Wednesday, July 29, 2020

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: Plant-Based Eating - Easy and Economical

According to USDA, Americans ate an average of 222 pounds of meat in 2018. 

Kids learn to make salads and salad dressing at a Growing Healthy Kids workshop
with Chef Anthony Damiano of Counter Culture.  
Many people believe the myth that it is expensive to eat healthy.  When I am in the checkout at the grocery store, I observe what other people have in their carts and what they are spending on food.  Packages of meat, steaks, and chicken quickly add up to so much more than what I spend on dried lentils, beans, rice, oats, and fresh greens. 

Last weekend I soaked a bag of chickpeas overnight and the next day cooked them for an hour.  Chickpeas have been garnishing my salads all week, along with the organic lentil sprouts I effortlessly grow every week.  Last night I made chickpea cutlets with mushroom gravy, mashed sweet potatoes and peas.  Dinner was delicious! All this goodness – and lots of dietary fiber - only $1.49 for a bag of dried chickpeas!   

Fun facts!  One cup of cooked chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, has about 12 grams of dietary fiber.  Chickpeas are in the legume family (beans, peas, and lentils).  Most of the fiber in chickpeas is insoluble fiber, which does not break down (think “roughage”) and contributes to great bowel movements.  Chickpeas also contain soluble fiber, which is water soluble and breaks down to create a gel which helps lower blood cholesterol and sugar, helping to improve blood glucose control.  Fiber fills you up so you don’t overeat.  Aim for at least 28 grams a day (more if you have diabetes).  Meat contains no dietary fiber.  Fiber is only found in plant foods.  Most Americans eat far less fiber than they need. 

Eat real food: fruit, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains.  

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

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: Why We Need More Diabetes Literacy

“Don’t let the ‘pre’ fool you—prediabetes is a serious health condition where blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough yet to be diagnosed as diabetes. Prediabetes puts you at increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.”

Kids learn about real food at a Growing Healthy Kids' workshop.  
I get upset when someone I know lands in the hospital due to complications from undiagnosed or untreated diabetes.  One common thread with many cases has been that their spouses are health care professionals.  I get upset because I keep thinking they should have had the knowledge to better manage and control their diabetes and to not become so ill they needed to be hospitalized.   

More than 88 million Americans – one in three adults – have prediabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Prediabetes occurs when cells in your body don’t respond normally to insulin, a hormone made by your pancreas.  Insulin serves as a key, unlocking the doors of cells to allow glucose in the bloodstream to enter and be used for energy, and then stores any leftover glucose in the liver.

If a nurse or doctor is not sharing their professional knowledge about diabetes with their own family, then what about their patients?  Few physicians are teachers.  They diagnose, then prescribe drugs.  When their two minutes are up, they say, “See you in three months.” They rarely ask, “What do you eat in a typical day?” even though that discussion could end up adding quality and years to their patients' lives if it prevented life-threatening complications such as a heart attack or kidney dialysis.

Who is teaching individuals with a fasting blood sugar result of 120 that they have prediabetes, what prediabetes is, and how to reverse it?  Who is teaching the patient with an A1C of 9.5 hospitalized with diabetes complications what that A1C means, how often the test should be done and why, and how shifting to plant-based eating (mainly fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains) can help to control and reverse diabetes? 

Diabetes can be reversed.  Prediabetes, if diagnosed and interventions are made, can be prevented from progressing to diabetes, which cost the US $327 Billion in 2017, a 26% increase in 5 years.

With the COVID-19 pandemic wrecking havoc on American families and businesses, there is a sense of urgency to get diabetes education into communities at high risk for diabetes and prediabetes.  COVID-19 risk factors include diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, sickle cell anemia, and COPD.  If you know a church or community leader who would like to host a Zoom conversation about diabetes literacy, please contact me at  Let's talk!

Together, we can create a wave of diabetes literacy in our homes, churches, and communities.  

