Wednesday, January 25, 2017

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: Learning from Kids about Diabetes

“So they will not get sick and die at a young age.” 
              --the answer from D.G., age 12, grade 6, an attendee at a recent Growing Healthy Kids educational program to the question, "Why do kids need to eat healthy foods?" 

From the mouths of babes...These were some of the POWERFUL WORDS from children in a recent Growing Healthy Kids program for middle school children (grades 6-8 in Indian River County, Florida).  Kids were asked this question:  Why do kids need to eat healthy foods?

“Also to have energy to play with friends and family.”
“So they can’t get diabetes at an early age.”
“It’s good to learn about good foods as a kid so when you grow up you can teach your children to be super healthy as an adult.”
“To stay healthy.”
“Kids need healthy food to get energy for activities."
“To help them grow.”

 family preparing a meal

When asked if they had a family member with diabetes, more than half of the kids in the Growing Healthy Kids education program raised their hands.  Diabetes is a real threat for children who have a family member with this disease.  Almost 1 in 10 Americans (9.3%) has diabetes.  Diabetes is a group of diseases where increased blood sugar levels result from problems in how insulin is produced, how insulin works, or both.  Being at an unhealthy weight is one of the biggest risk factors for developing diabetes.  People with diabetes may develop serious complications such as heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, blindness, and premature death (source:  CDC,gov).

To learn more about diabetes, go to or click here.

Growing Healthy Kids works to prevent diabetes in children.   Diabetes is a disease usually diagnosed in older adults.  When kids develop type 2 diabetes, they can be expected to live an average of 17 years less than kids without diabetes and they will face a lifetime of higher health care costs and increased morbidity in addition to lower life expectancy. 

ALL children deserve to know that foods and drinks containing added sugars are unhealthy and may contribute to their risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Physical inactivity and too much screen time are also putting America's children at risk for unhealthy weights and obesity related diseases such as diabetes.  

Just as we can teach our children, they can also teach us.  Children do not want to get sick and die at a young age.  As parents, we can act responsibility and give them access to real foods instead of added sugars and refined grains.  

Image result for healthy kids

Please pass the blueberries and broccoli!  Healthy Kids are sweet enough!

With love and gratitude,
Nancy L. Heinrich, MPH

Founder, Growing Healthy Kids, Inc. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2017


"Don't eat anything your great grandmother wouldn't recognize as food." 

                               --Michael Pollan

Did you know that cigarettes contain more than 4,000 chemicals, including 43 known cancer-causing (carcinogenic) compounds and 400 other toxins?  These include nicotine, tar, and carbon monoxide, plus formaldehyde, ammonia, hydrogen cyanide, arsenic and DDT.  The fact is that nicotine is highly addictive. 

Image result for cigarettes ".gov"

Every day I see adults driving and smoking cigarettes with young children in the back seats.   Delivering doses of second-hand smoke to children with developing brains is cruel and mean.  Yet smoking is totally legal in the United States.  The fact is that millions of children are exposed to poisonous toxins every day from their parents' cigarettes.  

Image result for sugary foods ".gov"Is it any wonder, then, that people turn a blind eye to the foods and drinks children consume that are loaded with added sugars?   Food manufacturers, like cigarette manufacturers, are very smart about hiding unhealthy ingredients.  They are extremely skilled at marketing highly processed foods filled with dangerous ingredients to children. 

Sugar is highly addictive, just like nicotine in cigarettes. In our classes for children and parents, Growing Healthy Kids teaches how to recognize added sugars in processed foods.  Kids learn to identify hidden sugars by looking for ingredients that ends in “-ose” (any ingredient that ends in "-ose" is a sugar, such as fructose, sucrose, maltose).  In my book, Nourish and Flourish:  Kid-Tested Tips and Recipes to Prevent Diabetes, there is a list of more than 50 different names for sugar that you and your kids can use to become smart shoppers.  

If you are a parent, become aware of the hidden ingredients such as added sugars in processed foods that contribute to diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure contributing to negative health outcomes in children.  Start with the cereal aisle in your grocery store. Compare the ingredient list on your kids’ favorite breakfast cereal or snack bar with the list of sugars in Nourish and Flourish.  Choose products without added sugars or with the smallest amount of added sugars. 

America’s children are depending on us.  Let’s do them right and keep them healthy.  Feed kids real food. 

With love and gratitude,
Nancy L. Heinrich, MPH

Founder, Growing Healthy Kids, Inc. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2017


Farmer Kevin O'Dare, Osceola Organic Farm, Vero Beach, Florida (Photo credit:  Barbara DuPont)

"Teaching kids how to feed themselves and how to live responsibly in a community is the center of an education." 
                                                                                    --Alice Waters

One lesson that can serve you well in the art of healthy eating is this:  buy the best ingredients you can afford.  Buy foods grown within a 50 mile radius of your home whenever possible. 

Louis Schacht, with his mother, of Schacht Groves (a 4 generation citrus family), Vero Beach, Florida

Doyle Hogan and his daughter, Britain of Birdie Hogan Farm, family owned in Vero Beach, Florida since 1918.
Seek out local farmers and the foods they grow.  Recently, friends were over for dinner.  I cut up a locally grown tomato purchased that day from a local farmer in Vero Beach for the veggie Mexican bowls on my menu.  You should have heard the compliments as my friends savored the flavors.  Our simple meal became a feast!  

