Carbohydrates for cross-country skiing

Story by Chef David “Smitty” Smith  ·  

This is the time for many of us to click into our cross-country skis, slip into the woods and enjoy peaceful solitude. Cross-country skiing is a great way to catch up on exercise missed during the busy work period. It also is a great way to burn off extra calories that accumulated during the holidays.

Cross-country skiing is one of the best ways to get an all-around, great workout. Before I was a chef, I was a physical education and health teacher. I specialized in kinesiology and exercise physiology. I loved figuring out the way the body worked and how to maximize its full potential.


For cross-country skiing, you want to be sure you have plenty of energy and a high carbohydrate meal will help supply that boost.


Downhill skiing is a lot of fun. You might think the leg burn and lack of breath you get after a run provides a good workout. Although you are getting some exercise, downhill skiing is not really an efficient way to get maximum physical conditioning.

Cross-country skiing, however, is a different game. Even with great technique, the entire body is working and the result is a total workout. There must be a much more pronounced push off of the foot to ensure the waxed ski sets to become a solid platform to push off of. At the same time, the arms are working to help propel you forward as you push off the poles.

For this type of total workout, you want to be sure you have plenty of energy and a high carbohydrate meal will help supply that boost. It is much easier for the body to convert carbs into energy than protein. There was what we called the carbohydrate overload system that was good to get the energy level way up for an event. Do not eat too many carbs for four or five days and then on the day before your event, go total carbs. This would saturate the system temporarily with the needed carbs to get you going.

Now, there are so many diets out there that some people are afraid to get near a potato or plate of pasta. But, if you are going out on a cross-country ski trail, you should end up burning that meal off anyway.

When thinking about a high-carbohydrate meal, pasta is near the top of the list. Besides, everyone loves a big plate of spaghetti. Pasta is so versatile that there is almost certainly one way or another to prepare it to satisfy anyone. There is ravioli, tortellini, spaghetti or any number of other pasta shapes and styles.

The sauce is what will make the dish. Here again, there are many different possibilities: tomato sauce, clam sauce or even a bit of butter or olive oil with herbs. All are all pretty common sauces or toppings.

Here is a pasta sauce that is easy and can be made in less time than it takes the pasta to cook once you cook off the bacon. Carbonnara is similar to an alfredo sauce. It is a white sauce that uses bacon and prosciutto that combine to give it a nice smoky flavor. Usually served over linguini or fettuccini, it is good over the other pastas, too. So before your next cross-country ski trip, give it a try and enjoy.

Carbonnara
4 oz pasta, cooked
1-2 pieces bacon, cooked & crumbled
1-2 pieces prosciutto, cut into pieces
2 oz. white wine
4 oz. heavy cream
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/8 to ¼ C parmesan cheese
Course ground pepper and salt to taste
1 T butter

Sauté the garlic in the butter and then add the white wine. Let the wine reduce by half and add the cream, bacon and prosciutto along with a little pepper. Let this reduce and when it starts to thicken add the pasta. Stir in the parmesan and season with a little more pepper and salt if needed.

Smitty is a personal chef specializing in dinner parties, cooking classes and special events. Trained under Master Chef Anton Flory at Top Notch Resort in Stowe, Vt., Smitty is known for his creative use of fresh ingredients. To read archived copies of Smitty’s column, visit chefsmitty.com or TheTahoeWeekly.com. Contact him at tmmsmitty@gmail.com or (530) 412-3598.

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Chef Smitty
Smitty is a personal chef specializing in dinner parties, cooking classes and special events. Trained under Master Chef Anton Flory at Top Notch Resort in Stowe, Vt., Smitty is known for his creative use of fresh ingredients. Smitty has been teaching skiing at Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows for more than 26 years each winter, and spends his summers working for High Sierra Waterski School since 2000. Smitty has been writing his chef column for Tahoe Weekly since 2005.