Feb 28 2010

Gluten Free skiing and snowboarding

Feeling light and gluten free

When I first started this blog I choose the name Gluten Free Snowboarder more as a joke than anything else. But because the internet has become everyone’s first choice for research, I have been getting a lot of searches for information about gluten free eating at ski resorts as well as emails about specific areas. And since I am a gluten free practitioner I have done a lot of research and thought I’d share what I know in this post.

Not a lot of restaurant choices out here...

Since my gluten allergy was diagnosed 2 1/2 years ago I’ve seen a tremendous growth in information and food choices for those dealing with these issues. That said, ski areas are a particularly hard place to eat gluten free as the standard pizza, burger and cookie meal doesn’t work for those who can’t eat wheat. The other big challenge is that the food delivery crew often has very little knowledge about what’s in the prepared items like soups and chilies. What I generally find is that the bigger and nicer the ski resort, the more likely they’ll have items marked gluten free and know what ingredients are in their food. As an example, earlier this year, I was pleased to note that the on mountain cafeterias at Beaver Creek now indicate which items on the menu boards are gluten free. Haven’t seen this much elsewhere, but once one area starts something new, others tend to follow.

Lunchtime in the backcountry - Great Canadian Heliskiing

When I’m on a heli or cat trip , the chefs at the lodge take good care of me, but the rest of the time I’m on my own so have learned to bring food with me and always pack a big cooler for multiday road trips. Let’s start with breakfast. Oatmeal, that mainstay of ski trip early morning fueling, can be a tricky one as while oats themselves do not contain gluten, they are often contaminated in the harvesting and packaging process. If you want to be sure you’re totally gluten free I recommend eco-planet organics hot cereal which comes in three tasty flavors. If granola is your thing, I’m a big fan of Bakery on Main and in particular their Extreme Fruit and Nut Granola. As far as baked goods and breads go, I think you’re much better off if you can find a local bakery that produces gluten free products – I’m fortunate to live in Boulder, Colorado where there’s numerous options but some of the best stuff I’ve seen comes from Outside the Breadbox based in Colorado Springs, which makes great breads, bagels (!) and pies among other products.

If you’re fortunate enough to have a Whole Foods near you, they have their own line of gluten free products ranging from muffins to pie crusts and seem to be adding other gluten free items on almost a daily basis. In the last month I have seen two new product lines (both Colorado based so don’t know if they can be found outside this area) that have changed my buying habits. Canyon Bakehouse makes four types of breads that are sandwich worthy along with some Cranberry Crunch Muffins that are solid enough to survive in a ski jacket pocket. The other new noteworthy addition is the Udi’s line of gluten free breads and blueberry muffins. Whole Foods also now carries the very tasty line of cookies and brownies from the Wow Baking Company, definitely worth checking out if you have a bit of a sweet tooth.

Before all these products were available locally, I used to do a lot of shopping on line at glutenfree.com which carries most of the Glutino and Gluten Free Pantry lines. You can find a lot of these products in you local store but some of the more esoteric ones like my personal favorite, premium Gluten Free English Muffins, I have only seen on-line. One of my other Glutino favorites for skiing is their line of breakfast bars which make a good portable snack for the hill. Of all the online sites, this one is the most extensive and could be your one stop shop if you don’t have a local store that carries these kinds of products.

One other company I have to mention is Pamela’s Products. They were one of the first companies to produce gluten free items and have in my opinion make some of the best products on the market particularly their cookies and baking mixes. Their baking and pancake mix can be used to easily make numerous breakfast items including delicious pancakes and all sorts of baked goods as the mix includes those unique ingredients (like xantham gum) necessary to successfully bake gluten free items.

Who needs food when you've been eating powder all day...

In general, my gluten free ski plan involves eating breakfast at home, making a sandwich for lunch and hoping the resort I go to has some sort soup that doesn’t have flour in it. In the meantime, I carry lots of snacks, both solid and liquid (can’t beat those Naked Juices or Odwalla Smoothies for thirst quenching and instant energy).  For dinner, there’s always meat (or tofu if you prefer) and potatoes and if you like ethnic food, you’ll quickly learn that Mexican, Thai and Indian food all can be thoroughly enjoyed without involving any flour. As for me, I’d gladly eat cold rice and beans every day as long as powder is the main course but fortunately for me, these days I can have my gluten free cake and eat it too…


Dec 31 2009

Better late than never…

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The return of the happy camper

Between my shoulder surgery and the lack of snow my riding season had gotten off to a very slow start. Here it was the last day of December and I had only one trip to Wolf Creek and a day at Eldora to show for my powder obsession. Pretty pathetic. I decided I was going to go New Years Eve no matter what the conditions although I had been eyeing Thursday as a powder day all week.   5:30 am – the alarm goes off and immediately checked the reports. 13″ at Beaver Creek (17″ in 48) – oh baby, oh baby, oh baby.  Jump out of bed, skip the shower, on the road by 6:00  – Beaver Parking lot at 8:00. Then the gods smiled on me by having my friend Jocko give me a ride to the lifts sparing me the shuttle madness and allowing me to eat breakfast. On the lift at 8:30 – skiing knee deep by 8:45 – Life is Good.

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Behold the virgin powder - Grouse Mountain 12/31/09 8:48am

I’ve always liked the Beav. Long sustained steeps, great trees and lots of powder when the weather gods bless. Today was one of those days – I headed straight to Grouse Mountain, a great combination of long consistently pitched runs serviced by a high speed quad that gets you 2000+ vertical in 5.5 minutes.  Skiied (I know I’m a snowboarder) my favorite run Falcon Park 5 times before I realized it was closed then added two more for good measure when they opened it to the general public at 10:00. By 10:30 I had 8 runs and at least 15k+ of vertical – those are heli like numbers – Life is Good.

1/2 hour later...

1/2 hour later...

I spent the rest of the day checking out the trees which the Beav has a ton of. There are those marked for the public like Stickline and those that are not and rarely skiied. Today very few were in any of the trees as while they were not necessarily closed (no ropes) only the real junkies (which for better or worse includes me) were venturing in. We were amply rewarded for our efforts and as long as you didn’t get too low on the mountain it was eminently rideable. Had to take the board off a couple of times but spent the rest of the time floating along in sheer bliss. Yes, Life is Good.

the view looking up

love those aspens

Around 2:00 the risk/reward equation started shifting in the wrong direction so decided to count my blessing s and call it a day even though there was still tons of untracked to be had – no sense being greedy. All in all today was one of those days that reminded why I spend so much time trying to catch the elusive powder train. Because when you do catch it, it’s about as much fun as you can have with your clothes on. Happy New Year’s everyone and here’s hoping we make some powder turns together in 2010!