Wednesday, August 28, 2013



"I see the lack of access to what we need the most, fresh fruits and veggies.  I'm concerned about what the kids eat in school, all the processed foods.  I'm concerned about the health of the children and what diseases they are going to be growing up with because of poor food choices or the lack of availability of good food choices."

---Nancy Heinrich (from "Locavores unite to promote local farming" by Stephanie Labaff in Vero Beach Newsweekly, August 28, 2013)

For each adult who parents or mentors a child, we have a responsibility to be a good role model.  With 2 in 3 adults overweight or obese,  teaching children the habits they need for a lifetime of good health means taking a look at ourselves in the mirror first. 

What is something you can do right now?  Eat less of the bad foods.  Look at food labels for the ingredient “high fructose corn syrup”.  By eliminating this highly processed sugar from the foods you buy and bring into your home, you are taking a huge step in the right direction.  Eating less of the bad foods and more of the good foods is a simple strategy that all families can use.  Let your kids become NUTRITION DETECTIVES by checking processed foods for high fructose corn syrup and letting them search for a similar food product that does not contain what we at the Growing Healthy Kids project call the Evil Empire ingredient. 

GHK on the Move:  Teaching kids how to make Healthy Snacks
at a recent Boys and Girls Clubs of Indian River County.

If high fructose corn syrup is something we need to eat less of, then what are the good foods we need to eat more of?  Here are ten good foods to get your family started on the path to wellness:

  1. Wild salmon (full of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids)
  2. Kale (rich in vitamin K)
  3. Avocados (a good source of glutathione, an antioxidant that improves overall hormone function)
  4. Olives and olive oil (containing the “good” fat called unsaturated, olives are known to lower blood pressure and cholesterol)
  5. Walnuts (ounce for ounce, walnuts have almost twice as many antioxidants as any other nut)
  6. Sweet potatoes (loaded with vitamin B6 and potassium, they also help regulate blood pressure)
  7. Dark chocolate (can aid in lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels)
  8. Garlic (when garlic is crushed, allicin is released, which wards off heart attacks and strokes)
  9. Blueberries (LOADED with antioxidants, this is a key disease-fighting food)
  10. Asparagus (a natural diuretic, this vegetable is high in vitamin B12 and potassium)

For some affordable breakfast ideas, check out this website I found this week.  Click here.

To read the brand new "F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America's Future 2013" report from the Robert Wood Johnson foundation, click here.

If you have suggestions of topics you would like to covered in a future issue of WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS, we'd love to hear from you.  Please contact us at:

In gratitude,
Nancy Heinrich

Growing Healthy Kids, Inc. 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013



"What you do has far greater impact than what you say."
                                                ---Stephen Covey

My best friend, Chris Ann, surprised me this summer when she invited me to celebrate my birthday at a great little restaurant called "Three Doors Down from Nancy".  The restaurant was, indeed, three doors down from Nancy, which turned out to be a little dress shop.  I asked Chris Ann to take this picture of me because, come on, how often does something this cool happen to yours truly?  What magical experiences have YOU had during your summer vacation? 

Now that it is the end of August, it is back to school for parents who can lead by example with healthy eating habits.  Back to school for the kids means alarm clocks, getting a healthy breakfast before leaving the house, and packing a school lunch. I talked about school lunches last week, so let's back up and talk about breakfast. 
Here are a few questions:
How many days a week do your kids eat breakfast?
How often do they skip it?
What do they eat to kickstart their day into high gear?
Does your breakfast include some protein? 
What are you having for breakfast to set the right example?

Why is breakfast such an important meal for the kids (and you)?  Here are reasons why:

  • Breakfast is our first meal of the day.  
  • It literally means “break the fast” after not eating all night.  Breakfast is the meal that gives our bodies and minds the energy to get up and go. 
  • When you skip breakfast, you do more harm than good. 
  • Kids who do not have breakfast do not perform as well in school. 
  • Choosing a breakfasts with either soluble fiber (found in oats, apples, and pears) or insoluble fiber (found in whole grain breads and waffles) actually protects you against blood sugar spikes and crashes later in the day.

Here's a BIG reason to eat breakfast.  Did you know...that one of the key habits of “successful losers” (from a national database of over 5,000 people who lost at least 30 pounds and kept them off for at least a year) is that they eat breakfast every day?  Let’s give our children the fuel for their brains to perform and their bodies to be in great shape.  Breakfast…it does a body good!

