Wednesday, October 25, 2017


"Winter is an etching, spring a watercolor, summer an oil painting, and fall a mosaic of them all." 
                                                                             --Stanley Horowitz

Image result for three sisters corn beans squash

Freshly picked apples.  Pumpkins.  Wild rice.  Sweet potatoes.  Butternut and acorn squash.  These are some of my favorite fall comfort foods.  

Planning menus for your family is fun this time of year.  Take your kids to your local farmers market and look for locally grown squash and pumpkin.  Winter squash are great foods to include in your weekly meal plan because they are so colorful and full of beta-carotene.  They are also high in dietary fiber, satiating you which prevents overeating. 

Image result for three sisters corn beans squash

Here is one of my favorite fall recipes which features squash, corn, and beans.  Make this simple, economical, and oh-so-healthy entree one of your favorite fall comfort foods, too!

GROWING HEALTHY KIDS:  Our Recipe Collection
Three Sisters Soup

Native Americans view squash, corn, and beans as “The Three Sisters”.  In some legends the sisters are also the daughters of the Earth Mother. 

PEEL and dice: 

  • 1 large butternut squash (about 2 pounds)

STEAM squash for 20 minutes or until tender when pierced with a fork.  

HEAT in a large soup pot:

  • 1 Tablespoon olive or avocado oil

ADD AND SAUTE until onion is translucent:

  • 1 medium red onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced 

ADD AND SIMMER 20-25 minutes, covered, until all vegetables are tender:

  • 1-1/2 cups water
  • ½ red bell pepper, sliced into thin strips
  • 1 14- to 16-ounce can diced tomatoes, with liquid
  • 1 16-ounce can organic pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cups thawed frozen corn 
  • 1 4-ounce can chopped mild green chilies (look for New Mexican "Hatch" chilies)
  • 2 teaspoons organic cumin
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano

SEASON with:

  • Pink Himalayan sea salt and organic black pepper

LET soup sit for 1-2 hours so flavors blend. 

HEAT soup and serve with:

  • Minced fresh cilantro 
  • Pumpkin seeds, lightly toasted in a pan over low heat

This fall, be inspired by the flavors of delicious seasonal foods.  Cook comfort foods with your family. Enjoy dinner together.  Take a walk in your neighborhood.  Look at the colors of the trees.  Tell your kids how much you love them every day.

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

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: The Evil Empire Ingredient

“Pediatric obesity is a prevalent and complex problem that resists pharmacological treatment.  This has fueled interest in more extreme approaches, such as bariatric surgery in adolescents (gastric banding or bypass).  Although surgery can result in weight loss and reversal of type 2 diabetes, it is associated with vitamin deficiencies, chronic malabsorption, and other significant risks and should be reserved for carefully screen, dangerously obese adolescents.”  
                                  --Andrew Weil, MD, Mind over Meds, 2017

When parents ask for one tip feed their kids better, my answer is always the same: “Cut out all foods and drinks containing high fructose corn syrup.”  

This highly processed sugar, found in sodas, breads, ketchup, cookies, and other processed foods, is simply one of the worst ingredients you can put in your body.  When teaching kids about healthy eating, we teach that high fructose corn syrup is the Evil Empire ingredient and should always be avoided. 

Image result for high fructose corn syrup foods "org"

Sugar is highly addictive.  It’s addictive like crack cocaine.  To eliminate high fructose corn syrup and other added sugars, read food labels to identify the processed foods and drinks that contain them.  Something as simple as buying a bottle of ketchup, however, becomes a mission.  Stand in front of all the ketchup bottles  Start picking up one bottle at a time and scan the ingredients section below the Nutrition Facts rectangle.   I always feel victorious when I finally find a bottle without high fructose corn syrup.  It usually costs more than the others.  Food manufacturers use high fructose corn syrup because it’s a cheap ingredient. 

Cheap.  Addictive.  And bad for you.  

The next time ketchup is on your shopping list, scan the ingredient list.  Choose a brand without high fructose corn syrup.  Added sugars are empty calories with no nutritional value.  They are used in processed foods and are highly acidic and disease-promoting.

For a list of more than 50 names of added sugars, check out my book, Nourish and Flourish: Kid-Tested Tips and Recipes to Prevent Diabetes, available at  Click here for a link to order Nourish and Flourish.

Feed your kids real food. 

Image result for sweet potato fries "org"

Please pass the baked sweet potato fries and real ketchup. 

With love and gratitude,
Nancy L. Heinrich, MPH

Founder, Growing Healthy Kids, Inc. 

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: Eat Healthier, Lose Weight, Reverse Diabetes

"Think about it:  heart disease and diabetes, which account for more deaths in the U.S. and worldwide than everything else combined, are completely preventable by making comprehensive lifestyle changes.  Without drugs or surgery."  
                                          ---Dean Ornish, MD

  Image result for people walking

Diabetes is a very expensive disease, not just in terms of financial costs, but more importantly in the human costs such as loss of limbs, loss of vision, loss of sexual function, loss of feeling in the extremities, and loss of life.  

