We are off to a New Year! Many people will gather and celebrate the start of new beginnings well into January. During the New Year it’s common for people to set goals to acquire a more healthful lifestyle. One way to start this process is to find your own personal balance between food and physical activity. An easy resource to help you find this balance is USDA’s ChooseMyPlate.gov. There you can find a variety of tips and tools including daily food plans to help guide you to your personal health goals.

MyPlate is a tool to help you create a more balanced diet. It’s healthy eating tips suggest you make half your plate fruits and vegetables, a quarter of the plate whole grains and lean protein, while choosing low-fat or non-fat dairy. In short, MyPlate stresses incorporating more fruits and vegetables in the diet. For some, eating more fruits and vegetables is a chore and they simply have a hard time doing so.

One suggestion to help increase intake of fruits and vegetables is to pair them with foods and flavors you prefer. Beef is a familiar and well-liked protein. Lean protein is necessary in the diet, so why not use it as a vehicle to help increase your fruit and vegetable intake? Furthermore, lean beef is a nutrient-rich food. A 3-ounce serving provides 10 essential nutrients, including iron, zinc, B-vitamins and protein, yet only provides about 150 calories. Pair it with other fruits and veggies and you have one powerful and tasty multivitamin that you simply can’t get out of a bottle.

This last spring my daughter Sabrina had the opportunity to enter the First Lady’s “Healthy Lunchtime Challenge”, which is hosted by Epicurious, the Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Her recipe, Hawaiian Kale Wraps, was selected as the winner from South Dakota. The contest provided a great opportunity for her to learn about creating healthful recipes that encompass all the food groups. Her goal was to incorporate ingredients that we grow locally and/or purchase in our small town grocery store. Her recipe includes lean beef, whole grains and plenty of fruits and vegetables. It’s very versatile, as you can use a kale leaf or other lettuce for the wrap. Over the past few months I’ve had requests to share her recipe.

Here’s to better health in 2015! We hope you enjoy Sabrina’s recipe, which you can find on page 93 in the 2014 Healthy Lunchtime Challenge Cookbook, or below.

Hawaiian Kale Wraps


For the wrap:
  • 1 lb. lean ground beef
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ cup uncooked quinoa
  • ½ cup thinly sliced red bell pepper
  • ¾ cup shredded carrot
  • ¾ cup canned pineapple, drained and chopped
  • 2 cups coleslaw mix or broccoli slaw mix
  • ⅓ cup chopped scallions
  • 10 kale leaves
For the sauce:
  • ½ cup pineapple juice
  • ⅓ cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • ½ tsp. dried ginger
  • ⅛ tsp. cayenne
  • ½ tsp. sesame oil
  • 1 Tbsp. lime juice
  • 1 Tbsp. honey
  • 1 Tbsp. cornstarch



  1. In a large sauté pan over moderate heat, cook the ground beef until browned and cooked through, about 10 minutes. Drain any excess fat.
  2. Meanwhile, in a small stockpot, add 1 cup water and the quinoa and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes until quinoa is cooked. While quinoa is cooking, combine the sauce ingredients in a medium bowl, mix together, and set aside.
  3. When quinoa is done, increase heat to medium-high and add the sauce, red bell pepper, carrots, pineapple, and coleslaw mix. Mix thoroughly and cook for 3 minutes then add the scallions. Place about ¼ or ½ cup (depending on the size of your kale leaf) of the cooked mixture in the middle of a washed kale leaf, wrap, and eat.