I’ve going on ski vacations to Steamboat with my family for…more than 15 years now? (YEESH when I did I get so old?!) And I look forward to them every time. Oh how I’m always sad to leave this place! Even though I was sick the entire time during this last trip out to Steamboat (which made it even harder to leave!), I always get a ton of questions about how to plan a healthy vacation and how to stay “on track” when on vacation so you don’t feel like total crap when you go home, so I’ve been working on this post with a bunch of Healthy Ski Vacation Tips for you guys! Hope you enjoy!
Before the Trip:
Figure out your accommodations.
If you’re going to be hitting the slopes or other activities, I highly recommend staying somewhere that has its own kitchen (or at least a small kitchenette) with a refrigerator, so you can prepare to-go lunches to take with you, and make a healthy, filling breakfast at your place before you hit the slopes for the day! This will also save you SO MUCH $$ rather than eating out for every lunch and dinner on your trip!
FYI: there’s a free bus that takes you between the slopes, condos/townhouses/hotels, and downtown (where all the restaurants, shops and grocery stores are), and it’s pretty easy to get a shuttle from the airport. So you really don’t need to rent a car!
Pro tip: buy your ski tickets online IN ADVANCE for 15% off!
Do some google-ing/yelp-ing for restaurants and a grocery store. These are some of my favorites with great gluten-free/paleo options:
Mexican/Tacos: Salt & Lime. If you like margaritas and/or tacos, this is your spot (and we’re probably best friends). Very gluten-free friendly. Wish I could’ve tried the margaritas/other cocktails but I was really sick when we went, so I’ll just have to go back and try them! Had the Durango bowl – DELICIOUS. Family loved the tacos (which can all be made gluten-free with corn tortillas), especially the bison, chicken tinga, and carne asada. Mom loved the enchiladas. Great happy hour specials too!
American/Sports Bar: Carl’s Tavern. Great gluten-free friendly place to grab burgers or upscale american food, but it gets crowded fast, especially on game days! The rotisserie chicken is bomb, and so is the lamb burger!
Upscale American/Small Plates: Laundry. Try to make a reservation here ASAP. It’s so freaking good, and so worth it. Their Brussels Sprouts hash was literally life-changing for me. A recipe re-make is coming soon for that one! The Pow Pow shrimp are SO good, as is the brisket.
Steakhouse: The Ore House at Pine Grove Restaurant. My family has been coming to this place since I was little. Now that I’ve grown up (and discovered I had celiac a few years back), I’m so grateful they have an entire gluten-free menu, which includes almost everything off the regular menu. Some favorites: Chipotle-Raspberry Salmon, Steak Tips, and all the steaks (obviously).
Italian: Mambo Italiano. This is a locals’ favorite spot, and you can substitute (super fresh, not sure if they make it in-house or not) gluten-free pasta for pretty much any of the pasta dishes. They’re also super knowledgeable and careful about celiac, which is great for me!
Southern food: Low Country Kitchen has gluten-free markings on their menu so you know exactly what you can eat without hesitation, and the servers are very knowledgeable. My family loved this place and all the non-gluten-free options too, like the fried pickles and fried chicken & biscuits. Highly recommend the lamb shank, jambalaya, and shrimp or vegetables & grits.
Cafe for casual lunch/breakfast: Rootz Organic Cafe & Shop. Tons of gluten-free, vegetarian & vegan options. I’ve actually never been here because we’re always skiing during the day, but a friend who is both gluten-free and vegan highly recommended this place! They have breakfast options, smoothies, juice, sandwiches, delicious-looking bowls (even a paleo bowl!) the whole (café) 9 yards.
Grocery stores: Natural Grocers is a great option downtown. If you don’t need a specialty store, City Market or Safeway, which are off the main strip.
