Elementary School Teachers and the GREEN SMOOTHIE SCIENCE FAIR!

BeckyWGS
Coach Beckie shows the kids how to make a green smoothie

I hope my readers send a link to Beckie’s story, to teachers they know, to give them ideas. Teachers WANT to motivate and educate their students towards good nutrition choices, and they want good Christmas gift ideas too! Thank you for sharing, and for being a great teacher, Beckie!

Dear Robyn:

This is the story about how Green Smoothie Girl has impacted Kazoo School, with its progressive philosophy of education. This means that students get to have a say in what they want to study. I decided November would be a great time to introduce them to healthy eating, with the holiday season coming.

BeckyW8One morning I read them The Adventures of Junk Food Dude and did a simple green smoothie demonstration. They loved it! They even requested I read the book to them again the very next day. This mini lesson sparked their interest and we had many discussions about healthy food choices.

For Christmas, I gave all my students their very own Ball jar to make smoothies at home!

When everyone returned from the Winter break, I heard many stories of green smoothies made and I even had parents coming to me asking for tips. It was exciting to learn that the information was reaching home, and that is when I realized how big of an impact I could have on their food education. So my co-teacher Whitney suggested we make our Science Month a “Healthy Bodies” theme. She knows how passionate I am, and she basically said, “Whatever you have in mind, go for it!”

Music to my ears! I started by taking information I had learned from the 12 Steps to Whole Foods Manual and Greensmoothiegirl.com and adapted it into activities appropriate for 1st and 2nd graders.

During the month they:

1)     Had to find two food labels. The first one had to contain, only, ingredients that they recognized and could pronounce. The second was a label with ingredients they could not pronounce or know what they were. We then proceeded to pick one ingredient they could not pronounce and research what it was. We made a bulletin board display of our findings.

BeckieW12)     They kept a food log for two weeks. Each student rated how they felt, what they ate and how much exercise they got each day. At the end of the two weeks they charted the healthy food choices they made vs. the “not-so-heathy” choices.

We also did two experiments. We recreated the McDonald’s experiment you wrote about HERE. We also did one that showed how our bodies use and absorb sugar.

BeckieW2The culmination was our Science Fair night where we presented all of our findings to the whole school, friends and family. I did a green smoothie demo at the fair, and it was a huge hit! I could tell that the parents were really starting to take notice of all the information their children had accumulated over the year.

It was great to see the response from the whole school (I have become the Green Smoothie Girl of Kazoo school), but there were two moments where I really knew my students had retained what they learned.

In our after-school program, we offer a snack to each child. The bin is full of the usual choices: granola bars, crackers, fruit snacks etc. But one day I noticed one of my students taking their time choosing and I inquired as to why. His response blew me away.

BeckyW7He said, “I am checking the food labels to find the healthiest choice.” I almost fell over!  The second moment happened after a parent brought in cupcakes at 9:30 a.m. for a birthday treat. Around 11:30 everyone was grumpy and tired.

I took that moment to point out that this is what we call a “sugar crash”. The very next day there was another birthday and this child’s parents chose donuts. One student raised his hand and asked, “I don’t want to crash, can I not have the birthday treat?” Even if only a handful remember what they learned this year about healthy eating and continue to make better, more informed choices, I feel accomplished!

I have attached some pictures from the year. Thank you so much for providing the tools for me to educate my students!

Let’s develop a GreenSmoothieGirl curriculum for teachers!

Beckie Waalkes

 

Angie starts the Salad Club at work!

Here’s a letter I just got from Angela in California. She’s a renegade and a leader, and I love what she did at her office! I think you will, too.

Dear GreenSmoothieGirl,

I wanted to write you and tell you how you have really changed my life and in turn the lives of many others. I read Victoria Boutenko’s “Green for Life” three years ago. I devoured it and soon was ready to begin my smoothie endeavor. I purchased a Vitamix and started making my green smoothies. I eventually fell off and stopped making them, but when I was ready to hop back on I searched the internet for more recipes. I then discovered your website. I became obsessed to put it mildly. I was ready to take on all the challenges and changes you wrote about. Your 12 Steps to Whole Foods course was a Christmas present to me from my husband, and I was off!

