Wednesday, March 30, 2016

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: Obesity in Adults: 7 Tips You Can Use

"Pasta does not make you fat.  How much pasta you
eat makes you fat." 
                                                 --Giada De Laurentiis

Obesity rates continue to climb.  Adults who are obese are 4.7 times more likely to develop diabetes.  For the wealthiest nation in the world that spends more than $245 billion on diagnosed diabetes (as estimated in 2012), a whopping 41% increase over the previous 5 years, we are spending a lot of money on a preventable disease that could be used many other ways.

Growing Healthy Kids is committed to preventing diabetes in children and educating parents how to prevent, control, and reverse diabetes.  Are you are parent?  Start with a simple plan to make one change a week.  Record your plan in a notebook and measure your changes. 

Make health goals that are SMART:  Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-Specific.  Review this list of 7 tips and pick out several to implement for you and your family.  Use them to create SMART goals:
  1. Start every day with a breakfast that includes some high quality protein (like eggs or yogurt), a little fat, and some healthy carbs (fresh fruit or veggies). 
  2. Make family dinner time a priority at least 4 nights a week (depending on the kids’ sports and other commitments)
  3. Ban cell phones from the dinner table.  This small change encourages conversation about the day and dining at a slower, relaxed pace, allowing everyone to taste and enjoy their food.
  4. Take a walk after dinner, whenever the weather permits. 
  5. Eat a salad featuring local greens (when available) at least once a day.  Ask your kids to create a family salad bar with 5 or 6 ingredients. 
  6. Learn to make a simple vinaigrette for your salads (see my recipe below).
  7. Replace fruit juice with fresh fruit. 

GROWING HEALTHY KIDS:  Our Recipe Collection

MIX together in a bowl (or in a jar and then you can just shake it well):
  • ·        1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ·        1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • ·        ¼ cup Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar
  • ·        1 teaspoon honey (use locally produced honey where available)
  • ·        sea salt
  • ·        fresh ground pepper

BEAT with a whisk or a fork until the mixture emulsifies.

This is a great dressing for a simple chopped salad using fresh, locally grown greens.  We love salads made with fresh picked organic greens, arugula, tomatoes, cucumbers, pears, avocados, garbanzo beans, and apples.

Make a plan.  Keep it simple.  Think of what YOU would do with $245 billion!

In gratitude,
Nancy Heinrich

Founder, Growing Healthy Kids, Inc. 

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: Savor the Flavor of Parsley

"Health is not a condition of matter, but of Mind."  
                                                             --Mary Baker Eddy

With the obesity epidemic all around us and threatening the lives - and health - of America's children, it is the simple steps to healthier eating that make each meal a delight.  

The fresh organic parsley in my refrigerator will soon be made into a delicious parsley pesto.  Pesto is a key ingredient that enhances the flavor of several of my favorite meals:  (1) served on gluten-free Portobello mushroom ravioli (with a green salad made with local greens from my favorite farmers) and (2) my favorite grilled sandwich EVER made with extra sharp Vermont cheddar cheese, a slice of organic heirloom tomato, a sprinkle of pink Himalayan sea salt, and pesto on sprouted whole grain bread.  

Parsley has so many incredible health benefits, yet many people believe think it is “just a garnish” to make the plate pretty.  Let’s banish that myth! 

Some of parsley's health benefits:
  • Vitamins K
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin A
  • Folate (folic acid)
  • Iron
  • Copper
  • Magnesium
  • Potassium
According to The World’s Healthiest Foods (, “The flavonoids in parsley-especially luteolin-have been shown to function as antioxidants that combine with highly reactive oxygen-containing molecules (called oxygen radicals) and help prevent oxygen-based damage to cells.  In addition, extracts have been used in animal studies to help increase the antioxidants capacity of the blood.”  

A half cup of parsley contains about 11 calories – good for the waistline! Parsley pesto is easy to make.  Here’s my recipe: 


  • 2 cups fresh organic parsley (use curly or Italian)
  • ½ cup walnuts (to enhance the flavor, lightly toast them in a dry pan)
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan-Reggiano cheese
  • ½ teaspoon pink Himalayan sea salt
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • ½ cup (or so) of extra virgin olive oil


Place all ingredients except olive oil in a food processor and process until well mixed.   Then drizzle the olive oil down the tube until you get the consistency you want.  

Note:  If not using pesto immediately, then store in a container and pour a thin layer of olive oil on top.  Cover and refrigerate.  Use within a week. 

Savor the flavor of parsley.  It's oh, so good!

