Wednesday, September 22, 2021

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: Favorite Fall Soups

"Good manners: The noise you don't make when you're eating soup."

                                                                                                          --Bennett Cerf



With fall here, favorite soup recipes start living in my head.  Some feature one super star ingredient like lentils, others fall in the comfort food category like tomato soup, a few are just great combinations of rainbow vegetables like minestrone soup.  The fun thing about making soups is that you can always change up the recipe a little bit or a lot, depending on the ingredients on hand.  Last night, for example, I decided to make red lentil soup but I had just run out of tomato paste.  I did have some local heirloom tomatoes on the counter, so I switched up ingredients in the recipe and the soup was great!

My recommendation to parents?  Make different soups on the quest to find your family’s favorites. Then keep those soups in regular menu rotation and the ingredients on hand in your pantry and fridge.  Your kids will stay busy helping you prep veggies and getting all the ingredients on the counter (“mise en place”).   

Trips to the local farmers market often make the decision about what soup to make an easy one.  When local tomatoes are in season, you can bet we will be making classic tomato soup.  When summer kale is being harvested, kale and white bean soup is on the stove.  When butternut squash are at the markets, I make sure I have fresh curry powder and cans of full-fat coconut milk on hand.

Have fun making your favorite soups with your family!  When you make lentil soup, I’ll be over for dinner!

With love and kindness,

Nancy Heinrich, MPH

Founder and Wellness Architect

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: Fall Squash

 "Food is our common ground, a universal experience."

                                ---James Beard


Visiting farmers markets this time of year is pure fun. Fall squash in beautiful shades of orange, yellow, and green - such as butternut, acorn, pumpkin kabocha, and delicata - mimic the color of fall leaves as trees say good goodbye to summer and prepare for winter.

Butternut squash is one of my favorites.  With its deep orange color and high fiber content, the versatility of butternut squash is overshadowed by its powerhouse of nutritional value.  Roast it with root vegetables.  Cube it for sauteeing. Cook it with onions, curry, and coconut milk for comfort soup to serve for friends. According to the US Department of Agriculture, 1 cup cubed has 493 mg of potassium, 2.8 grams of dietary fiber and only 63 calories.  High in beta-carotene, it is good for your skin and your digestive tract.

When you visit your local farmers markets this fall, look for a new “baby” variety of butternut squash.  I tried it for the first time this month and it is delicious!  You can have your own personal butternut squash! I served it with wild rice, sautéed beet greens, and crabless cakes – simply divine!  

With love and kindness,

Nancy Heinrich, MPH

Founder and Wellness Architect

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: Lose the (Saturated) Fat

 "In fact, reversing type 2 diabetes is very possible-if it isn't too severe.  Every person with diabetes should focus on a careful diet, one that limits concentrated sweets or sweeteners and is high in fiber and vegetables.  Optimal weight should be the goal, as excess weight and obesity makes control of blood sugar more difficult."

                                                             --Dr. Andrew Weil, MD

America has a fat problem.  We have become a nation of obese and overweight people. More than 1 in 10 Americans has diabetes.  More than 1/3 of Americans have prediabetes and if they do nothing about it, they will most likely progress to diabetes, a disease characterized by high blood sugar and a constellation of complications. 

Saturated fat is only found in foods from animals.  Saturated fat is solid at room temperature.  Remember that can of bacon grease your mother saved for cooking when you were growing up?  When you eat foods from animals, saturated fat sticks to the inside of your blood vessels, raises your LDL cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol), narrows your vessels, and decreases blood flow (not good).

If you have diabetes or prediabetes, saturated fat blocks cells from using insulin correctly. It’s like putting chewing gum in the lock of your front door and trying to insert your house key into the lock.  Your key (insulin) won’t go in the lock. One of the best ways to reverse diabetes is to eliminate all animal products from your diet. Take the gum (saturated fat) out of the lock and BAM, the key (insulin) opens the door and allows the sugar in your bloodstream to enter the cells where it is needed for energy.   

