Wednesday, December 25, 2013



Wellness is a state of mind.  It starts with the conscious intention to be healthy and balanced.  To respect ourself and others. To live peacefully.  Everything we need follows from this intention. Be mindful of what you eat.  Exercise often.  LOVE LIFE.
                                                 ---Nancy L. Heinrich

What a great year for Growing Healthy Kids!  So many great kids have participated in our educational programs.  So many parents have asked questions, seeking answers for growing their own healthy kids. 

I am grateful to the children, parents, volunteers and supporters of Growing Healthy Kids, the businesses and organizations who have helped our programs to thrive, to everyone who has read Nourish and Flourish, and to all the farmers who grow the foods we need. 

As a gift to wrap up this wonderful year, I am sharing some “best practices for parents” from Growing Healthy Kids' projects, workshops, and lessons:


  • Find your local farmers markets. 
  • Talk with your local farmers.
  • Read food labels. 
  • Buy foods with less sugar.
  • Buy foods with more fiber.
  • Eat more kale, dark chocolate, and blueberries. 
  • Teach your kids how to make 10 basic recipes.
  • Exercise daily.
  • Make cookies with applesauce or pumpkin instead of butter.
  • Schedule time every day to do nothing. 
  • Flavor foods without salt. 
  • Eat breakfast. 
  • Eat protein in your breakfast – it is brain fuel!
  • Drink water.
  • Buy cereals, breads and pastas where the first ingredient includes the word, “whole”, as in whole grains.
  • Get enough sleep.
  • Eat wild salmon, strawberries, and walnuts.
  • Buy your kids a lemon squeezer. 
  • Take family wellness walks. 
  • Buy your kids a pack of basil or oregano to plant.
  • Buy a good quality extra virgin olive oil.
  • Eat dinner together most nights of the week.
  • Practice instant recess.
  • Buy vegetables and fruits from your local farmers.
  • Have naps.
  • Laugh every day.


  • Don’t eat foods containing food dyes. 
  • Don’t eat farm raised fish.
  • Don’t buy foods containing “partially hydrogenated” fats.
  • Don’t skip breakfast.
  • Don’t eat tilapia.
  • Don’t allow cell phones at your dinner table.
  • Don’t buy soda.
  • Don’t be mean. 
  • Don’t buy foods with more than 8 grams of sugar per serving.

A very Merry Christmas to all! 

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

Wednesday, December 18, 2013



"Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world." 

                                                   --Nelson Mandela

When it comes to the health of our children, parents agree on one thing:  we will do whatever it takes. 

The Growing Healthy Kids movement is improving parents’ knowledge about the foods to eat more of as well as the foods to eat less of, plus the importance adding regular, healthy doses of physical fun and fitness.  Our education programs teach kids and adults how simple it is to eat well.  We empower them with knowledge and skills to prevent high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, obesity-related cancers and other preventable diseases.  Learning to eat smart  helps children get to – and stay at – healthy weights.  The key to our children living lives longer than ours – not shorter - is teaching them how to make lifelong habits of eating foods that are good for us and planning fitness into each day to prevent obesity and obesity-related diseases. 

Lessons children learn in our kitchen classroom are what I fondly call THE RECIPE FOR GROWING HEALTHY KIDS.  Here is the list of 5 essential ingredients:

FACT:  Kids will learn better when they start the day with a burst of protein. 
About ¼ of what we eat should be protein.  Choose to eat fish at least 2 times a week.  Choose lean, low-fat proteins.  Avoid or limit meats loaded with fat. 
GHK TIP:  Include protein in your kids’ breakfast every day.

FACT:  There are 3 kinds of fats: one is good and two are the bad kinds of fats.  Most of the fats we eat should be the good fats.
Good fats:  unsaturated fat
Sources of unsaturated fat:  nuts, fish, liquid vegetable oils, flax seeds, avocados
Bad fats:  saturated fat and trans fats
Sources of saturated fats:  any food that comes from an animal (meat, chicken, ice-cream, cheese, milk (except for skim milk), etc.)Sources of trans fats:  look on food labels for any ingredient that includes the words "partially hydrogenated”
GHK TIP:  Make most of your fats the “good” kind and eat fish at least twice a week.

