8 Ways to Eat Your Way to Lean Muscle

These recipes for all-day protein will boost your muscle growth and power you through ‘til bedtime

March 4, 2014
Fiesta casserole
1/10 Mitch Mandel

Raise your hand if you’re sick of chalky protein powders and boring eggs. Studies show that getting protein in every meal, not just dinner, can boost muscle growth by 25 percent. Here are 7 protein-powered meals from some of our favorite books.

More from Fitbie: 10 Tasty Protein Shake Recipes


Huevos Rancheros
2/10 Thomas MacDonald
Breakfast: Huevos Rancheros

From Guy Gourmet by Adina Steiman and Paul Kita

Warmed tortillas provide the foundation of this Tex-Mex breakfast. The yolks of the over-easy eggs on top spill over the rest of the ingredients. The rich yolk, spicy salsa, and hearty black beans combine to make this a new go-to in your breakfast repertoire.

Makes 4 servings

1 can (16 ounces) whole peeled tomatoes
1/2 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic
1 canned chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
1/4 cup fresh cilantro sprigs
Juice of 1 lime
Salt and ground black pepper
1 can (15 ounces) low-sodium black beans, drained
Pinch of ground cumin
8 large eggs
8 corn tortillas, warmed

1. In a food processor, combine the tomatoes (with juice), onion, garlic, chipotle pepper, cilantro, and half the lime juice. Pulse until the salsa is well blended but still slightly chunky. Season with salt and black pepper to taste.

2. In a bowl, combine the beans, cumin, and the remaining lime juice. Add salt and black pepper to taste. Use the back of a fork to lightly mash the beans, adding a splash of warm water if the mixture looks dry.

3. Add a shot of cooking spray to a nonstick skillet and heat the pan over medium heat. Crack in the eggs and cook them until the whites have set but the yolks are still runny. In another skillet over medium heat, toast the tortillas about a minute on each side.

4. Spread the beans on the tortillas and top with eggs and salsa. Serve immediately.

Per serving: 390 calories,13 g fat, 6 g fiber, 21 g protein




Double Vanilla French Toast
3/10 Mitch Mandel
Breakfast: Double Vanilla French Toast

From the Runner’s World Cookbook edited by Joanna Sayago Goulb

With plenty of sweet vanilla flavor, this hearty, whole grain French toast is destined to become one of your weekend breakfast staples. It supplies all the nutrients needed for recovery after a long run, while satisfying that well-earned appetite. Recipe by Liz Applegate, PhD

Makes 2 servings

1/2 cup low-fat vanilla yogurt
1/4 cup maple syrup
3 large eggs
1/4 cup low-fat milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 slices whole grain sourdough bread
1 cup mixed berries

1. In a bowl, stir together the yogurt and syrup.
2. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, vanilla extract, and cinnamon. Dip a slice of bread in the egg mixture and allow it to soak up plenty of the liquid. Set the soaked bread aside and repeat with the remaining slices.
3. Place the bread in the skillet and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, or until browned. Flip the bread over and cook on the other side for 2 to 3 minutes, or until browned. Serve the French toast topped with the vanilla-maple yogurt and the berries.

Per serving: 686 calories , 12 g fat, 6 g fiber, 29 g protein

More from Fitbie: 50 Protein-Packed Dinners


Tropical Turkey Salad
4/10 Marcus Nillson
Lunch: Tropical Turkey Salad

From the Flat Belly Diet! Gluten-Free Cookbook from the editors of Prevention

Jerk seasoning, traditionally used in Jamaican cooking, is a flavorful blend of allspice, thyme, garlic, onion, and habanero chile pepper. If you're concerned about spiciness, no worries -- the sweetness of this citrus salad balances the heat.

