Mar 21, 2012 1:00 AM
TUCSON - One out of every four kids in Arizona is considered obese and that often leads to major health issues.
That's why one of Kristi's Kids is paying it forward. She is a remarkable 11-year-old who is getting a healthy message out to her entire generation.
"I realized that it was really fun when I went out and helped my mom in the kitchen."
Haile Thomas can't count the number of dishes she's able to cook up.
When she learned about all those hard to pronounce ingredients in so much of the food we all eat, Haile wanted to get involved.
"That's when I got interested in letting kids know that they need to eat healthy but also know what's in their food."
Childhood obesity is Haile's biggest worry.
"It's horrible because kids are getting all sorts of diseases that are usually found in adults."
So Haile cooked up a plan of action. She whipped up a website kids-cancook.org. There you'll find videos with Haile and her little sister showing kids how to cook healthy.
And Haile teamed up with Chef Albert Hall at Acacia because she didn't like the limited options on most kids' menus.
"I wasn't very happy with it because I realized that all the restaurants they seem pretty much the same; the macaroni, the nuggets, the hamburgers."
Now Chef Albert is using some of Haile's recipes on his kids menu.
"We have potato croquets with pico de gallo and cheese," says Haile when the two chefs tested the dishes on a team of taste experts, about a dozen kids Haile's age, with rav review.
"I feel great that I'm making this difference and hopefully other restaurants will want to do the same thing after seeing this happen."
Haile's mission is to engage, inspire and motivate and her mom says that will encourage kids to eat healthy.
"If you get them involved in a process then they're more likely to try more things and be open to eating different things."
And Haile has much more on her menu to get the word out.
"We don't want our next generation to be just the same. We need to make a change while we can."
Haile is one of twenty kids in the country selected by the Alliance for a Healthier Generation to be on the advisory board. In April Haile is organizing Healthy Eating, Active Lifestyle, a one day event at Diamonds Children Hospital. Click here, kids-cancook.org, for all the information.
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