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Meet the "Cook It Up"
Grand Prize winner!

It’s official, this summer’s “Cook It Up” Healthy Recipe Contest is over! And what a response – hundreds of recipes were submitted by USAF individuals and families from all around the world! These incredibly tasty dishes made choosing a Grand Prize winner pretty difficult. But there could only be one Grand Prize winner who will get to meet Celebrity Chef Herb Mesa at their base.

And the winner is...

Introducing TSgt Michelle Abrahamsson and her award-winning recipe ‘Apple Turkey Picadillo’ selected for its nutritional value and unique texture and flavor! Herb’s appearance at Hanscom AFB will include a visit to the elementary school to meet and visit with children, faculty and guests and to attend a ribbon cutting ceremony at the new Commons building on base where Michelle will be formally recognized.

Changing an unhealthy eating pattern
Michelle grew up on meat and potatoes 5 days-a-week in rural Illinois, and on the other two days ate hamburgers. As a young adult, fast foods became an easy fix and, you guessed it, the weight started creeping on. Then with a personal challenge of added weight during pregnancy, she became an expert on manipulating recipes to make them healthier. Her journey has included participating in the Biggest Loser weight loss program and to make certain her own family leads a healthy lifestyle.

Motivation to enter the “Cook It Up” contest
Michelle is the Medical NCO at the Boston Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS) where she travels 60 miles each way from home to work. With so little time to prepare meals daily, planning is really important for her family. She’s always looking for healthy, but easy recipes and has found the USAF FitFamily website to be a gold mine for filling that need and is quick to pass along information and opportunities to other service members. When the “Cook It Up” contest was introduced, she was inspired by some of the prizes – but was completely surprised when she was chosen as the ‘grand prize’ recipient!

Michelle entered the contest often
Michelle submitted 9 different recipes, some were tweaked from the Biggest Loser program and some her very own experiments! Which is exactly what the winning recipe was – an experiment of foods her husband John brought home from grocery shopping. While their daughter Taylor, 7 and Tyler, 3 aren’t particularly fond of Michelle’s “Apple Turkey Picadillo”, it’s a favorite among their friends. In fact, Michelle said it’s a must-have meal at least once a month!

A healthy diet is only part of a successful formula
The Abrahamsson’s are fortunate to live near the Nashua River Rail Trail. A former railroad right of way traveling 11 miles from Nashua to Ayer, Massachusetts, the family loves to experience the landscape beauty and natural wildlife as they bike the trail regularly. The children also enjoy soccer and karate while mom and dad are fans of work-out sessions at the gym! Michelle’s advice to other busy families? “Never give up! Be determined whether its weight you want to lose or simply get your children away from electronics or from in front of the television, there is so much available to do and see. Just do it!”


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