Wednesday, April 27, 2016

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: Become a Sugar Detective

Volvic Blogparade: Blackberry Infused Water:

"Life is not measured by the number of breaths you take, but by the moments that take your breath away." 

One constant in the educational work we do in Growing Healthy Kids is teaching parents and kids about sugar.  All parents need to know about the difference between added sugars and natural sugars.  All kids need to learn that natural sugar is what our bodies were designed to process, but only in small quantities. Excessive sugar intake is linked to belly fat, obesity, heart disease, diabetes, liver disease, and poor cancer survival rates. The average American consumes about 41 teaspoons of sugar a day, while the guidelines from American Heart Association call for limiting sugar intake to 6-9 teaspoons a day.  NOTE:  One teaspoon of sugar contains 4 grams of carbohydrates.

Sugars that are added to foods during processing are the ones we don't need.  Read a nutrition facts panel on a cereal box or a box of Pop Tarts and see how many different added sugars you can find.  Here's a clue: any ingredient that ends in “-ose” is a sugar.  Always check food labels for what I call “the evil empire sugar” or high fructose corn syrup.  Added sugars come in many names, more than 50.  To view a list, just go to pages 23-26 of Nourish and Flourish:  Kid-Tested and Approved Tips and Recipes to Prevent Diabetes.*

The sugar you eat should be limited to natural sugars, that found in fruits and some vegetables (like sweet potatoes and corn).  Fruit also contains dietary fiber (the "bones" which give fruits their unique form ) which helps to slow down the absorption of sugar.   

Here are 3 tips parents and kids can use:
  1. Read food labels and look for “high fructose corn syrup”.  If the food or drink contains it, don’t buy it.
  2. Choose foods and drinks without added sugars.
  3. Replace fruit juice with fresh fruit.

In gratitude,
Nancy Heinrich

Founder, Growing Healthy Kids, Inc.

*To order a copy of Nourish and Flourish, click on the link in the top right corner of this page.  

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: Sleep and Your Weight

"Sleep is the best meditation." 
                                       --Dalai Lama

Whoever invented sleep is my hero.  Nothing beats a great night’s sleep. 

I talk with so many people who take prescription drugs for sleep.  Doctors love to hand out prescriptions for sleeping pills instead of getting to the root cause.  How much profit is being made by Big Pharma with all the prescriptions written? What is the marketing budget? Apparently, we can a big problem sleeping in the U.S. because we spend more than $32 billion a year trying to sleep.

A good night’s sleep is key to staying at a healthy weight.  When people who want to lose weight ask me for help, one of the first questions I ask is about sleep.  Not getting enough sleep is a risk factor for obesity.

According to National Institutes of Health, “Sleep helps maintain a healthy balance of the hormones that make you feel hungry (ghrelin) or full (leptin). When you don't get enough sleep, your level of ghrelin goes up and your level of leptin goes down. This makes you feel hungrier than when you're well-rested.

Sleep also affects how your body reacts to insulin, the hormone that controls your blood glucose (sugar) level. Sleep deficiency results in a higher than normal blood sugar level, which may increase your risk for diabetes.”

Here are 3 tips you can use:
  • Maintain regular bedtimes.
  • Keep electronics out of the bedroom.
  • Have sleep hygiene habits such as no caffeine after 3 pm.

Parents should be mindful of the importance of a good night’s sleep for their own health and children’s health.  Teach your children.  Be a good role model.  Now, off to bed!

In gratitude,
Nancy Heinrich

Founder, Growing Healthy Kids, Inc.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016


Image result for pictures of asparagus growing

Spring is nature's way of saying, "Let's party!"  
                                                                                       --Robin Williams

What is your favorite thing about spring?  Watching leaves appear on trees?  Buying daffodils?  Exclaiming over beautiful azaleas, redbuds, and dogwoods?  For me, it is all of these.  My very favorite?  Waiting for locally grown asparagus to show up in local farmers markets!  

I am not talking about the asparagus shipped in from Mexico.  Who knows what chemicals they contain?  How many days ago were they harvested?   No, I am talking about locally grown asparagus, wherever you happen to be.  Last year, I was in Denmark when white asparagus was in season.  What a feast it was every evening!

Image result for pictures of asparagus growing

While I (im)patiently wait for the season’s first asparagus, I am busy collecting favorite  veggie recipes into a little book to share with friends.  There are so many health and cancer prevention benefits of asparagus!  It contains chromium (a trace mineral which helps insulin move sugar out of the blood into the cells, great if you have diabetes), folate (great for your brain), and lots of fiber.  One of the simplest ways to prepare and enjoy fresh asparagus is to roast or grill it.  Here’s my recipe for this delicious spring delight:


  • 2 pounds fresh asparagus
  • Olive oil
  • Pink Himalayan sea salt

Preheat oven to 450.  Trim woody ends off stalks.  Place asparagus in a single row on a baking sheet.  Drizzle oil and season with sea salt.  Gently toss.  Roast about 10 minutes or until asparagus is tender.  Top with freshly grated parmesan, if desired. Serve immediately.

In gratitude,
Nancy Heinrich

Founder, Growing Healthy Kids, Inc.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: The Year of the Pulses

"Healthy citizens are the greatest asset any country can have."   
                                    --Winston Churchill

Lentils, dried peas and beans are always included in our Kids in the Kitchen lessons.  They are one of the most nutrient dense foods available.  There are so many ways you can prepare them.  You can buy a truckload for a dollar (maybe not that cheap, but they are really, really cheap).  When people tell me they can’t afford to feed their kids healthy foods, the answer is to teach them how to prepare lentils and other pulses. 

In 2013, the United Nations declared that 2016 will be The Year of the Pulses. Confession:  I had eaten lentils for years before I heard the term “pulses”. 

What is a pulse?  A pulse is an edible seed that grows in a pod.  Pulses include all beans, peas, and lentils.  They do not include fresh beans and peas.  They are extremely high in both soluble and insoluble fiber.  They are also rich in protein and have high levels of minerals such as iron, zinc, and phosphorus as well as folate and other essential B vitamins.   They are cheap and are easy to store.  They help prevent diabetes, heart disease and some cancers.

Some of my favorite pulses:
  • Brown lentils
  • French lentil
  • Black lentils
  • Garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
  • Pinto beans
  • Black beans
  • Cannellini beans
  • Mung beans
  • Yellow split peas
For some great pulse recipes, visit and  For my favorite hummus recipe, check out Nourish and Flourish:  Kid-Tested Tips and Recipes to Prevent Diabetes (available at  

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