Wednesday, March 27, 2013



Have you ever read a book you connected with?   I have.  For the past month I have been reading and rereading a book from my library (and have even renewed it several times).  The book is called NOURISHING BODY AND SOUL by Deepak Chopra, MD, David Simon, MD, and Leanne Backer.  I haven't yet met Deepak Chopra or Leanne Backer, but I did have the fortune of meeting the late David Simon several years ago when I was working in Los Angeles.  He was the Medical Director and cofounder of The Chopra Center.  

The reason this book speaks to me so loudly is because it answers a question I hear every day, whether it is from a parent who has been referred to me by a school principal for help with a child who is being bullied by classmates because she is overweight or from someone struggling with a new diagnosis of diabetes:  “Can you just tell me what to eat?” 

Fresh hydroponic tomatoes from last Saturday's Green Market with limes -
ingredients for  my favorite PICO DE GALLO recipe*!

In NOURISHING BODY AND SOUL, the authors address
fundamental questions about the intersection of food and health.   Consider this quote from the book, “Next to breathing, eating is the most natural process in the world, and we believe that it should be easy and enjoyable to follow a healthy diet.  Nevertheless, we see people every day who are confused about what to eat.”  I see the same thing in my work in the southeast U.S.  

We Americans, in our quest for freedom of choice, now have so many choices about what to eat that people are just plain confused.  Yet, when we learn to listen to ourselves and follow our natural instincts, we will make good choices and eat real food instead of all the foods full of sugar, salt and fat that is killing us and robbing our children of their health.  When we become literate about how to make good choices, finding the intersection between food and health becomes easy.  This is the common topic in all the workshops I teach and in this weekly column for parents.

Seven simple precepts in NOURISHING BODY AND SOUL  make perfect sense to me and can serve as a guide for everyone seeking to simplify their approach to eat better:
  1. Eat a wide variety of foods during the day.
  2. Listen to your body’s signals of hunger and satiety.
  3. Use food to fill the emptiness in your stomach, not your heart.
  4. If the meal isn’t delicious, it isn’t nourishing you.
  5. Favor foods that are natural and vital.
  6. Use herbs and spices liberally as both flavor and health enhancers.
  7. Eat with awareness.

As March is National Nutrition Month, these precepts are extremely appropriate.  Use food to nourish your body and soul.  Enjoy sharing meals with family and friends. 

Here are several resources you may enjoy exploring relevant to the intersection of food and health:

And of course, here is a great resource for cool, simple, delicious recipes:

Several of my notes for this week for you to share with those you love:   
  • Good food is the basis for a healthy life and the prevention of obesity-related diseases. 
  • Plan family dinners every week. 
  • Let your children help in the kitchen. 
  • Take walks together. 
  • Support your local farmers and local farmer markets.

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

*You can find my kid-tested and approved PICO DE GALLO recipe in the first book, NOURISH AND FLOURISH, from the Growing Healthy Kids project to reverse childhood obesity at  

Wednesday, March 20, 2013



"In cooking, as in all arts, simplicity is the sign of perfection."
                                                             -- Curnosky

Another Wellness Wednesday, waiting for the local tomato crop to start showing up at the Saturday Green Markets.  Do you know your local farmer?  I do.  His name is Kevin O’Dare.  Kevin is the owner of Osceola Organic Farm in Vero Beach, Florida and is a huge supporter of the Growing Healthy Kids movement to reverse childhood obesity.  He has been supplying the greens, squash, tomatoes, and other locally grown veggies we have been featuring this school year in an educational family fun project at Vero Beach Elementary School.  

Local farmer Kevin O'Dare's Osceola Organic Farm

Kevin also has been a part of the fabulous “Hummus at Humiston” parties I orchestrate, with the gracious help of volunteers, for children enrolled in the Youth Guidance Mentoring and Activities Program who are on a waiting list for mentors.  At these parties, we introduce kids to the farmers who grow vegetables, oranges, and grapefruits for local and international markets.  We introduce kids to vegetables they have never "met" before. 

I do a lot of research on foods in order to create educational programs that engage people in having fun in the kitchen.  I always enjoy reading the Dash insert in my newspaper.  Chef Jon Ashton is on a national Dash Around the Table Tour and today he is in our piece of paradise.  The fun starts at 7:00 PM at the Vero Beach High School Performing Arts Center.  When I read his bio, I came across something that captured my attention.  The chef who likes to be called “Our Jon” wrote this about himself:

“After Granny passed away when I was thirteen, no one was around to tell me to stop eating in between meals.  My mother was always at work or out with her friends at the pub and my dad lived in a flat across town.  Between the ages of 13-16 I became 60 pounds overweight.  Being overweight in England at this time was not common, let alone obese.  I was the prime target for the bullies; the teasing was relentless and I could not wait to leave school.”

