Wednesday, April 22, 2015


"There is no such thing as "away".  When we throw anything away it must go somewhere."                                                          
                                                                                                   --Annie Leonard

Image result for picture of planet earthSince starting Growing Healthy Kids in 2009, we have always recycled veggie scraps from the Kids in the Kitchen classes to the compost pile at the Growing Healthy Kids Test Kitchen. The kids use clean jars for making our healthy vinaigrette when we have a Giant Salad Party.   Whenever possible, we use real plates that can be washed and reused instead of using paper plates.  We teach and practice the principle of "reduce, reuse, recycle."  

At home I do a lot of recycling.  All jars, cans, and nut milk containers get washed out and either placed into the recycle bins or they get repurposed into jars for storing my favorite lentils and beans.  At all of our Growing Healthy Kids classes, recycling is always discussed and practiced. I am always surprised, however, to find out how many families do NOT recycle paper, glass, plastic, and metal. 

While spending a year volunteering with children at Boys and Girls Clubs of Indian River County, I arranged a field trip with the children to visit the local landfill on Oslo Road in Vero Beach.  Seeing all the garbage produced by the 130,000 people in Indian River County up close and personal was a real learning experience for the kids and one they (and I) will not forget. 

Here are 5 recycling tips you can use to make Earth Day an everyday celebration wherever you are:
1.    Start an herb garden using recycled containers (put several holes in the bottom of the container first).  
2.      Does your school recycle anything?  How about where your kids attend an afterschool program like the local Boys and Girls Club? If not, start a recycling campaign. 
3.      Use egg cartons as containers for small art supplies or to keep small pieces of crayons separated by color. 
4.     Put used coffee grounds on your plants outside. 
5.      If you don’t use recycling bins or containers at home, call your county administration office and find out how to get some.  Make sure you find out what can be recycled, especially plastics with the number inside the triangle.  In the county where I live, there is no cost to homeowners to recycle. 

For more kid-friendly recycling tips, go to by clicking here.  

In gratitude,
Nancy Heinrich

Founder of Growing Healthy Kids, Inc. 

Wednesday, April 15, 2015


“A person’s mind stretched to a new idea never goes back to its original dimensions.”            --T.S. Eliot

To prepare for a recent Growing Healthy Kids education program, I visited Osceola Organics for locally grown microgreens, Florida Veggies and More for locally grown arugula, tomatoes and cucumbers, and The Patisserie, Vero’s delicious artisan bakery, for two loaves of beautiful breads.  Add Hass avocados and some melons and you have a healthy eating party for some hungry kids! 

Local tomatoes are fresh and full of flavor and nutrients.  

Eating locally grown foods is a basic principle practiced in all of our classes for kids and adults.  We teach how easy it is to make a shift to a healthier way of eating when you buy from local farmers and producers.  This is to counter what I hear every day:  “I can’t afford to eat healthy foods.”  What I say:  “Give us an hour and we’ll show you how!” 

You’ve never been to the farmers market where you live?  Take time to find it. Chances are it operates on Saturday mornings.  For local “Wellness Wednesdays” readers who live in and around Vero Beach, our local market is held every Saturday year-round from 8 am to 12 noon.  The Fort Pierce Green Market is held at the City Marina in downtown Fort Pierce every Saturday year-round from 8 am to 12 noon.  Live someplace else?  To find a local farmers market near you, click here.

Knowing the farmers who grow my food is important to me.  Most of the veggies I buy are locally grown, fresh, and in season.  They haven’t been flown or trucked thousands of miles.  They were picked yesterday so that I can buy them today and cook them tonight.  Now that is what “nutrient dense” is all about.  The fact is, the longer the time from harvest to your dinner table, the less nutrients there. Stretch your mind. Once you start enjoying locally grown foods, you’ll never go back to processed foods!     

To listen to "Pop Up Health" my recent on-air conversation with Chef Michael Glatz about good foods for a good night's sleep, click here.  You can also listen to "Pop Up Health" by going to and searching for Chef Michael Glatz.  

