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Après without guilt this winter

Four dietician-approved foods to fuel your body after a day on the mountain
APRÈS APPETITES The key to a healthy après meal is striking a balance between carbs and protein to help recharge tired muscles after a long day on the mountain. Shutterstock Photo

It's always a challenge to maintain a healthy, balanced diet, but especially so during après, that hallowed period of post-mountain bliss when the juicy cheeseburger or frosty pitcher of beer on the menu seems extra tantalizing, if not earned.

It's an attitude dietician Crystal Higgins regularly encounters among the weekend warriors she meets at her Vancouver office.

"I know a lot of people like to do après with beer and nachos and all of those fun things — who doesn't? — but ideally you want to get something that has about three to four parts carbs to one part protein," she explained.

Finding that balance is essential after a long day in the mountains and helps to refuel, repair and rehydrate weary muscles. Timing is key as well, Higgins said, as muscles are more responsive within the 30-minute window after exercise.

With that in mind, Higgins recommended a list of nutritional options that will help in recovery and get you back on the slopes in no time.

Chili topped with grated cheese and a whole wheat bun

Rich in protein, this après classic is also a great ski day lunch option that is packed with nutrients that help with recovery and will leave you feeling satisfied on a cold winter day.

"It's really high in fibre, so it's going to help sustain you over the afternoon and if you top it with a little cheddar cheese, you're getting a bit of extra calcium with that as well," Higgins said.

Chicken and vegetable stir fry over brown rice

Not the sexiest meal option for a pow day, but a stir fry offers a nice mix of carbohydrates and lean protein that is the perfect recipe for repairing muscles and staving off next-day soreness.

"This is not something that's available at all ski lodges but certainly Whistler has so many more healthier options now," Higgins said of Whistler Blackcomb's efforts to transform its on-mountain food and beverage options in recent years. "I remember when I was a kid skiing Grouse, it was pretty much burgers and hot dogs and more traditional pub-type fare."

Lentil soup or stew

Like chili, this is another hearty meal in a bowl that is high in protein and carbs, both of which are necessary for replenishing glycogen stores and repairing tired muscles. "This is a really great choice for people wanting to avoid meat or animal proteins and really load up on plant-based proteins, which reflects a huge trend right now for 2016: Alternating your protein sources and really thinking of where our proteins are coming from not only from a nutritional standpoint but from an environmental standpoint as well," said Higgins.

Chocolate milk or hot chocolate (and something a little stronger)

Along with striking the desired carb-protein balance, a typical glass of chocolate milk or hot cocoa is over 80 per cent water and contains electrolytes like potassium and sodium that help replenish what's lost in sweat. For the discerning skier, however, there are other more adult beverages to enjoy during après, and Higgins had some tips for those who choose to imbibe and unwind once the ski boots are off.

"I would say light beer is probably the best option because it's so hydrating," she said. "Something like straight-up martinis or spirits, I'd stay away from those unless they're mixed with a club soda or any sort of (low sugar) non-alcoholic beverage.

"Wine is nice as well but it's not going to be as hydrating as beer, so this is the one nod I'll give to beer over wine during après from a strict hydration standpoint. And believe it or not there's also some B vitamins in beer, so we could look at that positive as well."