June 16, 2011 at 1:25 pm , by Lauren Piro
If you’re a fan of Top Chef, you probably already have a soft spot for chef Carla Hall and her impressive cooked-with-love cuisine (and, of course, her trademark catchphrase “hootie hoo!”). Now, taking cues from Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign and the new USDA MyPlate guidelines for healthy eating, Carla is spreading the word about how important nutritious meals and fun exercise are for our kids.
“It’s all about food, yes, but you need to move. You need to get up and do something. Back in the day, we used to play. So now I think the challenge right is to go out and get everyone dancing. Especially the kids,” says Carla.
Carla’s teaming up with Fuel Up to Play 60, which brings youth wellness programs to schools (now 70,000 nation-wide!) Student ambassador Nikki, who also joined us with Carla in the LHJ offices last week, loves the changes it’s inspired in her school. “We started a walking club, and give out raffle tickets if we catch you eating a healthy food at lunch. We’ve done a taste test of different exotic fruits, parfaits, and string cheese. Kids like the new foods, and it spreads around the cafeteria, with kids wanting to bring the healthier choices for lunch,” she says.
Carla, always an advocate for cooking with whole foods, loves to hear this. “I’m all about inspiring people to cook at home, and we don’t have to dummy down kids food. Kids will eat lots of different foods if they have the chance to try it.”
One of Carla’s favorite recipes is her granola, a tasty and nourishing mix of almonds, sunflower seeds, cinnamon and dried fruit, which she hopes to sell through Alchemy by Carla Hall, of which she is the executive chef and owner. (But you can make your own now– click “Read More” below for the recipe!) “I like making granola, because I can control how much sugar is in it. And you can use it as a breakfast or a snack, or even as a topping on dessert,” she says.
Not enough reasons to love Carla? We asked her our Ladies’ We Love questions for more:
What makes me a lady:
I’m a southern lady, and I love earrings. I’ll even notice some nice earrings in a scary movie. My husband will say, “Oh, you’re such a girl.”
Favorite guilty pleasure:
A sundae with pistachio, sour cherry ice cream, chocolate sauce, whipped cream, and toasted almonds.
Three things on my life list:
I want to spend a New Year’s Eve in Sydney, Australia. I want to go to Nepal and have a meditation session. And I want to have a dining experience at Alinea, Grant Achatz’s restaurant in Chicago.
If I could have a super power it would be:
I think I would fly. I just don’t walk fast enough!
Ladies I admire:
Julia Child. The Big O – Oprah, I have to say. And my grandmother.