I am 27 years old and didn’t have any chronic illnesses or auto-immune diseases, but I wanted to make sure it stayed that way. I became serious about my health and what I put into my body. I stopped drinking diet soda (tough one). I dumped all refined sugar, white flour, white pasta, white rice, bottles of corn syrup (yuck), canola oil, vegetable oil, etc.

In came the whole wheat flour, spelt, coconut sugar, coconut oil and quinoa! I started only cooking vegetarian meals at home, and my husband has been wonderful in accepting all the changes that were happening overnight. (He knows that is how I work!)

I became known as the witch-doctor at work, drinking my weird green drink, carrying around my pink salt, using gritty milk in a mason jar on my granola. Well, you are right! Soon people were asking questions, why is dairy bad? What should I eat when I go out to lunch? What’s kin-o-ah (quinoa)?

Soon others at work were starting to make little changes too. Seeing these changes and that people actually wanted to be healthy (at least part time), I started a salad club. It began with about 15 members (all female plus my husband, who works with me).

People would bring in certain ingredients for the week and all the club members could make salads all week long (see my blog post for more details: http://stylethatfood.com/?p=804)

People started eating 3-5 salads a week instead of going and getting the fast food they usually did. As the weeks went on people would ask what salad club was about and soon would join in. I am proud to say the club now has about 25 members and 5 are men. People who poked fun, joined the fun!

I wanted to share that one person can make a huge difference. From what I learned from you, and a little time and effort I feel I have made a difference in the lives of others. I will continue to spread and share everything I learn about good health and nutrition, and I am willing to teach as long as people want to listen.

Thank you Robyn for being my Health Hero!

PS I have also taken on the sugar bet with a co-worker, we are starting with 1 month. She initiated it too, and I am not one to back down from a challenge.

Angela Merchant

Parenting and Nutrition: I hate being the bad guy, part 3 of 3

Oprah always says, “When you know better, you do better.” I believe that. There’s a lag that frustrates many of us, between our behavior versus our knowledge.

(You’ve educated yourself about the effects of dairy and sugar. And still you eat it. You’re mad at yourself. You sometimes feel you’re the only one. You’re not!)

But the MORE knowledge you have, the more LIKELY your behavior is to change….even if your behavior and choices lag behind your knowledge.

Our kids are no different. Let’s don’t neglect educating them about this terribly important topic—nutrition—just to perceive ourselves as more popular, or to avoid a little teenage eye-rolling. In a minute or two, they’ll be grown and gone. The biggest opportunities to influence them are NOW.

Kristin said, “The reason you won’t touch a hot dog is that you know what’s in it.” True, and from the minute my best friend Laura TOLD me what was in it, they were certainly less appealing.

(When we graduated college, she went to work for Bain and one of her clients was a meat-packing company. She said to me one day after a visit to the plant, “Please promise me that you and any children you will ever have will never eat hot dogs!”)

But guess what. It was actually several years later, with a couple of small children, when I decided to never eat hot dogs again.

Our behavior seems to lag behind our knowledge sometimes, doesn’t it? I always feel guilty being around people who learn how animals are treated cruelly and never eat another animal product from that day forward. Guilty that it took me years. That seems so smart and heroic to me. Some people are fast learners.

Most of us aren’t, though. (I say that with affection—note that I include myself in that lot!)

But if it takes 5 positives to earn yourself the right to impose 1 negative, in your intimate relationships (with your children, for instance), then what if we extrapolate a Rule of Fives?

What if we make a game with our kids that we always eat FIVE HEALTHY THINGS in a day?

My aforementioned friend of 30 years, Laura, has her kids make a “rainbow smoothie” and they are tasked with putting in something of every beautiful plant color.

Fives. I like it.

Parenting and Nutrition: I hate being the bad guy, Part 2

So I observe that even very overweight, ill people who overindulge, still pass up lots of junk food! You could have a year or two of depression where you ate everything in sight, and then, because it takes shockingly few calories to sustain fat cells, bam, you’re seriously overweight. And you could be more vigilant about your diet for years afterward, and remain obese. Losing weight is MUCH more difficult than maintaining a healthy weight is.