I recently taught a workshop on this topic for adults with diabetes and prediabetes.  When people understand the “how” of how insulin is supposed to work and how detrimental animal fats are to someone with high blood sugars, it simplifies the decision to lose the saturated fats and move to whole food plant-based eating.

When you are ready to manage or even reverse your diabetes, stop eating all animal products.  Fat has 9 calories a gram, compared to 4 calories a gram for protein and carbohydrates.  Cutting out animal fats and eating more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes will automatically cut your intake of calories and put you on a path to a healthier weight.  Cut back on added oils and learn to cook with vegetable broth or water instead of added oils.  Then prepare to be amazed with your results!

With love and kindness,

Nancy Heinrich, MPH

Founder and Wellness Architect

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: Take Time for Yourself

"Take rest.  A field that has rested gives a beautiful crop."

                                                                                                          --Ovid


As Labor Day weekend approaches, people are planning family picnics and time together to celebrate the end of summer and the accomplishments of American workers.  Hot dogs and potato chips are flying off the shelves at grocery stores.  Watermelons are chilling in the coolers. 

Work comes with responsibilities and rewards. It also needs to come with rest and relaxation.  So many in the United States work without taking time off, in contrast to Europeans, where most everyone receives paid time off from the beginning of a new job. 

A three day weekend is a start, but as one of my brothers says, it takes three weeks away from work to really relax. 

Relaxation is truly a gift. To put away the cell phones, turn off the work, and just enjoy living in the moment takes practice.  Reading a good book, cooking with family, walking in the woods or on the beach.  These practices come with their own rewards such as lower stress, improved digestion, lower blood pressure, and better moods. 

Enjoy your Labor Day weekend.  Take time for yourself. You have earned it and you are worth it! 

With love and kindness,

Nancy Heinrich, MPH

Founder and Wellness Architect

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: Eat More Fiber Part 3

 "A high-fiber diet appears to reduce the risk of developing various conditions, including heart diseasediabetes, diverticular disease, constipation and colon cancer. Fiber is important for the health of the digestive system and for lowering cholesterol."

                     --University of California San Francisco (ucsfhealth.org)


Are you getting about 35 grams of dietary fiber a day? Or less? The fact is that most Americans consume nowhere near enough fiber to prevent diseases.
 

When we eat enough fiber, everything just works better. The plumbing, that is. Our digestive system, to be specific.  Yes, I am talking about bowel movements.

I will never forget one of my wake-up calls about the dietary fiber problem in this country.  I was asked to work with a parent whose child had only 1 bowel movement a week (not normal).   The child was complaining of chronic stomach pain and missed a lot of school.  

On another occasion I was asked to teach a series of nutrition workshops for kids who have been abused and/or neglected living in a residential shelter. I saw more evidence for the need for health literacy education for parents and those adults who are responsible for the care and well-being of children. What I observed was the adults who were buying food for the children in the shelter bought the cheapest bread.  It was also the bread with the least amount of dietary fiber. The staff would complain about kids eating an entire loaf of bread in a day.  No wonder, as bread made with refined wheat flour where the wheat bran has been stripped from the wheat to increase the shelf life has also been stripped of the dietary fiber that provides satiety and fills us up.  

As you increase the amount of fiber in what you choose to eat, remember it is important to increase the amount of water you drink. 

Dietary fiber plays a critical role in the prevention of diseases such as diabetes, obesity, and colon cancer.  Reading food labels to see how many grams are in a serving will help you make good decisions for you and your family. After all, we are Growing Healthy Kids, one child at a time! 

With love and kindness,

Nancy Heinrich, MPH

Founder and Wellness Architect

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: Eat More Fiber Part 2

"Because a poor diet is linked to cancer, obesity, heart disease and diabetes, public health authorities have long endorsed a diet rich in fruits and vegetables."
        --source:  CDC's 2015 Behavior Risk Factor Surveillance System


Most Americans eat far less fiber than they need, consuming only about a 1/3 of what they need. There is no fiber in foods that come from animals. Fiber is only found in foods that grow from the earth. 

