Wednesday, September 28, 2016

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month

"Courage doesn't always roar.  Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, "I will try again tomorrow."  
                                                            --Mary Anne Radmacher

Image result for kids

September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month.  

Obesity, especially in kids, is preventable AND reversible.  With one in three kids at unhealthy weights, parents must become aware of the problem so they can be part of the solution.  Kids who are overweight or obese are at increased risk for diseases typically seen in older adults, such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.  Kids can suffer from psychological stress as a result of being bullied and having low self-esteem which can lead to depression and a lifetime of poor health outcomes.  

We can ALL do something to be part of the solution to this national problem that threatens children’s health.  If children remain at unhealthy weights, they are more likely to be obese as adults.  

Start with small changes such as:
  • Keep fresh fruit within your children’s reach.
  • Go on family walks after dinner.
  • Shop at your local farmers market for in-season vegetables and fruits.
  • Talk with your kids’ teachers and principals about making schools healthier and having physical education classes every day instead of once a week.
  • Ask your kids’ pediatricians and school nurses to be leaders in their communities by supporting programs to prevent childhood obesity.

Image result for eggs

Below is an easy and delicious recipe that is also inexpensive to prepare.  Your kids can help with the prep work, although Mom or Dad will have to be in charge of the oven.

GROWING HEALTHY KIDS:  Our Recipe Collection
Spinach Tortillas

  • 2 teaspoons olive or avocado oil
  • 1 large yellow or Vidalia onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup fresh spinach leaves
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1 ounce grated cheese (cheddar, feta, or parmesan)


Preheat broiler. 

Heat olive oil in an ovenproof skillet over low heat.  Add onion and saute about 7 minutes or until golden.  Add spinach and stir until wilted.  Stir eggs into the spinach and onion and cook about 7 minutes or until almost set.  Sprinkle cheese over the top and place in broiler for about 2 minutes or until bubbling.  Remove from oven and let sit for one minute.  Slice and serve. 

NOTE FROM NANCY:  This goes great with a green salad or steamed butternut squash.  It also makes a great lunch for school or work the next day, if any is leftover!  

Be courageous.  Dare to care.  Talk with your family about small steps you can take that can improve your children's weight - and their health.  If you need help, send me an email at  

Together, we can prevent and reverse childhood obesity.  

In gratitude,
Nancy L. Heinrich, MPH

Founder, Growing Healthy Kids

Wednesday, September 21, 2016


Image result for fruit pops

"My children are the reason I laugh, smile and want to get up every morning."  
                                                                          --Gena Lee Nolin

Lately, more parents than usual have been asking for ideas feeding their kids good food.  The conversation usually starts like this:  “My 2 year old is a picky eater,” or “My kid will only eat white food,” or “The kids won’t eat any vegetables”.

If you suspect there is a food allergy or a medical issue, ALWAYS start with a call to your pediatrician.  Once these issues are off the table, then start simply with the basics.  All kids need protein, carbs, and fats every day, just like adults do.  Almost all kids go through the “picky eater” stage.  Many don’t like foods touching each other.  Some kids go through color stages or texture stages (only white foods like potatoes and milk or only crunchy or smooth foods).  Since kids don’t come with an instruction manual, it’s a wonder any of us survive childhood!

My recommendation is that kids be encouraged - and allowed - to play with their food.  Look at how much fun kids have on their first birthday in their high chairs wearing only a diaper and a bib with their first baby chocolate cake to do whatever they want!  