In gratitude,
Nancy Heinrich

Founder of the Growing Healthy Kids project

Thursday, April 9, 2015

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: Sugar - How Much is Too Much?

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.  Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.  It is not our darkness but our light that most frightens us.  We ask ourselves, "Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?"  Actually, who are you not to be?  You are a Child of God.  Your playing small does not serve the world.  There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you.  We are all meant to shine as children do.  We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.  It is not just in some of us; it's in everyone.  And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously allow others to do the same.  As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."                                                                                      -- Marianne Willamson

Oh, the irony!  

At a recent fitness class I occasionally attend, a little girl about 6 or 7 came to the same class with her mother.  Both were obese.  

I was glad the mother came to the class, silently thinking, "Now she can model good behaviors for her daughter."  The girl played on the grass as we did our power hour of crunches, stretches and running.  The next week, the girl came again with her mom.  While her mom brought water for herself, I couldn’t help but notice that the girl’s snacks consisted of a bottle of soda and a bag of Oreos cookies. Really?? 

There is a strong connection between all the added sugars in processed foods and drinks and the unprescedented rise in childhood obesity in the U.S.   Reversing childhood obesity requires conscious work to increase awareness among adults.  So, here are a few questions to consider:

1.      How much sugar is too much for kids? for adults?
2.      How much sugar is in a 12 ounce soda?
3.      Are some sugars worse than others? 
4.      What is the nutritional value of sugar?
5.      What is the relationship between sugar and obesity?

Here are the answers:
1.       For kids in preschool and early elementary, 3-4 teaspoons of sugar (12-16 grams) is the recommended daily limit.  For tweens and teens, 5-8 teaspoons of sugar (21-33 grams) is the recommended daily limit.  For women, it is about 6 teaspoons (25 grams).  For men, it is about 9 teaspoons (37 grams).
2.      There are about 44 grams of sugar in a 12 ounce soda.  That is about 11 teaspoons of sugar.
3.      Yes.  Highly processed sugars like high fructose corn syrup, a key ingredient in sodas and processed foods, are highly addictive and harmful, especially to children.
4.      There is no nutritional value in sugar.  Sugar is a carbohydrate with calories but no vitamins, minerals, or fiber. 
5.      Excess sugar is stored in the body as fat.  Eating more calories than you use will lead to weight gain.

Here are several suggestions for healthy snacks for kids:
  • Water
  • Water flavored with lemons or limes (this is ALWAYS a big hit in our "Growing Healthy Kids in the Kitchen" classes)
  • 10 grapes (try washing and freezing them for a really amazing treat!)
  • A small apple and some whole grain crackers
  • Hummus (so easy to make*) with celery and carrots
  • Whole grain crackers (Triscuits are great) and a couple of slices of cheese
  • Walnuts and craisins
How much added sugar are YOU eating and drinking?  If you are working on getting to a healthier weight, then start reading food labels and looking at the grams of sugar.  GHK TIP: Divide the grams of sugar per serving by 4 and this will give you the teaspoons of sugar per serving.  

Learn how easy it is to prepare healthy foods. ALL kids deserve access to healthy foods, not processed foods filled with added sugars, fats, and salt.  Listen to “Pop Up Health,” my weekly talk with Chef Michael Glatz from La Patissiere in Vero Beach, Florida - go to and search "Chef Michael Glatz".   Click here.

Remember, "your playing small does not serve the world".  Manifest the glory of God.  Be a role model for others, especially your children, if you are a parent.  Make good choices about food. Eat well.  Laugh often.   Health is our greatest wealth.  It really is.  

In gratitude,
Nancy Heinrich

Founder of the Growing Healthy Kids Project

PS -- Thanks to my friend Beth ( for reading Marianne Williamson's words on her radio show this week.  I have always been inspired by these words, ever since my friend Donna Vernon shared them with me.  When I heard Beth read them, I was driving and thinking of a quote to use in this week's article  and realized that if I shared them with you, you may also be inspired! 

*For more healthy ideas for the kids (and you), get your copy of Nourish and Flourish (go to upper right corner).  It contains the favorite hummus recipe from our Growing Healthy Kids in the Kitchen classes.