Wednesday, September 18, 2019

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: Mother Earth is in the Emergency Room

"I have a dream that the powerful take the climate crisis seriously.  The time for their fairytales is over."
                                                                      -- Greta Thunberg

When Swedish teen and climate advocate Greta Thunberg landed on the shores of the U.S. on a zero emissions boat this month, she brought her voice and passion about the critical need for dramatic actions to solve the climate change crisis.  Rising atmospheric temperatures, melting glaciers and Arctic ice, rising sea levels, stronger hurricanes, more frequent floods and forest fires call for immediate change to business as usual.

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Teaching kids to protect the planet by reducing, reusing, and recycling is a message that needs to continue.  But it is not enough.  Our planet needs healing from the damage caused by for profit companies that are exploiting our growing dependence on fossil fuels like coal and petroleum.

Carbon is being dumped into the atmosphere and it is killing people and changing our climate faster than we can adapt.  Land is being clear cut in the Amazon to make way for cattle production at a time when we need more trees, not less.  Food production is being affected, national security is affected, and migration of birds is affected. The planet is heating up and the planet is on fire.

As a lifelong member of the Sierra Club, spending time outdoors and protecting our water, air, and land are strong values of mine.  As a Florida coastal resident, I stand witness to worsening hurricanes and hotter summers.

Begin talking with your kids about climate change in ways they can understand and identify things you can do at home, at work, and in your community to embrace the concept of reducing carbon emissions and zero fossil fuels by 2030.  Next time you need a light bulb, buy LED.  Turn off lights when you leave a room.  Eat less meat.  Start advocating and saving for an electric car.  Support solar and wind energy.  

We can – and must – act to save Mother Earth.  This planet is the only home we have.  Our children are counting on us.  Their health and lives depend on how soon we act to reverse the climate change crisis. 

With gratitude,
Nancy Heinrich
Founder, Growing Healthy Kids

Wednesday, June 19, 2019


“Keep close to Nature’s heart…and break clear away, once in awhile and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods.  Wash your spirit clean.”
                                                                                     --John Muir

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The other night my Uber driver brought me from the Louisville airport to my mother’s home about 10 PM.  As we pulled into Mom’s long driveway, I was instantly mesmerized.  Tiny white flashes popped all around us. Memories of summers spent at my grandparents’ nearby farm flashed before me as I realized I was seeing dozens of fireflies. 

Summertime in the Midwest is a magical time when kids are outside until darkness falls and the fireflies come out to play.  I believe that fireflies are a call to the child in all of us to play outside and engage with nature on our own terms. 

Spending time in nature for regular doses of Vitamin N plays a key role in our mental health.  Whether it is taking a walk in the woods, sitting outside at night watching the stars, the moon, and fireflies, or building sandcastles at the beach, time outside has the power to calm the everyday anxieties that have unfortunately become a part of modern life.

Getting kids outside and helping them to connect with nature is a big part of the mission of Growing Healthy Kids.  Recently, as part of a healthy eating program for children living at a homeless family shelter, we took kids to the beach and taught them Qi Gong relaxation and breathing lessons.  At the beginning of each class we repeated the lessons with the hope that by engaging kids at high risk for obesity and poor eating habits, our Vitamin N interventions will have a lifelong positive effect on these kids. 

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Teaching kids about the value of time spent in nature, whether quietly observing or actively engaging, is a lesson that can help everyone to live healthy, balanced lives. 

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

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: Please Pass the Mushroom Gravy

"If I have one addiction in life, it's probably food."  
                                                                                 --Liam Hemsworth

This time of year, my visits to local farmers market include a search for cauliflower, especially cheddar cauliflower (so named because it is the same color as cheddar cheese).  A member of the cruciferous, or Brassicaceae family, cauliflower is related to broccoli, cabbage, kale, arugula, collards, bok choy, and Brussels sprouts.  What makes cruciferous vegetables so crazy good for you is that they are high in phytonutrients which reduce inflammation and reduce the risk of developing cancer. 

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Cauliflower is delicious when steamed until fork-tender and then placed in a food processor (or blender) with a little vegan butter, miso, pink Himalayan sea salt and pepper.  Blend until cauliflower is the consistency of mashed potatoes.  Serve with delicious Mushroom Gravy (recipe follows) for the ultimate in Growing Healthy Kids-tested and approved comfort food! 

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GROWING HEALTHY KIDS:  Our Recipe Collection
  • ·        1-1/2 teaspoons olive oil
  • ·        1 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • ·        2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • ·        Pepper and sea salt, to taste
  • ·        3 cups mushrooms, sliced (baby portabellas are a great choice)
  • ·        1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
  • ·        2 Tablespoons + 1-1/2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
  • ·        1-1/4 cups vegetable broth
  • ·        2 Tablespoons low sodium tamari (or coconut aminos)

  1. In a saucepan, heat oil over medium heat.  Add onion and garlic, then sauté for 3-4 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Add mushrooms and rosemary and raise heat to medium-high.  Sauté for 8-9 minutes.
  3. Stir in flour until all vegetables are coated. 
  4. Add broth and tamari and stir quickly.  Bring mixture to a simmer.  Cook about 5 more minutes, stirring often so it does not burn.
  5. When gravy has thickened and you are happy with it, remove from heat and serve over mashed cauliflower.

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

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