Here are some ideas to get going with good foods for your little ones:
  • Steam vegetables (carrots, sweet potatoes, and butternut squash are all great choices).  Place veggies on a plate, give the kids a fork and show them how to mash them up. 
  • Make a vegetable-bean soup and put it in the blender for a “protein soup”.  Let kids grate parmesan cheese on top of the soup. 
  • Make grilled cheese sandwiches on whole grain bread and cut them into shapes with a cookie cutter. 
  • Make fruit smoothies with your kids using greek yogurt, frozen bananas, strawberries, and a little kale or cucumber.  If you have any left over smoothies, pour into an ice cube tray or small plastic cups, put popsicle sticks in each one, place in the freezer and make pops for the next day.  If not used within 24 hours, place in a ziplock freezer bag to protect the flavors.  
  • Cook quinoa pasta (a complete protein) and let the kids add a little olive oil (the good kind of fat) and some grated parmesan cheese. 
  • Get a box grater and give them a couple of vegetables such as zucchini and rainbow carrots to grate next time you are cooking rotini pasta.  Let the kids decide which vegetable to mix with the cooked rotini. Add olive oil and toss.  
  • Cut up an organic carrot and place in a small kid-proof bowl with some homemade hummus (store-bought hummus has preservatives which can upset little tummies).

It’s simple.  Food=life.  Good food=healthy kids.  Healthy kids=happy kids. 
Healthy, happy kids=healthy, happy parents.  

In gratitude,
Nancy L. Heinrich, MPH
Founder, Growing Healthy Kids

Wednesday, September 14, 2016


“The Redwoods once seen, leave a mark or create a vision that stays with you always…from them comes silence and awe.”
                                                                            —John Steinbeck

From my walk in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park

Natures always restores me.  This summer’s travels to California and Oregon included trips to several National Parks and many wilderness hikes.  There is nothing like walking for hours without seeing another soul.  One lesson I learned from my time in Redwoods National Park and Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park is that the roots of redwoods, the oldest living things on the planet that grow up to 350 feet and more, are only about 6 feet deep.  What happens underground and out of sight is that the roots of these trees interlock to build a stable base for each tree.

What would happen if each child had interlocking roots with other children and parents to be able to grow strong and independent?  I think there are lessons from the Redwoods that we can apply to our own communities.  

Hiking on the beach at Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, with the coastal fog rolling in

You’ve heard the expression, “It takes a village to raise a child.”  The more we can help each other, often invisibly like the roots of the Redwood trees, the stronger each child will be.

With my sister-in-law, Inger, hugging a Redwood tree at Jedediah Smith Redwood State Park in northern California

Let’s make this school year a great one by building new foundations and interlocking roots for growing healthy kids.  Take walks together. Make healthy meals together. Visit a National Park.  Check out your state and local parks.   

What can YOU do to create a strong foundation for children? 

In gratitude,
Nancy L. Heinrich, MPH

Founder, Growing Healthy Kids

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: Calling All Fourth Graders!

"National parks are the best idea we ever had.  Absolutely American, absolutely democratic, they reflect us at our best rather than our worst."
                                         --Author Wallace Stegner, 1983

Image result for redwood trees

All kids deserve regular physical activity and being able to interact with nature.  It is one of the basic elements of good health.  Keep on reading for some really good news for all fourth graders and their families!

Walking among the Coastal Redwoods in northern California is about as close to God as I can get.  There is such a joy that comes with walking outdoors in a state of awe and wonder.  Being amongst the oldest living things in the world brings me an inner peace of epic proportions.  The Redwoods have been a part of my life since I was 5, when our family moved to California and started camping in the state and national parks.  

There are wondrous gifts that await Americans in our national parks.  Thank goodness for people like Theodore Roosevelt, our environmental president, for his vision and recognizing the need to act to protect sacred places such as Yellowstone and Yosemite.  

The National Park Service is celebrating its 100th birthday (August 25, 2016 to be precise) this year.  I am celebrating by visiting several western national parks and monuments this month.  It is a glorious time to reflect about what makes America the greatest country on Earth.  In the next couple of months I will be sharing some of my national park adventures with you.  

Help your kids to be their best.  If you have a fourth grader in your family, you can get free admission to all national parks for a year. Check out the "Every Kid in a Park" program where the National Park Service offers free park admission to all fourth graders and their families.  To get your pass, go to or click here.  

In gratitude,
Nancy L. Heinrich, MPH
Founder, Growing Healthy Kids