Wednesday, October 30, 2013



"Dramatic increases in childhood overweight and obesity in the United States since 1980 are an important public health focus.  Despite efforts over the past decade to prevent and control overweight and obesity, recent reports from the National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey (NHANES) show sustained high prevalence, with 17 percent of children and adolescents with a body mass index (BMI) above the 95th percentile for age and gender...To summarize, two major postmortem studies have demonstrated that the presence of obesity in childhood and adolescence is associated with increased evidence of atherosclerosis at autopsy, especially in males.  Because of the strong association with elevated blood pressure, dyslipidemia, and insulin resistance (IR), obesity is even more powerfully correlated with atherosclerosis; this association has been shown for each of these risk factors in all of the major pediatric epidemiologic studies." 
                        --Expert Panel on Integrated Guidelines for 
                          Cardiovascular Health and Risk Reduction 
                           in Children and Adolescents
                           National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

Inspiring kids to eat more of the good foods and less of the bad plus getting regular PHYSICAL FUN! is at the heart of what the Growing Healthy Kids movement is all about.  Last week I heard from a friend of mine who reported that she, after reading several  WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS columns, was inspired to start a Wellness Wednesdays Walk to motivate herself and several other mothers to start exercising more.  This is what I talking about!  

Some of the words that come to mind when I hear from people inspired by the WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS column include:
Inspire – change – movement – kids – health – fun – families – together – mentoring – loving – kindness – respect  - happiness – friendships – helping – community.
Who knew this beautiful pumpkin could turn into
healthy cookies for kids?

Since this is the last Wednesday in October, I am sharing the newest recipe from our busy Growing Healthy Kids Test Kitchen.  This cookie was featured at a Main Street Vero Beach event last weekend.  Our new Gluten-free Pumpkin Cookies were sampled by several hundred people and all the reviews were over the top “delicious”!   Here is the recipe:

GROWING HEALTHY KIDS:  Our Recipe Collection
Gluten-Free Pumpkin Cookies
SIFT TOGETHER dry ingredients in a large bowl:
  • 2-1/4 cups Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-free baking mix
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 Tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon xanthum gum

USE AN ELECTRIC HAND MIXER and mix in a large bowl:
  • ¾  cup Florida crystals demerara sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 12 Tablespoons butter (1-1/2 sticks)

ADD these to the wet mixture:

  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • ¾ cup pumpkin (used fresh cooked pumpkin if available; otherwise, substitute canned pumpkin)

ADD wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir until mixed.  DROP about ¼ cup on a baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray.  
BAKE about 12-15 minutes at 375. 

WHEN COOLED, ice with a glaze made from:
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh orange juice**

** For demonstration purposes, Natalie’s Orchid Island Orange Juice was used in the preparation of this recipe. 

READERS of WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS know that the mission of Growing Healthy Kids, Inc., is to raise awareness about the critical importance of reversing the childhood obesity epidemic.  Our children’s health – and lives – are at stake.  Every week, more evidence emerges that cannot be ignored.  The fact is that our bodies are simply not designed to be carrying around extra weight.  When children become overweight and then stay that way as adults, they are being sentenced prematurely to diseases usually thought of as old people’s diseases.  Another study of 1,500 adults prior to bariatric surgery has just been released and found that those who were obese at age 18 were more likely to have diabetes, asthma, polycystic ovarian syndrome, sleep apnea, high blood pressure, lower extremity edema and other obesity-related diseases.  To read the abstract of the study in the journal Pediatrics, click here.

In gratitude,
Nancy Heinrich

Founder, Growing Healthy Kids

Wednesday, October 23, 2013


"The choices we make matter."  -- Nancy Heinrich

How many times have you said, “I wish I knew this 20 years ago?”  or “Why did I ever start (fill in the bad habit)?”  When I was a kid growing up in Sacramento, California I ate lots of vegetables but I never ate asparagus, brussels sprouts, and kale.  Now, I love them and can’t get enough of them!



Demonstration of MINDFUL FUN at a
recent GHK Kids in the Kitchen program at Gifford Youth Activity Center, Vero Beach, FL)
(yours truly in the background overseeing the fun!)

Mindful fun at a recent GHK event at
Boys and Girls Clubs of Indian River County, FL

 The choices we make every day matter.  What we learn impacts our decisions.  How much we know about a subject influences the choices we make.  Our mind is the most powerful tool in our health tool kit.  That’s what mindful health is all about.  Be mindful, be healthy!

