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Warm Up and Recover with Cold Weather Snacks

Some of the toughest workouts are the ones outside, in the cold. For the rower, being on the water can add insult to injury. Cold and wet—ouch!

The last thing cold athletes want to do is eat cold food. A hot shower and hot food is just what the dietitian orders! If you bring your own food, a good thermos will be an investment you’ll use over and over. Make sure you warm it up, which can be done with boiling water, before placing hot food in. If you have a recovery station in your boathouse (a place stocked with protein- and carbohydrate-rich foods for the post-workout recovery phase), invest in a Crockpot to keep food warm for the whole team.

Try these hot options to keep you warm (or help you get there faster), while assisting with muscle recovery after a workout:

Hot Chocolate: There is research on the benefits of using chocolate milk as a post-exercise drink to help with the recovery of muscles. Protein repairs damaged tissue in the muscle and carbohydrate replenishes the glycogen (an important energy source for exercising muscles) that is used during exercise. The temperature of the milk is not a factor, so heat up some chocolate milk or make hot chocolate using milk. Milk and non-dairy substitutes like soymilk are the key to muscle recovery, as they contain protein and carbohydrate. Watch out for rice milk or almond milk—they tend to not be good sources of protein. Ovaltine and Instant Breakfast are other options to mix with milk and heat up.

Chili or Stew: Hot soup is in order after a freezing workout, but the broth-based version won’t help much with the job of recovery. Chili or stew are great options as they can be made with beans or meat (protein), loads of veggies (immune boosting properties) and other carbohydrate sources like rice, noodles or barley.

Bean Soup: Canned or homemade, heat them up and throw in a warm thermos. They are loaded with carbohydrate, fiber, and protein.

Hot Cereal: Oatmeal, steel cut oats, barley, grits, Cream of Wheat, Grape Nuts or any other grain-based cereal, made with milk or a protein-rich non-dairy alternative and served hot, is a nourishing recovery snack after a cold workout. Throw in some flax meal and top off with jam, fresh fruit, or dried fruit and nuts and you have a stick-to-your-ribs post-workout solution.

Meat: Bring a thermos of heated ground beef or shredded pork, chicken or beef. Add it to a whole grain bun or bread and chow down.

Beans: Baked beans, pinto beans, refried beans—heat them up and pop them in a warmed thermos. Tote some tortillas along and slap on some beans for a quick snack.

Scrambled Eggs: Scramble eggs at home and place them in a warmed thermos—they’ll still be warm when practice is over. For added protein, top them with shredded cheese. Eat them rolled into a tortilla or alongside a bagel.

What’s your favorite hot snack after a cold morning on the water?

Jill Castle is a registered dietitian nutritionist and childhood nutrition expert. She is the co-author of Fearless Feeding: How to Raise Healthy Eaters from High Chair to High School and creator of Just The Right Byte, a childhood nutrition blog. She lives with her husband and four children in New Canaan, CT. Questions? Contact Jill at

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