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Eat your way to a healthy, happy you
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My super-busy life began seven years ago when my dad was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. At the time, his diagnosis was really scary for our family.

Eventually, it positively influenced our family to change the way we shop for food, cook, and eat. And, we now pay more attention to being active. The experience inspired me to motivate other kids to get into the kitchen and make healthier choices, too.

What I’ve learned is that kids really are interested in cooking, and so are their parents. What they need is for someone to get them started. That’s what I like to do most—show people how to plan, prepare, and enjoy healthy meals as a family!

During the past four years, my interest in cooking has taken me to many incredible places. One of my recipes was served at the White House. I was on the first-ever kids cooking competition show on Food Network. I met some of my chef idols, including Mario Batali and Rachel Ray, and I’ve given speeches all over the country and even internationally.
I also started a non-profit organization called The HAPPY Organization, and I’m launching a YouTube channel where I show how to prepare vegan recipes. People ask me “why vegan?” and I explain that to me a cruelty-free, nutritious, and delicious diet is what inspires me!

Healthy cooking has become not only my passion, but also my purpose! I’ve made a resolution for this year, and for years to come, to do two things: make sure that the food that I eat is nourishing, and to include activities in my daily routine that will strengthen me and sustain good health!

Today, I want to share with you my tip for staying healthy in the New Year. I hope that this tip will help you set a path to health and happiness! My suggestion is: get into the kitchen and get cooking!

Cooking is a major stepping-stone to other healthy lifestyle choices, and when you cook and eat as a family, the experience of making and eating healthy food is twice as fun.

Not to mention —when you customize your meals to your family’s tastes, you enjoy it even more! I also know exactly what ingredients I put into my food, and that makes all of us feel good about the quality of our meals.

For the “sweet cherry on top” of this article, here’s a tasty recipe influenced with the flavors of the Southwest, where I live. It’s my Southwestern Flatbread with Avocado Hummus and Fresh Veggies. This dish is bright, fresh, creamy, crunchy, flavorful, and, of course, delicious and nutritious! The avocados pack in some healthy fat, and the garbanzo beans offer a great amount of protein.

In 2014, I helped develop and lead the Canyon Ranch Healthy Community program at Apollo Middle School in Tucson, Arizona. I was the demo chef in a four-part family event that included cooking, working in a garden at the school, exercise, and stress management. My role was to show the kids and their parents how to prepare recipes, and they went to work at the cooking stations to make it themselves. It was a great success and we had a lot of fun!
You’ll find more of my recipes on my YouTube Channel: Have a great time in the kitchen!

Haile Thomas is a dedicated and passionate health advocate for her peers, a motivational speaker, and a chef. An 8th grader at The Gregory School in Tucson, Arizona, and youngest Intern with Canyon Ranch Institute, her mission is to engage, inspire, motivate, and educate her peers about healthy eating, cooking and living. Haile is the founder of The HAPPY Organization, and serves on several advisory boards, including the Canyon Ranch Institute Life Enhancement Program for Teens, the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, and Chop Chop Magazine. She is one of eight young chefs featured on Rachael vs. Guy Kids Cook-Off on the Food Network.