FACT:  There are good carbohydrates and bad carbohydrates.  Most of the carbs we eat should be the good fats.

The good carbohydrate:  dietary fiber
Sources of dietary fiber:  vegetables, fruits, beans, whole grains, lentils, split peas
Why we need dietary fiber:  Fiber is only found in foods that come from plants.  Fiber is what fills us up.  Aim for 28-35 grams of dietary fiber a day.   Most children (and adults) eat far less dietary fiber than their bodies need. 

The bad carbohydrate:  sugar
Sources of sugar:  sodas, candy, processed foods, most breakfast cereals, energy drinks, fruit juices. 
GHK TIP:  Choose breads and pastas that have “4 or more” grams of dietary fiber per slice or per serving.  Check the Nutrition Facts label and limit foods that have more than 5 grams of sugar per serving.   Learn the difference between good and bad carbs and use this knowledge when you and your kids are grocery shopping.  

FACT:  Water is the fluid we need to drink the most of.  Most people drink far less water than they need.  Drink water, not soda.  Aim for 8 glasses of water a day.

Did you know that getting enough sleep is key to losing weight and staying at a healthy weight?   Provide guidance for your children so they have a regular bedtime to ensure they are getting plenty of sleep every night.  
GHK TIP:  Establish “sleep hygiene” habits such as turning off the TV, the computer, cell phones, and other electronics at least an hour before bedtime and not drinking caffeinated drinks in the evening to wake up feeling refreshed every morning.

From our expanding recipe collection from the Growing Healthy Kids' Test Kitchen, I am happy to share this amazing variation on a traditional pesto recipe.  It features walnuts, a great source of good fats and omega-3s, and parsley, which has incredible benefits as an anti-inflammatory. 

GROWING HEALTHY KIDS:  Our Recipe Collection

  • ·        1-1/2 cups walnuts
  • ·        2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • ·        Crushed red pepper
  • ·        Sea salt
  • ·        ¼ cup minced flat-leaf parsley
  • ·        ½ cup EVOO*
  • ·        ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350.  Spread walnuts on a baking sheet and toast for 12 minutes, or until golden.  Cool the walnuts and finely chop.

In a mortar, mash the garlic with a pinch each of crushed red pepper and salt until a paste forms.  Add the walnuts and parsley and pound to a coarse paste.  Slowly add the olive oil, pounding and stirring until blended.  Stir in the Parmesan and season with salt. Serve over roasted vegetables or whole grain pasta.

NOTE:  You can also make this in a food processor, quickly pulsing the ingredients.

*Extra virgin olive oil 

Education IS the most important weapon we can use to change the world.  Start with your own world and educate yourself family about the importance of reading food labels to identify foods containing the good carbs and good fats. Include some protein in your children's breakfasts every morning.  Every child deserves access to healthy foods and daily activity, beginning with YOUR children.  

In gratitude,

Nancy Heinrich

Growing Healthy Kids

Wednesday, December 11, 2013



“Flavor counts far more than elaborate techniques and presentations, and flavor begins with the best ingredients.  Each separate ingredient should be the finest you can afford, but if you can't afford it or you've run out of it, don worry.  Mediterranean cooks are notable for making do with what's at hand.  That's an attitude I try to cultivate in my own kitchen."  
                            --Nancy Harmon Jenkins, The New
                               Mediterranean Diet Cookbook

What’s your favorite dish to make together at home this time of year?  Holidays are filled with family traditions and foods are a central part of many traditions.  Making your children a part of your family’s rich holiday traditions is a great way to ensure they know the kitchen is a safe place to learn that when people respect good foods and each other, they are learning the recipe for a great life.  
Teaching a young boy how to use local fruits at a Growing Healthy Kids event with one of our partners (Youth Guidance Mentoring and Activities Program)

One of my favorite sections in the middle of the store - dried beans and lentils!