The number of people with diabetes and prediabetes is staggering. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 30.3 million people of all ages (9.4% of the U.S. population) had diabetes in 2015.  About 7.2 million Americans with diabetes are undiagnosed.  Approximately 84 million adults (more than 1 in 3 American adults) have prediabetes, which is asymptomatic.  The risk factors for prediabetes are sedentary lifestyle, obesity, large waist size, poor diet, being 45 years or older, and having a brother, sister, mother or father with type 2 diabetes. 

Can diabetes be prevented?  Yes. 
Can diabetes be reversed?  Yes, in most cases. 
Can prediabetes be prevented?  Yes. 
Can prediabetes be reversed?  Yes. 

The reality is that most people with diabetes and prediabetes are overweight.  The best medicine for preventing and reversing diabetes is to get to a healthier weight.  I am not advocating that you go on a diet.  I am advocating for eating healthier and being physically active for the rest of your life.  

Moving to a whole-grain plant-based way of eating comes with a wonderful side effect:  weight loss.  Making the decision to eat fewer animal products is a powerful first step for anyone with diabetes or prediabetes who knows that losing weight will improve their health. 

Eliminating foods from animals eliminates saturated fats, also known as the bad fats.  Our brains need a small amount of the good fats, called unsaturated.  You find unsaturated fats in foods such as olives, avocados and flax seeds.  Fats are the largest (no pun intended) type of calorie consumed at 9 calories per gram, while carbohydrates and protein weigh in at only 4 calories per gram.  

The easiest way to get to a healthier weight is to cut back on fat calories.  Eliminate foods from animals such a meat, chicken, dairy, and cheese.  Speaking of cheese, make our fabulous, easy and oh-so-delicious recipe for cashew parmesan to use next time you make grilled zucchini, mushroom pizza, or spaghetti squash. 

Image result for cashew tree "org"

 Image result for cashew tree "org"

GROWING HEALTHY KIDS:  Our Recipe Collection
Cashew Parmesan

Place ingredients in a food processor and process until well mixed:
  • ¾ cup + 1 Tablespoon raw, unsalted cashews
  • ¼ cup nutritional yeast
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon onion powder
  • ¾ teaspoon pink Himalayan sea salt

Store in a glass jar in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. 
With love and gratitude,
Nancy L. Heinrich, MPH
Founder, Growing Healthy Kids, Inc.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: Top 5 Food Groups for Healthy Tummies

"The primary reason diseases tend to run in families may be that diets tend to run in families."  
                            --Michael Gregor, MD, author of How Not to Die: Discover the Foods Scientifically Proven to Prevent and Reverse Disease

Image result for vegetables "org"
Every time I speak with a parent who tells me their school-age child eats mainly fast foods, sodas, and is on the free and reduced meal program at school, I usually ask, “How often does your child complain of a stomach ache and ask to stay home from school?"  The “How did you know” look in their eyes says it all. 

When kids complain of tummy aches, the cause may be a lack of dietary fiber.  There is no dietary fiber in meat, chicken, cheese, honeybuns, or white bread.  There is no fiber in soda or fruit drinks.  The refined grains found in most breads have been stripped of dietary fiber to increase their shelf life.  Most Americans eat far less than half the dietary fiber they need for their digestive health. The basic rule of thumb is to get 14 grams of fiber per 1,000 calories consumed.School-age kids should be getting at least 28 grams of fiber a day and most adults should be aiming for about up to 40 grams a day.  As you begin to eat more foods containing fiber, it is important to drink more water.  

If kids are not getting enough fiber (found in fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains), they are at risk for: (1) eating more calories than needed and may be on their way to an unhealthy weight, (2) getting backed up in their digestive system, as evidenced by having bowel movements less than once a day, and (3) experiencing stomach pain due to constipation from eating highly processed foods, too much sugar, and not enough whole grain plant foods.

The fact is there is no fiber in ANY foods that come from animals.  Fiber is ONLY found in plant foods.  Fiber is what fills us up so we feel satiated and stop eating.  There is no fiber in a McDonald’s hamburger bun or in the meat between the bun.  There IS fiber in lentils, carrots, broccoli, and pineapple. 

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Here is my list of Top 5 Food Groups for Healthy Tummies:
1.   Whole grains such as oats and quinoa.  Use “The Nancy Rule” for buying breads and pastas: (1) select items with 4 or more grams of dietary fiber per slice or per serving and (2) the first ingredient includes the word “whole” as in “whole wheat flour”.   
2.   Vegetables such as spinach, kale, carrots, Brussels sprouts, and butternut squash.
3.   Fruits such as pineapple, organic apples, blueberries, oranges and strawberries.  
4.   Fermented foods and beverages such as pickles, sauerkraut, tempeh, kimchee, and kombucha. 
5.   Legumes such as lentils, split peas, pinto and black beans.  

The next time someone says their child has a tummy ache or has bowel movements only once or twice a week, please share this article with them.  This is educational information and is not a substitute for medical advice.  NOTE:  If your child has ongoing stomach issues, complaints of stomach pain, and/or less than daily bowel movements, consult your pediatrician.  

Eat mainly fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes.  

Please pass the pineapple.

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