Pack healthy travel snacks
Make sure you have stuff for the plane (or car ride, if you’re driving) because you never know when you’ll get stuck in an airport, or have a delayed flight resulting in zero time to grab food between connections. A couple things I usually bring: jerky, bars, Superfood Trail Mix, Vital Proteins Collagen and Activated Charcoal (in case of accidental cross-contamination and gluten ingestion – EEK). I’m going to be doing a whole post about this topic alone soon, so stay tuned for that!
If you’re going to be bringing your lunch with you, make sure to pack some tupperware and resealable bags!
Plan your indulgences and splurges.
No, I don’t mean you have to pick the exact date, restaurant, and hour you’re going to indulge in your favorite chocolate cake from your favorite restaurant. What I do mean is to allow yourself to have some indulgences here and there. Don’t go into a vacation saying you’re “not allowed” to have X and X and X or dessert at any restaurant, because then you’ll only want it that much more. At the same time, if you say “oh f*ck it, it’s vacation” and eat dessert for every lunch and dinner of vacation, you’re prooobably not going to be feeling too good about yourself when you go home, leading to the inevitable “omg how did I gain so much weight on vacation?!” trap.
It also helps to decide before the trip what kinds of things you’d like to indulge on. For me, gluten is ALWAYS off the table (hello, celiac!), but I know I feel just fine if I eat a little extra rice, potatoes, gluten-free goodies, and even oats that I don’t normally eat at home. That being said, if I do that and add a little too much dairy here and there, plus things like corn chips/popcorn and beans (like hummus!) to the mix, and I feel like crap. And no one wants to feel like crap on vacation! Decide what you can get away with, without feeling like sh*t. It is vacation, after all, and you should enjoy yourself however you can!
WHEN YOU GET THERE
Head to the grocery store!
Remember that grocery store close to your place (with the kitchen!) you looked up? One of the first things my family does after we get settled into our place is to head to the grocery store. We stock up on necessities for breakfast, lunches to pack for the slopes, and some snacks to tide us over between getting home from the slopes and going to dinner. I never feel like I eat enough vegetables on vacation, so I always make sure to grab a couple green juices to drink with breakfast each day to start off on a good foot!
Breakfast ideas: eggs, bacon/sausage, avocado, fruit, green juice! Bonus: restaurant portions are usually HUGE, so save some of your dinner and scramble those veggies or meat in eggs the next morning for breakfast!
Lunch ideas: this can get a little tricky, if you’re paleo/gluten-free. Sandwiches are out, real food is in. A super simple idea is to pick up a rotisserie chicken, some veggies, and some sweet potatoes or rice, and bake/prepare those in advance. DO A MINI MEAL PREP! It only takes a few minutes to chop everything up and throw it in the oven (here’s where that kitchenette comes in!), and then quickly throw together tupperware lunches! Buy a spice blend and some hot sauce. Bring a fork along with your tupperware. There are some pretty good (gluten-free!) options on the mountain too like soups and salads, at Rendezvous Saddle and Ragnar’s!
PRO TIP: Usually on ski trips you won’t have to worry about carrying a cooler with you – it’s colder outside than it is in your refrigerator anyway! So your lunch will be fine for a few hours when you’re hitting the slopes in the morning.
Après-ski snacks: I love snacking on Nut Thins or carrots and salsa or guacamole, or a bar/trail mix that I brought along on the trip. Chips and salsa is my family’s JAM. You don’t need to go crazy here, you’re going to dinner soon, after all!
Make some reservations for dinner
The popular places fill up fast, so check those places you bookmarked and call them up! When you’re eating out, think VEGGIES FIRST. Like I said before, I feel like I never eat enough veggies on vacation. Plus, if you eat your veggies first, who cares if you indulge a little on those fries or dessert? You won’t feel as compelled to eat the entire thing if you don’t want to, since you’ll have eaten most of your other food first. It’s vacation, after all! #treatyoself. #butnotsomuchthatyoufeellikecrap.
Eat well, ski like crazy, and HAVE FUN!!
And yes, this was totally on our Christmas card one year. You’re welcome.
What are your favorite healthy ski vacation tips? Leave them in the comments!