We design and deliver solutions for parents, schools, and organizations to improve the health of America's children. Growing Healthy Kids, Inc. is a non-profit organization working to improve health literacy and halt, reverse, and prevent childhood obesity...because failure to protect America's children from obesity-related diseases is not an option. Enjoy WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS!
"We can make a commitment to promote vegetables and fruits and whole grains on every part of every menu. We can make portion sizes smaller and emphasize quality over quantity. And we can help create a culture - imagine this - where our kids ask for healthy options instead of resisting them."
-- Michelle Obama
The kids all wanted to know what they were going to
make. I surprised them with the
announcement that the menu was all about breakfast. We had an ambitious list of 3 recipes to
create together. The kids wrote out our
class menu on the dry erase board: kale
protein shakes, French toast, and spinach omelets, all under the heading, “Breakfast
of Wellness Champions”.
Kids tend to their vertical towers at Florida Veggies and More.
Showing off the French toast!
One of the lessons kids learn from attending our
Growing Healthy Kids in the Kitchen classes is to use the best ingredients you
can afford to buy. Another lesson they
learn is that occasionally it is OK to have a little sweet. On this particular Saturday, both lessons
came together. The kids saw the
ingredients on the counter and their eyes got big: real maple syrup, fair trade cinnamon, real
vanilla, Greek yogurt, and fresh strawberries.
I showed them the loaf of crusty sour dough bread I purchased the day
before from La Patisserie, our new local bakery in Vero Beach which creates the
most delicious artisan breads, pastries, and desserts. The kids all wanted a taste of the bread
before we created our divine French toast.
I sliced off tiny bits for each to try.
They waited in anticipation for their first taste.
Two of the boys were given the task of slicing the
fresh strawberries. After a demonstration, one of the boys questioned my
instructions about how to cut off the top of the strawberries. He asked if he could, instead, just lop it
off with one quick slice. I took a few
minutes to explain why I wanted him to cut a very small circle around the stem
and only remove the white part of the strawberry under the stem. “Wasting food is not OK,” I explained. “Someone worked hard to grow these
strawberries. They contain lots of
vitamin C which helps keep you healthy and your immune system strong. That is why I am asking you to cut them up as
I showed you.” There were no more questions
from the strawberry team. They got to
work and did a fabulous job!
“This is a spatula.
Learn to use it correctly so that you don’t throw away part of what you
are constructing.” We cracked the eggs into a dish, added cinnamon and a little
cream. The kids all wanted to whisk the
ingredients together. The bread soaked
in the cinnamon and egg mixture while the griddle heated to the right
temperature. Each piece cooked, then I
constructed the French toast: a little
powdered sugar, vanilla Greek yogurt, sliced strawberries, and a small drizzle
of real maple syrup. Their faces were
priceless as they savored each bite of breakfast heaven!
Another lesson the kids got in our class that
morning was about respect. This is something
I talk about a lot in my healthy cooking classes: respect for the farmers who grow our foods,
respect for portion sizes that help keep us at healthy weights, and respect for
the foods that create health, not disease.
All three recipes at our breakfast class were a huge
hit! In the following days, I got some unexpected
feedback which made all the preparation time beforehand and clean up time
afterward worthwhile: while shopping the
following week, I saw one of the boys, a 5th grader, with his
family. I asked him which of the three
recipes he enjoyed the most, to which he quickly replied, “The kale protein
shakes!” Another day, I received
feedback through a coworker who knew the father of another boy from the
breakfast class. Apparently, this little
boy, a 4th grader whose mother told me is an extremely picky eater,
was so excited about the spinach omelets, that he had announced to this parents
that he wanted to make spinach omelets for Thanksgiving dinner! Getting elementary age boys and girls to love
eating kale and spinach – now that is what I call success!
I love November because it is National Diabetes
Education Month.For our Growing Healthy
Kids movement, it is another opportunity to lead by example to empower children
and educate parents.That’s why this
month we are going bananas teaching healthy cooking classes and talking about
diabetes with adults throughout the Treasure Coast of Florida and the U.S.
Did you know…
…diabetes is preventable?
…the “good” kind of carbohydrate that doesn’t raise
your blood sugar is called dietary fiber?
…sugar has no nutritional value yet it is added to
lots of foods and drinks because it is cheap?
Protecting our health means caring about our
health. Protecting our children’s health
means learning how to read food labels and buying real foods, not highly
processed foods filled with added sugars, fats, salt, and food dyes. Remember last week’s Wellness Wednesdays
article I shared with you about the woman with diabetes who had no idea what an
A1c test was? Doctors are treating diabetes but are not
teaching about diabetes. This bothers me
because of all the people I have worked with who are taking medications for
diabetes but who have never been educated about what to do if their blood sugar
remains elevated or if their blood sugar falls way below normal. If someone’s blood sugar remains
uncontrolled, don’t just throw another medicine at the patient, educate the
patient how to gain control. The fact is
that avoiding extreme highs and low is the goal if you have diabetes. As I like to say to my adult students engaged
in improving their health literacy, “you want to keep your blood sugar steady
and even, like a flat-as-a-pancake kind of beach morning at Jaycee Park Beach.”
