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Nutrition

Fuel Your Body Like a World Cup Ski Racer with These Protein-Rich Recipes

Try these recipes featuring foods that build muscle and promote recovery to help you ski bell to bell all season long.

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Skiing is a workout. Think about it, you’re basically squatting and lunging all day—at elevation, mind you. Whether you’re a recreational skier who only hits the hill 10 days a year or a diehard up for dawn patrols, skiing saps the body of energy and leaves the you feeling depleted.

What your body wants after a day on the hill is food to replenish those energy stores. You may be craving chili cheese fries or pizza, but that’s not what your body wants—that’s what you want.

According to Allen Tran, former High Performance Chef and Dietician for the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association, your body wants foods packed with protein and healthy fats. Foods that will not only satisfy hunger, but promote muscle and joint recovery.

“Protein supports your muscles and your exercise gains,” Tran explains. “So making sure you have good amounts of protein at every meal and in your recovery snacks is important. That’s especially true if you’re an older athlete, since your body becomes less efficient at absorbing protein as you age.”

And to be clear, the pepperoni on that slice of pizza doesn’t count as protein.

“Fried foods, refined carbs like white bread and pastries, and processed meats like hot dogs and sausage increase inflammation and hamper recovery,” says Tran.

Related: Learn how to train and fuel like a pro skier 

So if you struggle with stiff knees after a day on the hill, skip the après pizza and whip up one of Tran’s nutritious recipes instead. Each is full of healthy fats and packed with protein to give your body what it wants and needs after a long day on the slopes.

Maple Mustard Salmon Foil Packets with Apples and Brussels Sprouts

Benefit: Salmon is rich in omega-3 fats, the best kind of fat for promoting joint health

This recipe relies on the same cooking method you may be familiar with from camping trips, says Tran. Often called “hobo packets,” you load up your ingredients on a large sheet of aluminum foil, fold and crimp the edges to hold in steam, and cook it over the fire. Serve with your favorite carb, like rice, quinoa, or wheat dinner rolls.

Ingredients (yields 5 servings)

  • 2 lbs salmon, divided into 5 6-oz portions
  • 3 medium apples, cored and thinly sliced
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 cups Brussels sprouts, ends trimmed and cut into quarters

Glaze

  • 3 tbsp maple syrup (or honey)
  • 3 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400˚
  2. Mix the glaze ingredients together in a small bowl
  3. Lay out one sheet of aluminum foil for each diner and assemble the following in each:
  4. Place salmon on foil as bottom layer
  5. Drizzle about 1 tbsp of glaze on each piece of salmon
  6. Add apples and onion on top
  7. Surround fish with Brussels sprouts (about ¾ cup per packet)
  8. Fold foil in half to start your packets, then fold in edges, then fold over edges again to seal packet
  9. Place finished packets in the oven, evenly spaced across all available racks
  10. Bake for 20 min., remove from oven, and serve immediately (be careful of the steam when opening each packet)

Healthy Tuna Salad

Benefit: Lots of protein, less fat than traditional tuna salad

“This recipe requires a little prep work ahead of time, but it results in much-improved flavor,” says Tran. “Most of the mayo is swapped out with Greek yogurt, so there’s more protein and less fat. Plus, canned tuna is one of the best sources of protein per dollar spent, so this recipe is great for the budget-conscious skier.”

Ingredients (yields 5 servings)

  • 5 7-oz. cans of tuna in water, drained
  • ½ cup onion, diced
  • ½ cup celery, diced small
  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • 1 cup olive mayo
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 apples, cored and diced
  • ½ cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
  • ⅓ tsp black pepper

Directions

  1. Squeeze as much water out of the tuna as possible. The less moisture, the better (the tuna will look somewhat crumbly).
  2. Evenly mix together tuna and veggies
  3. Add soy sauce and mix evenly
  4. Place the mixture in a strainer nested over a large bowl to catch excess liquid. Put the whole strainer-bowl setup in the fridge to marinate and drain overnight. The next day, discard excess liquid.
  5. Squeeze out as much moisture from refrigerated mix as possible.
  6. Add mayo, yogurt, apples, walnuts, and black pepper. Mix evenly. Serve as a sandwich on whole wheat bread or wrap.

Allen Tran was the U.S. Ski and Snowboard’s high-performance dietitian from 2013–2020, where he was in charge of fueling pro skiers and snowboarders as well as teaching the athletes how to apply proper sports nutrition to training and competition. He now serves as dietitian and executive chef for the Boston Red Sox.

More Fuel for Skiers

Best Pocket Snacks for Skiers
5 Nutrition Tips for Long Days on the Hill
Homemade Energy Snack Recipe