"Yellow squash on purple rocker"

The original Growing Healthy Kid, my son, Edward

Great recipes start when you have all the ingredients on hand.  Having good foods in your fridge, pantry and on the table begins with shopping together.  Teach your kids where to look in the store and what to look for on food labels.   Did you ever hear to shop on the four walls first?  Around the perimeter of a grocery store is where you find the fresh fruits and vegetables, yogurts and cheeses, fresh fish and meats.  Start by shopping the perimeter, then move to the inside aisles.   The less processed your food choices, the better.  Fresh is best.  When you use the approach of “eat fresh, eat local”, you support your local farmers.  To learn about farmers in your community, go to click here.

While you and your kids make a list of your favorite holiday foods to make this month, here is a list of our family’s top 25 foods:
  1. Almonds
  2. Avocados
  3. Bananas
  4. Blueberries
  5. Extra virgin olive oil
  6. Eggplant* (see eggplant parm recipe link below)
  7. Garlic
  8. Kale
  9. Lemons
  10. Limes
  11. Lentils
  12. Onions
  13. Oranges
  14. Parsley
  15. Pears
  16. Quinoa
  17. Pesto
  18. Spinach
  19. Squash (any kind – they are all high in dietary fiber!)
  20. Strawberries
  21. Tomatoes
  22. Walnuts
  23. Wild rice
  24. Wild salmon
  25. Zucchini

From A to Z, from Apples to Zucchini, family traditions revolve around foods.  Make your family’s favorite foods fresh and delicious!  *For a link to a delicious, easy, and healthy eggplant parmesan recipe to make this holiday season, click here.

In gratitude,
Nancy Heinrich

Growing Healthy Kids, Inc. 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013



 “We as parents are our children’s first and best role models, and this is particularly true when it comes to their health…We can’t lie around on the couch eating French fries and candy bars and expect our kids to eat carrots and run around the block.”

                                         --Michelle Obama at the Building 
                                         a Healthier Future Summit, 3/8/13

The facts are staggering:
  • One out of every 7 low income preschool children is obese. 
  • Kids spend an average of 8 hours a day in front of a screen.  
  • Girls who are obese will have an earlier puberty than normal. 
  • Obesity and physical inactivity are leading risk factors for type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure. 
  • Children who are obese are more likely to be obese as adults.

As parents, we need to take responsibility for our children’s health.  It is not the job of their teachers or doctors.  It is up to parents.  To add years to their lives, add life to their years.  Are your kids getting enough fitness?  Most kids are NOT getting the minimum of what they need at school.  The minimum recommendation for children ages 6-17 is 60 minutes every day.  

Family walks are part of my family's traditions.  Make them part of yours, too.  That's my brother, Bill, in the middle at a recent family gathering in Kentucky walking with his children, Erika and Neils (on left side) and our nephew Christopher and his girlfriend, Chen (on right side).

Kids need a mix of 3 different types of fitness:
  1. Aerobic activity (this should be the majority of the 60 minutes/day, consisting of brisk walking or running)
  2. Muscle strengthening (at least 3 days a week, consisting of gymnastics or pushups)
  3. Bone strengthening (at least 3 days a week, consisting of exercise such as jump rope or running)

Take the lead.  Start by looking at yourself first.  Are you getting enough exercise?  Are you a good role model for your children?  As my friend, Sam, says, “Don’t talk, do.”  To learn more about the benefits of physical activity, click here.
Recently, I did a shoutout asking for ideas from you about what kids wanted to make.  My friend, Jill, responded that her daughter loves eggplant and she asked for eggplant recipes.  That started my quest for the perfect Baba Ganoush recipe (a Middle Eastern eggplant dip).  I found it and now you and your kids can enjoy Baba Ganoush plus 2 other amazing recipes that are super healthy, delicious, and fun to make with kids.  Click here.