Did you know…
…uncontrolled diabetes may very well be linked to Alzheimer's disease?
…children who eat diets filled with processed sugar
may not only develop early onset diabetes but also early onset Alzheimer's?
…children diagnosed with diabetes as teenagers can
be expected to live 15-17 years LESS than someone without diabetes?
Let’s get going with some leadership on how to not just control diabetes but how to prevent it and reverse it.
Parents can lead by example. Dare
to care. Read food labels. Cook with your children. Eat dinner together as a family. Invest in a copy of Nourish and
Flourish: Kid-Tested Tips and Recipes to Prevent Diabetes for the price of one lunch AND support our health ministry to reverse childhood obesity and prevent
obesity-related diseases like diabetes.
Buy a couple of extra copies of the book for your local library or church. It’s real easy, just click here. You can also invite Growing Healthy Kids to come to your community with weekend wellness workshops filled with healthy cooking classes and pantry makeovers; all you have to do is dare to care and dare
to lead. Just send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a weekend wellness workshop at your organization, business, school, or community center.
With your leadership, we CAN reverse the childhood obesity epidemic and ensure that our children have long lives to look forward to!
It is November.It is also National Diabetes Education Month.Every year, we are reminded to have
conversations about diabetes with our families, perhaps also with our
doctors.There are opportunities all around
us to learn more about how we can protect our health by taking action.
Let me share a conversation I had tonight...As part of a new partnership, Growing Healthy
Kids was recently asked to create a four week nutrition class for mothers living
in north Fort Pierce, Florida. A small
church with a big heart, St. Simon the Cyrenian Episcopal Church was founded
in the 1920s by Bahamian immigrants.
A major church renovation was just completed and we were invited to use the church's new kitchen to bring health literacy into the community. One of the women in the class told
me at last week's class she was taking insulin and pills for diabetes, yet when I spoke about
the most important lab test for people who have diabetes (the A1c), she had no
idea what I was talking about. That was my first sign that her doctor is treating her but not teaching her.
Tonight’s nutrition class featured lentils
(because they are such a great source for dietary fiber, the good kind
of carbohydrate). While we were talking
about the recipe we were about to prepare together, I talked about some of the
problems that come with diabetes, like heart attacks, strokes, and nerve damage
to the feet. Immediately, this same
woman said, “That’s what’s bothering me now! My feet are starting to burn all the time.”
Over and over again, she asked questions, great questions. The more we talked, the more aware I became
that she has had diabetes for years, yet she still knows so little about what
she can control, such as the foods she eats.
I am looking forward to seeing this woman next week at our next Wellness Wednesday adventure at the little church with the big
heart nestled just north of Avenue D in Fort Pierce.
For me, bringing education about diabetes and empowering mothers and
grandmothers about how we make choices every day about our own health and the
health of our family, is why wellness matters.
The best way you can support our health ministry work in Fort Pierce and other medically underserved communities is to click here and purchase several copies of Nourish and Flourish: Kid-Tested Tips and Recipes to Prevent Diabetes for your own family and church.
In case you would like to try the delicious recipe that had everyone's attention (including the children's) at tonight's nutrition class, here is the newest recipe from the Growing Healthy Kids Test Kitchen:
KIDS: Our Recipe Collection
PLACE in a medium pan with 3 cups water,
bring to a boil, then cover and reduce to simmer:
COOK for 20 minutes or until lentils are
soft. Drain off excess water.
WHILE lentils cook, sauté over medium heat
for about 5-6 minutes:
·2 teaspoons coconut oil
red pepper, thinly sliced
red onion, thinly sliced
medium zucchini, thinly sliced
HEAT on a griddle (1 minute each side):
SERVE tortillas with a spoon of lentils and
top with sautéed vegetables, sliced
avocado, fresh cilantro, and a
squeeze of fresh lime juice.
NOTES FROM NANCY:
are packed with dietary fiber (the good kind of carbohydrate).
this recipe and store the extra lentils and vegetables in reusable containers and use for delicious,
healthy lunches for your kids to take to school and for you to have at
work. Mix with cooked brown rice or
quinoa for added nutritional value.
facts: ¼ cup lentils (uncooked) have
about 11 grams of dietary fiber, 10 grams of protein, 320 mg potassium and 80
Growing Healthy Kids, Inc.
P.S. To learn more about National Diabetes Education Month, click here.