People often ask, “Am I getting enough protein?” when the MORE IMPORTANT QUESTION  is, “Am I getting enough fiber?”  I will have a party when someone asks me, “Am I getting enough fiber?” 

When I teach workshops, we talk about the importance of reading food labels to identify key nutrients.  Do you eat cereal most mornings?  Look at the “Nutrition Facts” panel and identify what a serving size is.  Do you routinely have one or two servings? Next, look at how many grams of dietary fiber are in one per serving.  If you are eating two servings of cereal, then double the number.

Most adults should aim for about 35 grams of fiber a day.

This is one of my favorite summer breakfasts (see picture, above): cooked oatmeal, milled flax seed, almond milk, and half of a fresh, locally grown peach.   Usually I also have a whole wheat English muffin (where the first ingredient on the Nutrition Facts label includes the word “whole”).  Here is my breakfast’s fiber total:

½ cup dry Quaker oats:                         4 grams       

2 tablespoons milled flax seed:              3 grams

½ cup Blue Diamond almond milk:         <1

½ large peach:                                     1.5 grams

1 whole wheat English muffin:               3 grams

TOTAL FIBER:                                   >11.5 grams

This breakfast easily puts me on the way towards the day’s goal of about 35 grams of dietary fiber.  Remember, fiber fills you up and prevents overeating.  Most people don’t get anywhere near enough dietary fiber.  NOTE:  As you increase fiber, also increase the amount of water you are drinking.  Increasing your dietary fiber is key to controlling and reversing diabetes as well as losing extra weight.  

With love and kindness,

Nancy Heinrich, MPH

Founder and Wellness Architect


Wednesday, August 11, 2021

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: Eat More Fiber

"Only 1 in 10 Americans eat enough fruits and veggies."

                                                                                 --CDC study 


Did you grow up with your mother telling you to eat your vegetables?  Turns out your mom was right about those vegetables.  Foods that grow from the earth (vegetables, fruit, legumes, whole grains) contain fiber, that substance that give them shape. Like bones in animals. 

Fiber is really good for us.  It fills us up and prevents us from overeating. The bad news is that most Americans don’t eat enough of it.  Maybe 1 or 2 in 10 people get enough fiber.

Are there consequences to not consuming enough fiber?  You bet. Diabetes and obesity, for starters.  Colon cancer for another. 

A good place to start is to become aware of how much fiber you eat now.  Read the “nutrition facts” labels on prepared and packaged food and look for what a serving size is and how many grams of dietary fiber it has.  Just do the math for a day or two and you will figure out if you are low in fiber.  If your daily total is less than around 35 grams a day, then you are probably fiber deficient. 

Start with your personal inventory of dietary fiber.  In the next issue of Wellness Wednesdays, I’ll share how a couple of my favorite meals stack up!  

With love and kindness,

Nancy Heinrich, MPH

Founder and Wellness Architect

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: Committing to Change

"We should all be eating fruits and vegetables as if our lives depend on it - because they do."

                                                                                         --Michael Greger, M.D.


Eric Adams is the Brooklyn Borough President and may be the next mayor of New York City.  Several years ago, he woke up and could not see the clock. He sent to the doctor and was diagnosed with advanced diabetes, at risk for going blind and an amputation of his leg. 

Eric made changes, stopped eating meat and other animal products, and rapidly shifted to plant-based eating.  His A1C dropped from over 15% to under 7%.  The A1C is the test that is the average of one’s blood sugar over 2-3 months.  The higher the A1C, the greater the chance of complications of diabetes, such as blindness, amputation, heart attack, and loss of kidney function. 

Now this man is committed to making changes in food policy in New York City and prevention of chronic diseases.  From retired policeman to future mayor with an interest in reversing diabetes. 

