It’s a brisk 25 degrees out, and you’ve just loaded onto the chair lift after taking your first turns down the slopes. Your kid or friend announces, “I’m starving!” You didn’t really think about eating as you drove to the ski area, donned all that ski gear, and finally started skiing. The last thing you want to do is go back to the lodge to eat after all the effort you’ve put into actually getting on the slopes. But come to think of it, you’re a little hungry, too.
In this post, learn how your body reacts to cold temperatures, why you need to stay fueled with calories while doing outdoor winter activities, and one of the best snacks to bring when you’re headed out to the snow.
Being Cold Demands More Energy
Outside explains that your body craves more calories when you’re cold, noting that the simple act of shivering can burn up to 400 calories an hour. Livestrong echoes up the notion that being cold uses a lot of energy. They state that shivering burns up to five times more calories than you would normally burn.
You’ve probably noticed that you get hungrier when you’re out in colder weather, when you’re downhill skiing, snowboarding, cross-country skiing, snow-shoeing, or just building a snowman. That’s why it’s important that you regularly fuel your body with calories when engaging in these activities. Eating is like throwing a log on the fire—the calories from food give your body energy to burn to stay warm.
Snow Snacks Have to Be Different
Packing a sandwich, apple, or some other more traditional food or snack just doesn’t cut it with snow activities. The idea of taking off your gloves or mittens for the time it takes to eat these items means your fingers will be icicles by the time you’ve finished eating them. And a spectacular wipeout that leaves you sprawled on the snow makes that sandwich you made a few hours ago unrecognizable as food and the apple bruised and unappealing.
What foods are ideal for cold weather activities then? You need a snack that fits easily in your jacket pocket or a small backpack. It should also offer energy from good calories rather than relying mostly on sugar for quick energy like power bars do. In addition, you should be able to eat it quickly so that you don’t expose bare hands to the elements for too long.
Trail Mix Fits the Bill
GORP—often believed to be the acronym for “good old raisins and peanuts”—has long been a go-to source for quick energy while hiking. It’s not such a bad source of energy for cold weather sport, too.
GORP offers protein from the peanuts and quick energy from the raisins. While the energy from raisins does indeed come from sugar, raisins also provide fiber, Vitamin B6, iron, potassium and other nutrients. Plus, you can easily store it in a small bag that fits easily in a small pocket of a jacket or backpack. You don’t have to eat it all at once—just grab a handful or two quickly to supply your body with some quick calories and protein, stuff the bag back in your pocket, and get back to having fun.
These days, GORP belongs to the bigger family of snack foods known as trail mix. People often add chocolate and any number of different dried fruits and nuts to make a custom mix. To stay away from relying on sugar for quick energy, leave out the chocolate and opt for dried fruits that offer additional nutritional value.
A Quick Mix You Can Easily Make
Although you can buy pre-made trail mixes, either packaged or even in the bulk food section of your grocery store, you can easily make your own by picking and choosing from the various options for fruits, nuts or other items available from those same bulk food bins. If you have kids, let them get in on the fun by picking and choosing what to add to the mix. You really can’t go wrong.
Here’s a quick recipe you can try that’s super tasty that shows just a few of the different options you have for making a trail mix. Start by adding a half cup of each ingredient, but if you like, increase or decrease the amounts (or even leave out or add an ingredient) based on your preferences.
Mia’s Cross-country Ski Trail Mix
- Dried coconut flakes
- Shelled pistachios
- Toasted almond slivers
- Dried cranberries
- Broken up yogurt pretzel pieces
- Broken up regular pretzel pieces
1. Put all ingredients in a large zip lock bag or container with lid and shake to mix
2. Pack in smaller bags
3. Grab a handful and eat when hungry
What snacks do you prepare for outdoor activities? Do you have a favorite trail mix to share? If so, please do so in the comments below. And when you do get back home from all your fun in the snow, warm up from the inside with a big bowl of this recipe for One-pot Tender Beef and Vegetable Soup. Make it the night before you go skiing—you’ll be so glad you did!