Skip to main content

Meal Planning and Recipes to Keep you Healthy this Winter

Winter is definitely upon us!  With the cool, crisp air come cozy sweaters and comforting foods, and a lot less motivation to keep moving. Planning for healthy meals and a realistic routine to increase activity can help you avoid gaining those few pesky pounds over the colder months. 


Keep these tips in mind this winter, and throughout the year:  

Plan for meals and snacks

Start the day off with a healthy breakfast and don’t skip lunch. You can save calories and money by bringing lunch from home. It can be daunting to come up with a healthy evening meal when you get home from work, busy and tired, so try to plan for your meals several days in advance. Batch cook over the weekend and use your leftovers. For example:

Cook a batch of quinoa or pearl barley and then:

  • Add to soups Have as hot breakfast in the morning, add cinnamon, fruit, milk and nuts
  • Sprinkle on top of salad
  • Use as a side dish mixed with vegetables

Cook a chicken and roast veggies on Sunday night, and use the leftovers in:

  • Chicken salad sandwiches, made with celery, onions, grapes/apples, jicama, nuts
  • Chicken, vegetable and bean quesadillas on whole wheat tortillas
  • Chicken soup, made with low sodium broth, lots of veggies and sweet potatoes or barley
  • Tossed green salad with chicken and berries, apples, or orange slices  

Become aware of your portion sizes

People are often unaware of how much they are eating. They fill up a large plate or bowl without even thinking about it. Choose a smaller plate, and then aim to fill half of it with non-starchy vegetables, leaving the other half of your plate for lean protein and carbohydrates (fruit, starchy vegetables, and/or whole grains).    

Keep moving

Most experts recommended we exercise for 30-60 minutes, most days of the week. You can split up this activity throughout the day (for example, do 10 minutes after each meal), or do it all at one time. Here are some ideas:

  • Keep small hand weights or exercise bands in the living room to use while watching TV
  • Walk in place during commercials
  • “Be inefficient”—instead of saving all the laundry at the bottom of the stairs to bring up all at one time, take multiple trips
  • Take the long way to the bathroom
  • Get up and walk to your coworker rather than email a question, if possible
  • Look at your calendar for the week and plan out which days (and times) would be the best for going to the gym, pool or a walk

It can be a challenge to stay healthy and keep weight off in the winter. But with some planning and inspiration, you can be fit all year long.
What are you doing to stay healthy this winter?

Michelle Huntley, RD, LD, CDE, has worked in the community as a Registered Dietitian and Diabetes Educator for over 10 years, and is currently serving patients at DPD Nutrition Consultants. Michelle is the mother of two children. She and her husband love to keep active as a family by walking, hiking, swimming, biking and snowshoeing together.  

Quinoa Salad  


  • ¼ cup fresh squeezed OJ
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 1.5 TBSP buttermilk (you can add a drop of lemon juice or vinegar to milk and let sit 5 minutes to create buttermilk) However, I’ve made this recipe before without the buttermilk
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teas pepper  

Combine and whisk, set aside  


  • 1 1/3 cup quinoa (uncooked)
  • 2¾ cup water
  • ¼ teaspoon salt, if desired
  • 1 cup green onions, sliced thin
  • 1 cup pomegranate seeds (or quartered grapes)
  • ½ cup chopped parsley
  • ¼ cup unsalted, shelled pistachios or ¼ cup unsalted pumpkin seeds  


  1. Place quinoa in nonstick pan
  2. Cook 4 min over medium heat, stir frequently
  3. Place in fine sieve.  Place sieve in large bowl and rinse the quinoa for 30 seconds.  Drain and repeat
  4. Combine quinoa, 2 ¾ cup water, and salt, if desired, in large saucepan. Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat
  5. Simmer 20 min or until liquid is absorbed ; remove from heat and cool to room temp
  6. Stir in dressing, onions and other ingredients It’s great cold or warm; have with tossed green salad or as a side dish    

6 Servings.  Per serving: 245 calories, 35g carbohydrates, 5g fiber, 7.5g protein, 9g total fat, 1.5g saturated fat

If you would like more information on this topic or others, reach out to one of our health educators for help.

Learn more

Latest News

View All
Memorial's New Facility Dog Comforts Both Oncology Patients and Staff
Haze is now a full-time facility dog in Memorial Hospital’s Oncology Department.
Study Reveals New Insight into Long COVID
The NIH-funded research effort, of which the MaineHealth Institute for Research is a part, identifies most common symptoms with an aim of improving future diagnostics and treatment.
MMC Names Burn Unit for Retired Nurse
The estate of Thomas ‘Tommy’ Shaw donated $1 million toward MMC’s burn unit to honor Shaw’s former nurse, Isla Estabrook
Pen Bay Waldo Healthcare Foundation Honors President Mark Fourré, MD at Donor Event
Donors, board members and leaders from across MaineHealth gathered at the Charlotte and Christopher Beebe Health Center in Rockport Sunday, May 21, to celebrate the completion of a major fundraising campaign called The Campaign for Coastal Health.