To learn more about Eric Adams' journey and how he reversed his diabetes, listen to his interview on the Rich Roll podcast. 

With love and kindness,

Nancy Heinrich, MPH

Founder and Wellness Architect

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: Stress and Kids

 

"I believe dancing is the best stress reliever."

                                                                              --Dylan Lauren 


School is starting soon.  Another school year living in the COVID-19 pandemic and life is going to get weird and possibly dangerous, especially now with the highly contagious Delta variant which targets kids. 

As you know, there is no COVID vaccine – yet – for kids under 12 years of age.  Our children are now among the most vulnerable to become infected and sick, some so sick they may be hospitalized, and some may die. 

This pandemic and its impact on children and schools is a huge deal and getting worse due to the number of unvaccinated people.  What we can do as parents, school teachers and administrators is work to ensure that kids have a delicious, healthy dinner with their family, down time in the evenings, at least an hour before bedtime without electronics, get a good night’s sleep.  Be mindful that your kiddos may be stressed and keep an eye out for changes such as:

  • unusual or new behaviors such as not engaging with family and friends,
  • being withdrawn,
  • spending more time alone,
  • taking more risk-taking behaviors,
  • talking back to a parent,
  • lack of concentration or focus,
  • avoiding sports,
  • starting smoking or drinking alcohol, or
  • talking about self-harm. 

Our children are embarking on a new school year in the midst of a once-in-a-hundred years pandemic.  They will experience stress.  Some will need professional help. School teachers and counselors can help keep an eye on your kids. If you have a concern, talk with school staff. Seek out mental health resources in your school or community. 

Stress contributes to overeating, anxiety, and sleep disturbances which can all be risk factors for childhood obesity. 

With the constant news about the pandemic that kids are likely to hear, whether or not you know it because kids are little sponges, parents need to be on guard.  We need to be hyper-vigilant for the sake of our children’s health –and their very lives.  

Everyone has stress, right?  You drive in traffic, you have stress.  Kids have a test coming up, they have stress.  What matters is our response to stress.  Take extra good care of yourself so you can take extra good care of your children in this uncharted time.

With love and kindness,

Nancy Heinrich, MPH

Founder and Wellness Architect

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: Diabetes Matters

"Issues like diabetes do, as you well know, have a knock-on effect to diabetes. So we all are better off if we invest in prevention."

                                                                                            --Jacinda Ardern


I hate diabetes.  It can rob people of their sight, their limbs, their kidney function, their lives.  It causes people to go on kidney dialysis. It puts people at 2-4 times higher risk for having a heart attack or stroke than someone without diabetes.  It is preventable and can be reversed.  

Kids who are overweight and obese are at higher risk for developing diabetes than kids who are at healthy weights. Diabetes matters to the health of America’s children which is why pediatricians, school administrators, community leaders, and parents should be taking actions to prevent it. 

Childhood obesity is the elephant in the room.  We ignore obesity, turn a blind eye, and pretend it is not there.  But obesity is a major risk factor for children being diagnosed with diabetes. 

All children deserve access to healthy foods to help them maintain healthy weights. Are they eating animal products every day or are their families moving towards more plant-based eating and less consumption of meat, chicken, and dairy? Are they eating highly processed foods every day?  Are they consuming foods and drinks with added sugars every day?

Of course, there are other variables beside what kids eat, in the equation of when childhood obesity leads to a diabetes diagnosis, such as:

  • How much screen time do kids have?
  • Are they getting physical activity every day?
  • What are the stressors to their physical and mental health and are they being addressed?
  • Are they getting enough sleep? 

Moving to plant-based eating is one of the most important things we can do to prevent and reverse diabetes and to solve the childhood obesity epidemic. Please pass the lentils!    

With love and kindness,

Nancy Heinrich, MPH

Founder and Wellness Architect

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: Summertime Tomatoes

"I am a farmer.  I will always be a farmer.  When I die, I'll be a farmer.  It's something I've wanted to do since I was 8 years old. I can tell you also that I see opportunity slipping away for our kids."