His words remind me of so many kids I work with these days  in south Florida and the southeast U.S.  Kids need adults around them to teach them how to make good choices about food and fitness.  It really does take a village to raise a child.  We are the village. The more parents know about accessing locally grown foods and tips for preparing simple, delicious family meals, the healthier we will be, as families, as communities, and as a nation. 

The fact is that more than 80% of all cases of type 2 diabetes are related to weight.  The fact is that obesity-related diseases are now costing this nation more than smoking-related diseases.  

Parents: to be good role models for your children, look at your weight first.  Here are 5 tips to help you lose weight:
  1. Eat smaller meals, more often
  2. Spend at least 30 minutes on a meal
  3. Eat plenty of vegetables and fruits, especially berries
  4. Sleep at least 7 hours a night
  5. Drink water.

Speaking of vegetables, here’s a picture of one of my favorites, purple cauliflower, purchased last Saturday at the Fort Pierce Green Market.  I used it to make mashed cotatoes and served it with wild salmon and local swiss chard for a fabulous dinner this week.  
Fresh picked purple cauliflower

The recipe for mashed cotatoes is in my book, NOURISH AND FLOURISH:  Kid-Tested Tips and Recipes to Prevent Diabetes (available at 

To read more about Jon Ashton,  go to:

While we wait for the local tomatoes to show up at the market, remember:
  • Support your local farmers. 
  • Eat plenty of vegetables and fruits.
  • Get inspired with Chef Jon Ashton tonight at Vero Beach High School!  See you there!

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

Wednesday, March 13, 2013



"The childhood obesity epidemic is an urgent public health problem. The most recent data available show that nearly 19 percent of boys and about 15 percent of girls aged 2-19 are obese, and almost a third of U.S. children and adolescents are overweight or obese (Ogden et al., 2012).

The obesity epidemic will continue to take a substantial toll on the health of Americans.In the midst of this epidemic, children are exposed to an enormous amount of commercial advertising and marketing for food. In 2009, children aged 2-11 saw an average of more than 10 television food ads per day (Powell et al., 2011). Children see and hear advertising and marketing messages for food through many other channels as well, including radio, movies, billboards, and print media. Most notably, many new digital media venues and vehicles for food marketing have emerged in recent years, including Internet-based advergames, couponing on cell phones, and marketing on social networks, and much of this advertising is invisible to parents.

The marketing of high-calorie, low-nutrient foods and beverages is linked to overweight and obesity. A major 2006 report from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) documents evidence that television advertising influences the food and beverage preferences, requests, and short-term
consumption of children aged 2-11 (IOM, 2006). The report also documents a body of evidence showing an association of television advertising with the adiposity of children and adolescents aged 2-18. The report notes the prevailing pattern that food and beverage products marketed to children and youth are often high in calories, fat, sugar, and sodium; are of low nutritional value; and tend to be from food groups Americans are already overconsuming. Furthermore, marketing messages that promote nutrition, healthful foods, or physical activity are scarce (IOM, 2006)."

The preceding 3 paragraphs are from the introduction in a new National Academies Press report:  Challenges and Opportunities for Change in Food Marketing to Children and Youth: Workshop Summary.

One of our Chefs cooking at a recent Growing Healthy Kids in the Kitchen program. 

Nancy with one of the kids attending a Growing Healthy Kids in the Kitchen program  in Vero Beach. 

Raising awareness about the problem of – and solutions to – the childhood obesity epidemic is fundamental to the mission of Growing Healthy Kids, Inc.  When two in three adults are overweight or obese, it is up to us as parents to set a better example today and in the future for children.  I want to share two events happening this week in Vero Beach, Florida that set good examples – for adults AND kids.

Tonight, Dave the Raw Food Trucker will be in Vero Beach to share his story at The Cloudwalker Place (between the Kmart and Goodwill stores on US 1 at 14th Street).  A truck driver who used to be 430 pounds, was on 19 medications, and had several conditions including diabetes, this guy changed what he was eating and lost the weight – and the diabetes including, acid reflux disease, high blood pressure, kidney disease.  He is on a national tour to raise awareness about healthy eating – my kind of guy! 