So it comes down to, are you willing to say no to MORE of it? 99% instead of 95%. That 4% is deadly. You know where that line is, between eating too much junk and eating just a reasonably sized treat now and then. You’ve been living in your body for a good while now so you know where that “fine line” is. (Lots of people haven’t discovered how much MORE food you can eat when you eat whole-food treats only!)

So what does this have to do with kids? Everything. THEY WILL GET THIS, the idea that their fuel impacts their life in absolutely every way. They need to understand it. We need to have lots of conversations with them about it. Taking different angles, not defaulting into mindless mantras.

Notice I said conversations. Not lectures. The difference being, we might ask a question, and then listen patiently, in between saying anything instructive. (In a minute, I’ll explain how you have to put 5 positives in the bank for every 1 instructional comment.)

What does your child think about things? One of my daughters gave me a huge compliment recently, saying (in so many words) that the reason she comes to me, rather than other people close to her, with a difficult or controversial subject, is that I listen and don’t judge her thinking and her developmental stage.

It’s not a problem to have high standards, or to talk to kids about choices, or to say NO to them. By not stocking the house with junk, by drawing a line at a party. (Even better, by modeling what WE do every day, which is pass up the vast majority of bad food in our path.)

Instead, it may be a matter of WHEN we talk about it.

Let me explain. When I was training to be a marriage therapist, I studied how one of the most well documented research findings is that stable marriages have 5 positives for every 1 negative. In other words, if you’re going to give your spouse (or child) some “tough love,” you darn well better have some currency in the bank. Your last five interactions should have been rife with love, praise, and tolerance. If you’ve done your time, you have credibility and influence.

I used to walk in my house and immediately take stock of the messes, the uncompleted chores, the people breaking well-documented rules. And I’d start verbally setting the place straight:

“Emma, why are these wet towels STILL on the kitchen floor? Pretty sure this is the fourth time I’ve asked you to take care of them! Kincade, did you pick the apples out of the tree? I don’t see them. Tennyson, turn the TV off and get out of the living room with the bowl of food, you know better!”

Sometimes just for good measure, I’d tie it all together and make myself seriously popular with a martyr trip. Something like, “When I leave, this place just goes to heck! Can’t you guys take a little pride in your own rabbit hole?”

A period of tension would follow. Usually the wet towels would still be on the floor and my oldest would be in his room instead of outside picking the apples. And we’d all be grumpy and avoiding each other.

Then I made a goal for myself: to not say ONE word of negative to anyone unless I’ve come in and first ENJOYED my children for five minutes. I’d ask them about their day, give them a hug, and listen to whatever they had to say. (I’m super lucky that way: all four of my kids talk to me a lot. But if your kid ISN’T a talker, all that much more important to not walk in barking orders, I’m thinking?)

An amazing thing happened. When I DID point out the wet towels or the bowl and spoon in the TV room, even just five minutes later, the kids were happy to get the job done or apologetic about breaking a rule.

So, it’s important to you to have your kids drink a glass of green juice every day. You are happy to make it if he’ll just drink it. After one of my Texas classes, a mom of adults told me she takes a green smoothie to her son when she wakes him up in the morning. He’s trapped there in bed, she said, and he’s happy he didn’t have to make it! LOL!

What if you were super careful about WHEN you talk to your child about good food choices? Do it only after giving him tons of love and attention about some things he’s doing well? Do it when you have lots of capital in his emotional bank account.

Don’t leave it at that. If your child’s nutrition isn’t what it should be, think what point you want to discuss next. But don’t just blurt it out, any old time.

Time it for a period you’ve got five positives on the balance sheet. And as I always say, make it relevant to your child’s interests. Will what you want her to do make her a better student, a better athlete? I’m not above pointing out how raw green food makes hair and skin prettier.

Texas Part 3 of 7: Houston’s Stephanie–a Green Smoothie Transformation

Stephanie was smack on the front row in Houston, a gorgeous tiny little mom who has lost 50 lbs. doing green smoothies. (Check out her before-and-after photos!)