The Growing Healthy Kids (GHK) movement specializes in mindful fun as the vehicle to arrive at our destination of mindful health.  Kids in the GHK education programs learn about foods firsthand that create health because they talk with the farmers, then they become the farmers, the chefs, and the nutritionists.  We love celebrating each child who makes the mindful health transformation from “I don’t eat that” to “Can I have seconds?”  and “Can I take some of that home to my parents?”  after attending a GHK Kids in the Kitchen program. 

Mindfulness is simply a direct, conscious choice to make a deliberate decision. Think of mindfulness as a strategy for bringing one’s complete attention to the present experience on a moment-to-moment basis.  It is a state of mind that creates prosperity.  I believe that to be healthy is to be prosperous.   By being mindful of what we choose to eat and drink, we make the choice to stay in balance.  Think about what you are eating and why you are eating.  I often ask clients to keep a journal of their emotions ("how were you feeling when you ate this meal/snack/binge food item") when they are seeking solutions for helping their children and themselves get to healthier weights.  They are given the assignment of recording what they eat for one week and also noting how they were feeling at each meal or snack.  What emerges is self-evident:  “I was worried about getting written up at work,” "I was bored,” or “I just had a fight with my boyfriend”. 

Overeating is not productive and does not result in prosperity.  Overindulging in desserts and refined sugars leads to inflammation within the body and weight gain.  Why is this important?  The body is not designed to carry around an extra 50 or 100 pounds.  If you need inspiration, check out CNN’s FitNation series of interviews with people who have made the effort to shed the weight and have gotten the results.  Your attitude can affect your decisions.  Think about what you want and think about why you want it. Then go write in down.  Be specific with the “why”.  Use what we call SMART goals:  Specific-Measureable-Achievable-Realistic-Time-Specific. 

Parents, this message is for you:  Use mindfulness and get yourself fit.  Be a better role model for your children.  The world does not need more overweight children or children with diabetes.  It also does not need parents who are overweight.  Be mindful of what you eat.  Eat with the intention of being healthy every day.  As we like to say in the Growing Healthy Kids movement, “eat rainbows”.  Engage in mindful fun, or as my friend, Ronnie Hewitt, former CEO of Boys and Girls Clubs of Indian River County, used to say, "Fun with a purpose!"  Twenty years from now your kids will thank you!  Heck, they just might be partial to asparagus, brussels sprouts and kale.

In gratitude,
Nancy Heinrich

Growing Healthy Kids, Inc. 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013



"There are three things I've learned never discuss with people:  religion, politics, and The Great Pumpkin."
                                    --Linus  from "It's the Great Pumpkin,                                                            Charlie Brown" (1966)

October is when parents think about taking the little ones to the local pumpkin patch and carving pumpkins for Halloween.  Pumpkins are great for more than decorating your front porch a couple of weeks a year.  Pumpkin is a squash that is delicious, healthy, and good for you.  Like all vegetables that are orange, pumpkin is high in the anti-oxidant, beta-carotene.  Beta-carotene converts to Vitamin A in the body and may offer protection against certain cancers and degenerative aspects of aging.

Growing Healthy Kids has been asked to create a gluten-free pumpkin recipe for the first ever children’s October event on Main Street Vero Beach.  We’ve been working furiously in the GHK Test Kitchen to come up with the perfect pumpkin cookie for kids.  The results so far are..."YUM...More, please!"

I have a confession, dear readers...Cooking pumpkin is SO EASY.  Before this challenge to create a gluten-free pumpkin cookie came to Growing Healthy Kids, I had never cooked a pumpkin to use in a recipe.  Now that I have crossed that line and I have learned how easy it is, I am a convert and will probably never go back to using canned pumpkin again!

DIRECTIONS FOR USING FRESH PUMPKIN IN PIES, SOUPS, AND MORE:  Break off the stem of a small pumpkin.  Wash the outside.  Cut pumpkin in half.  Scoop out seeds.  Place upside down (skin side up) in a large baking dish.  Add a small amount of water (1/2 cup or so).  Roast in an oven at 400 degrees for approximately 30 minutes or until easily pierced with a fork.  Let cool.  Scoop out pumpkin and puree in a food processor.  Freeze pumpkin if you are not going to use it right away.

One cup of 1” pumpkin cubes contain:
  • 30 calories
  • 394 mg of potassium
  • 197% of daily Vitamin A
  • 17% of daily Vitamin C
  • 1 gram of sodium

CLICK HERE to get into the mood with The Great Pumpkin Waltz by Vince Guaraldi.

