Wednesday, September 27, 2017

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: Fruits and Vegetables - More Matters Month

"We are not taught about the power of food in medical school." 
        -- Michelle McMacken, MD, Assistant Profession of Medicine,                    NYU Medical School

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Apples, bananas, and tomatoes.  Kale, spinach, and squash.  What are YOUR favorite fruits and vegetables?  Last week I wrote about making apple sandwiches with Ellie.  Fall is a wonderful time of year to incorporate freshly picked apples into your favorite dishes.  Making food fun -- and making fun food  --  with kids is something we do in the Growing Healthy Kids Test Kitchen and in our healthy cooking classes. 

What fruits and vegetables are being harvested where you live?  For the healthiest way to eat, plan meals around what is in season (and whenever possible is locally grown).   Plant foods have the most nutrients when they are freshly picked;  every day that passes, they contain less nutrients.  Look for farmers near you who are growing organically (chemical-free).  Buying frozen vegetables and fruits is the next best choice because they are frozen immediately after being harvested, which ensures optimal nutrition. 

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My recipe for Mango Chutney (see below) is one that kids love to make and eat because everyone loves the natural sweetness of fresh mangoes! Teaching kids how to blend the flavors of seasonal fruits and vegetables to make chutneys and salsas is a great lesson in the art of healthy eating for Growing Healthy Kids!

GROWING HEALTHY KIDS:  Our Recipe Collection


·        1 teaspoon organic cumin
·        3 jalapenos, seeded and minced (substitute green peppers if kids will be eating the chutney) 
     1 clove garlic, minced
·        3 apricots, diced  
     1-2 teaspoons coconut sugar
·        1 large mango, peeled, seeded, and diced
·        ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
·        2 teaspoons lime juice 
     1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
·        1 teaspoon fresh cilantro, finely chopped

Place all ingredients in a medium glass bowl.  
Toss to mix.  
Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or until ingredients are chilled.  
Serve over grilled fish or basmati rice with roasted vegetables.   
Makes about 1 cup.

Please pass your favorite fruit and vegetable! 

With love and gratitude,
Nancy L. Heinrich, MPH

Founder, Growing Healthy Kids, Inc.

PS - September is Fruits & Vegetables - More Matters Month.  For great recipes to make with your kids, click here.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: Making Apple Sandwiches with Ellie

"A healthy diet can help prevent cancer since up to 60% of cancer cases are diet-related."  

I was in Louisville, Kentucky recently visiting family.  My mother and I spent a perfect Sunday afternoon with my nephew, Robbie, his wife, Sara, and their two children, Ellie (5 years old), Max (2-1/2 years old), and Stella the dog. While young Ellie and I watched the sky and the clouds from the hammock and dreamed about life, she agreed to be a Growing Healthy Kids ambassador and we ran into the house to play with food.

Ellie and I headed to the kitchen.  Her mother was cutting up apples.  We got out the nut butter.  We cut one apple into very thin slices and organized them into pairs on the cutting board.  We put a little nut butter on one slice of each pair.  Ellie was in charge of putting the tops on each apple slice with the nut butter.  Then we cut each “sandwich” in half, make small little delicious and crunchy bites and went back outside with a plate of sandwiches for everyone to taste, Stella in tow.  

Apple sandwiches are now a popular afternoon treat at Robbie and Sara's farm. 

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When kids participate in the preparation of foods made with simple ingredients, they become engaged and curious.  Our goal is for kids to connect with the world of healthy foods.  Plan meals around fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes (beans, lentils).  

Keep it simple.  Follow Ellie's formula:  one apple + fresh ground nut butter (with no added sugars salt or fat) + one kid = one growing HEALTHY kid eating apple sandwiches!

Please pass the apples (buy organic apples whenever possible). 

With love and gratitude,
Nancy L. Heinrich, MPH

Founder, Growing Healthy Kids, Inc. 

PS-September is Fruits & Vegetables - More Matters Month.  For information about why eating fruits and vegetables are so important to health and for some great recipes, please click here.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017


"We are all farmers tending a little part of the Lord's vineyard."  
                                                                       --Sheri L. Drew

Visiting farmers markets when I travel gives me great joy.  The Saturday morning market in New Albany, Indiana is one of my favorites.   In the heart of downtown New Albany, it is a wonderful open-air market.  Amish farmers come with their organically grown cucumbers and beans.  Farmers growing hydroponic vegetables sell beautiful basil and dark Romaine lettuce.  Local bakers bring their finest pies made with ingredients such as locally grown strawberries and rhubarb.  Pure heaven!

On a recent visit to the New Albany Farmers Market, I bought some honey from local beekeepers Mike and Paula Whisman to use in several recipes, such as my favorite vinaigrette that I make every week.  Honey from bees close to where you live can provide relief if you have allergies; I forget where I picked up this little tidbit of information but I swear by it. 

