When nature dumps feet of snow on you, your body needs serious fuel, and it’s time to break out the big guns. Shoveling snow is a great cardio workout. As is sledding, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and attempting to walk your 12-inch tall dog in 26 inches of show. For the sake of argument, we’ll pretend that wearing the same pair of yoga pants for three straight days and bitching endlessly about having cabin fever is also a workout of sorts.
Something about substantial snowfall triggers a craving for high-fat, high-sugar food made from highly refined starches: the opposite of all those clean eating resolutions we made not even 30 days ago. It’s like a blizzard suspends all of the rules for a few days. After exerting yourself heartily in the winter wonderland or binge-watching all eight seasons of Cheers, feed the ravenous beast inside you what it really wants. As scientifically determined by a bunch of snowbound people who responded to a Facebook queries, here are some of the top no-holds-barred foods to eat on snow days (bonus points if they’re pale and/or monochromatic). Because if not now, then when?
Pasta, pancetta, eggs, olive oil, parmesan. In its classic form, pasta carbonara is awesome because it involves zero vegetables. Don’t you dare sully the purity of our marvelous carbonara with peas, or even a fleck or parsley. You can always make a salad to serve on the side, but if the roads are certified impassable, a bottle of wine is even better.
Not arty/artisanal pizza—we are talking greasy, somewhat artless pizza, the kind that really hits the spot when you are drunk. Pizza delivery drivers across the blizzard-affected states, we hope people have been tipping you very, very well.
In the rugged and scenic Swiss Alps, cheese reigns king. Snow, skiing, and trekking in Heidi-like fashion are a close second. Add those things together and you have justification for the otherwise horrendous nutrition of cheese-and-bread fondue. The blue flames of a Sterno can make for a cozy night, so dust the cobwebs off your fondue set and have an impromptu fondue night.
Macaroni and Cheese
A buttery breadcrumb topping adds irresistible texture, and also more refined flour power. Make a béchamel sauce (thickened with a flour-and-butter roux) and you’re on the threshold of the Dairy Fat & White Flour Triple Crown.
Even when you’re using those no-boil noodles, this is one of the world’s classic pain-in-the-ass baked pasta dishes. But if you’re stuck inside, do you have a better way to kill a few hours?
Over-The-Top Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
Any grilled cheese sandwich counts, but if you want to go bonkers, the Italian take of mozzarella en carozza is like the classier love child of French toast, grilled cheese, and those lowbrow but satisfying fried mozzarella sticks you find at bar & grills. Or you can just unwrap a few slices of process cheese food and upgrade it with potato chips on the side (or on the sandwich itself).
Chili con Queso
Why wait for the Super Bowl to make this stuff? If you’re snowed in, yank the Velveeta out of your doomsday pantry, crack open a jar of Ro-Tel tomatoes, and Bob’s your uncle. Tear into a bag of corn chips for dipping and you have a gooey salt-lick of a meal that beats boring old nachos. It’s like white trash fondue!
This controversial, outlier chili beloved in the Queen City is fantastic in its own right, but when served as a “5-Way” (over spaghetti with beans, cheese, and diced onions), it’s a power-packed calorie bomb made for winter days. Gild the lily with some oyster crackers if there’s more snow in the forecast.
Spiritual kin to the 5-Way, Rochester’s traditional garbage plate takes basically every unhealthy food to ever emerge from the kitchen of a sleezy tavern and puts it on one single plate. Rochester is not known for mild winters, so you can trust its citizens for stick-to-you-ribs grub. Paste Food’s Trevor Courneen, a Rochester native, investigates the appeal of garbage plates here.
No, really. Amish people are hard workers who put in long days; if they don’t farm exclusively (as is increasingly the case), they often raise food on the side and work at a factory or do construction. In other words, these folks know how to burn calories, and their traditional fare shows it. Look at any Amish cookbook (anything by Marcia Adams is excellent) and you’ll encounter dozens of recipes perfectly suited for winter eating.
Cured pork products on the side are non-negotiable. Real maple syrup. Butter on top. For breakfast or dinner, or maybe even both. You can even make pancakes with snow—no kidding.
Burgers and Fries
Okay, so maybe you don’t have access to a chili parlor or an authentic Rochester garbage plate. If your local dive is open for business and you can get yourself there, a big juicy burger and a heap of fries will do the trick.
The state food of West Virginia does not mess around: cottony white bread spiraled with sliced pepperoni. Just about the most comforting food you can grab to take along as a snack, it fed generations of miners…and it will do a fine job of spiking your blood sugar and clogging your arteries in the middle of your gleeful sledding outing.
Obvious, but has to be mentioned. Raid your cupboards to see if you can spice it up with exciting add-ins.
Good, clean snow is a fabulous mixer for drinks. My favorite to make with snow is a booch-n-hooch: kombucha and moonshine, the yin and yang of clean and dirty eating all in one soothing beverage. After far too many days of cancelled school, I’ve really been enjoying these.
Main photo by Kyna Borlasa CC BY-ND