9 Recipes That Help You Gain Muscle (Which Helps You Burn Fat)

By Summer Rylander
|
January 10, 2022
Lemon Rosemary Chicken with Farro
Image credit: The Café Sucre Farine

If you’ve been trying to get into a workout routine — and hoping to burn off some of those holiday cookies and beverages — you’re not alone We are right there with you, and have been trying to eat better, move more, and generally get ourselves back in order after the holiday season. But here at Clean Plates, we don’t believe in doing that through deprivation. Rather than focusing on what you shouldn’t be eating, we love to focus on incredibly enjoyable, tasty, healthful foods that make you feel great and support your healthy lifestyle.

Read next: 8 Delicious, Metabolism-Boosting Mediterranean Diet Recipes

To that end: being active is great for you in so many ways, from improving heart health to staving off dementia. Plus, increasing your muscle mass helps boost your metabolism and makes it easier for you to burn fat. 

To serve up some fresh inspiration for your healthy eating habits in 2022, here are a few delicious, protein-rich recipes we love for their ability to help you gain muscle — while feeling satisfied, nourished, and most definitely not deprived.

1. Lemon Baked Cod

Lemon Baked Cod

Image credit: Rasa Malaysia

Cod is a high-protein food that absolutely promotes muscle growth. It’s also so versatile, and since it cooks quickly, it’s perfect for weeknight dinners. (This recipe is ready in under 15 minutes.) Serve this lemon-baked cod with roasted carrots, garlicky sautéed mushrooms, or a spinach salad to add to your day’s vegetable count.

2. Baked Peanut Tofu Bowls

Baked Peanut Tofu Bowls

Image credit: Eat With Clarity

Tofu is wonderfully adaptable in both flavor and texture, and it’s also a great plant-based source of protein. In this recipe, firm tofu gets baked with a sweet-salty peanut marinade before being paired with avocado, bell pepper, and kale. Served over brown rice for extra vitamins and minerals, and to avoid refined grains. This is a vegetable-forward, healthful bowl you’ll be eager to dive into. 

3. Rotisserie-Style Air Fryer Chicken

Rotisserie-Style Air Fryer Chicken

Image credit: Jennifer Banz

Chicken might just be the MVP of healthy, muscle-building protein, and cooking a whole chicken at the top of the week is a gift to your future self since easy-to-enjoy leftovers are almost guaranteed. Air fryers yield amazing results and require much less oil than other cooking methods, so if you opt to air fry your bird rather than pick up a rotisserie chicken from the store, you’re about an hour away from tender meat and crispy skin — without all the grease. The next day, use the remaining chicken to top zoodles, in a chicken salad, or as the basis for a chicken soup.  

4. Ground Beef and Broccoli Stir-Fry

Ground Beef and Broccoli Stir-Fry

Image credit: The Healthy Consultant with Abbey Blackwell

This variation on beef and broccoli takes just 20 minutes to prepare, which is hard to argue with on busy weeknights when your desire for a healthy, tasty dinner filled with protein and vegetables is at complete odds with your motivation to cook. If beef isn’t your thing, this quick stir-fry is just as flavorful with ground turkey, chicken, or even crumbled tofu. Serve over a grain of your choice — brown rice or wild rice would be great here — or eat as-is if you’re watching your carbs.

5. Honey Mustard Baked Salmon

Honey Mustard Baked Salmon

Image credit: Rasa Malaysia

Baking protein-rich salmon eliminates the fuss and splatter of stovetop preparation, and the addition of lemon, Dijon mustard, and just a dollop of honey makes this a main course with tons of flavor. Serve your fish with a seasonal vegetable — think asparagus in early spring, or a nice kale salad in winter — and dinner is sorted. 

6. Creamy Eggs Baked in Avocado

Eggs Baked in Avocado

Image credit: Healthy Recipes by Vered Deleeuw

Perfect for breakfast, lunch, or even as a light dinner, this recipe offers a quick hit of healthy satisfaction. Eggs are a great source of high-quality protein, and both eggs and avocado are nutrient powerhouses. Jazz up this simple recipe with extra chili flakes, a drizzle of olive oil and a squeeze of lemon, or add your favorite fresh herbs.

7. South Indian-Style Chickpea Curry

South Indian-Style Chickpea Curry

Image credit: Holy Cow Vegan

Chickpeas are a great source of both protein and fiber, and they’re the front-and-center ingredient in this comforting, filling dish. Warm spices — including turmeric, ginger, cumin, and cardamom — come together in creamy, nutrient-rich coconut milk to create a saucy, nutritious meal. Serve with a simple side salad, like a Kachumber, to create balanced flavors and get some raw vegetables in. 

8. Lemon Rosemary Chicken with Farro

Lemon Rosemary Chicken with Farro

Image credit: The Café Sucre Farine

Chicken breasts are a cost-effective, protein-packed staple, and are an ideal muscle-building food. When paired with farro — a nutty, fiber-filled ancient grain — they’re a versatile, healthy meal waiting to happen. This recipe uses lemon and fragrant rosemary to create big flavors with the convenience of one-pan preparation. Not into farro? Swap it out for barley, couscous, quinoa, or whichever grain you’ve got in the cupboard. 

9. Vegetable Frittata

Vegetable Frittata

Image credit: Downshiftology

Frittatas are awesome in that you can throw in whichever vegetables and herbs are closest to calling it quits in your fridge, add just about any seasoning you’re in the mood for, and your oven is sure to return a delicious, muscle-fueling meal in less than 30 minutes. This recipe includes yogurt for both added creaminess and a great source of protein.

Summer Rylander is a freelance food and travel writer based in Germany. Find her on Twitter and Instagram

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