Honey from Mike and Paula Whisman at the New Albany Farmers Market in Indiana.  

Honey is a key ingredients in my favorite, simple vinaigrette dressing for green salads.  I make a small container of this dressing fresh every morning when I am lucky enough to take a salad for lunch at work.  It is always delicious! 

Growing Healthy Kids:  Our Recipe Collection
The Best Vinaigrette Dressing!

MIX together in a small glass or plastic container:
  • 3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil
  • 2 Tablespoons of your favorite vinegar* 
  • 1 teaspoon local honey
  • Pink Himalayan sea salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

COVER and shake vigorously.
SERVE with your favorite green or pasta salad.
STORE unused dressing at room temperature for up to 3 days. 

Please pass the sunflower microgreens. 

With love and gratitude,
Nancy L. Heinrich, MPH

Founder, Growing Healthy Kids, Inc. 

*One of my favorite vinegars is Bragg's Organic Apple Cider Vinegar.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month

"If beef is your idea of 'real food for real people', you'd better live real close to a real good hospital." 
 --Dr. Neal D. Barnard, M.D., President, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (

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Teaching kids to eat better is one of the core competencies of Growing Healthy Kids, Inc., a charitable organization based in Vero Beach, FL.  The goal of Growing Healthy Kids is to teach kids, educate parents and empower communities to prevent obesity-related diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and certain cancers.   About 1 in 6 (17%) children in the United States has obesity and more than one-third of American adults (36.5%) have obesity.  Obesity is serious and costly.  When kids are overweight and obese, they are more likely to be obese as adults. 

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Sweet potato fries are easy to make and kids love them.
September is designated as National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month.  Consider how to best protect the health – and lives – of  your children. As a parent, knowing the consequences of childhood obesity can help you can make better choices for your familyHere is what you need to know:
  • Children with obesity are at higher risk for having other chronic health conditions and diseases, such as asthma, sleep apnea, bone and joint problems, and type 2 diabetes. They also have more risk factors for heart disease like high blood pressure and high cholesterol than their normal weight peers.
  • Children with obesity can be bullied and teased more than their normal weight peers. They are also more likely to suffer from social isolation, depression, and lower self-esteem.
  • Children with obesity are more likely to have obesity as adults. This can lead to lifelong physical and mental health problems. Adult obesity is associated with a higher risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and many types of cancers.
  • Children who are obese as teens are likely to live 17-20 less years than children who are at a healthy weight.

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, many factors can have an impact on childhood obesity, including what kids eat, physical activity behaviors, genetics, metabolism, family and home environment, and community and social factors. For some children and families, obesity may be influenced by the following:
·         too much time spent being inactive
·         lack of sleep
·         lack of places to go in the community to get physical activity
·         easy access to inexpensive, high calorie foods and sugary beverages
·         lack of access to affordable, healthier foods

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Nuts and dried fruits, in moderation, make healthy snacks.
Many people tell me they can’t afford to feed their kids healthy foods so they keep buying cheap, highly processed foods, sodas, and fast foods filled with the bad carbs, added sugars and salt.  
The fact is there are many things you can do to help your children maintain -  and get to - a healthy weight.  Here are a few ideas:

  • Make water and nut milks the primary drinks at your house.  Limit fruit juice (no dietary fiber, all sugar).  When babies stop nursing, they don’t need cow’s milk.  Milk from cows is for baby cows, not human babies.
  • Provide fruits, vegetables, and nuts for healthy snacks.
  • If you have a local farmers markets, take your kids shopping there.  Talk with local farmers.  Buy cool vegetables like acorn squash, jicama, and sweet potatoes and learn how to cook them. 
  • Plan meals that are mainly fruits, vegetables, legumes (like beans and lentils), and whole grains. A whole-food plant-based way of eating is good for you AND good for the planet.  
  • Reduce consumption of animal products, which contain saturated fats (the “bad” fats), especially fried, smoked, and aged foods.  There is plenty of protein in plant foods. 
  • If your child’s school does not provide physical education every day, start a conversation with the principal to change it.  Make sure your kids are active for at least an hour every day.  When I was growing up, we played outside until it was dark and our parents had to drag us inside.  Play should be fun.  Playing on a computer is not the same as playing outside.
  • Limit screen time to no more than 1 hour a day for kids ages 2-5.  Limit screen time for kids older than age 5. 
  • Most importantly, be a great role model for your kids.  Kids look up to us, especially when they think we’re not looking.  If you’ve always got your hand in a bag of potato chips, kids think it is fine for them to do the same.

Please pass the jicama*.
With love and gratitude,
Nancy L. Heinrich, MPH
Founder, Growing Healthy Kids, Inc. 

*Jicama is a crunchy tuber that tastes like an apple.  It is great for people with diabetes and prediabetes.  For a delicious snack, use it as a dip for hummus.