Slopeside Substitutions: Healthy Alternatives to Our Go-To Comfort Foods
Any skier or snowboarder knows the importance of slope-side meals. After spending hours on the chilly slopes, it feels amazing to find respite in the ski lodge with a nice warm meal. Warm foods and drinks are often most appealing because of the frigid temperatures all winter athletes endure when they are competing outside. There’s nothing like warming up your hands with a warm cup of hot chocolate, or filling your stomach with piping hot pizza. While these warm foods are oh-so comforting, they are not very healthy. Although a plate of cheese fries and gravy sounds like the perfect solution for a shivering body, the enormous amount of “bad” fats and carbohydrates will wreak havoc on your body, both short term and long term.
First off, carbohydrate packed meals can make you feel drowsy. Have you ever experienced a “post lunch crash” where you suddenly get tired after eating lunch? This can occur if you consume a lot of carbohydrates. There is an amino acid, called tryptophan, which our body produces to cause sleepiness. Carbohydrates make tryptophan more accessible to our brain, which then induces drowsiness (National Sleep Foundation). Therefore, any meals loaded with carbohydrates (pizza, pasta, fried foods, etc.) will probably make you feel a bit sleepy. If you have another race to compete in, this is the last thing you want to happen! On a more serious note, eating our favorite comfort foods regularly can have long-term affects as well.
The two types of “bad” fats that are often found in the aforementioned ski lodge comfort foods are saturated fats and trans fats. Both of these can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease and type two diabetes because they increase your unhealthy (LDL) cholesterol levels (Mayo Clinic). These are serious diseases that have huge impacts on an individual’s life, so it is smart to make changes in eating habits to try and avoid them. Therefore, below is a list of warm, comforting, and HEALTHY food and drink options to help make healthy eating a habit. These recipes and ideas are realistic to make at home and bring to the ski/snowboard event. Not only will you be doing your body a favor, but avoiding purchasing ski lodge food will save you money as well!
Healthy Comfort Food Substitutions:
Green tea and honey:
Hot chocolate seems to be the go-to drink of choice on the ski slopes. While it is a nice treat every once in a while, drinking it consistently is not the healthiest choice. If you are craving something sweet, that will also warm you up, green tea and honey is a great option. Whether you pack it in a thermos or purchase it at the lodge, green tea provides a great source of antioxidants while honey gives it a natural sugary kick.
Thermos meals (soup, leftovers):
Thermoses are great for packing warm meals. They keep your food warm while you are competing on the slopes. Some ideas for thermos meals are:
If purchasing canned soups, look for ones that are low in sodium (less than 350 mg)
Look out for BPA! Bisphenol A (BPA) is a harmful toxin found in the plastic lining of many canned soup containers. Therefore, it is safest to purchase soups that come in a box or have clearly labeled “BPA-free” containers (mensfitness.com).
Less is more (in terms of ingredients). Pick the soups that have the shortest list of ingredients on the label.
Leftover food from the night before is also a good option for a slope-side meal. Whether it’s stew, pasta, casserole, etc. pack it into your thermos and you’re good to go!
**Click the link to see an example of a perfect to-go thermos for the lodge**
Whole grain English muffin pizza:
Sometimes it is just too hard to resist a slice of hot pizza. There is something about the melted cheese of savory goodness that makes it one of the best comfort foods after hours spent in the cold outdoors. For the days when your pizza craving is uncontrollable, there is in fact a healthier option that is just as gooey and delicious! Instead of buying a slice at the lodge, which most likely consists of white dough, you can bring your own English muffin pizza. Here’s how to do it:
Use whole grain English muffins (make sure the first ingredient is whole wheat), and cut them in half.
Spread tomato sauce on top of each half of English muffin.
Sprinkle cheese on top.
Add your favorite veggies.
Place in toaster oven until cheese is melted and bread is crispy brown.
Most ski lodges have microwaves, so pack the English muffin pizzas in a Tupper-ware container and simply heat them up at the lodge.
For more information regarding nutrition and sleep, see here: https://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-topics/food-and-sleep
For more tips regarding canned soup nutrition, see here: http://www.mensfitness.com/nutrition/what-to-eat/nutrition-qa-is-canned-soup-really-that-bad-for-me