Wednesday, February 10, 2021

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: Black History Month

“So, by the time Gregory came to speak on our campus in 1986, he had been a vegetarian for nearly 20 years. In his speech, he traced the path of a hamburger from a cow on a factory farm to the slaughterhouse to a hamburger to a clogged artery to a heart attack, and it completely rocked my world.

                                                       --Tracye McQuirter



This quote about comedian and human rights activist Dick Gregory (1932-2017), pictured above, caught my eye. As more and more Americans embrace veganism and plant-based eating, it is important to remember history. 

February is Black History Month and an occasion to celebrate black farmers and others who have contributed to our collective health.  One such person was George Washington Carver (1864-1943), scientist, botanist and inventor.  Invited to head up the Tuskegee Institute’s Agricultural Department, Mr. Carver researched new uses for peanuts, soybeans, sweet potatoes, and pecans.  He urged farmers to rotate crops (a practice my grandfather used on his 160 acre farm in Indiana) and to use organic fertilizers.  He knew the value of soil that was cared for to grow food rich in nutritional value and his research benefited farmers.   He also became a nutritional advisor to Matahma Gandhi.

People like Dick Gregory and George Washington Carver helped raise awareness about the connection between what we eat and our health. Nourishing our soil by not destroying it with chemicals is key to growing good foods.  We need access to healthy foods.  Celebrate Black History Month and those whose contributions add value to our health and the health of America's children.  

With love and kindness,

Nancy Heinrich, MPH

Founder and Wellness Architect 

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: Eating Real Food

"Exercise is beneficial and I highly recommend it.  But a lack of exercise is not the primary reason for weight problems and exercise can never take the place of a healthful diet."

--Neal Barnard, M.D., founder of Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine 

How much of the food you eat is considered to be nutrient dense?  The term “nutrient dense” indicates how much bang for the buck you get with what you eat and drink. 

Think about my favorite food groups: fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains. Nutrient density is a given with these groups, with some foods falling heavier on the scale than others.  Take cauliflower, in the cruciferous vegetable family (i.e., cauliflower, broccoli or "little trees", collards, cabbage, and arugula).  It is a nutritional powerhouse, high in Vitamin C and K, high in dietary fiber (about 12 grams of fiber per head), high in potassium, with anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. We should all enjoy a little cauliflower (or other cruciferous vegetables) every day. 

When I go grocery shopping, I sometimes peak into others’ grocery carts, especially when kids are tagging along.  I spy cereal boxes filled with added sugars, food dyes, and empty calories. I spy packages of meat and chicken (no dietary fiber in anything from an animal but full of saturated fat, the kind of fat that contributes to heart disease).  I spy highly processed foods such as Pop Tarts with a gazillion ingredients and no nutritional value.  Those “foods” are not nutrient dense and contribute to diseases such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.

Foods that are highly processed and loaded with added sugars, salt, and fat should be avoided or rarely consumed.  The other day my lunch was Mediterranean pasta salad with Kalamata olives, sundried tomatoes, spinach, and yellow bell peppers, with a simple red wine-olive oil vinaigrette. So good and good for you!

What you eat can kill you or heal you.  Make every bite count.  Turn up your relationship with real food and make most of what you eat vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole grains.  Leave processed foods in the store and enjoy real food and healthy meals with your children!

With love and kindness,

Nancy Heinrich, MPH

Founder and Wellness Architect

 

 

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: Farm Tripping

"Strong communities are built around real, local food.  Food we trust to nourish our bodies, the farmer, and planet." 

                                                                                                        --Kimball Musk 

One of my favorite childhood memories is the summers at my grandparents’ farm in Indiana.  There was something special about the big garden my grandfather planted for my grandmother.  We ate so well: fresh-picked green beans, luscious sliced tomatoes, and potatoes. Homemade vanilla ice-cream with sliced strawberries from Huber’s Farm. Fresh peach pie with homemade icep-cream on Sundays.  

In the workshops designed by Growing Healthy Kids, we see the value of taking kids to meet farmers. Sometimes it is at the local farmers market and sometimes it is going to the farm.  Kids grow from learning where real food comes from. Kids learn by doing. 

One thing these workshops have taught me is that teaching kids what real food is and where it comes from has not been a priority in educating children but it should be. Almost all of the kids educated through Growing Healthy Kids’ workshops have self-reported previously never going to a farmers market, let alone a farm, before they participated in our program.  These workshops have taught me that all kids deserve opportunities to go to farms, talk to farmers, learn what is grown in their bio-region and about real food from the people growing it. 

A trip to the farm can be life-changing. Good food is a centerpiece to a good life and connecting with the source of real food is a valuable lesson. Getting outside and slowing down as one walks the farm is a great stress reliever.  As your breath slows down, your blood pressure relaxes. You sleep better at night with a good dose of fresh air. 

