A memorable day in the mountains is like nothing else – stunning views, the anticipation of après-ski festivities, and the unbeatable sensation of gliding down or breaking trail in that fluffy, white stuff in the crisp mountain air.
Whether you’re a hard-core powder chaser, a cross-country skier, or a snowshoe junkie, you’ll want to make sure you have enough fuel in your system to last any action-packed day. Nutrition and hydration outdoors often get overlooked. When you work up a big appetite, it’s too easy to hit up the lodge for beer and a greasy burger, but if you want to maintain energy for the remainder of the afternoon, it’s better to plan ahead.
To help attack a day through any terrain, just remember: big breakfast, lots of snacks, energy boosting lunch, après ski protein, and hydration, hydration, hydration. You’ve heard it time and time again — breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Start the day strong with a full tank of gas by eating carbohydrates, lean proteins and whole grains.
“I’ve never been a huge breakfast guy, but on a ski day, I know I need it to jump start my metabolism and energize my brain and muscles before tackling the mountain,” explains Chef Michael Lehmkuhl, culinary director of the Banff Hospitality Collective. “I stay away from heavy food to avoid sluggishness,” he says. “A bowl of steel cut oatmeal with maple syrup and fresh berries is a good hearty option. I also love “toad in a hole” eggs using a good sourdough topped off with sliced avocado and radish.”
If you just don’t do breakfast, smoothies and fresh juice are also great ways to easily build some much-needed carb calories. Continual grazing is also a good thing. Munch on carbohydrates (pasta, fruit, bread) and light protein snacks (nuts, meat, dairy) to help you recover and minimize muscle damage after a vigorous mountain workout. Load your pockets with easy-to-carry refueling snacks like granola or energy bars, fresh fruit, yogurt and trail mix with dried fruit.
Even on epic snow days when you don’t want to waste a moment, lunch is a must. After hours of exertion, your body needs both a physical and nutritional break. To avoid the post-lunch slump, keep it light with a balanced mix of carbohydrates (fruit, pasta salad), lean proteins (turkey chili, cheese, pulses), and healthy fat (avocado, nuts). Beans, chickpeas and lentils are excellent sources of energy building protein, and much easier for your body to break down than heavy red meats. Even consider making a mixed bean salad the night before.
“For snacks, I pack my homemade granola bars and Ritter Sport chocolate,” says Lehmkuhl. “When it comes time for lunch, I might pack a small charcuterie (speck, dry cured sausages, prosciutto), some nice hard cheeses, and a demi baguette. If I’m going all out, nothing pairs better with beautiful snowcapped mountains and bitter cold than caviar with blinis, cucumber, and crème fraiche – I especially love salmon and trout roe, and Northern Divine Canadian sturgeon caviar,” he adds.
Finally, when your legs feel like jelly and you call it a day, there’s nothing like prying off those boots, removing your toque and goggles, and settling in for a celebratory beverage. Après-ski rituals typically involve booze and hitting up a restaurant in the village. But before you jump in that hot tub, eat some postworkout protein snacks to help your body recover, decrease soreness, rebuild muscles and put you in tiptop shape for another active day.
“Après-ski beverages are part of winding down. I relax with a glass of Amaro, a bitter, aromatic spirit to warm my cold bones,” Lehmkuhl explains. “I also love warm cocktails like the Canadian classic, Cougar Milk*, and a crisp glass of white wine — cold climate wines just taste better in cold climates, like a Chablis or a crisp chardonnay.”
See here for an easy, healthy recipe for Homemade Granola Bars