Wednesday, December 24, 2014

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: Understanding Wellness

"The chief function of the body is to carry the brain around."
                                                                                         --Thomas A. Edison

My grandfather was a farmer in Indiana.  He grew corn, soybeans, and wheat.  Every spring he planted a huge vegetable garden behind the farmhouse for my grandmother.  During summer vacations, my brothers and I traveled to the family farm from our home in California.  We learned close-up and personal about the cycles of growing real food.  Eating fresh picked tomatoes from my grandmother’s garden is one of my favorite childhood memories!  Oh, the flavor! 

Fast forward to today.  People are talking a lot about a couple of subjects:  gluten-free foods (basically avoiding wheat, rye, and barley, required if you have celiac disease and preferred by those with food sensitivities) and non-GMO foods (see definition at the end of this paragraph).  I pay a lot of attention to food packaging and food labeling because it is something we teach as part of our path towards improved health literacy with the Growing Healthy Kids project.  Every day, I learn more about the issues of gluten-free eating and GMO vs non-GMO.  I find myself becoming a “subject matter expert” because so many people are asking questions, looking for answers, and seeking improved health outcomes. 
GHK TIP:  Let your kids play in the kitchen.  Get a garlic press!  

Growing grains is not the same as when my grandfather farmed.  Most of the soybeans and corn grown today (over 90%) comes from GMO (genetically modified organism) seeds, which, in my opinion, is venturing into a deep dark unknown of physical and environmental health problems.   Do we really know what the effect will be on our health?  Do you really want to believe the chemical companies that brought you Agent Orange are telling you the truth? 

“Don’t mess with God.”  When you start changing the genetic materials used to grow foods, the effects may be profound in 5, 10, or 20 years.  Genetically modified organisms are living organisms whose genetic material has been artificially manipulated in a laboratory using genetic engineering.  (For more information on the Non-GMO Project, click here.)

“You are what you eat.”  You’ve heard that before.  My choice is to eat foods that are as natural and freshly picked as possible.  What is important to your health?  Eating vegetables grown by my local farmers and choosing to cook with grains that are from non-GMO seeds are two things that are important to me.  Understanding wellness means, to me, knowing where my food comes from. 

Food should taste good and it should be good for you.  Here’s a delicious new recipe from the Growing Healthy Kids Test Kitchen.  I buy zucchini, onions, and carrots grown right here in the county where I live.  This recipe has been kid-tested! 

GROWING HEALTHY KIDS:  Our Recipe Collection
Zucchini-Carrot Fritters

  • 2 small zucchini 

Place zucchini in a colander in the sink; toss with 1 teaspoon salt and let sit for 10 minutes.  Squeeze out the liquid. 

Place zucchini in a large mixing bowl. 

Mix in:
  • 1 grated carrot
  • ¼ cup diced sweet onion
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro (or parsley)
  • 1 egg
  • ¾ cup grated Parmesan
  • ¼ cup organic soy flour (or corn flour)

Fry small spoonfuls of the mixture in unrefined coconut oil, 3-4 minutes per side, flattening with a spatula. 

Drain on paper towels. 

Serves 4. 

  • Make extra fritters and pack some in everyone’s lunchboxes the next day. 
  • Using organic soy flour boosts the protein content.

In gratitude,
Nancy Heinrich
Growing Healthy Kids, Inc.