Wednesday, December 26, 2018


Set your life on fire.  Seek those who fan your flames. 

The more I read and study about diseases, the more passionate I become about the need for kids to have access to real foods grown without chemicals.  Children deserve that their health should be protected, not exploited for profit and financial gain.  Parents deserve to have access to healthy foods that are economical and affordable for them to buy (or grow).  At the very least, buy the best quality, locally grown, organic fruits and vegetables you can afford. 

Seasonal honeybell from Schacht Groves, Vero Beach, FL

Working with adults diagnosed with diseases like autism and ADHD, I see parallels with those who have diabetes and obesity.  Eating foods that our bodies are allergic to, foods that cause inflammation, and foods that deplete our energy sources, such as meat, dairy, and added sugars, causes and promotes disease.  Empowering people to understand the importance of eating real food, and avoiding harmful food, is critical to our attempts to thwart chronic diseases.

The foods that God has provided for us to eat are fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains.  These are the foods that can sustain us in health while reversing and preventing disease. 

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

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: Lowering High Blood Pressure

“I began to read all I could about health when my mother was first diagnosed with breast cancer.  Everything I read seemed to point me toward a simple equation:  Food=Health.  I read The China Study, Farm Sanctuary by Gene Bauer, books by Dr. Dean Ornish, Dr. Neal Barnard, and many more.  I realized the untested chemicals used in processed foods and the residue of pesticides and many fertilizers had to be hurting us.  I began to notice that my animals were developing lumps and bumps that I don’t remember them having when I was growing up.  I knew then that it was time to make some changes.”  
                                   --Cornelia Guest from Simple Pleasures:  Healthy Seasonal Cooking and Easy Entertaining, 2012

The more salt you consume, the higher your blood pressure will be.  

In our Growing Healthy Kids classes, kids learn to read food labels to look for hidden sodium and sugars.  Salt used to be primarily used to preserve foods.  Now it is used not only to flavor foods but to replace reduced fats or sugars.  If you see something labeled “low fat” be suspicious that it may have a higher sodium content.

One of the author's favorite low sodium foods
Photo credit:  Barbara DuPont
The goal for most people, especially kids, is to keep daily sodium intake to less than 1,500 mg.  That is about 2/3 teaspoon of salt.  One teaspoon of salt contains about 2,500 mg of sodium. 

Salt is like high blood pressure in some ways.  Often, you don’t taste salt in foods so you don't know it's there. Similarly, people with high blood pressure often have no symptoms and don’t know they have it.  

Most American children are not screened for hypertension.  Pediatricians don’t commonly ask how often their young patients eat processed foods or fast foods.  Kids who consume processed foods, meat, and dairy are at high risk for increased blood pressure.  Cheese, for example, is extremely high in sodium.  Most Americans consume about 30 pounds of cheese a year.  A one inch cube of Cabot's Seriously Sharp Cheddar Cheese contains 180 mg of sodium. Foods you wouldn’t think of as having salt in them often have several hundred milligrams. One hot dog can have 500-600 mg of sodium.  That is one-third of the daily limit for one person!   

On the other hand, one cup of strawberries has about 1.5 mg of sodium.  

Adopting a plant-based way of eating is one way to lower one’s blood pressure.  A resource for parents is the Physicians Committee for Responsible medicine ( or click here).

My advice to parents?  Take a look at the sodium that your children are consuming in what they eat and drink every day.  Make it a priority to find ways to reduce it. 

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

Wednesday, November 21, 2018


“Never be satisfied with what you know, only with what more you can find out.” 
                               --David Fairchild, American botanist, 1869-1954

Kids are naturally curious.  Parents owe it to their children to use that curiosity to feed a lifetime of learning.
Learning about food is fun when you use all your senses.  In the Growing Healthy Kids movement, we introduce kids to farmers, new foods, and cooking techniques. We teach kids to see, smell, and taste foods with wonder and awe.  

The younger kids can start learning about real food and basic cooking skills, the healthier they will be over their lifetime. 

Recently, a volunteer from the Sunrise Vero Beach Rotary Club chaperoned kids on a Growing Healthy Kids' visit to the local Farmers Market.  One of the market  vendors had prepared guacamole for sale and was offering samples.  The kids on our expedition passed on the opportunity to sample it.  The next week, making guacamole was on the menu for our class of middle school students.  The same volunteer was in charge of the guacamole station, where kids did all of the food preparation.  After all the guacamole was inhaled by hungry kids, he later made the observation that when kids get to make something themselves, they will try it without hesitation. 

On a recent trip to the Vero Beach Farmers Market, kids learn about hydroponic farming
from Alex Gomez of Pure Produce.  
Below is our recipe for the fabulous guacamole that the kids loved making and eating in our recent class.

