes.  It is wrong that some elementary age kids in public schools have only 1/2 hour of PE a week.

Being overweight (and thus being at increased risk for all diseases and conditions that are a direct result of “wearing” too much fat on our bones) is a direct result of eating too much food, consuming too many calories, and not exercising enough.  Some people are oblivious about how many calories they are consuming and using and can use some help.

There is a cool tool that can teach you how many calories you are eating, drinking, and burning throughout the day.  The BodyMedia FIT armband offers up to 95% accuracy, according to its manufacturer.  These armbands retail for $199 each, but three are being given away in a contest I read about in a little booklet called Remedy’s Healthy Living I recently picked up at my local Publix supermarket.  Here’s the deal:  go to www.healthcommunities.com/RHLgiveaway between February 24, 2012 and May 9, 2012 and enter the information requested.  There is no purchase necessary to enter to win.  What do you have lose?

Let’s work together to be healthier role models for America’s overweight children by losing a few pounds ourselves.  To learn more about obesity and your own body mass index, go to www.cdc.gov.   

Growing Healthy Kids is a movement focused on improving the health – and lives - of America’s children, one child and one garden at a time.  Eat better, move more, feel great!

Nancy Heinrich
Founder, Growing Healthy Kids

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

FIGHTING OBESITY...Recipes from the Growing Healthy Kids Project

At our last FITNESS, FUN, AND FOOD event in Vero Beach, Florida, the kids and adults learned how to make Fresh Corn Salsa.  This delicious dish can be used as a side salad and goes great with grilled fish, baked chicken, and of course, Mexican dishes such as enchiladas and fish tacos. 

Below is the recipe for this simple, healthy dish filled with flavors from the garden.  This is a basic recipe that can be changed up depending on what is fresh, in season, and of course, what you have on hand. 

To prepare corn, follow these easy 3 steps:
  1. Put into a large pot of boiling water and cook 4 minutes:
    • 4 ears of fresh corn, shucked
  2. Rinse corn under cold water to stop the cooking. 
  3. Stand up one ear of corn at a time in a large bowl and cut the corn off the cob. 
Chop and add to the corn:
  • 4 Roma tomatoes
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 yellow or red onion (we used a Florida sweet onion)
  • 1 avocado (optional)
  • ½ cup fresh cilantro
 Open, drain, and rinse:
  • 1 can black beans
  • Juice of 4-5 limes
  • ¼ cup Mojo marinade
 Thanks to Veggies of Vero (www.veggiesofvero.com) for supplying vegetables used in the preparation of this recipe.  Fresh Corn Salsa received the Growing Healthy Kids' Seal of  Approval on February 25, 2012 from the kids with Youth Guidance Mentoring & Activities Program. As Ginny Rhodes, Program Director with Youth Guidance fondly says, “We LOVE Veggies of Vero!”

Did you know…
  • An ear of corn averages 800 kernels in 16 rows?
  • More corn, in weight, is grown worldwide than any other grain?
  • half an ear of corn has about 15 grams of carbohydrates (if you have diabetes, this is about 1 serving of carbohydrates)
 Enjoy this recipe and stay tuned for many more.  We’re working on something REALLY BIG for our readers all around the world. 

Growing Healthy Kids is a movement to reverse childhood obesity, one garden and one child at a time.  Thank you for all you do to teach your own children the joys of eating real food.

One of our Master Gardener volunteers teaches a girl how to slice peppers.
A boy concentrates on chopping cilantro for the FRESH CORN SALSA.
Nancy L. Heinrich, M.P.H.