How to Plan A Balanced Meal

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unnamedWinter is coming, y’all. Not only can I tell by the lower temperatures, but by my desire for warm comfort foods. A common misconception about fall and winter dishes is that they lack vegetables. While the ingredients may be different than in the spring and summer, recipes can still contain many nutritious items. I encourage all my clients (and readers!) to keep balanced eating in mind year-round. As you remember, that means you want to aim for lean protein for 25% of your plate, carbohydrate (preferable whole grain options) as 25% of your plate and for the remaining 50% of your plate (or bowl), think vegetables and fruit.

So what does that mean realistically? When I meal plan, I try to choose entree recipes that include at least one vegetable. Then to make sure we get 50% of our meal as produce, I always have green salad supplies and frozen vegetables on hand. Below is a recent recipe we had recently and loved. I roasted Brussels sprouts and butternut squash to accompany the pork.

Spiced Apple Pork Chops

Adapted from Oxmoor House

Yield: 4 servings


  • 4 center-cut pork chops, bone-in or boneless
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon canola oil
  • Cooking spray, preferably canola or olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 4-5 oz dried apples


  1. Sprinkle pork with salt and pepper. Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add pork to pan; cook 3 minutes on each side or until browned. Transfer pork to a slow cooker coated with cooking spray, reserving drippings in pan. Reduce heat to medium. Add onion to skillet and sauté 3 minutes or until tender. Stir in broth, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Stir in cinnamon, cloves and ginger. Remove pan from heat.
  2. Add apples to slow cooker; pour onion mixture over apples. Cover and cook on low for 3 to 3 1/2 hours or until tender. Serve pork chops with apple mixture and a side of vegetables.


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Kate Sayre

Kate Sayre is a Registered Dietitian who counsels clients through her private practice and works in the Department of Nutrition at UNC. On the 1st and 15th of every month, she guest blogs here. 
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