10 healthy eating tips for winter

Think eating well is just for summer? Think again! We've gathered tips to help you create healthy habits for the cooler months.

1. Make over your mash

A bowl of mashed potato is the ultimate comfort food on cold nights. We’ve given it a better-for-you twist, made with no butter or cream. To do it, boil 4 large potatoes – you can peel them first, or leave the skin on for added fibre – until tender, then drain and return to the pan. Lightly mash, then add 1/3 cup-1/2 cup buttermilk, depending on how creamy you like it. Season and stir in some chopped chives, then serve with extra chives on top.

Smashed potato

2. Load up on greens

It’s not just an old saying – eating your greens really is good for you! Not only are green vegetables a good source of vitamin C, but cruciferous varieties such as broccoli, cauliflower, kale and brussels sprouts also contain folate. Folate is a B-vitamin which supports immunity plus reduces fatigue, to help boost your body’s natural defences.

Baby broccoli and lemon wedges

3. Portion your plate

While we tend to load up on hearty foods in winter, it’s important to divide your plate into healthy portions for total energy balance. Go for one-quarter protein, one-quarter carbs and the remaining half a mixture of vegetables and fruit. To boost your veg intake, try adding extra vegetables to soups or serving rich stews or sauces with zucchini noodles.

Roasted chicken, peeled zucchini, strawberries and corn

4. Don’t forget vitamin D

Our vitamin D levels can drop a little in winter when we’re spending more time indoors and less time in the sun. While sunlight is one source of vitamin D, oily fish including salmon, as well as eggs, are some of the best food sources of this nutrient*. Enjoy 2-3 serves of oily fish each week, and make eggs a regular on your brekkie menu.

Oily salmon with beans and rocket leaves

5. Try a tray bake 

We love a good roast in winter, so here’s a fuss-free idea: get all of your ingredients on the one tray and let your oven take care of the rest. Use lean chicken thigh fillets, skinless chicken breast fillets or lean meatballs, then add veggies cut into similar-sized pieces. Sprinkle with dried herbs. Bake at 200°C for 30-40 mins or until the protein is cooked through and vegetables are tender. Season with black pepper.

Chicken thigh tray bake

6. Eat more soup

A steaming bowl of soup is a warming winter staple and it’s also a great way of increasing your protein and fibre intake. Add lean chicken, legumes, whole grains like barley and any extra greens in your crisper and you have a healthy meal that can also be frozen for later. Remember to use salt-reduced versions of ingredients too, such as stock and canned beans or lentils. For a nourishing soup that’s a source of protein and fibre, as well as containing 3 serves of veggies, check out our recipe for hearty vegetable and lentil soup.

7. Treat yourself

Of course, it’s important to enjoy occasional treats in winter, including dessert! For a light treat, try baking chopped apple, pear and rhubarb at 200°C until tender and the fruit releases its juice. Serve warm with natural yoghurt and sprinkle with toasted flaked almonds.

Baking apple, pear and rhubarb

8. Have a healthy hot drink

It’s tempting to warm up with hot chocolate drinks and creamy chai lattes in winter. While these can make great treats, for a low sugar and saturated fat alternative, brew yourself a cup of mint or green tea. You can add flavour boosters too, such as fresh ginger, lemon or orange slices and aromatic whole spices – think cinnamon and star anise.

Orange hot drink

9. Snack on citrus

There’s an abundance of sweet citrus fruits on offer in winter. They make a delicious and nutritious snack, too. Mandarins are easy to peel and great for lunch boxes or when you’re on the go, while oranges and grapefruit are perfect sliced on a plate and sprinkled with pomegranate seeds for a simple treat.

Citrus on the table

10. Fill up on oats

A warm and hearty breakfast is an excellent start to the day and oats are an ideal winter brekkie: they’re rich in fibre plus low GI, so they release energy slowly to keep you feeling fuller for longer. Whip up a bowl of porridge, then top with tasty additions such as unsalted nuts, fresh berries, sliced apple, reduced-fat milk and unsweetened yoghurt – you’ll thank yourself for it later!

Banana, raspberry with yoghurt and oats

Words Gina Flaxman & Sarah Geelan

*healthdirect.gov.au/foods-high-in-vitamin-d.