Wednesday, March 31, 2021

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: Preventing Diabetes in Adults

"To keep the body in good health is a duty...otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear." 

                                                                                                          --Buddha

Did you know the health ministry of Growing Healthy Kids works with a lot of adults? Having informed and educated parents is absolutely essential for raising conscious, healthy kids. Sometimes when a child attends one of our programs and we have no interaction with the parent or grandparent, we get concerned about whether the child will be given an opportunity to incorporate even one small change towards healthier eating. Preventing diabetes in kids starts with preventing diabetes in adults. 

For kids to have access to real food (not highly processed food), the adults who have the money and make the food purchasing decisions for the family are the ones we need to talk with about preventing diabetes.  We are what we eat.  

Planning family meals around fresh vegetables and fruits is a great place to start a conversation.  On my recent visit to the New Albany Farmers Market, I bought a small bag of beautiful, organic spinach.  Spinach became the centerpiece of delicious vegan enchiladas made with corn tortillas and homemade green tomatillo sauce (tomatillos, garlic, onion, japale┼ło pepper, and fresh lime juice).  

We are what we eat. Eat real food.  Cut back on foods from animals.  The saturated fat found in foods from animal clogs up your cells and blood vessels and contributes to diabetes and heart disease.  Who needs that? Meals based on the four food groups of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes will make you a winner.  Start by planning daily meals with at least one green vegetable.  Have a small fresh salad for lunch today.  Enjoy a small walk every day.  Be a role model for your children.  Small changes, big results. 

With love and kindness,

Nancy Heinrich, MPH

Founder and Wellness Architect

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: Preventing Diabetes in Kids

 

"I do not love to work out, but if I stick to exercising every day and put the right things in my mouth, then my diabetes just stays in check."

                                                                                                                     --Halle Berry


Taking kids to farms and working with them in our teaching kitchens gives me the chance to develop solutions to the diabetes epidemic occurring in America.  

All kids need access to real food, not just kids whose parents can stop by their neighborhood Publix, Kroger, or Safeway whenever they want to buy whatever they want to buy.  I think about all the kids who live in food deserts without easy access to a full-service grocery store. I think about kids who get 2 of their 3 meals courtesy of the free and reduced meal program and then go to an afterschool program where they have highly processed food snacks.  

Growing Healthy Kids connects kids with farmers in our quest to teach kids about healthy eating and foods that make them healthy so they don’t fill up on the foods that cause chronic diseases such as diabetes.  What kids need less of are all the chicken nuggets, the whole milk, the sodas, the white breads, not to mention all the sugar-filled breakfast cereals.

Talking with parents about the importance of health literacy and encouraging them to take their kids with them to their local farmers markets is key to raising awareness. We miss working with the children  - both at the farms and in the kitchens.  The joy that comes from empowering kids how to make good choices about food is powerful and life-changing.  

Preventing diabetes is directly tied to creating food policies that improve access to real foods for all kids, educating parents with knowledge, and empowering kids with skills.  We can prevent diabetes because we must. The health – and lives – of America’s children stand in the balance. 

With love and kindness,

Nancy Heinrich, MPH

Founder and Wellness Architect

 

 

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: Spring Strawberries

 

"Blueberries, strawberries, and blackberries are true super foods.  Naturally sweet and juicy, berries are low in sugar and high in nutrients - they are among the best foods you can eat."  

                                                                                                   --Joel Fuhrman, MD


When you live in Florida, where there is basically one season (summer), fresh strawberries from Plant City signal the beginning of spring.

Strawberries are a bright spot in the world of fruits.  They are cute, sweet, tasty, and fun to eat. They are highly versatile as an ingredient.  You can pick strawberries right off the plant and pop them into your mouth, add them to a green salad, make a strawberry banana smoothie, or slice them into a baked pie crust and top with whipped coconut cream for a fabulous, prize-winning dessert.   

Buying the best strawberries begins with choosing to buy organically grown berries. Strawberries top the Environmental Working Group's "Dirty Dozen" list of fruits and vegetables highly contaminated by pesticides.  More than 90% of the strawberries sampled by the Environmental Working Group tested positive for 2 or more pesticides.  This is why it is recommended that you spend a little more to buy only organic strawberries.