Her husband was with her, and Stephanie said he’s gone from “couch potato to marathon runner.” Stephanie told me that despite the oohs and aaahs about how she looks, “What happened is more on the inside than on the outside!” I believe she would endorse my statement that a change in fuel impacts your emotional and psychological health as much as your physical health.

Here’s her story:

Since Green Smoothie Girl was so pivotal in my own transformation, it is poetic that I now get to share my story here with Robyn and her readers.

Just a few short years ago, I was overworked, overstressed, and overweight. I was living in a daze and life was not joyful. I was headed in the wrong direction and I was bringing my family with me.   I had to hit rock bottom before I decided to make any changes. I was a junk food junkie, not spending much time in the kitchen and never shopping in the produce section.

I had already tried diet pills, the no-carb diet, boxed food delivered in the mail, and counting points. I knew that I did not need a temporary diet, I needed a permanent change. I learned about a Raw Foods lifestyle and my interest was piqued. However, there was one major problem. I really did not like eating vegetables.

I soon discovered that I could drink them instead. I am a visual learner, so I hit YouTube to learn more. And voilà – I discovered Green Smoothie Girl. I soon bought some fruits and veggies and pulled out my 15 year old blender and went to town. I LOVED them! Before long I purchased a Vitamix and decided that I would replace 2 meals a day with green smoothies and incorporate more whole foods into my diet.

Magical things happened! As my diet cleaned up, my head cleared. The weight was coming off (50 lbs total) and I was feeling really good.   The fog had lifted. I decided that I was not going to return to my legal career.   I had a new passion for everything associated with health and wellness. I researched more, and the more I learned, the more I wanted to share with others.

This led me to enroll at The Institute of Integrative Nutrition. I am now working as a Health Coach and a Raw Food Chef and have a new zest for life!   I became “The Nutrition Mom” and my message is “Simple-Healthy-Solutions.” Eating does not have to be so complicated.   Let’s bring it back to basics.

I coach others to take one step at a time. I feel so blessed to not only teach people about proper nutrition, but to go on the journey with them.   I meet them where they are and give them the support that they need along the way. It’s a beautiful journey.

Thank you Robyn, for sharing your message.   You have set me, and so many others, on a new path and I am forever grateful.

Stephanie Merchant, Health Coach

TheNutritionMom.net

Educate your kids about nutrition!

Here’s my video showing Tennyson why food matters in his life, and why he

should make good decisions about food.

He’s no different than you and me. He needs REASONS. And praise.

Here are my tips for teaching your kids–some I mention on the video, and

some you’ll just see me DOING:

1. Make it relevant to their lives. (In Ten’s case, link it to sports

performance.)

2. Keep it short. (I didn’t do a good job of this in the video. This

was for your benefit to tell you a bunch of things you can say to YOUR

kids.)

3. Make it interesting.

4. Make it visual.

5. Involve them. Ask them questions.

6. Avoid clichés like “eat your greens.” Tell them WHY eat greens.

7. Use car time. We spend a lot of time in the car. They’re trapped

there. So talk to them about things that matter when they can’t roll their

eyes and run away.

8. Ask them what they notice, when they eat right, and praise their

good choices!

more tips and thoughts about feeding kids

So I was just hanging out with my friend Karl, a single dad to a 6-year old adopted son. He said his son has a very strong personality and he can’t “make” him eat anything. So Karl carefully observes what raw fruits and vegetables his sons likes, and leaves them around for him. As if he doesn’t care whether Jayden eats them or not. A bowl of carrot and celery sticks, left on the table–gone! A big bowl of cantaloupe–gone! It’s a great tip from an intuitive dad who watches for ways to help his son be healthy.

On Saturday, I had dinner with my friend Jennie before deciding last-minute to go to the BYU-U of Wash game where I paid a ridiculous sum for scalped tickets, for me and my sons.

I tease Jennie that for a really educated person with an advanced degree, she is surprisingly ignorant about nutrition. (But then, I have this reaction often, probably because I was blessed with a mother and grandmother who taught me well and were good models. Thus the genesis of this site and my books, to help fill that knowledge gap.)

As an example, my son came back from the salad bar and I told him I meant to suggest he get some FRESH pineapple, not CANNED. Jennie asked,

“Why, is the canned not as good for you?”