                                                                        --Jon Tester, US Senator from Montana



My Saturday forays to the local farmers market are the highlight of my food adventures.  Heirloom tomatoes are a beautiful, delicious food that make meal planning so easy.  Weekly meals at the house are planned around what local farmers are harvesting.  The nutritional value of foods picked a day ago is so much higher than foods picked a week or two ago and trucked across the country.  The flavor of locally grown organic foods exceeds foods grown on monoculture megafarms.

Support local farmers!  Enjoy summertime tomatoes! 


My Saturday breakfast:  beautiful Focaccio bread (from the new Leaven Bakery in New Albany, IN) with hummus and locally grown tomatoes (from the New Albany Farmers Market). 
With love and kindness,

Nancy Heinrich, MPH

Founder and Wellness Architect

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: The Comfort of Coconut Milk

"I love comfort food - it's the basis of everything."

                         --Katie Lee



I only order green curry with vegetables and tofu at my favorite Thai restaurant.  There is a peaceful feeling that comes over me from the first bite to the last. I don't know if it is the flavor or the curry or the coconut milk.  I am pretty sure it is the coconut milk because of the deliciousness and comfort it puts into a dish.

There is always a can of coconut milk in my pantry.  Cooking with coconut milk is something I have wanted to learn how to do.  I don't think cooking with coconut milk is hard.  Is it because I associate coconut milk with Thai foods that I think learning how to cook with coconut milk seems exotic and foreign to me? I have finally reached a point where I want to learn how to cook with this comfort food ingredient, no matter what!  I really want it to be an easy ingredient for me to use, just like knowing how to use zucchini or mushrooms in a recipe is easy for me. 

This week I worked on a new comfort food recipe that turned out really great -  red lentil and coconut milk soup.  Part of the legume family, red lentils are very fast cooking and are a comfort food in their own right.  The combination of red lentils and coconut milk is delicious!  This recipe will be going into regular rotation at my house.  Here is my new recipe for you to enjoy! 

GROWING HEALTHY KIDS:  our recipe collection

RED LENTIL and coconut milk SOUP


·      INGREDIENTS:  

1 teaspoon olive oil 

1 large onion, chopped

·         2 garlic cloves, minced

·         ½ teaspoon coriander

·         1 teaspoon ground cumin

·         ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

·         1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced

·         1 Tablespoon curry powder

·         1 Tablespoon tomato paste

·         4 cups vegetable broth or water

·         1-14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes

·         3/4 cup dried red lentils, rinsed

·         1 teaspoon pink Himalayan sea salt

·         1 can full fat coconut milk

·  DIRECTIONS:

1.    In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion.  Sauté until golden, about 4 minutes.  Add garlic, sauté another minute. 

2.    Stir in spices and tomato paste.  Sauté for 2 minutes.

3.    Add broth, diced tomatoes, and lentils. Bring to a boil, then partially cover pot and turn heat to simmer. Simmer until lentils are soft, about 30 minutes. Add salt and coconut milk.

4.    Use an immersion blender to purée soup.  Serve with your favorite bread or over brown rice.   

With love and kindness,

Nancy Heinrich, MPH

Founder and Wellness Architect

 

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: Affordable Foods

 "If you have some potatoes, green beans, and cauliflower, you have a heck of a dish that can feed an entire family."

                                                                       --Chef Jose Andres


When I am grocery shopping and see other shoppers with carts filled with packages of red meat, I am always astounded by their total bills vs mine. How do they feed families week after week when their food bills are so high?  

Years ago, when I consciously stopped eating meat because of the relationship between meat and its cardiovascular health risks to my family’s health and my desire to act to prevent heart disease, I never thought about how that decision would affect my pocket. My choice was based on looking at our family’s health issues and wanting to not develop “hardening of the arteries”, a heart attack, or Alzheimer’s. 

