Wednesday, June 26, 2013



“A is for apple.  F is for Fiber.  Z is for Zucchini.  Eat Your Alphabet. “
                                                        --- Nancy Heinrich

When I first wrote this line, I used it as part of our Eat Rainbows campaign to engage kids in the “funness factor” of healthy eating. Eating should be fun.  It can also be educational.  

Planning meals is always fun at my house.  Take today, for instance.  This morning, I juiced up some fresh Granny Smith apples, carrots, and ginger to share with my son.  It was so delicious and I drank mine quickly.  My son, however, sternly (was he joking??) said, “Mom, you’re not sipping it!”  He's right about taking time to enjoy your food.  Lessons from our children.  It was a great way to start Wellness Wednesday, carrot mustaches and all!

Tonight, I get to play in the Growing Healthy Kids Test Kitchen.  Zucchini is in abundance and I want to create a new zucchini cake recipe for our fall project at Gifford Youth Activity Center.  One of my favorite parts of the Growing Healthy Kids project is creating recipes that are fun AND easy to make, have “regular” ingredients, feature seasonal veggies, and best of all, taste delicious and are good for you!  If all goes well tonight, next week’s Wellness Wednesdays column will feature our new zucchini cake recipe. 

Fresh veggies (tomatoes, peppers, onion, and garlic) ready to roast in the oven! 

"F" is for Fiber.  Fiber is the nondigestable part of plants.  Fiber is not found in animal products.  Foods containing fiber are what we call the good carbohydrates.  Here’s my challenge for you:  keep a food journal for 2 days in the next week and record how many grams of dietary fiber you are eating.  You will have to read food labels and you will need measuring cups.  Most Americans eat far less fiber than they need.  Here is the basic guideline from the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans from the USDA:  14 grams of dietary fiber per 1,000 calories consumed.  Most adults should aim for 28-35 grams of dietary fiber a day.   Vegetables and fruits have fiber.  Lentils and beans have fiber.  Flax seed (my personal favorite: Bob’s Red Mill Ground Flax Seed) is high in fiber as well as omega-3 fatty acids.  Check out Bob's Red Mill for lots of great recipes. 

From apples to zucchini, eat your alphabet.  Eat several letters of the alphabet and mix up the colors.  Enjoy real food.  What are you doing for fun in the kitchen with your kids?  

In gratitude,
Nancy Heinrich
Growing Healthy Kids

Friday, June 21, 2013



“Sufficient sleep is not a luxury – it is a necessity – and should be thought of as a vital sign of good health.” 

    --Wayne H. Giles, MD, MS, Director

     Division of Adult and Community Health

     National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and 

     Health Promotion

Did you know…Summer Solstice – the longest day of the year - is June 21st?   Here are some fun ideas for things to do with your extra daylight:
  • Read another book with your kids. 
  • Spend some time dreaming with your family. 
  • Make a new recipe together.
  • Take an extra lap around the block before the bugs bite.
  • Write down a new goal for your family’s health.

Our “Growing Healthy Kids” movement is giving parents the resources to, you guessed it, grow healthy kids (and families).   Here are five of my favorite Summer Solstice tips for parents:

  1. Make eating fun - have dinner together at least 4 nights a week.
  2. Let the kids play with their food.
  3. Show your kids how to use a small knife to cut vegetables, based on age appropriateness.
  4. Drink 6-8 eight ounce glasses of water a day (keep a family journal for a week as a check).
  5. Get enough sleep every night:

  • Adults:  7-9 hours
  • Adolescents 10-17 years old: 8.5-9.5 hours
  • Children 5-10 years old: 10-11 hours
  • Children 3-5 years old: 11-13 hours
  • Toddlers 1-3 years old:  12-14 hours
  • Infants 3-11 months old: 14-15 hours
  • Infants Birth-2 months old: 12-18 hours

My advice for the Summer Solstice?  
  • Sing your favorite songs at the top of your lungs.  
  • Decorate your dining table with fresh flowers.  
  • Dance in your back yard by the light of the full moon.  

Remember, as parents, it is our job to ensure that we teach our kids about the importance of a good night’s sleep.  Did you know that not getting enough sleep has been shown to prevent people from losing weight?  Be a good parent.  Lead by example.  Dance in the moonlight and celebrate the summer solstice.  Then sleep! 
In gratitude,
Nancy Heinrich
Growing Healthy Kids, Inc.
The movement to reverse, halt, and prevent childhood obesity and obesity-related diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure.  