In gratitude,

Nancy Heinrich

Founder, Growing Healthy Kids, Inc. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: "I want to eat better, can you help me?"

“Quite simply, the more you substitute plant foods for animal foods, the healthier you are likely to be.” 

                        --Dr. T. Colin Campbell, nutrition expert at Cornell University and co-author of The China Study

Every day, while giving presentations or talking with people around the country about the work we do in the Growing Healthy Kids organization to defeat childhood obesity, there is always at least one person who asks for help in eating better.  Sometimes it is because they have just been diagnosed with diabetes.  Frequently it is because they know they are not eating right and are gaining weight or having issues with their blood pressure. 

Learning how to eat better often starts with a stark realization that if something doesn’t change, one’s health will change for the worse.  The fact is that obesity is the root cause of many preventable diseases.  Taking responsibility for what you eat is the first step towards better health.

March is National Nutrition Month.  Here are 3 tips you can use to eat better AND feel better:
  1. Eliminate high fructose corn syrup from everything you eat and drink by reading food labels on all processed foods.  This highly processed sugar is stored as fat and has no nutritional value. 
  2. Eat super foods every day, such as almonds, walnuts, blueberries, kale, quinoa and sweet potatoes. 
  3. Take a walk after dinner every day, or at least most days.  Adding this simple step can aid in digestion, help you sleep better, reduce stress, get to a healthier weight, and prevent overeating. 

Savor the flavor of eating right!

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

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: My Favorite Kitchen Tools

"Every child should be taught to cook in school, not just talk about nutrition all day.  Good food can be made in 15 minutes. This could be the first generation where the kids teach the parents." 
                                                                   --Jamie Oliver

Know what? Kids love to have a job in the kitchen.   We give them jobs when they come to our workshops.  That is why we have so much fun playing surrounded by fresh veggies.

One of the great joys we experience in our Growing Healthy Kids in the Kitchen workshops is teaching kids how to use basic kitchen tools.  My belief is that all kids should be knowledgeable in using 10 basic kitchen tools.   Let’s start with two of my favorite kitchen tools.

When kids come to our workshops, they clamor to use the graters and microplane zesters.  Something magical happens when you give a kid a cutting board, a box grater, and a pile of zucchini and carrots or a cutting board, a zester, and a bowl with lemons and limes*. 

My Rx for your children’s wellness?  Take the kids shopping this week and pick out a new kitchen tool.  Playtime!  They’ll have a new job they love and you’ll be halfway towards a great batch of whole grain breakfast muffins!

MEMO TO PARENTS:  Hug your children and tell them "I love you" every day.  These are the most important  habits for Growing Healthy Kids.  

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

*PS-Next time you make a key lime or lemon meringue pie, kick up the flavor by topping it with some citrus zest!   Or add lemon zest to your favorite whole grain blueberry muffin recipe.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016


Image result for breakfast

"Children are our most valuable resource."  

              --Herbert Hoover, 31st President of the United States

When we teach kids about healthy eating, we always include a class about breakfast. When we teach a class for parents, we always ask, "What did you have for breakfast today?  Was it a good example for your children?" 

The first meal of the day when you “break the fast” after a night of sleep should give your body and brain the energy to start the day feeling vibrant, alert, and alive.  It should contain foods that will not cause your blood glucose and insulin levels to spike excessively high.  After all, what goes up must come down.  When kids are allowed to eat highly processed carbohydrates for breakfast, such as Honeybuns, Sugar Smacks, or instant oatmeal, they turn into little yo-yos of human energy.  Processed and refined carbohydrates cause extreme highs and lows in blood sugar and insulin which have been shown to lead to overeating.

Here are 3 delicious ideas for you and your kids to start the day right:
  • Eggs and fresh, seasonal fruit (my favorite Sunday morning breakfast: a Portobello mushroom omelet with half a grapefruit or a dish of fresh strawberries)
  • Steel cut oats with nut milk, pecans and dates or raisins 
  • Pinto or black beans, avocado and fresh lime juice (don’t forget the Crystal hot sauce!)

Kids need good breakfasts to power their minds for learning and provide long-lasting energy for their bodies.  Guess what?  Parents need the same thing!  Using these breakfast ideas will go a long way to helping your kids stay at a healthy weight and teach them the importance of eating a good breakfast.  Bon appetit! 

In gratitude,
Nancy Heinrich

Founder, Growing Healthy Kids, Inc. 

PS-To schedule GROWING HEALTHY KIDS IN THE KITCHEN classes for your organization, please send an email to  Thanks!