When I shifted away from animal foods and towards eating primarily vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole grains, I started noticing that my food bills were much less than meat eaters.  MUCH less.  With a bag of lentils costing about $1.20 and making several meals and soups, I spend much less than people who eat meat every day.  A $2 butternut squash, with just a few other ingredients, can make a delicious soup for 6 people.  

Lentils and beans, the common denominator of the Blue Zones studied by Dan Buettner where people live very long lives, are affordable foods as well as some of the best sources of dietary fiber. Look for ways to incorporate lentils and beans, plus fruits, veggies, and whole grains, into your daily food plans and enjoy the benefits, health and financial! 

With love and kindness,

Nancy Heinrich, MPH

Founder and Wellness Architect

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: Celebrating Farmers and Chefs

"We have neglected the truth that a good farmer is a craftsman of the highest order, a kind of artist."  

                                                                                          --Wendell Berry


Most Saturdays, I am at the local farmers market. I love to see what is in season, what farmers are growing and selling, and then create beautiful, delicious, and healthy dishes using those treasures.  Those who get up hours before dawn to pack a truck filled with freshly harvested salad greens, summer squash, cabbage, and cheddar cauliflower, to drive an hour or two to the farmers market to then unload, display, and sell their agricultural treasures to waiting fans are my heroes.  When summer’s heirloom tomatoes first appear, it is always a miracle – nothing tops a Purple Cherokee tomato for summer freshness!  The first time I discovered organic wasabi arugula, I was in heaven with this new flavor and the possibilities it offered in summer salads.  Surprises always await at the farmers market. 

On those occasions when I choose to eat out, I seek restaurants whose chefs feature locally grown seasonal foods on their menus.  I will never forget dining in Asheville, NC while attending a local growers conference and having grilled maitake mushrooms served on a bed of pureed parsnips.  What a great meal!  One of my personal beliefs is to always buy the best ingredients you can afford and so eating out is always a treat when chefs do the same. 

Every day I honor the farmers who grow food and the chefs who create amazing ways for it to be enjoyed.  Good food is an essential ingredient for health.  My life is so much better because of those who grow our food and those who create masterpieces in the kitchen. Thank you!  

With love and kindness,

Nancy Heinrich, MPH

Founder and Wellness Architect 

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: Protecting Our Children’s Health

 “Children who are raised on a healthful vegan diet have a reduced risk of heart disease, cancer, obesity, diabetes, and other conditions.”

                       --pcrm.org (Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine)



To get your kids started on a life filled with good health, start them young.  Teaching kids about healthy eating is easy when you:

Buy fruits and vegetables that are in season and locally grown, whenever possible.  Start with mashed bananas, avocados, and peaches for the littles and diced or sliced for the olders.  For veggies, start with mashing potatoes, peas, and carrots. 

Make healthy snacks readily available on colorful platters when kids are out of school for the summer (such as brown rice cakes or whole grain crackers with nut butter, organic bananas, grapes, and stone fruits, and cucumbers or carrots with hummus).

Avoid dairy foods (and avoid dairy-related allergies).  Cow’s milk is for baby cows, not baby people.    

With love and kindness,

Nancy Heinrich, MPH

Founder and Wellness Architect

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: Summer Salsa

"When you see someone putting on his Big Boots, you can be pretty sure that an Adventure is going to happen..."

                                                                                     --A.A. Milne (1882-1956)

This time of the year, tomatoes are beginning to ripen on vines all over the US. One of my favorite heirloom varieties is the Purple Cherokee tomato (see picture above).  

Recently, I shared my favorite guacamole recipe in Wellness Wednesdays.  In our workshops teaching kids about healthy eating and cooking, an ideal companion recipe to guacamole is a basic salsa recipe.  When the summer flavors of fresh tomatoes and cilantro get to dance together, it can be magic.  The joy of taking every day ingredients and creating a delicious dish that kids love to devour is worth any effort.  Learning how to make salsa is a wonderful introduction to the world of great ingredients and amazing flavors for kids. 

