Skip to content

How to Build a Balanced Holiday Plate

How to Build a Balanced Holiday Plate

The following article was written by Heinen’s Chief Dietitian, Melanie Jatsek RD, LD.

One of my nutrition coaching clients recently expressed concern over the upcoming holiday season. Through our work together at Heinen’s Personalized Nutrition Center, she’s made some impressive and impactful changes in her eating habits and as a result, her clothes are fitting better, she has more energy than ever before and her relationship with food has markedly improved. She describes herself as “confidently in control of food.” As her coach and cheerleader this brings such joy to my heart!

Ironically, in the next breath she admitted that the thought of the approaching holiday season frightened her. After all, this is when the feeding frenzy begins and all resolve to make healthier choices goes out the window for her.

I quickly reminded her of the Fx-approved steps she has been using to balance her meals. This special formula was helping to stabilize her blood sugar levels and manage her sugar cravings. What’s more, when she followed the steps, she felt nourished and satisfied after her meals, not stuffed like a turkey!

If you’re experiencing similar nervous feelings about maintaining healthy eating habits over the holidays, relax and follow these three simple steps to build the perfect holiday plate.

  1. Fill half of your plate with non-starchy vegetables and leafy greens.
  2. Reserve a quarter of your plate for wholesome protein.
  3. Add a starchy vegetable, whole grain or fruit to the remaining quarter of your plate.

Balanced Holiday Plate

Leafy Greens and Non-Starchy Vegetables

Fx Pillar 1: Eat your greens, as many as you can every day.
Fx Pillar 2: Eat the rainbow, at least one fruit and two vegetables every day.

Rich in fiber, bioavailable vitamins and minerals and natural plant compounds called phytonutrients, greens are one of the most impactful foods you can add to your meals. Step into Heinen’s Produce Department and choose from these top Fx-approved greens.

  • Arugula
  • Cabbage
  • Collard
  • Dandelion
  • Kale
  • Mesclun
  • Microgreens
  • Mustard
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Spinach
  • Swiss chard

Healthy Holiday Meals Ideas with Greens

  • Bring this festive spinach and kale-packed Apple Quinoa Salad to your next holiday gathering. It just may become a new family favorite.
  • Roasting non-starchy vegetables is delicious, especially when the weather is cold, so try roasting broccoli, carrots, Brussels sprouts or cauliflower. This delicious Roasted Asparagus with Lemon side dish will not disappoint.
  • Not into roasting? Try these 20-minute Balsamic Glazed Green Beans.
Balsamic Glazed Green Beans

Wholesome Protein

Fx Pillar 3: Dose with omega-3 fats every day.
Fx Pillar 4: Pick your protein. Choose plants over fish over fowl over grass-fed beef.

Protein is an important part of your meals, and adding small amounts helps balance your sugar and keep you feeling full after eating.

Plant proteins include legumes (beans, peas, lentils), quinoa, tempeh, tofu and seitan.

If fish is your holiday tradition, up your game by choosing cold-water, omega-3-rich fish like cod, halibut, salmon, trout or tuna.

Meat is a staple on many holiday tables, so make it Fx-approved by opting for organic chicken, organic turkey and grass-fed beef.

Healthy Holiday Meals Ideas with Wholesome Protein

Carved Organic Turkey

Starchy Vegetables, Whole Grains or Fruit

Fx Pillar 2: Eat the rainbow, at least one fruit and two vegetables every day.
Fx Pillar 5: Choose whole grains, preferably sprouted.

Now it’s time to add a few spoonfuls of a starchy vegetable, whole grain or fruit to the remaining quarter of your plate! I like to fill my quarter with a bit of all three: one spoonful of sprouted stuffing, one of cranberries and a small scoop of sweet potatoes. It really hits the spot and adds to the pure enjoyment of the meal!

Healthy Holiday Meals Ideas with Starchy Vegetables, Whole Grains and Fruit

  • Your family won’t detect the cruciferous vegetable hidden inside of this tasty Sweet Potato Cauliflower Mash. It’ll be our little secret!
  • No holiday table is complete without stuffing. Feel good about indulging in this classic comfort food with this Sprouted Stuffing with Gravy.
  • For a touch of sweet, prepare this beautiful Lucky Fruit Salad, featuring citrus season classics like oranges and tangerines, and a pop of ruby red color from pomegranate seeds.
Sweet Potato Cauliflower Mash

Key Takeaway

There’s no reason to fall victim to the pesky holiday food traps of yesteryear! Use the three steps above to build a perfectly balanced plate and I promise you’ll walk away from the table feeling nourished and satisfied. The good news is you don’t have to be perfect! I recommend practicing the 80-20 rule: follow the steps 80% of the time and leave a 20% buffer for your favorite holiday treats. Wishing you a happy, healthy, and joy-filled holiday season!

Melanie Jatsek RD, LD

By Melanie Jatsek RD, LD

Heinen's Chief Dietitian, Melanie Jatsek, RD, LD believes that the answer to a strong, healthy and vibrant body lies within. As a published author with over 20 years of experience in wellness program development, health coaching and professional speaking, Melanie offers expert guidance through Heinen's Club Fx program to help customers take inspired action to build the healthy body they were meant to live in without giving up their favorite foods.

Related Recipes & Stories