In gratitude,
Nancy Heinrich

Growing Healthy Kids, Inc.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013



“You think this is just another day in your life.  It is not just another day.  It is the one that is given to you today…It’s the only gift that you have right now. And the only appropriate response is gratefulness.”
                                --Brother David Steindl-Rast, a Benedictine monk

This week's issue of WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS is dedicated to gratefulness.  The fourth Thursday of November is the celebration of Thanksgiving, a special day in American history.  It is a celebration of giving thanks, a historical reminder about the Pilgrims and the American natives breaking bread together, creating family and community traditions, of being grateful. 

Thank you to farmers like Lisa Brenneman.

Thank you to the children who come and learn at our programs.

Thank you for family (that's my brother Bill, on the left, with some of the kids)

Thank you for family (my brother, Rob, on the left with his son, Robbie at the new family farm).

Thank you to the volunteers who
provide the fuel for our programs.

Thank you for the staff who assist in our
Growing Healthy Kids in the Kitchen programs.

Thank you to our volunteers at our
annual Hummus at Humiston events,
where we connect kids with the local farmers. 

Thank you to the farmers who grow what we need.

Thank you to friends.

The mission of Growing Healthy Kids, Inc. is to improve the health – and lives – of America’s children by focusing on good foods and physical fun.  Our programs educate parents and children about the “how” and “why” of eating locally grown vegetables, fruits, and whole grains and creating plant-based meals that are easy and economical to prepare.  Because of this mission, we get to play with the people who are growing good foods, take farm trips with kids, and create healthy recipes in our Growing Healthy Kids Test Kitchen.  In our work to improve health literacy and reverse childhood obesity and obesity-related diseases, there are many things for which I am grateful.

To watch an inspirational video and listen to the words of Brother David Steindl-Rast, including the music of my friend, Gary Malkin, click here.

Here are some of the things I am grateful for today and every day:

The local farmers who grow the Swiss chard, Tuscan kale, Purple Cherokee tomatoes, spinach, pumpkins, watermelon, navel oranges, Ruby Red grapefruits, pecans, Shitake and Portobello mushrooms, basil, parsnips, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, and other beautiful vegetables, fruits, and nuts that fill the recipes we create with and for Growing Healthy Kids.  Several of the local farmers who partner with the Growing Healthy Kids project and to whom I am grateful include Louis Schacht (Schacht Groves), Kevin O’Dare (Osceola Organics), Linda Hart (Crazy Hart Ranch), Lisa and Dan Brenneman (Florida Veggies and More), and Brenda and Jim Gibbons (Gibbons Organics).  For a link to some amazing recipes featuring the foods we highlight in the Growing Healthy Kids Test Kitchen, click here.

The local chefs who are using foods grown by our local farmers instead of vegetables grown 2,000 miles away.
The parents who are seeking better foods for our children who eat two of their three meals through the free and reduced school meal program.

The volunteers who make our educational programs so much fun.

The children who have attended and those who will attend our educational programs, because they are the true leaders of Growing Healthy Kids.

Most of all, I am grateful for family.  We are all family in this adventure called life! What are YOU grateful for?

In gratitude to each and every one of you,
Nancy Heinrich
Growing Healthy Kids, Inc.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013



"I saw many people who had advanced heart disease and I was so frustrated because I knew that if they just knew how to do the right thing, simple lifestyle and diet steps, that the entire trajectory of their life and their health would have been different."
                                                    --Dr. Mehmet Oz

November is National Diabetes Month.  Diabetes is the reason why I started the Growing Healthy Kids movement.  After working with thousands of adults with uncontrolled diabetes and teaching them how to control their blood sugars and helping many of those thousands get off most or all of their medications, I came to the conclusion that the childhood obesity epidemic was a goldmine for Big Pharma and the Big Box Food companies.   Turns out I was right. Got diabetes?  Take a pill.  Got high blood pressure?  Take a pill?  Got high cholesterol?  Take a pill.  The problem with all these pills is that they were tested in clinical trials on adults and now we have a whole generation of kids with obesity-related diseases like diabetes and doctors are putting these kids on pills that were never tested on kids.
Eating too much of the bad foods (i.e., high fat, high salt, high sugar, high calorie) is a surefire way to increase your risk of gaining excess weight and developing diabetes.  A simple solution?  Spend a little bit of time planning and cooking meals instead of being led to believe that you are in so much of a hurry to get to your job that you have to go through the McDonalds drive through and then on to the pharmacy to pick up the drugs to control your blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol. 