Eat real food.  Buy organically grown fruits and vegetables whenever possible.  

With love and kindness,

Nancy Heinrich, MPH

Founder and Wellness Architect


Wednesday, March 10, 2021

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: Kale and Other Cruciferous Adventures

 "What matters most is your overall way of eating and living."

                                                                                              --Dean Ornish, MD


Kale, cabbage (see above photo from a farmers market in Tennessee while on a road trip with good friend, Ella Chabot, on the left), and other cruciferous vegetables have the power to prevent cancer and diabetes. Below is a list of cruciferous vegetables.  Eating foods from the following list is a powerful step towards great health and disease prevention.

  • Arugula
  • Bok Choi
  • Broccoli
  • Broccoli romanesco
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Collards
  • Daikon horseradish
  • Kale
  • Kohlrabi
  • Mustard
  • Radishes
  • Rutabaga
  • Turnips
  • Wasabi
  • Watercress

According to the National Cancer Institute, “Cruciferous vegetables are rich in nutrients, including several carotenoids (beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin); vitamins C, E, and K; folate; and minerals. They also are a good fiber source.  

In addition, cruciferous vegetables contain a group of substances known as glucosinolates, which are sulfur-containing chemicals. These chemicals are responsible for the pungent aroma and bitter flavor of cruciferous vegetables.”

Recently I bought some wasabi arugula (talk about pungent!) from one of southern Indiana’s organic farmers and shared it with several people.  Everyone was amazed at the wonderful flavor of this green when used in small amounts as a sandwich garnish.  Next time I am at the farmers market, I will buy more so I can pesto with it.  If you ever see red watercress at the farmers market, be sure and get some.  The red version of watercress has stronger anti-breast cancer properties than green watercress. Cheddar cauliflower (it is the color of cheddar cheese!) is delicious steamed or made into a puree topped with grilled portabello mushrooms.  

Choose your vegetables with care. Buy cruciferous vegetables weekly and eat daily.  Play with your food!

With love and kindness,

Nancy Heinrich, MPH

Founder and Wellness Architect

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: Wasting Food

 

"There is no substitute for the best.  Good food cannot be made of inferior ingredients masked with high flavor. It is true thrift to use the best ingredients possible and to waste nothing."

                                                                      --James Beard, American chef 

Between 30 and 40 percent of the food supply in the United States is wasted.  Why are we wasting so much?

“Food loss occurs for many reasons, with some types of loss—such as spoilage—occurring at every stage of the production and supply chain. Between the farm gate and retail stages, food loss can arise from problems during drying, milling, transporting, or processing that expose food to damage by insects, rodents, birds, molds, and bacteria. At the retail level, equipment malfunction (such as faulty cold storage), over-ordering, and culling of blemished produce can result in food loss. Consumers also contribute to food loss when they buy or cook more than they need and choose to throw out the extras.” (Source:  usda.gov/foodwaste/faqs)

I have composted for most of my adult life.  When I prepare food at home, things like pineapple skins, banana peels, and fibrous stems of kale and collards go into a recycled plastic coffee can in preparation for my daily walk to the compost pile in the corner of the yard.  There are two basic rules for composting: (1) only fruit and vegetable scraps go into the compost pile and (2) NOTHING from an animal (such as cheese or meat) and NO OILS go into the compost pile.

Composting fruit and vegetable scraps to make biological rich soil has changed how I buy and prepare food.  When shopping, I now buy in smaller quantities.  When cooking, I prepare what is needed for an evening meal and maybe enough for a healthy time-saving lunch the next day. When using mushrooms, celery, onions, and carrots, I freeze the peelings and mushroom stems to make vegetable stock for soups.  When making muffins and cakes, I always use a spatula to get every spoon of batter into the baking pan. 

In our Growing Healthy Kids workshops, teaching kids about not wasting food always includes a lesson on the power of the spatula.  Kids are ALWAYS amazed at how much batter there is on the inside of a mixing bowl that would otherwise have been washed down the drain.  

There are opportunities to teach our children life lessons about preventing food waste with every food shopping trip and every meal prepared in the family kitchen.  Preventing food waste is a way to respect the work of American farmers.  

With love and kindness,

Nancy Heinrich, MPH

Founder and Wellness Architect