Wednesday, February 11, 2015


“All you need is love.  But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.” –                                                                                                                              -Charles M. Schultz, creator of "Peanuts"

February is American Heart Month.  Valentine's Day is almost here.  There is a lot of talk about love, chocolate, beautiful flowers, and healthy relationships.  Did you know that when buying chocolate, the easiest way to select a dark chocolate (which contains mainly cocoa, not sugar) is to look for “70% cocoa” or higher?  Not only is dark chocolate is good for your heart by helping lower your blood pressure, it makes you feel good-really good.  While conducting research for a recent talk at a Parent Summit (, I ran into overwhelming proof that eating dark chocolate contributes to a good mood., especiallly for kids.   GROWING HEALTHY KIDS TIP:  Replace milk chocolate with dark chocolate.   I am known to enjoy a little dark chocolate just about every day! 

A recent dinner at the Growing Healthy Kids Test Kitchen: Scottish salmon, organic arugula and Tuscan kale, organic rainbow carrots, and black rice,  Everyone loved it!  

Another food that is really good for your heart is wild salmon.  Going to my local fish market twice a week for some fresh wild salmon is an adventure I always look forward to!  While I usually prepare salmon the Danish way (cooked with some olive oil, sea salt, and lots of dried dill), another delicious idea is to use a gremolata (lemon rind zest, fresh chopped parsley, a little olive oil, salt and pepper).  Put this mixture on top of your fresh salmon and bake at 400 degrees for 8-10 minutes.  Serve with lemon slices.  Add cooked greens and whole grain rice and you have a delicious heart healthy meal.  GROWING HEALTHY KIDS TIP:  Let the kids make the gremolata.  If you don’t have a zester/microplane, pick one up at your local kitchen shop.

Keeping your heart healthy is about eating foods with the good fats (like salmon, olive oil, and nuts), cutting out all drinks with added sugars, AND getting some exercise every day.  My favorite choice of exercise is walking because I can do it anywhere.  If you live up north where you have winters to contend with, you can still walk inside (at work, at school, or at inside malls or big box stores).   

Learn how to take care of your heart: laugh often, enjoy some dark chocolate, and go take a walk! 

With love and gratitude,
Nancy Heinrich
Founder of the Growing Healthy Kids Project

Remember, February is American Heart Month.  To learn more about preventing high blood pressure from American Heart Association, click here.  For great tips about exercise from University of California's Berkeley Wellness, click here.