Cook With Food Tank: Live Lively With This Plant-Based Recipe From Youth Health Advocate Haile Thomas

At every age, Haile Thomas’s life has revolved around nutritious food. Her Jamaican immigrant mother taught her to cook when she was five, and three years later, when her father was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, her family transformed their diet and lifestyle to center nourishing and restorative foods. When Thomas was 12, she founded The HAPPY Organization, a nonprofit that promotes mental and physical wellbeing in young people by building knowledge of food and self-advocacy. At 17, she was the youngest Certified Integrative Health Coach in the United States. With her messages of healthful eating and youth empowerment, she has appeared at the White House, at Food Tank Summits, and in national media.

And last year, she published a cookbook-slash-empowerment-manifesto, Living Lively, which was nominated for an NAACP Image Award. In addition to the 80+ plant-based recipes, her book opens with a series of essays on her upbringing, the ways we’re shaped by what we consume, and Thomas’s seven ‘Points of Power.’ From wellness to relationships to education to creativity and community, and conversations with young women who embody these principles, Thomas breaks down the components of a lively life. And as one of the essays notes, the book is meant to be interactive—“a place where food stains and deep thoughts can coexist!” she writes—so there are journal pages and writing prompts to encourage reflection and action.

“We really want [youth] to see food and cooking as something that can really permeate their everyday lives and be something that is super fun and accessible,” Thomas told Food Tank president Danielle Nierenberg at the 2018 Food Tank Summit.

For our third monthly cookbook series feature, Food Tank is thrilled to share Thomas’s recipe for red-hot roasted cauliflower steaks with chimichurri sauce. If you missed the first installments of our cookbook series, we featured two recipes from Jubilee, Toni Tipton-Martin’s award-winning exploration of hundreds of years of Black cooking, and an autumnal recipe selection from Beth Dooley’s local, seasonal cookbook The Perennial Kitchen. Be sure to catch those recipes, but first, join us as we cook and live lively with Haile Thomas!

And one more thing: When you cook this recipe at home, let us know! Tag us on social media @FoodTank or #FoodTank so we can admire your meals and share your photos.

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Red-Hot Roasted Cauliflower Steaks with Chimichurri Sauce

Makes 4 Servings

​​Knowing how to season and roast a good cauliflower steak is essential in my house, so I’m passing this favorite recipe of mine on to you! Because of cauliflower’s neutral flavor, it’s a great canvas for spices and sauces that really pop. Serve with your favorite veggies and grains!

—Haile Thomas, Living Lively: 80 Plant-Based Recipes to Activate Your Power and Feed Your Potential


1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon dried thyme
Dash of cayenne pepper
Kosher salt
1 medium head cauliflower, cut through the core into about four ½- inch- thick slices
2 tablespoons olive oil


½ cup fresh cilantro, leaves and stems
½ cup fresh parsley, leaves and stems
¼ cup fresh basil leaves
4 garlic cloves, peeled
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup white wine vinegar
Kosher salt

1. To roast the cauliflower: Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

2. In a medium bowl, combine the garlic powder, paprika, thyme, cayenne, and salt to taste.

3. Arrange the cauliflower “steaks” on the prepared sheet pan and drizzle them with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Evenly sprinkle the herb/spice mixture over both sides of each cauliflower steak. Drizzle the cauliflower steaks with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil.

4. Roast for 20 to 25 minutes, until the cauliflower is golden and crisp on top.

5. Meanwhile, to make the chimichurri sauce: In a food processor, combine the cilantro, parsley, basil, garlic, olive oil, vinegar, and salt to taste and blend until smooth. Set aside.

6. Drizzle the steaks with chimichurri sauce and serve.

From LIVING LIVELY by Haile Thomas Copyright © 2020 by Haile Thomas. Reprinted by permission of William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

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