Bob’s Red Mill Steel Cut Oats is one of my favorite breakfast foods. Steel cut oats are a less processed version of what most people think of when you say “oatmeal”.  Oats are full of soluble fiber, which acts like a scrubber for keeping the bad cholesterol from sticking to or staying inside of our blood vessels.  Other foods high in soluble fiber include apples and pears.  Steel cut oats take up to 30 minutes to cook, so a tip for making healthy breakfasts for the kids (and you) is to cook it on Sunday, then just heat it up to make a great breakfast for 2-3 days.  Serve with some almond or soy milk, a little cinnamon, agave nectar or honey, and some diced apples.  Add a piece of whole grain toast and the kids will be thanking you for the brainpower food!
Bob's Red Mill Steel Cut Oats make a delicious - and healthy - start to the day!  

Use one of the 100 calorie whole grain flat breads to make a peanut butter and banana sandwich.  Look for the ones that have 5 grams of dietary fiber per serving.  Add a glass of almond or soy milk and hit the power button for school! 
SOAR LIKE AN EAGLE THIS YEAR AT SCHOOL!  This is a picture I took recently in Sebastian, Florida.  

You’ve got to watch the video of this little kid with his words of empowerment he learned at pre-k.  Wish every kid started with this kind of attitude.  Thank a teacher for making a difference!  Click here and scroll down to watch the video.

Lead by example.  When you go shopping with your kids, talk with them about breakfast ideas and involve them in the decisions.  With just a little bit of planning, you can send your kids off to school with a breakfast that will kickstart their day and help them be smart and healthy!

In gratitude,
Nancy Heinrich

Growing Healthy Kids, Inc. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013



"Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower."
                                                  -- Steve Jobs

Summer vacation for America’s kids is coming to a close and the first day of school is almost here.  What was the best part of YOUR summer vacation?  

Lead the way for a great school year by innovating with school lunches.  The best school lunch your kids will get is the one they make with you.  Getting the right balance of good carbohydrates, lean protein, and the healthy fats can make the difference in your kids' success at school (and your success at work).  

Let’s start by planning:

1.  Pick out a great lunch box for each of your kids (and one for you so you can take healthy lunches to work).  Google “bento lunch boxes” for new ideas.  What is a bento?  Quite simply, a bento is a visually appealing lunch in a box.  According to Wikipedia, a bento is “a single-portion takeout or home-packed meal common in Japanese cuisine.  A traditional bento holds rice, fish or meat, with pickled or cooked vegetables, usually in a box-shaped container.”  Remember to plan for a way to keep the lunch cool with an icepack inside an insulated lunch bag.  Some of the containers I have been using in our Growing Healthy Kids’ programs are the square and rectangular plastic boxes with built-in cooler packs.  Check out stores like TJMaxx and Homegoods for a great selection. 

Ready to learn how to make a bento box? Click here to watch the video!

Click here for an overview of how to make a bento lunch.

2.  Take a walk with your kids through your favorite food market or big box stores like Costco and Sam’s Club.  Make a list of 10 foods that store well and can be bought in bulk (to keep costs down).  Here are some ideas:

  • Nuts (almonds, walnuts, pistachios, pecans, etc.)
  • Dried fruits (bananas, apples, apricots, peaches, cherries, blueberries)
  • Dark chocolate squares (Ghirardelli has always been my favorite brand since visiting Ghirardelli Square in San Francisco throughout my childhood growing up in California.)
  • Pretzel sticks
  • Triscuit crackers
  • Miniature whole grain bagels (which can be frozen)

3.  Now make a list of protein foods that can be easily prepared once or twice a week.  Here are some ideas:

  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Quinoa salad
  • Hummus (pack with celery, carrots, or cucumbers)
  • Tuna
  • Canned wild salmon
  • Wrap sandwiches made with whole grain breads (check out flat-outs and La Tortilla Factory’s choices).  These can be used with sliced cheeses and low-fat meats like turkey. 
  • Peanut butter or almond butter (make your own cracker sandwiches with whole grain crackers or flatbreads)
  • Whole grain pasta salad (use Dreamfields rotini pasta as the base)

4.  Keep a chart in the kitchen of the seasonal fruits and veggies where you live so you can incorporate those into the plan.  Fresh is best! Buy from your local farmers whenever possible.  

5.  Buy a stainless steel water bottle.  Your kids can fill it with water each night and place it in the fridge to chill overnight.  Make a family pledge to stop using disposable plastic water bottles.  Go back to school in style with the stainless steel Growing Healthy Kids water bottle--click here.