Below is the recipe that has introduced hundreds of kids to healthy cooking and eating. 

GROWING HEALTHY KIDS: Our Recipe Collection

Summer Salsa

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 ripe tomatoes, finely diced
  • ½ red onion, finely diced
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • ¼ cup fresh cilantro
  • ½ jalapeno, seeds removed and finely diced (optional) (can substitute green pepper)
  • Dash of pink Himalayan sea salt, to taste

Mix all ingredients together in a medium bowl.  Serve with chips and guacamole.

With love and kindness,

Nancy Heinrich, MPH

Founder and Wellness Architect

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: Love Your Brain Month

"You get the health benefits of coffee up through about the first 24 ounces.  It's the biggest source of antioxidants for Americans, and we think it helps prevent Alzheimer's and Parkinson's as well."

                                                                                        --Mehmet Oz, MD

June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month, sponsored by The Alzheimer’s Association.  When I work with a group of kids, I often ask if they have any family members with Alzheimer’s or memory issues.  There are always a few hands in the air. It breaks my heart when children know they have a family member affected by Alzheimer’s. When I ask kids who has a family members with diabetes, more hands go up. 

Teaching kids about what real food is and what to do with it is critical to improving health literacy aimed at preventing and reversing diabetes and childhood obesity.  Because Alzheimer’s, similar to diabetes, can take decades to develop before symptoms appear, we as families and communities need to learn about healthy eating, especially plant-based eating, as a way to prevent and reverse diabetes and possibly Alzheimer’s. 

Our brains are one of the most amazing machines in the world.  Preventing diseases, however, is where the U.S. “health” care system does a really poor job. Research shows we need to include foods high in antioxidants, such as coffee and dark chocolate.  Eat green leafy vegetables like kale, cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cabbage, and dark blue and red foods like blueberries and pomegranate juice, and drinking a cup or two of coffee a day, may be the type of food we need to eat more of to protect one of our most valuable resources – our brain. 

Let’s learn to nourish our brains – and those of our children - for good health now and in 30 or 50 years!

With love and kindness,

Nancy Heinrich, MPH

Founder and Wellness Architect

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: Summer Snacks

"A healthy diet can help prevent cancer, since up to 60% of cancer cases are diet-related."

                                                                                                    --PCRM.org 

All kids need to learn how to prepare some basic recipes.  Call it survival.  Call it introducing kids to a lifelong love affair with real food.  When kids get to play in the kitchen, they need space to play without judgment.  

One of the best ways to start your kids on a lifetime of healthy eating adventures is to teach them how to make guacamole.  At many of our workshops for kids, it is the adult volunteers who often have the most fun when they learn how to make guacamole for the first time after years of eating it. I have loved Hass avocados (see picture above) ever since I was a kid in California. I remember bringing avocados back to St. Louis from California on my flights when avocados were first introduced to California. Making guacamole involves a lot of fun: you get to mash the avocado, mince the garlic, squeeze the lime, season with cumin, and taste with your favorite chips!

Here’s my favorite guacamole recipe.  Change it up to suit you and your family.

GROWING HEALTHY KIDS:  Our Recipe Collection

GUACAMOLE

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 ripe avocados, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Hot sauce - to taste
  • Fresh cilantro and/or dried cumin
  • Pink Himalayan sea salt

INSTRUCTIONS:

In medium bowl, mash avocado to desired consistency.  Add garlic, lime juice, hot sauce, fresh cilantro, cumin, and sea salt.  If I have a really ripe tomato, sometimes I finely dice half of it and stir it in.  If I have a fresh jalapeno on hand, I deseed it and finely dice half of it to add for a pop of flavor. 

Avocados contain the good kind of fat, called unsaturated. They add great flavor to salads, grain bowls, toast, sandwiches, and tacos.  Enjoy!    

With love and kindness,

Nancy Heinrich, MPH

Founder and Wellness Architect