Wednesday, June 12, 2013



"What we think we become."  -- Buddha

It’s finally here - every child's favorite part of the year – summer vacation!  

Time for summer fun!

Here are some simple wellness tips for your kids and you:

Visit your local farmer’s market before going to the grocery store.  Plan your meals around what is fresh and in season.  Locate a local farmer's market.

Set a goal to drink at least 5 8-oz. glasses of water each day. 

Eat dinner together as a family at least 4 times a week.  Let the kids help plan and prepare meals, using the “Growing Healthy Kids Eat Rainbows” rule as your guide. 

Carry a liter water bottle with you and finish it by the end of the day.

Limit TV to one hour a day.  

If you have a sweet tooth, eat naturally sweet snacks such as fruit, peppers, or natural peanut butter.  If you live in the southeast U.S., get fresh ground peanut butter in the deli section of your local Publix.  Try these recipes.

Plan for fitness:  one hour a day for kids, 1/2 an hour a day for you!  Learn about the benefits of regular physical activity.

Remember to keep a routine for sleep.  Getting enough sleep is crucial if you are trying to lose weight.  Learn how much sleep you and your kids need.

"Think healthy" as part of your strategy to be healthy!   

In gratitude,
Nancy Heinrich
Growing Healthy Kids, Inc.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013



"Healthy citizens are the greatest asset any country can have."                  -- Winston Churchill

This past week, the Growing Healthy Kids project has been teaching people of influence about healthy foods and fitness (see last week’s column about Instant Recess).  Our goal is simple:  to improve health literacy and prevent obesity-related diseases.   

Starting conversations about our relationship with food and fitness is fundamental to achieving this goal.  In a class last week for staff of a regional local food bank, I instructed a man how to cut tomatoes for the quinoa recipe we were preparing (see below).  I noticed that he was cutting off,and discarding, almost half of each tomato.  While I silently freaked out about how much he was wasting, I interrupted him and matter-of-factly said the tomatoes were hydroponically grown and had been harvested just several hours earlier that afternoon.  I asked him if he had tasted the tomato.  Of course he said no.  So I gave him permission to pop a slice into his mouth.  He did, then exclaimed with joy about how wonderful it tasted!  I simply asked him to respect the work and effort that when into growing the tomatoes I had brought for the dish he was learning to prepare and told him that at my house I am very careful about how I cut the core out of the tomato.  After he tasted this beautiful tomato, he totally changed how he was cutting them.  Health literacy is a beautiful thing!

The lessons I taught to the staff of the regional food bank are the same as those I teach to parents every day and eating good foods to prevent obesity-related diseases.  Getting to a healthy weight is easy when you use these 3 tips every day:

1. Eat less of the bad foods (foods and drinks high in sugar, fats, and salt) and more of the good foods (fresh vegetables, fruits, grains, whole grains, and lean proteins). Choose locally grown foods when available.

2.  Drink enough water.  Cut back on the soda and juice.

3.  Get enough sleep.  Adults need 7-8 hours, kids needs more.  

QUINOA is a great grain for kids!

Speaking of eating more of the good foods, here is my recipe for a simple, delicious, easy-to-make salad.  Quinoa (pronounced “keen-wa”) is the only grain which is a complete protein.  It is easily digestable and high in dietary fiber (yeah!!).

GROWING HEALTHY KIDS:  Our Recipe Collection

Quinoa Salad

  • ·        1 cup quinoa, rinsed
  • ·        2 cups water (or low sodium chicken-broth)
  • ·        1 cup grape tomatoes, cut in half
  • ·        1 medium zucchini, diced
  • ·        ½ red onion, sliced thin
  • ·        Fresh cilantro, parsley, or mint, chopped
  • ·        Salt and pepper to taste
  • ·        Juice of 2 lemons
  • ·        1/3 cup Braggs apple cider vinegar
  • ·        2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Combine quinoa and water in small pot and bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer and cover. Cook about 20 minutes or until liquid has been absorbed. Let cool completely.

In a large mixing bowl, combine cooled quinoa with remaining ingredients. Toss to mix thoroughly.

Serve chilled on a bed of locally grown greens.  This makes a great lunch for kids at school and parents at work!  

To learn how you can support your local food bank, go to click here.

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