Diabetes is simply a condition where there is too much sugar in the blood (eating too many refined carbs like sodas, white potatoes, white bread, and high sugar cereals) and/or the body is not using insulin correctly (not enough exercise).   A simple answer?  Start incorporating more superfoods and more exercise into your life and the lives of your children.  Make a simple commitment to make one change a week for ten weeks. 

At the Growing Healthy Kids Test Kitchen, parents tell me, “My child will never eat that!”  When the child helps in the kitchen, the answer usually is a resounding, “Can I have more?”  When learning is personal and first-hand, we understand more.  We are lose our fears when the unknown becomes the known.

I like eating superfoods.  My goal is to eat several of them a day.  A key recommendation for healthy eating is to eat fish 2-3 times a week.  The fish mentioned most often is wild salmon.  Salmon, like all fish, contains the good kind of fat called unsaturated that most of our fat should be.  Eating the right kind of fat is essential if you or your kids have diabetes because the risk is 2-4 times higher for a heart attack or stroke. 

At  the Growing Healthy Kids in the Kitchen programs, we teach by having fun.  In November, because it is a month when there is more discussion about diabetes, we like to kick off new campaigns to teach kids and their parents how to get more superfoods into their meals each week.   

Check out these pictures from our First Annual Growing Healthy Kids in the Kitchen with Chef Chris Bireley at Osceola Bistro.  Click here for the salmon gravlox recipe.  Thank you, Chef Chris, for an amazing adventure with healthy food at your beautiful bistro!

This young boy was full of questions for Chef Chris!

Kids learned how to make fruit kabobs for
their own holiday parties!  Easy, healthy, and fast!

Kids helped prepare the fresh citrus and dill
for the salmon gravlox.

Tasting the salmon gravlox on fresh bagels - yum!

Do the right thing.  Eat more superfoods.  Make simple changes.  Growing Healthy Kids is looking forward to coming to YOUR city in 2014!

In gratitude,
Nancy Heinrich

Growing Healthy Kids, Inc.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013



"I realized you can only be as good as your health.  I let my health go because I was so focused on building my company."

                                      --Celebrity chef Art Smith, Chef Art was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 2008 after complications from the disease killed his father and grandfather.  That's when he learned how to eat smarter and lost 120 pounds.

WE DID IT AGAIN!  Our Third Annual Hummus at Humiston event for kids from Youth Guidance Mentoring and Activities Program in need of mentors was a success!  This event is a favorite of the staff at Youth Guidance because the weather is always perfect in November, the food is awesome, and the local farmers are at the Green Market with their fall bounties of squash, tomatoes, and kale. 

A special thank you to the local farmers who helped make this event a memory maker for all the kids (and the volunteers) at our Third Annual Hummus at Humiston.  Thanks to Sid Banack of Countryside Citrus, Louis Schacht of Schacht Groves, Kevin O’Dare of Osceola Organics, Lisa Brenneman of Florida Veggies and More, and Alex Gomez of Pure Produce.  Here are some pictures from our party in the park!

Sid Banack of Countryside Citrus 

Kevin O'Dare (right) talks with a volunteer and a youth about "why" organic.

Stopping at Florida Veggies and More

Alex Gomez of Pure Produce (hydroponically grown veggies)

The karate demonstration was great!

"We made it ourselves!"

Hummus, as the kids all learned – and tasted – is easy to make.  It makes great appetizers, sandwiches, wraps, and snacks for Growing Healthy Kids!  For this recipe and more, order a copy of Nourish and Flourish  from Growing Healthy Kids.  Click here. 

GROWING HEALTHY KIDS: Our Recipe Collection


PLACE in food processor or blender:
  • One 16-ounce can garbanzo beans, rinsed
  • 2 Tablespoons tahini (sesame seed butter)
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (or 5-10 black olives)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin (optional)

TO STORE:  3 days in the fridge or 1 month in the freezer.

