Research has consistently shown that consuming protein and carbs after a weight-training workout can speed recovery and optimize muscle gains.

But the so-called window for this nutrition doesn’t necessarily close within an hour (or even two or three hours, it turns out), as popular broscience would have you believe. According to a 2013 review, consuming a proteinrich, whole-food meal eaten up to six hours after a workout is sufficient to maximize gains, the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition reported.

Whip up any of the following high-protein, nutrient-dense meals in the hours following your workout, and rest assured you’re getting the most out of your training.

SALMON & BROWN RICE PASTA WITH KALE PESTO
MAKES: 4 SERVINGS

INGREDIENTS

PESTO
2 cups packed torn kale leaves, stems removed
Sea salt, to taste
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp miso paste
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 tbsp nutritional yeast
Black pepper, to taste

SALMON
2 6 oz skinless salmon fillets
Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
1 tbsp lemon zest
1 tbsp coconut oil

PASTA
8 oz brown rice pasta, spaghetti style
1 cup cherry tomatoes

DIRECTIONS

FOR THE KALE PESTO

1) Bring a pot of water to a boil and add kale. Cook 30 seconds, then transfer kale to a bowl filled with ice water and let sit for a minute. Drain in a colander.
2) In a food processor, combine kale leaves, salt, and olive oil. Pulse 10–12 times, or until finely chopped. Scrape down sides of processor, add miso, garlic, nutritional yeast, and pepper, and pulse until well combined.

FOR THE SALMON
1) Preheat oven to 425˚F. Season salmon fillets with salt, pepper, and lemon zest.
2) Place a nonstick, ovensafe pan over high heat and add coconut oil. Once oil has begun to shimmer, Place salmon fillets in pan and cook 1 minute each side, or until golden brown.
3) Move pan to oven and cook 4–5 minutes for medium-rare.

FOR THE PASTA
1) Cook pasta according to package directions.
2) Rinse the cherry tomatoes.
3) When pasta is cooked, toss with kale pesto and tomatoes. Serve pasta with salmon.

NUTRITION (PER SERVING): 375 calories, 15g protein, 59g carbs, 10g fat

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ALMOND BUTTER POWER BARS
MAKES: 8 SERVINGS

INGREDIENTS
1/2 cup almond butter
1/2 cup honey
1 cup rolled oats, toasted
1/2 cup puffed brown rice cereal
3/4 cup puffed quinoa or millet
1/2 cup almonds, sliced
1/3 cup dried cranberries, cut into threads
Pinch sea salt

DIRECTIONS
1) Grease an 8-inch square pan with cooking spray and line with parchment paper. In a small saucepan, heat the almond butter and honey together over low heat for three minutes or until thoroughly melted.
2) In a medium bowl, combine oats, cereal, quinoa or millet, almonds, dried cranberries, and sea salt. Pour the honey mixture into the dry mixture and stir until well combined. Transfer into pan.
3) Wet your hands and press the cereal bar mixture down until it’s flat and even. Let it set in the refrigerator for at least one hour.
4) Remove the mixture from the pan—it should be a solid sheet—and cut into 2-by-1-inch bars.

NUTRITION (PER SERVING): 265 calories, 7g protein, 34g carbs, 13g fat

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MINT CHIP SHAKE
MAKES: 2 SERVINGS

INGREDIENTS
1 cup coconut water
1 cup almond milk
3/4 cup ice
1 tbsp cacao nibs
8 fresh mint leaves
2 scoops chocolate whey protein

DIRECTIONS
1) Place coconut water, almond milk, ice, cacao nibs, and mint in a blender. Mix on high speed until smooth.
2) Add the whey protein and blend for 45 seconds. Drink immediately.

NUTRITION (PER SERVING): 501 calories, 30g protein, 17g carbs, 36g fat

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SPAGHETTI SQUASH EGG BAKE
MAKES: 2 SERVINGS

INGREDIENTS
1/2 spaghetti squash
1 tbsp coconut oil
1/2 sweet onion, diced
1 cup baby spinach
1 cup quinoa, cooked
4 eggs, whisked

DIRECTIONS
1) Preheat oven to 300°. Cut spaghetti squash in half and scoop out seeds. Place half squash cut-side down on a baking sheet. Bake for 20–25 minutes.
2) While the spaghetti squash is cooking, place a large sauté pan over medium heat and add coconut oil. Add onion and cook until translucent. Add baby spinach and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.
3) Take spaghetti squash out of the oven. Use a fork to remove the threads of squash and place them in a bowl. Add the spinach and onion mixture and the quinoa and mix. Pour in egg mixture.
4) Transfer mixture to baking sheet, spreading it evenly. Bake 45 minutes.
5) Remove from oven. Let cool and cut into two squares.

NUTRITION (PER SERVING): 326 calories, 16g protein, 27g carbs, 18g fat

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GRILLED SKIRT STEAK, COLESLAW, AND BROWN RICE TORTILLAS
MAKES: 4 SERVINGS

INGREDIENTS

FOR THE COLESLAW
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1 tbsp maple syrup
1/2 head red cabbage, thinly shredded
1 large carrot, julienned
1/4 cup cilantro leaves
Sea salt and black pepper, to taste

FOR THE STEAK
2 lb skirt steak
1 tbsp grapeseed oil
1 tbsp sea salt
2 tsp coarse-ground black pepper

FOR THE TORTILLAS
4 brown rice tortillas
1 tbsp olive oil
Sea salt, to taste
1 jar chimichurri sauce

DIRECTIONS
1) Combine all coleslaw ingredients in a bowl and season to taste with salt and pepper. Let stand 10 minutes.
2) Pat steak dry with paper towels, then rub with grapeseed oil. Rub both sides with salt and pepper. Place a castiron skillet over high heat.
3) Place the steak on the hot skillet and sear for 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a cutting board and let stand 5 minutes. Slice the steak thinly.
4) Preheat oven to 400° and place tortillas on a baking sheet. Brush tortillas with olive oil and bake until crispy (about 5 minutes). Distribute  steak among tortillas. Spread chimichurri sauce over the meat and then top with coleslaw.

NUTRITION (PER SERVING): 1,013 calories, 65g protein, 41g carbs, 64g fat