And so we were talking about her upbringing and how the reason she doesn’t know anything is that she simply does what her mother did. For instance, she asked, “Is Jell-O good for you?” (She really did ask me that.)   I told her it’s just sugar and a little gelatin and chemical food coloring, and she said, “When I make dinner for company, my friends ask why I always include Jell-O, and I have no reason except that my Mom always did. When I think dinner, I think Jell-O.”

This is pretty profound, if you take a minute to consider it. This should get us through those moments of discouragement when our kids complain, because habit and modeling are so powerful well into adulthood.

As for me, I simply can’t serve a dinner that doesn’t have a raw green salad. Even though I didn’t get along with my mom as I was growing up, she absolutely always served a huge green salad. So that is what I know and understand and copied.

Once again, I have this message for you: stay the course, teach them correct principles.

growth of GSG.com

Today I got auto-emailed by Alexa, which ranks GSG.com 154,101. I am told this is incredible for a site less than 3 years old run by an internet moron. (I was clueless about the WWW 3 years ago and, sadly, continue to be.)

It tells me we have achieved a google rank of 4, that oodles of external websites link to us, and that we had 166,300 visits in the past 30 days. That 1,100 people read this blog daily.

It kind of scares me. Exciting, too, of course–since I continue to pay exactly $0.00 for advertising.

My point is that with such rapid growth (600% growth in traffic in the past year), I find more evidence of what I always say:

“People want to eat right. They don’t know how.”

200 years ago, eating was simple because choices were limited and people ate close to the land.

With an increase in choice, and technology (allowing us infinite variety in taste, texture, and color), and economies of scale, we began to remove nutrition and add chemicals to our food supply. The impact on our health has been deleterious, insidious, gradual, and profound.

I want to thank all of you who arrive at this site, get lost in it for hours, and write me emails telling me all the people in your life you’ve sent here.

Thank you for sending the young moms here (dads too). They alone have the power to change the direction we are collectively going, to reverse the childhood obesity epidemic and the trending upward of diabetes, osteoporosis, asthma, and more.

I’m humbled by what has happened to this little site and blog. I’m overwhelmed by all the information I want to develop to address the questions, needs–cries for help, really–that I and my little team get every day.

I love running this site. I love hearing from you. There are frustrations, too, like the fact that I can’t consult personally to everyone who writes. That I can’t write back to every personal email.

Please keep asking your questions. I will address them as I can on this blog.

Thank you for caring not only about your own health (strap the oxygen mask on yourself FIRST!) but also your children, your parents, your friends, your community.

Thank you to those who ask me to come speak. I am getting a bit more organized and am making a list of the requests I get, so I can watch for an opportunity to speak to your group when I’m in that area. My goal is always, first and foremost, to help you get enthusiastic about returning to the way your body was biologically programmed to eat. That is, less refined/processed/animal foods, and more whole/raw/plant foods. And learn quick and inexpensive ways to do that.

Please write support123@greensmoothiegirl.com if you have a location (seating 75 or more) and would like me to come. We’ll keep you on a list and I very much hope to get to your area.

Stand by for details we are finalizing on upcoming classes in Ogden, Lehi, Layton (all Utah), and New York City.

XOXO,
Robyn

A nutrition book for kids. What do you want in it?

Were any of you on GreenSmoothieGirl.com early enough to remember this photo of my daughter Emma, then 11 years old?

It used to be the concept the site revolved around. My original intent was to support moms in their quest to feed their families good nutrition even as the world they live in has made that very difficult.

My daughter was the “green smoothie girl” poster child I had in mind. She is now 14 and taller than I am at 5’9″.  Still lovely and healthy and enjoys green smoothies. She plans to try out for the soccer team of the state championship high school this fall.

As traffic on the site (and feedback) grew, I wanted to be more inclusive, as the moms on the site were joined by single people, grandparents, couples without children, and so many others whose health would benefit from a natural, mostly raw and plant-based diet. Others working with me convinced me to put my own photo up.