Happy, Healthy Pumpkin Season to you and your family!

In gratitude,
Nancy Heinrich

Growing Healthy Kids, Inc.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013



“A lot of parents ask me how to get kids to eat more vegetables.  The first thing I say is that it starts from the top.”  
                                           --Chef Emeril Lagasse

Our Growing Healthy Kids movement features some awesome classes in the kitchen for kids.  One thing I love to watch is how the kids all clamor to do something.  When the kids show up for a class, the first thing they see is a display of all the ingredients we are going to play with.  A lesson  I learned from my father who was an aerospace engineer was to always use the right tool for the job.  That same lesson applies in the kitchen, which is why this week’s WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS topic is about kids’ favorite kitchen tools:  lemon squeezers and garlic presses. 

in Vero Beach, Florida.  Kids wait with anticipation
to use the lemon squeezer!

Lemons have seeds.  Using fresh lemon juice is so much better than using bottled lemon juice.  Having a lemon squeezer in your kitchen makes having fresh lemon juice to use a no-brainer.  Look for one that is easy for the kids to use and easy to clean.  You can get a great lemon squeezer for under $5.00.

In our Growing Healthy Kids in the Kitchen educational programs, we ask kids if they know the trick for releasing the juice from lemons (or limes) so it is easy to squeeze.  No one ever guesses the trick but it is so easy:  roll a lemon on the counter with just a little bit of pressure.  Another trick is to put the lemon in the microwave for ten seconds but I really don’t like using a microwave anymore.  

Garlic is really good for keeping us healthy and protecting us from colds.   So good that I look for ways to have garlic every day.  I am one of those people who never takes a sick day because I don't get sick and I owe a big part of my own wellness to eating garlic.  One of my observations in every Growing Healthy Kids in the Kitchen class is how much the kids LOVE to use the garlic press.  They will stand in line to wait for a turn to be able to use the garlic press.  Buy your family a good garlic press – one of my favorites is made by Pampered Chef. 

Garlic and lemon are great additions to vegetable dishes. Try these ideas at your house this week: 

RECIPE IDEA:  Steam some broccoli and squeeze a little fresh lemon juice on it for flavor instead of butter.  The lemon is healthier and better for you than butter!  

RECIPE IDEA:  Use the garlic press and add fresh garlic to a foil packet of vegetables such as zucchini, green beans, and carrots.  Add a little extra virgin olive oil and some sea salt and pepper.  Wrap tightly.  Throw the foil packet on the grill with some fresh fish and you will have an amazing vegetable dish that the kids will devour!

With gratitude,
Nancy Heinrich

Growing Healthy Kids, Inc.   

Wednesday, October 2, 2013



"Pasta, vegetables, fish, and good bread...That's my idea of how to eat well and healthfully."  

---Marion Nestle
The Paulette Goddard Professor of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health, and Professor of Socialogy, at New York University, and the author of Safe Food (2002), What to Eat (2006), and Food Politics (revised ed., 2007)

Last night, one of my wonderful neighbors stopped by the house to ask me for some healthy food ideas for her dad (who has Type 2 diabetes).  She walked into the kitchen, picked up a bag of Bob’s Red Mill Whole Grain Oat Flour (which I just bought for the Growing Healthy Kids Test Kitchen’s new challenge later this month), and started asking questions.  

Here are some of my answers:

  • Eating whole grain foods is key to a balanced eating plan.  
  • Make AT LEAST HALF of all your grains whole grain.  Think of all the foods you eat that contain grains:  breads, pastas, cereals, tortillas, cookies, cakes, crackers, rice, and more.   

Whole grain foods are central to the recipes created in the Growing Healthy Kids Test Kitchen.  We love Bob’s Red Mill products because of their purity, quality, and dependability. Here are ten items from Bob’s Red Mill you can ALWAYS find in my pantry:
  1. Steel cut oats
  2. Whole grain oat flour
  3. Coconut flour
  4. Brown rice flour
  5. Ground flax seeds (you can use these as a substitute for oil in baking!)
  6. Corn grits/polenta
  7. Organic quinoa
  8. French lentils
  9. Raw pumpkin seeds
  10. Quick cooking wild rice

What is YOUR favorite whole grain product? To learn more about one of Growing Healthy Kids' good food companies, click here,

In gratitude,
Nancy Heinrich

Growing Healthy Kids