Lean Winter Eating Ideas (6 LEAN Ideas)

During the cold winter months it can be tempting to turn to take out and heavy comfort foods. While those options warm us up, they don’t do much for health – especially if one of your New Year’s resolutions was to eat healthy.

Eating lean during the winter doesn’t have to be difficult or time consuming. Follow these healthy, hearty breakfast, lunch, and dinner recipes to keep you on track and satisfied, even in the coldest months.

Start Your Engines

There are a few ways to wake yourself up on a cold, winter morning: stepping outside for a moment, splashing cold water on your face, brewing a hot cup of coffee, and let’s not forget, enjoying a delicious warm breakfast. Eating a filling, nutritious breakfast is the best way to start your day of healthy eating, so take the time to cook up a little something special for yourself. Here are a few options:

Breakfast Burrito

Warm up your pan with enough olive oil to provide a thin coat on the bottom. Scramble two eggs, or for an even leaner approach, scramble one egg and some egg whites. While the eggs are cooking, set out a whole wheat tortilla on a plate and sprinkle some chopped onion and shredded cheese, preferably the kind made with 2% skim milk, down the middle. Once the eggs are done, distribute them down the middle of the tortilla and top with your favorite salsa. Delicioso!

Hearty Oatmeal

If you’ve long outgrown your instant oatmeal days, you don’t have to give up on oatmeal entirely. For a grown-up version that packs a healthy punch (and is good for your cholesterol), buy a large bag of steel-cut oats and anything you like to add to your oatmeal. Lean breakfast meats, fresh berries, and even coconut go great in warm oatmeal.

The night before you want an oatmeal breakfast, fill a large bowl with two cups of oats and two cups of unsweetened almond milk. Cover the bowl and leave the oats to soak up the milk in the fridge overnight. When you’re ready for breakfast, scoop your desired amount of oatmeal into a microwave-safe bowl and warm it up, putting the rest of the oatmeal back in the fridge for tomorrow. Toss your desired toppings into the bowl, give it a stir, and enjoy!

Midday Munchies

You’ve had a great start to the morning, but now it’s the afternoon and your stomach is demanding a refill. Chances are you won’t want to brave the frigid temperatures to go outside, but that doesn’t mean you should sit down to a bag of chips for lunch either. Try these quick and easy ideas for lean lunchtime eating.

Eat Like a Forager

No, that doesn’t mean you should eat large quantities of food before you take a long afternoon nap. Rather, eat small quantities of a variety of healthy foods to create one healthy meal. Buy items that can be eaten with little or no preparation, like berries, red peppers, or baby carrots. Slices of Swiss cheese made with skim milk go nicely with whole wheat crackers, or you can pair sweet potato chips with hummus. A bowl of Greek yogurt topped with low-fat granola adds a sweet touch to your plate of fun foods.

Hot Buns

Sandwiches are a lunchtime staple, and it doesn’t take much effort to warm this idea up in the wintertime. Do you typically eat ham and cheese? Go for grilled cheese with ham (just go easy on the butter). Are you a PB&J kind of person? Toast the bread first to make that peanut butter melt in your mouth. Got some extra time? Grill up some seasoned skinless chicken breasts and top them with avocado slices, a slice of Swiss cheese, and some brown mustard.

To keep your sandwiches on the healthy side, be sure to stick to whole grain bread. Skip the chips and opt for a healthier side like raw carrots or bell peppers. If you want a little extra warmth, pack a cup of hearty tomato or vegetable soup to dip your sandwich.

Delightful Dinner

It’s the end of the day and you’ve already changed into your sweat pants and slippers. All you need now is a delicious dinner and your day will be complete. There’s nothing that will warm your belly more than stews and chili – plus they’re easy recipes to incorporate plenty of healthy veggies and lean meats. Get out that stock pot or slow cooker and get ready to make large quantities of food that will keep you fueled for days.

Tex-Mex Chili

Start off by warming up two tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven. Next, cook 2 lbs. of lean ground turkey for about five minutes. Add two cups of diced yellow or Vidalia onion, two cloves of chopped garlic, half a tablespoon of chili powder, and one teaspoon of cumin. Cook for another five minutes, and then add two 15 ounce cans of low-sodium black beans, two 15 ounce cans of pinto beans, a 20 ounce can of diced tomatoes, and one small can of diced mild green chilies. Give the mixture a dash of salt and pepper and stir it all around before allowing everything to cook for another 15 to 20 minutes.

Feel free to play around with this recipe to make it your own and pack in even more healthy foods. Chopped carrots and red and green bell pepper can be delicious ingredients in chili. To get even more creative try adding cubed sweet potato!

Slow-cooker White Bean Sausage Stew

Who doesn’t love coming home to the smell of dinner already done? This recipe takes only 15 minutes to make in the morning and is ready when you get home from work.

Start by combing a bunch of yummy items in your slow cooker: one pound of dried white beans, 16 ounces of diced turkey or chicken sausage, five cups of low-sodium chicken broth, one 14.5 can of no-salt added diced tomatoes, one chopped large onion, five cloves of chopped garlic, one teaspoon of thyme, and one cup of water. Let that cook for 7 hours on low and you’ll be ready to eat.

For added nutritional value, add a few cups of baby spinach or kale about 10 minutes before serving. Just like with the chili, you can also experiment with this recipe by adding additional vegetables – whatever you think tastes good!