Kids in our Nutrition Scientist Training Program talk with Kevin O'Dare at the Vero Beach Farmers Market

You can literally taste the difference when you eat good food! 

Here are 3 tips you can use when planning meals for you and your family:

  1. Look for a farmers market near you and include it as one of your regular shopping stops.* 
  2. Choose foods that are organically grown, whenever possible. 
  3. Look at where food is grown and choose to buy foods grown only in the U.S.

Teach your children that the best food is grown by farmers.  Take the kids to the farmers market with you and seek out farms to visit.  Get a packet of tomato or pepper seeds and show your kids how to plant them and water them.  Plan to start a small "kitchen garden" when the weather warms up where you live. 

Wintertime is a great time to make a delicious soup filled with vegetables.  I am happy to share with you and your family our well-tested Lentil Soup recipe from the Growing Healthy Kids Test Kitchen.  The addition of butternut squash increases the nutritional value of this soup exponentially! 

Because of farmers like Kevin O'Dare, Louis Schacht, and Doyle and Britain Hogan, we can ALL prepare delicious foods for our families. 

GROWING HEALTHY KIDS:  Our Recipe Collection

In a medium saucepan, bring to a boil:

  • ¼ cup lentils
  • 1 cup water

Then cover, turn down to simmer and cook for 15-20 minutes.  

Meanwhile, in another medium pan, saute for 5 minutes:

  • ½ cup sweet onion, finely diced
  • 1 carrot, thinly sliced
  • 2 stalks of celery, thinly sliced
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tablespoon olive oil

Mix together in a small stainless steel bowl and let sit for 5 minutes:

  • 1 more Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh turmeric, finely grated (use gloves or else you’re hands will be quite colorful!)
  • 1/8 teaspoon fresh ground pepper (pepper activates curcumin, the active anti-inflammatory ingredient in turmeric)

Add turmeric mixture to cooked vegetables.  Stir for 2-3 minutes until turmeric is well mixed in.


  • 3 cups water (or 2 cups water and 1 cup low sodium V8 juice)
  • 1 Tablespoon white miso (available at most health food stores)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup cubed butternut squash
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon celery seed

Cover and cook on low for ½ hour. 

When the lentils are cooked, puree about ¾ of them (I use a blender stick because it is convenient and easy to clean up).   Add all the lentils, pureed and the remaining ¼ lentils to the soup pot.   Remove bay leaf.  Cook for a few more minutes, then serve.   

Add Bragg Liquid Aminos to flavor as needed. 

TIP:  Add a 2” square of kombu (dried seaweed) while cooking the lentils.  Remove kombu when lentils are cooked. 

With love and gratitude,
Nancy L. Heinrich, MPH
Founder, Growing Healthy Kids, Inc. 

*To find a local farmers market near you, go to or click here.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017


"Write it on your heart that every day is the best day of the year."  
                                                   --Ralph Waldo Emerson

Image result for seeds

Every year is a fresh beginning.  For those already on a healthy path, each new year is an opportunity to keep improving our focus on what is important.  Each day is the gift of life! 

New Year’s resolutions often involve eating less, eating better, and exercising more.  This year, Wellness Wednesdays will bring you inspirations, tips, resources, and recipes to help you make this year your best year. As parents, we have a responsibility to give our children the best possible life.  Growing Healthy Kids is taking you along on our adventures to meet farmers and chefs PLUS our adventures with wonderful children.  We promise to inspire you to prepare your own delicious, healthy, and economical meals for your own family.  

We are planting seeds and growing healthy kids.  The team at Growing Healthy Kids remains 100% committed to our mission to prevent, halt, and reduce childhood obesity and obesity-related diseases.   All children deserve access to healthy foods and outdoor playtime. Watch us grow!  

When children know where food comes from, they learn to respect what they eat and make better choices.  When parents understand why children need access to foods that are organic and chemical-free that do not contain added and processed sugars, they change their shopping habits. 

People often tell me they think it is expensive to eat healthy foods.  Having cancer, diabetes, alzheimer's or a stroke is a lot more expensive.   Choose to eat the best foods you can afford to buy.  Seek out your local farmers and buy locally grown foods.  Your children will thank you in 20 years.

Image result for cauliflower

Here is a recipe for Veggie Tots I have adapted from a recipe by Layla Atik in the Jan/Feb 2017 issue of RELISH from

GROWING HEALTHY KIDS:  Our Recipe Collection
Veggie Tots


·         1 (12-oz) bag frozen broccoli and cauliflower blend
·         1 local pastured egg (or use a flax egg: 1 tablespoon ground flax mixed with 4 tablespoons water)
·         ¼ cup diced sweet onion
·         ⅓ cup vegan cheddar cheese
·         ⅓ cup panko breadcrumbs
·         ⅓ cup dry Italian-style breadcrumbs
·         1 Tablespoon chopped parsley (or substitute dried parsley)
·        1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric (optional)
·         ½ tsp sea salt
·         ½ tsp pepper


Preheat oven to 400°F. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

1.     Steam vegetables according to package directions. Chop finely, using a potato masher or pulsing in a food processor. In a bowl, mix vegetables with egg, onion, cheese, panko, Italian breadcrumbs, parsley, turmeric, salt and pepper.
2.     Using your hands, make tots using 1 tablespoon mixture for each. Place on pan. Bake 18 to 24 minutes, turning halfway through, until golden brown and crispy.
With love and gratitude,
Nancy L. Heinrich, MPH

Founder, Growing Healthy Kids, Inc.