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From the Archives: 4 Ideas For Hearty Recovery Meals

After a demanding day of training or a difficult race, make sure you reap all of the benefits of your hard work by recovering with a balanced meal, featuring carbohydrates, protein, fat and—most importantly—delicious flavors.

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This article originally appeared in the October 2016 issue of Triathlete.

Photo: Oliver Baker
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Butternut Squash Rigatoni Bake

Rich in vitamins A and C, the butternut squash in this pasta dish is a major immunity booster.

1 butternut squash, peeled and cubed
1 shallot, diced
2 T olive oil
2 tsp fresh thyme, finely chopped
1 tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
1 cup fresh ricotta cheese
4 oz fresh mozzarella cheese
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
¼ cup whole-wheat panko breadcrumbs
6 pieces turkey bacon
12 ounces rigatoni pasta

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Toss the squash, shallot, oil, thyme, salt and pepper on a baking sheet and roast until golden (20–25 min), tossing once partway through. Boil a large pot of salted water and cook pasta to al dente, according to package instructions. Cook the turkey bacon in the microwave until nearly crispy. In a food processor, combine the butternut squash, ricotta, mozzarella and ¼ cup Parmesan until smooth. When the pasta is done cooking, drain the water, place back in the pot and immediately stir in the butternut squash sauce. Crumble the turkey bacon into the pasta. Prepare a 13×9-inch baking dish with non-stick spray. Spread the pasta into the dish, and sprinkle the remaining ¼ cup Parmesan cheese and breadcrumbs over the top and drizzle lightly with olive oil. Bake for 25–30 minutes, until golden and bubbling.

Photo: Oliver Baker
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Gouda-Stuffed Turkey and Black Bean Burgers

Who doesn’t love a thick, juicy burger after a long, tough effort? Stay on track with this healthier version.

20 oz 93% lean ground turkey
1 yellow onion, grated
½ cup black beans
3 T ketchup
2 T chili powder
1 T cumin
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
4 cubes Gouda cheese (1 ounce each)

In a bowl combine the onion, black beans, ketchup, chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper with a fork while lightly mashing the black beans. Gently add in the turkey until everything is evenly distributed. Form four large balls with the mixture. Push a cheese cube into the middle of each ball and then form the meat around the cheese into burgers. Heat a nonstick pan, coated with olive oil over medium-high heat. Sear the burgers for 90 seconds per side. Lower heat to medium and cook covered for 4–5 minutes per side. Serve the burgers on a toasted bun with toppings such as diced green chilies, roasted red pepper, avocado or arugula.

Photo: Oliver Baker
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Salmon with Stewed Kale and Farro

These rustic ingredients and flavors make for an antioxidant- and iron-rich comfort dish.

4 salmon filets, skin on (5–6 oz each)
2 cups cooked farro
10 oz chopped kale (6 heaping, packed cups)
4 Roma tomatoes, roughly diced
2 shallots, finely diced
1 cup white wine
2 T olive oil
1 T white wine vinegar
2 tsp maple syrup (or brown sugar)
1 tsp sea salt
½ tsp fresh cracked pepper

In a large pot or Dutch/French oven, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the shallots, salt and pepper and sauté 3–4 minutes, until golden. Add the tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes, stirring often. Add the kale, vinegar, syrup and wine. Cover and reduce heat to simmer for 20 minutes until kale is soft and tender. Stir the farro into the kale and let cool for 5 minutes. Heat oven to 450 degrees. Coat a large, oven-safe skillet with olive oil and heat over medium-high heat. Sprinkle the salmon with salt and pepper. Place in the pan, skin side down, and sear for 1 minute. Turn skin up and sear for 1 minute. Place pan on the top shelf of the oven and let cook for about 5–6 minutes, until salmon is medium rare and skin is crispy. Remove immediately to a plate, skin up. Serve the salmon over the kale and farro mixture.

Photo: Oliver Baker
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Beef, Mushroom & Scallion Stir Fry

This twist on classic steak and mushrooms is recovery done right.

20 oz skirt steak
3 T low-sodium soy sauce
1 T maple syrup
1 T minced ginger
2 tsp minced garlic
2 tsp Sriracha (or other hot sauce)
1 T canola oil
8 oz cremini mushrooms, sliced
½ cup scallions, finely chopped
4 large eggs

Cut the steak into 3-inch-long pieces, then cut against the grain into ½-inch thick pieces. In a large bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, maple syrup, ginger, garlic and hot sauce. Add the steak, and toss until coated. Heat the oil in a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the steak mixture and cook 3–4 minutes until cooked medium rare. Remove the steak with a slotted spoon, and let rest in a clean bowl. Lower heat to medium and let the sauce thicken for about 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook for 3–4 minutes. Remove from heat, add the steak back to the pan, along with the scallions and let rest. Pan fry eggs, sunny side up or over easy. Serve the steak mixture over rice with the eggs on top.