  • 3 Hass avocados
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Juice of ½ lime
  • Dash of cumin
  • Crystal hot sauce, to taste
  • ¼ cup fresh organic cilantro, minced
  • Pink Himalayan sea salt

Gently mash ingredients together and serve with corn chips. 

Avocados are a fruit.  Most of the calories in avocados come from unsaturated fats, which are the good fats we need.  Other sources of unsaturated fats include olives, nuts, and seeds.  

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

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: The Perfect Veggie Burger

"There is no sincerer love than the love of food."  
                                                                     --George Bernard Shaw

I love food that tastes good AND is good for you.  A classic American food is the burger.  How do you make the perfect burger when you don't eat meat? 

It’s easy. 

Below is one of my all-time favorite veggie burger recipes.  I make it at least twice a month.  I have made many different versions of veggie burgers and I always prefer using lentils as the key ingredient.  

Locally grown tomatoes make the flavor on veggie burgers really pop!

3 Seed Burgers starting to cook
Here are 4 reasons why I use lentils:  
  1. Lentils are easy to cook; they are fully cooked in 20-30 minutes.  
  2. They don't need to be soaked in water overnight.  
  3. They are very inexpensive.  
  4. They can be cooked a day or two before making the burger recipe and are just as good as if you cooked them the same day.  
Lentils are in the food group called legumes. Lentils, and other plant foods in the legume family, are one of the healthiest foods on the planet because they are nutrient dense and extremely high in dietary fiber.  The legume group includes lentils (green, red, black, French), beans (i.e., black, garbanzo, adzuki, kidney, lima, fava, soy), peas (snap, green, split and black-eyed), and peanuts.  

Just 1/2 cup of cooked green lentils contains about 9 grams of dietary fiber, which is about one third of what you need to consume in one day.  Eating plenty of foods high in dietary fiber is key if you want to prevent or reverse diabetes. 

GROWING HEALTHY KIDS:  Our Recipe Collection
  • ·        ½ cup raw pumpkin seeds
  • ·        ¼ cup raw sunflower seeds
  • ·        ¼ cup unhulled sesame seeds (or substitute hemp seeds)
  • ·        1 cup cooked green lentils
  • ·        2 tablespoons rolled oats
  • ·        2-3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • ·        ¼ cup diced onions
  • ·        2 tablespoons tahini
  • ·        1 tablespoon chopped Italian parsley
  • ·        Pinch of cayenne pepper or smoked paprika         
  • ·        Optional:  Add 2 tablespoons vital wheat gluten and/or 1 tablespoon coconut aminos*
Preheat oven to 350.  In food processor, combine all 3 seeds and process until coarsely chopped.  Add remaining ingredients.  Process until mixture is blended.  

Shape mixture into 4 patties. Lightly oil a baking sheet with olive oil.  Place patties on sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Turn and bake another 8 minutes.  If you choose, you can grill burgers in a pan on medium heat for 3-4 minutes per side, or until browned. 

Serve burgers on whole grain buns.  Garnish with avocado, lettuce, tomatoes. 

*For demonstration purposes, Trader Joe's Coconut Aminos were used in the preparation of this recipe in the Growing Healthy Kids Test Kitchen. 

TIP:  Something I like to do is to mix the ingredients on Sunday, place mixture in the fridge overnight so they firm up and are easier to handle, and then prepare the burgers for dinner on Monday night,
With love and gratitude,
Nancy Heinrich, MPH
Founder, Growing Healthy Kids, Inc.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: Practical Advice for Every Day

"Nothing is impossible. The word itself says, "I'm possible." 
                                                                                              --Audrey Hepburn

Let’s focus on what really matters every day. 

Image result for parents and kids "org"

Here are some of my favorite tips for parents:
  1. Get more sleep (adults need 7-9 hours a night, kids and teens need 9.5 hours a night, babies need 16-18 hours).
  2. Make time to exercise every day.  Walking for more than 10 minutes at a time counts.
  3. Drink more water.
  4. Eat less sugar. 
  5. Stay teachable.
  6. Read and write more.
  7. Remove clutter from your home and your life.
  8. Practice random acts of kindness.
  9. Don’t respond to negativity – walk away from it.
  10. Spend quality time with your family.
  11. Be grateful for the abundance in your life.  