Find opportunities to visit your local farmers market with your children.  Introduce yourselves to the farmers and ask them about what they grow.  Ask them why they work so hard to grow food for total strangers.  Let’s go to the farm!

Improving the health and lives of America’s children, one child at a time. 

With love and kindness,

Nancy Heinrich, MPH

Founder and Wellness Architect

 

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: Reversing Childhood Obesity

 "Children need models rather than critics." 

                                                                                            --Joseph Joubert

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, obesity now affects 1 in 5 children and adolescents in the U.S. Consequences of childhood obesity include:

·         High blood pressure and high cholesterol, which are risk factors for cardiovascular disease

·         Increased risk of impaired glucose tolerance, insulin resistance, and type 2 diabetes

·         Breathing problems, such as asthma and sleep apnea

·         Joint problems and musculoskeletal discomfort

·         Fatty liver disease, gallstones, and gastro-esophageal reflux (i.e., heartburn)

Childhood obesity is also related to:

·         Psychological problems such as anxiety and depression

·         Low self-esteem and lower self-reported quality of life

·         Being bullied and the stigma of being fat and unhealthy

Growing Healthy Kids, Inc., is dedicated to raising awareness about the importance of all children having access to healthy, locally grown, organic food and the value of regular exercise and a good night’s sleep.  Our programs are designed to inspire children and educate parents to find joy in creating and enjoying healthy and easy family meals together.  This year is a year to bring families to the dinner table over simple dishes. We will talk with local farmers, sharing their stories.  While our workshops remain on hold (see above picture from pre-COVID adventures to the Vero Beach Farmers Market), we will continue sharing delicious kid-tested recipes from the Growing Healthy Kids Test Kitchen.  

Our focus is on improving the health and lives of America’s children, one child at a time. We are here to serve you.   

To contact us, please send an email to growinghealthykidsnow@gmail.com.  We look forward to hearing from you this year!

With love and kindness,

Nancy Heinrich, MPH

Founder and Wellness Architect

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: Spice It Up


"Pull up a chair.  Take a taste. Come join us.  Life is so endlessly delicious."
                    --Ruth Reichl

Kids love to play in the kitchen.  Every Growing Healthy Kids workshop we do proves it.  Give kids an age-appropriate knife and cutting board, plenty of safety instructions, and direct adult supervision, and let the fun begin.  One of my favorite ways to begin a class is to pass around a fresh herb and ask kids to guess what it is.  Cilantro is one of my favorite herbs.  If you like Mexican or Thai food, then you probably like cilantro, too.

Here is a recipe that is great to make with kids and it goes with anything Mexican.  If you do not have plastic gloves, then skip the jalapeno. Taco Tuesday never tasted so good!

GROWING HEALTHY KIDS:  Our Recipe Collection

Salsa Verde

Ingredients:

  • ·        4 medium tomatillos, husks peeled, rinsed, and quartered
  • ·        1 clove garlic, minced
  • ·        ½ cup cilantro (remove large stems)
  • ·        1 small jalapeno (using plastic gloves, cut in half and remove all seeds)
  • ·        Juice of ½ lime (or more, depending on your taste and how juicy the lime is)
  • ·        1 teaspoon avocado or olive oil
  • ·        Pink Himalayan sea salt, to taste

Directions:

Place all ingredients in blender and puree until nearly smooth. 

NOTE:  For added flavor, roast tomatillos under broiler until lightly browned before adding to blender.  

Use on tacos or enchiladas. 

Can store salsa in refrigerator up to 3 days. 

With love,

Nancy Heinrich, MPH

Founder and Wellness Architect

Growing Healthy Kids, Inc.

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: A New Year Filled with Kindness

"A global shift towards a vegan diet is vital to save the world from the worst impacts of climate change."  

                                                                                             --United Nations


We awaken to a new year, lives frozen in time.  A global pandemic keeps families homebound on invisible leaches as we navigate a condensed version of life. Children “attend” school from their kitchen tables as parents' new vocabulary includes phrases like "non-traditional education."  The world needs more kindness. 

School cafeteria staff around the nation work tirelessly to deliver prepackaged meals to children at home.  These children would, in “normal” times, eat 2 of their 3 daily meals at school.  We have a food crisis and children are hungry.  The world needs more kindness. 

A leading contributor to climate change is bovine belching.  Yep.  Burping cows.    A 2017 study found that if every meat eater switched to beans, it would put the United States halfway toward meeting the greenhouse gas emission goals in the Paris Accord.  Each year, one cow belches about 220 pounds of methane into the atmosphere.  Start on the path to plant-based eating with a commitment to Meatless Mondays.  Eat more kale and less cows.  The world needs more kindness. 

May you and your family be safe, happy, and healthy in 2021.  Teach your chidren how to cook.  Eat more fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains.  Practice kindness daily.  Repeat. 

With love,

Nancy Heinrich, MPH

Founder and Wellness Architect

Growing Healthy Kids, Inc.