  1. Artichoke-lemon hummus:  Add 1 cup artichoke hearts and an extra 1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
  2. Sun-dried tomato hummus:  Add 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes

CHOP 2 or 3 of your favorite vegetables, such as tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers. 

SERVE hummus for lunch in a whole grain pita or wrap.  Serve it as a snack with veggies.  Choose whole grain pitas or wraps with 4 or more grams of dietary fiber per serving.

The best part of our Third Annual Hummus at Humiston event?  One child is now matched with a mentor for the next year!!  Bam!  Thank you to all the volunteers at the event.

Foods filled with fiber - like the garbanzo beans in hummus, and fruits and veggies, are the foods that help prevent diabetes.  Eat more of the good foods!  Bon apetit!

In gratitude,
Nancy Heinrich

Growing Healthy Kids, Inc. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013



"The reluctance to put away childish things may be a requirement of genius."  
                                   --Rebecca Pepper Sinkler

Playing with kids in the kitchen is a great way to get kids interested in healthy eating.  Parents say to me all the time, “My child is a picky eater.”  My response is always, “Then let them play with their food!”  Everyone's favorite program is Growing Healthy Kids in the Kitchen, where kids get hands-on experiences in kitchen hygiene and safety, food selection and preparation, PLUS kitchen cleanup. 

Here are five great foods we have been playing with recently in our GHK kitchens (AND changing kids’ opinions about what tastes better than honeybuns and white pasta):
  1. Haas avocados
  2. Black beans
  3. Quinoa (a grain, pronounced “keen-wa”)
  4. Wild salmon
  5. Greek yogurt

Staying at a healthy weight is easy when you know what to do.  All of these foods can be considered “superfoods” for several reasons because they are:
  • Super healthy for your body and your brain
  • Super easy to prepare
  • Super fun to eat
  • Super filled with the good fats, the good carbs, and the good proteins

Kids at a recent GHK in the Kitchen class at Gifford Youth Activity Center, Vero Beach, Florida 

Can you say "fresh parsley"?

Kids intent on using the lemon squeezer while making the JamSam Salmon Burgers (see recipe below).

Speaking of good foods for great kids, here is the recipe for GHK’s JamSam Salmon Burgers.  Just ask any of the kids at Gifford Youth Activity Center how delicious and easy these are!

JamSam Salmon Burgers
4 servings

Prepare Dill Mayonnaise:
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise*
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 2 Tablespoons finely chopped fresh dill 
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper

Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.
For Burgers:
  • 2 teaspoons freshly chopped parsley
  • ½ Vidalia onion, finely diced
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup panko bread crumbs
  • ½ teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • 2-4 Tablespoons Dill Mayonnaise
  • 2 (6-1/2 ounce) cans Alaska skinless and boneless pink salmon, drained well
  • Additional panko for coating the burgers (optional)
  • 2 Tablespoons grapeseed oil
In medium bowl, combine, parsley, onions, eggs, panko, black pepper, salt, lemon zest and the Dill Mayonnaise together. Add drained salmon and mix well together. Make 4 patties, rolling them in additional panko, if desired, and set aside.

In a large skillet on medium, heat oil. Place burgers in skillet. Cook over medium heat until browned. Turn and brown other side.

Serve on potato buns with Dill Mayonnaise, fresh spinach or local greens, and sliced tomatoes.
*For demonstration purposes, Hellmann’s Olive Oil mayonnaise was used in the preparation of this recipe.

Parents, it’s easy to get your kids to eat healthy foods when they learn by playing.  Come play in the kitchen with us on November 16th in Vero Beach, Florida when Growing Healthy Kids partners with Chef Chris Bireley of Osceola Bistro for a special Growing Healthy Kids in the Kitchen Cooking Class for kids ages 5-12.  If you’d like to attend, just shoot me an email: 

For information about why a healthy weight is so important for your children, click here.
In gratitude,
Nancy Heinrich

Growing Healthy Kids