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

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: Obesity Matters for Parents

“Children learn what to eat at their parents’ table, and adults are eating more fast food, more convenience foods, and more unhealthfully than ever before in human history.  Overweight parents don’t just pass on the genes for obesity, but their eating habits as well.” 
                              -- Joel Fuhrman, M.D., from Disease-Proof Your Child

Image result for kids going back to school "org"

Parents all over the country are reviewing school supply lists and buying backpacks, pencils, and binders.  It is a good time to plan how to be a good role model for your kids.  It turns out that educating parents is one of the best ways to develop role models with good behaviors that can lead to kids staying at a healthy weight. 

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the prevalence of obesity was 39.8% and affected about 93.3 million of U.S. adults in 2015-2016.  That’s more than 1 in 3 adults who are at unhealthy weights and at risk for obesity-related diseases including diabetes, sleep apnea, bone and joint problems. 

While we shop for our kids’ school supply lists, we need to shop for healthy foods for our kitchen pantries.  Kids learn from watching their parents.  Are you skipping breakfast?  Drinking sodas?  Eating white bread and processed meats?  Maybe you need to attend my “Healthy Eating” class for parents! 

Image result for healthy foods to eat "org"

We are the role models and our kids are sponges.  Pay attention to what you are teaching your kids by what you keep in your kitchen pantry and what you put on the dinner table.  If our kids are going to live longer than us, then we cannot sit by while they develop older adult diseases such as type 2 diabetes.  If we do nothing and allow them to become overweight and obese, then we are setting them up for a shorter lifespan than ours.
With love and gratitude,
Nancy Heinrich, MPH
Founder, Growing Healthy Kids, Inc.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: Making Healthy Babies

“If I had my life to live over, instead of wishing away nine months of pregnancy, I’d have cherished every moment and realized that the wonderment growing inside me was the only chance in life to assist God in a miracle.”
                                                                       --Erma Bombeck

Image result for pregnant women "org"

Thinking of getting pregnant?  There are so many things to consider if you are.  One of the best things that we can do is ensure that parents are healthy before they start thinking about making a baby.  Planning a pregnancy and making a baby means first making a commitment to quit smoking, to exercise, eat right, and avoid alcohol and drugs.  It also means getting to a healthy weight. 

The fact is that when a girl or woman becomes pregnant, being at an unhealthy weight increases her risk for a “high risk pregnancy” and delivering a baby with health complications. 

If you know someone who is thinking about becoming pregnant, talk with them about the importance of getting to a healthy weight first.  According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the prevalence of obesity was 39.8%, affecting 93.3 Americans in 2015-2016.  

It is time we dare to get embarrassed and talk with those we love about being at a healthy weight as part of prepregnancy planning.  Raising the awareness of this important step can help ensure that we are truly Growing Healthy Kids.

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

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: Moving Towards Health

“The poultry industry commonly injects chicken carcasses with salt water to artificially inflate their weight, yet they can still be labelled “100 percent natural.” Consumer Reports found that some supermarket chickens were pumped so full of salt that they registered a whopping 840 mg of sodium per serving – that could mean more than a full day’s worth of sodium in just one chicken breast.” 
                                       --from How Not To Die by Michael Greger, M.D.

Image result for chickens "org"
Factory farming of chickens is a brutal practice.  
The factory farming of animals in the U.S. says so much about our country. If we truly are to be an ethical society, then how can we tolerate the inhumane treatment of millions of animals who are slaughtered for food?  More than 8.8 billion chickens and 115 million pigs are factory farmed for food in the U.S. annually.  

Image result for factory farming chickens "org"

Colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths for both men and women in the U.S. and is expected to cause more than 50,000 deaths in 2018.  Fast food restaurants like McDonald's have gained a strong foothold outside of the U.S. Considering that we are what we eat, it is no wonder that colon cancer rates in Japan are as bad as they are in the U.S., “a rise that has been attributed in part to the fivefold increase in meat consumption,” according to Dr. Michael Greger.  A diet high in red meat and processed meats like hot dogs and salami is a risk factor for colorectal cancer. 

We can all move towards health by embracing the fact that we don’t need to eat animals to be healthy and to thrive. Hidden sources of sodium, such as when chickens are injected with sodium to artificially inflate their weight, are dangerous for people with, or at risk for, high blood pressure.  Considering that most people should limit their daily sodium to less than 1,500 mg a day, sodium intake can add up fast.  

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Aerial view of factory farming of animals. 

Preventing cancer, high blood pressure, and other conditions occurs when we increase our awareness about what real food is and where it comes from.  We need a food supply that does not pollute our waters, poisons us with toxins, and makes us sick. 

Image result for factory farming chickens "org"
How people think all chickens are raised. 

Choosing to follow a whole food plant-based way of eating is up to each of us.  It is better for our health, the health of our families, the ethical treatment of animals, and the health and sustainability of our planet.  It is a simple step for moving towards health. 

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