Tomorrow evening, Growing Healthy Kids will be holding its 
monthly education program, GROWING WELLNESS 
CHAMPIONS, for 2nd and 3rd grade students at Vero Beach Elementary School and their parents. At each month’s event, we prepare a delicious dinner using locally grown foods and share recipes and resources to help parents and kids eat great foods.  Tomorrow we are featuring locally grown tomatoes, green peppers and onions, complements of Osceola Organic Farm and making Pizza – Designed by kids for kids.  The focus of the pizza is using a crust high in dietary fiber so everyone gets filled up.  We have made these pizzas for hundreds of kids and they all love making and eating it.  If you live in the area and would like to attend, please email me at for event details.  In case you live in Idaho or Ohio, here is the recipe for what the kids and I will be making tomorrow for dinner (with veggies courtesy of Osceola Organic Farm):

Pizza…Designed by Kids for Kids

  • 6 English muffins*
  • 1 jar pizza sauce or 1 large can tomato paste
  • 2 cups mozzarella cheese
  • 1 green pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 12 portobello mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1 large can sliced black olives
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • Pesto (optional)

  • Split muffins in half.
  • Place muffins on baking tray.
  • Spread pizza sauce (or tomato paste, with a little water and dried basil added) on muffins.
  • Add toppings of your choice.
  • Bake at 400 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until done. 
  • Serve with a chopped green salad or fresh fruit salad. 
  • Serves 6.  Enjoy!

*For demonstration purposes, Thomas Light Multi-Grain muffins containing 8 grams of dietary fiber per muffin were used in the preparation of this recipe.

NOTES FROM NANCY:  Choose muffins, breads, and tortillas with five (5) or more grams of dietary fiber per serving.  WHY?  Fiber is the GOOD carbohydrate and fills us up so we don’t overeat. 

Remember, plan family dinners this week and every week.  Let your kids help in the kitchen.  Now, off to the farm for some tomatoes and peppers!

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

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

LEADING THE WAY with the Girl Scouts of Southeast Florida


I have a confession:  I was not a Girl Scout.  

Growing up in California, I was a Camp Fire Girl (the West Coast equivalent of Girl Scouts).  As a Camp Fire Girl, I learned how to collaborate, how to lead, and how to follow instructions.  I will always remember the camping trips into the Sierra Nevada and summer camps filled with memories made while swimming in high elevation lakes and hiking through the mountains on old logging trails.

Last year, it was a huge surprise to learn that I had been nominated for an award by the Girl Scouts of Southeast Florida as their 2012 Woman of Distinction in the Healthy Living category.  I was honored last April, along with four other incredible women, for my work to raise awareness about the childhood obesity epidemic and why we cannot fail. The award has meant a lot to me because of the recognition for the leadership I provide in a health issue that threatens today’s children to lifespans shorter than ours, unless we take action to reverse, halt, and prevent obesity.

Alma Lee Loy (R), the first lady of Vero Beach, graced last year's event with her presence as she greeted
Tammy Vock (L), City Clerk. 

Juliette Gordon Low, founder of the Girl Scouts, and me at last year's Women of Distinction event.

What would a Girl Scouts event be without the COOKIES!  (Pass the Samoas, please.)

Juliette Gordon Low and one of the local Girl Scouts at last year's event.  

Tomorrow the Girl Scouts of Southeast Florida honors Indian River County’s 2013 Women of Distinction.  They are:

  • Amy Borello, Ph.D. Candidate, University of Florida (STEM-Science, Technology, Engineering and Math)
  • Catherine Lambert (Financial Literacy)
  • Linda Hart (Healthy Living)
  • Kerryanne T. Monahan (Environmental Leadership)
  • Bunny Frey (El Hogar Ministries, Inc.) 

I am absolutely delighted to have nominated Linda Hart for this recognition and to be invited to introduce her at tomorrow’s event.   Linda’s work to create healthy food choices for local residents and guests is an example of the leadership by women for women and girls to act boldly based on your beliefs.  When Linda moved to Florida from Texas, where she had been raised on her family’s farm, she was recruited for a job in nursing.  She bought a five acre homestead in Florida and saw the trends toward locally produced foods.  She started raising chickens and turkeys.  

When she received an inquiry from a private country club, she knew what direction to take.  She worked for months to gain certifications from the USDA and the Florida Department of Agriculture.  I first met Linda at the local green market in Fort Pierce and started buying the eggs she sold on Saturday mornings.  I discovered that they tasted so much better than any eggs I had ever had.  Linda also taught me that they are nutritionally better than any commercial eggs because she provides the chicken with good food and they get to run free at Crazy Hart Ranch.  I enjoy making spinach and sun-dried tomato fritatas with eggs from Crazy Hart Ranch because I love great tasting foods that are also good for me.  

If you live in or around Indian River County and would like to join me at Quail Valley River Club in honoring Linda and the four other 2013 Women of Distinction who are leading the way, go to or call 561 427-0192.  

Leadership is in the actions we take.  Kids are watching us every day.  As a parent, you are providing leadership every day to your family.  Make healthy choices for healthy living, for your children's health - and lives - may depend on it.

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