But I want to get back to the roots and possibly co-author a book with my teen daughter.   Any title ideas? I’m thinking something like this:

20 Reasons Why Kids Who Eat Right Kick Butt

Would you want your tween (age 10-15) to read a book focusing on the motivations compelling to that age group? A separate, illustrated book for the younger kids, may end up on my to-do list.

Obviously I have a lot of ideas of my own, but imagine this book containing the things you want YOUR kids to know. (Or grandkids, or any children in your life.) More and more dieticians/nutritionists are approached by desperate parents, saying, “Please help me teach this to my kid–she won’t listen to me!”

Those of you who have studied child development know that after the latency period of childhood (ending about age 12), the parent is no longer usually the pivotal influence. The peer group is. This, of course, makes me very motivated to reach the young moms who have the most influence, as well as control of the diet. But as kids leave home more often and are eating at school, friends’ homes, and social events, what might motivate them to choose natural, whole, raw plant foods? We can’t give up on nutrition just because a headstrong child has reached 13. Many parents are watching helplessly as their children slide into weight problems in middle school.

So imagine the book as an extension of your own pure motive to help your child eat a healthy diet. What should it cover?

You are always so helpful when you comment on my blog, so thanks so much for any feedback!

I love Texas, Texans, and Whole Foods Market, part 1 of 3

So I am just back from my spring-break trip with my kids to Cancun and then Dallas. I got to see my really cool brother Russ and his family. (I am the oldest of 8, and he is the third.) And I also taught two classes that were packed with truth seeking, self-improving, completely awesome GSG Texans. LOVED meeting you, signing your books, hearing your stories.

Two GSGs, who didn’t know each other before, got together on my facebook fan page and put the Colleyville event together. Pamalee and Joni are now fast friends: Christian homeschooling moms, and two amazing women who are ALL about helping others. I think you are both wonderful, thank you!

Many of y’all brought your friends and family. Have I told you lately that I LOVE PEOPLE WHO SHARE WITH OTHERS??! Remember that in my research on green smoothies, 84% of people who undertake the habit are SO EXCITED, SO HAPPY about their positive health results, that they teach it to friends/family/co-workers.

Hope you’re not only getting back to basics in your own diet, discovering vibrant, colorful, delicious whole foods . . . but getting other people pumped about STEP 1, 10 minutes a day, 15 servings of raw, fresh greens and fruit daily.

Friends from facebook came from Oklahoma City and got a hotel room overnight. Folks drove from Ft. Worth. Wow. I am so humbled, and I dearly hope that in exchange for the time and travel in your busy life, you got some inspiration, some good GSG lovin, some info . . . that helps you take the next step to a whole-foods lifestyle. That’s why I do this.

Shout-out to Leslee. Front row. With all her girlfriends. Had all the right answers to my q’s because she reads and thinks and practices. She’s been blogging here SINCE THE BEGINNING. Since back when nobody had ever heard of GreenSmoothieGirl and for all I knew, I was writing to myself out here in cyberspace. One of the very earliest 12 Steppers, Leslee subscribed when I was head down, developing recipes and writing a chapter a month, at the beginning of 2008, releasing them as I finished them.

Love you, tsitsifly girl. Love the journey you are on. You are the best.

My parents grew up in El Paso and I forget until I go to Texas how much I love that place! It feels like home! (Maybe I should move south. Sure, I’d have to give up skiing, but I’d give up being cold too.) Me and a rental car and a downtown hotel and some printed MapQuest directions, kinda scary. But every time I even THOUGHT about getting lost, friendly, helpful Texans rescued me. That’s what Southerners are all about.

(I should say I’m sorry for saying, a year ago, that San Antonio was the most unhealthy place I’ve ever been. Even though it’s true. Heh.)

Anyway, it was a blast, and Suzan at Whole Foods Market Preston Forest rocks out loud – she is a TRIP and “got it” like 30 seconds into my call to her explaining what I do. Suzan, thanks for making that class happen despite the fact that bureaucracy is always daunting in a big corporation. Other WFM management folks have contacted me wanting to do a show and then quit because of the approval process.

You care about your customers, about whole foods, and about the health of the former using the latter! You’re my newest hero.

Cool tip tomorrow from an attendee of my Whole Foods Market class, and how I want to come to your town.