Power points

Haile Thomas’ new ve­gan cook­book is a ‘Lively’ guide to a bet­ter life, over­all well-be­ing

Chicago Sun-Times - - TASTE - BY MARK KENNEDY

NEW YORK — At 19, Haile Thomas has writ­ten a book that will flum­mox book­store own­ers when­ever they re­open. “Liv­ing Lively” has sev­eral dozen ve­gan recipes, but it’s far more than a cook­book. It also has guid­ance on re­la­tion­ships and well­ness.

Thomas calls it an “em­pow­er­ment cook­book,” and the fact that it be­longs on mul­ti­ple book­shelves says some­thing about how ex­pan­sive this Gen Z mem­ber’s mind is.

“What pushed me to start work­ing on this project was the pos­si­bil­ity of com­bin­ing both the self-growth and self-care as­pect with recipes that meant so much to me and do good for our body, the planet, an­i­mals — all of those things,” she said.

Ve­gan for the past six years, Thomas of­fers 80 plant-based and gluten-free recipes, rang­ing from tan­doori-spiced sweet potato tacos and key lime av­o­cado mousse cups to creamy beet spaghetti with gar­licky greens.

But be­fore read­ers get to the yummy parts, Thomas out­lines what she has learned in the well­ness world. That in­cludes ad­vice on things like so­cial media, ed­u­ca­tion, over­com­ing so­ci­etal bi­ases and grat­i­tude. She has dis­tilled them into her “7

Points of Power”: Well­ness; World Per­spec­tive; Media & So­ci­etal In­flu­ences; Thoughts & Spir­i­tu­al­ity; Ed­u­ca­tion; Re­la­tion­ships; and Cre­ativ­ity & Giv­ing.

“There’s prob­a­bly hun­dreds of points of power, but these are re­ally the seven that I feel cap­ture so much of the hu­man ex­pe­ri­ence so we can re­ally start that that self-growth work,” she said.

“Our well-be­ing goes so far be­yond what’s on our plate,” she said. “You can eat how­ever many sal­ads or smooth­ies you want but that’s not go­ing to heal a lot of the in­ner and ex­ter­nal dis­tur­bances that we might face.”

The writ­ing is thought­ful, gen­er­ous and fun, with Thomas prone to drop zippy lines like “If you know, you know,” “You’ve got this” and “Any­hooo.”

“Liv­ing Lively” also gets a lit­tle in­ter­ac­tive with blank pages for read­ers to think about their lives and make ac­tion plans. And it in­cludes in­ter­views with five other fe­male Gen Z lead­ers.

When Cassie Jones, an ed­i­to­rial di­rec­tor for pub­lisher William Mor­row, first met Thomas, she found a ma­ture and grounded teen. “I thought she could be a ma­jor voice of her gen­er­a­tion,” Jones said.

“I loved that she wanted to take this book be­yond recipes for food into par­a­digms for liv­ing,” Jones added. “Ul­ti­mately we liked the idea that read­ers could come to the book where they are now and eas­ily start with what they were most in­ter­ested in, whether it’s food or per­sonal growth or chang­ing the world.”

Thomas is al­ways on the look­out for dif­fer­ent fla­vors and in­gre­di­ents. On a trip to her par­ents’ na­tive Ja­maica two years ago, she flipped over the taste of bread­fruit, star ap­ples and man­goes there. She’s re­cently fallen in love with fo­nio, a West African grain.

She scoffs at those who say a ve­gan diet has to be bland. “The di­ver­sity of plant foods is just be­yond our com­pre­hen­sion,” she said. “More than any­thing, I just want to re­de­fine that and show that you can have an ab­so­lutely de­li­cious meal that nour­ishes your body, that con­nects to the cul­ture — all of those things are pos­si­ble through plants.”

Thomas isn’t some­one who uses guilt or pres­sure to get read­ers to cut out fish or meat prod­ucts. Her mo­tives are sim­ply of­fer­ing healthy and tasty op­tions.

SUN-TIMES PHOTO ILLUSTRATI­ON

Mo­ti­va­tional speaker Haile Thomas has writen what she calls an “em­pow­er­ment cook­book.”

GETTY IM­AGES FOR WE DAY

Haile Thomas speaks on­stage dur­ing WE Day UN 2018 at Bar­clays Cen­ter in 2018 in New York City.

AP

This cover im­age re­leased by William Mor­row Cook­books shows “Liv­ing Lively: 80 Plant-Based Recipes to Ac­ti­vate Your Power & Feed Your Po­ten­tial” by Haile Thomas.

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