6.  Create a weekly lunch menu with your kids.  Keep a notebook for this so you can note which lunch items were a hit!   

Email your favorite summer adventures to us and we will post some in the next couple of issues of WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS.  Email us at  

In gratitude,
Nancy Heinrich
Growing Healthy Kids, Inc. 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013



“It is extraordinarily difficult to fight the headwinds of our society that has promoted obesity in our children.  We have a lot to do to truly tackle this epidemic.”  
                                   --Lawrence J. Cheskin, M.D., F.A.C.P.

Here are some questions to ask yourself:  Where do I buy food?  How much of my weekly food expenses are spent on vegetables, fruits, and whole grains?  How much am I spending on prepared foods that come in boxes?  Is my child getting a healthy meal at school?  How many hours of “screen time” is my child having on average every day?  How often do my child and I exercise together?

We’ve all heard this phrase:  “It takes a village to raise a child.”  I like to say, “It takes an educated village to raise a healthy child.”  Children deserve access to foods that will help them maintain healthy weights.  Children deserve to be surrounded by informed adults who will provide guidance and love to help shape children and youth into healthy and happy adults. 

Improving health literacy of adults is a big part of what we are doing in the Growing Healthy Kids movement to reduce, halt, and prevent childhood obesity.  As Dr. Cheskin said, we have a lot to do to tackle the childhood obesity epidemic in light of all the added sugar, fats, and salts found in packaged foods and the pharmaceutical industry looking to profit from overweight and obese adults and kids who develop high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes as a result. Here are three habits which can position your family for better health:

HABIT ONE.  Keep a log for 3 days of how much time your child – and you - are spending on “screen time” a day.   Include TV time, computer time, and texting time.  Use the logs to determine if your child is spending too much time watching TV and playing computer games and not enough time outside playing.  How much screen time is too much for children?  Current recommendations from American Academy of Pediatrics are to limit screen time to no more than 1 to 2 hours of quality programming a day. By comparison, a 1999 study found that children spent an average of 6 hours and 32 minutes a day in front of a screen. Click here to read the full statement from American Academy of Pediatrics.

HABIT TWO.  Rate your plate.  Half of your dinner plate should be veggies.  To be able to have fresh vegetables every week, find out what is in season and what your local farmers are growing.  Veggies at the height of their growing season can be bought for the best price.  Click here to find a local farmer near you.

HABIT THREE.  Cut your sugar consumption in half.  Sugar contains what we call “empty calories” – calories with no nutritional value.  Start with sodas and fruit juice.  At the Growing Healthy Kids program, we teach kids two rules:  “Drink water not soda” and “Eat fresh fruit.”  Soda is loaded with sugar.  Become a nutrition detective:  divide the grams of sugar per serving by 4.  The result is the number of teaspoons of sugar one serving contains.  A typical carton of flavored milk served in public schools contains about 7 added teaspoons of sugar.  Start the new school year off right and find out what your kids will be drinking at school by scheduling to have lunch with them at least once a month. 

Kids love to grate the zucchini and carrots!

Zucchini patties with fresh cilatro

As promised to our readers several weeks ago, here is the debut of our newest addition to the Growing Healthy Kids Recipe Collection, featuring zucchini, a great vegetable that is abundant this time of year and easy on the family food budget. These store well for a day or two and make a great healthy lunchbox item!

GROWING HEALTHY KIDS:  Our Recipe Collection

Zucchini Patties

  • ·  2 cups grated zucchini (about 1 large or 2 medium)
  • ·  ½ cup onion, shredded
  • ·  1 small carrot, grated finely
  • ·  1/2 cup potato flour (I like Bob's Red Mill brand)
  • ·  1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ·  ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ·  ½ teaspoon pepper
  • ·  1 teaspoon Italian seasoning (optional)
  • ·  1/3 cup Braggs Nutritional Yeast (or substitute grated Parmesan cheese) (optional)

IN ANOTHER BOWL, whip until they “hold a peak”:
  • ·  2 egg whites

FOLD egg whites into zucchini mixture and gently mix well. 

Add a little more flour if mixture is too wet.

MIX in a shallow plate or small bowl:
  • ·  1 cup panko bread crumbs
  • ·  2 Tablespoons smoked paprika

USING a measuring cup (1/4 cup), scoop batter and roll into balls.  Roll lightly in panko and flatten to about ½ inch.  
Fry on griddle, using spray oil.  Patties should be about 3” in diameter. 
COOK for about 5 minutes, then flip and cook about 3 more 

SERVE with a spoon of fat-free sour cream, salsa, and 
chopped cilantro or flat leaf parsley.  

Hope you enjoy putting these 3 habits to work for your family’s health.  Enjoy the remaining few days and weeks of summer vacation before the kids return to school!  

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