With love,
Nancy Heinrich, MPH
Founder and Wellness Architect

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: A "Souper" Summer Recipe

"Live in the sunshine, swim in the sea, drink in the wild air." 
                                                                                --Ralph Waldo Emerson

 corn | Health Topics |

The beauty of summertime is that we have so many wonderful choices:  should I sleep in late today, go for a swim, read a book, or eat chilled watermelon?  In the Midwest, July is corn season.  Fresh corn is showing up at the New Albany Farmers Market.  My heart is happy!  Should I make corn on the cob, corn & black bean salad, Mexican street corn, or cornbread?  

Here is one of my favorite recipes for corn soup.  This 6 ingredient recipe is great to make with your kids.

GROWING HEALTHY KIDS:  Our Recipe Collection

CLEAN husks and silks from:
·        5 ears of fresh corn

REMOVE kernels from the cobs using a sharp knife and set aside.

MELT in a medium saucepan over medium heat:
·        2 Tablespoons vegan butter

·        1 medium onion, diced
·        1 clove garlic, minced

SAUTE until onion is softened, about 20 minutes. 

  Corn kernels
·        1 Tablespoon white wine vinegar
·        4-1/2 cups vegetable stock

REDUCE heat and simmer until corn is tender, about 10 minutes. 

USE a slotted spoon to remove 1 cup of the corn-onion mixture and set aside. Transfer remaining soup in small batches to blender and puree until completely smooth, about 3 minutes per batch.  Return to saucepan and stir in reserved corn-onion mixture.

REHEAT until steaming.

SEASON to taste with salt and pepper. 

SERVE topped with smoked paprika.

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

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: 3 Reasons to Go Plant-Based

"If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be a vegetarian." 
                                                                             --Paul McCartney

Kids and mentors learn about healthy eating at a Growing Healthy Kids' workshop.
The evidence continues to mount in favor of the power of plant-based eating for improving health outcomes.  In working with children at risk for childhood obesity and diabetes and the root causes, it is clear that kids and their parents are targeted by food manufacturers, fast food companies, and the pharmaceutical-medical industrial complex.  “We’ll sell them food loaded with salt, sugar, and fat, then we’ll sell them drugs for the diseases caused by consuming processed foods filled with food additives, food dyes, and chemicals with no nutritional value.”

Choosing to go plant-based is an easy decision if you want to feel better.  Here are 3 reasons to help you consider going plant-based:
  1. The environmental damage caused by the cruel factory farming of animals for human consumption is a major contributor to global warming. 
  2. Eating primarily fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains is proven to control, manage, and reverse – yes, reverse – diseases such as type 2 diabetes and obesity.
  3. When you start choosing a plant-based way of eating, many people report an increase in energy, clearer thinking, and better sleep. 

Take the first step towards plant-based eating.  Choose to eat less animal foods this week. 

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

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: 7 Books for Summer Reading

"People don't realize how a man's whole life can be changed by one book."
                                                            --Malcolm X

Parents & Families | National Center on Improving Literacy

I have always loved to read.  Perhaps my love of the written word is why I am so passionate about improving health literacy for children and their families.

Knowledge is the key to great power.  If you want to be in control of your own health, it helps to understand the causes of chronic, preventable diseases and how central what we eat is to the state of our health - or lack of it.  Once you learn what foods to NOT eat, then you can begin to focus on foods that promote health, wellness, and longevity. 

Here are seven of my favorite books by four physicians who are leaders in plant-based nutrition that I routinely loan to people who ask for advice after they have had a heart attack or been diagnosed with diabetes.  Funny how it takes a catastrophic or life-threatening event to grab one’s attention about what good food is and why it matters. Take time this summer to enjoy my recommended reading:

  1. The Cheese Trap by Neal Barnard, MD
  2. Your Body in Balance by Neal Barnard, MD
  3. Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease by Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr, MD
  4. How Not to Die by Michael Greger, MD
  5. How Not to Diet by Michael Greger, MD
  6. The How Not to Die Cookbook by Michael Greger, MD
  7. Undo it!:  How Simple Changes Can Reverse Most Chronic Diseases by Dean Ornish, MD

Fill this summer with great family time and good books!  

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