Makes 4 servings

1 tablespoon gluten-free low-sodium jerk seasoning
3 tablespoons lime juice, divided
1 teaspoon + 2 tablespoons olive oil
4 boneless, skinless turkey cutlets (4 ounces each)
1 tablespoon orange juice
1/2 teaspoon honey
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 cups colorful mixed greens
1/4 small white onion, thinly sliced
1 mango, peeled, pitted, and sliced
1 Hass avocado, peeled, pitted, and sliced

1. In a small bowl, mix together the jerk seasoning, 1 tablespoon of the lime juice, and 1 teaspoon oil until blended. Rub on both sides of the cutlets.
2. Coat a nonstick ridged grill pan with cooking spray and set over medium-high heat. Cook the cutlets for 8 minutes, turning once, or until no longer pink and the juices run clear. Transfer to a plate. Let stand for 5 minutes before slicing into thin slices.
3. In a large bowl, whisk together the orange juice, honey, salt, the remaining 2 tablespoons lime juice, and 2 tablespoons oil. Add the greens and onion and toss to coat. Add the mango and avocado and gently toss.
4. Divide the salad among 4 plates and top each with one-fourth of the turkey.

Per serving: 309 calories,14 g fat, 5 g fiber, 30 g protein


Caprese Farro Salad
5/10 Mitch Mandel
Lunch: Caprese Farro Salad

From the Runner’s World Cookbook

This recipe by Tracy Harris, author of the blog The Runner's Palate, combines all the goodness of a traditional caprese salad--fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil--with farro, a whole grain that looks similar to barley and has a plump, chewy texture and full-bodied, nutty flavor. Farro is rich in protein, fiber, and vitamins and can be substituted for any whole grain, such as brown rice, barley, or quinoa. While this dish makes for a hearty meal on its own, you can also serve it as a side.

Makes 4 servings

10 ounces farro (about 1 1/2 cups)
4 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
8 ounces cherry tomatoes, halved
8 ounces fresh mozzarella, cubed, or 8 ounces mini mozzarella balls
1/2 cup fresh basil, chiffonade (thin strips made by laying the leaves together, rolling like a cigar, and slicing crosswise)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon agave nectar or honey
Ground black pepper

1. Combine the farro with the water in a medium saucepan. Add the salt. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes, or until the farro is tender. Drain well and place in a large bowl. Add the tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil. Toss to combine.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar, agave nectar or honey, and pepper to taste. Drizzle over the farro mixture and toss to coat. Serve immediately or let cool and serve at room temperature.

Per serving: 530 calories, 27 g fat, 5 g fiber, 20 g protein

More from Fitbie: 50 Protein-Packed Foods that Slim


Beef swiss roll-ups
6/10 Jennifer May
Snack: Guac, Roast Beef, and Swiss Roll-Up

From Guy Gourmet

In a rush? Turn to this superfast, no-carb snack.

Spread a dollop of guacamole on a slice of roast beef, and then roll the roast beef up in a slice of Swiss cheese. Secure with a toothpick. Make a batch and serve them on game day.

Per Roll Up: 176 calories, 21 g protein



Pineapple Punch
7/10 Thomas MacDonald
Snack: Pineapple Punch

From The 8-Hour Diet by David Zinczenko and Peter Moore

This smoothie is like a tropical vacation in a glass, minus the hassle of going through the airport.

1 cup frozen pineapple
1/2 cup 2% Greek-style yogurt
1/2 cup 1% milk
1/2 cup orange juice

Combine all ingredients in a blender and mix to your desired consistency.

Per serving: 280 calories // 15 g protein

Roast cod with pomegranate
8/10 Con Poulos
Dinner: Roast Cod With Pomegranate-Walnut Sauce

From 101 Muscle Meals by the editors of Men’s Health.

This exotic blend of fruit, nuts, and fish sounds, and tastes, like something you would find in a 5-star restaurant. Compliments to the chef!

Makes 4 servings

1 cup black or regular quinoa
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 shallot, finely chopped (about 1/4 cup)
1/3 cup ground walnuts
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup dry red wine
1/4 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 Tbsp pomegranate molasses or frozen cranberry juice concentrate
1 Tbsp honey
4 cod fillets (6 oz. each)
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup broken walnut halves

1. Prepare quinoa according to package directions.
2. Meanwhile, heat oil in medium nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add shallot and cook, stirring, until softened, 2 minutes. Add ground walnuts and garlic and cook, stirring, until walnuts are golden brown, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat and add wine, broth, molasses, and honey. Return to heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 4 minutes. Transfer sauce to gravy boat.
3. Heat broiler. Line a sheet pan with nonstick foil. Arrange fish in single layer on pan and season with salt and pepper. Broil until cooked through, about 6 minutes.
4. Toss quinoa with parsley and broken walnuts. Spoon onto 4 plates and top with fish and sauce.

Per serving: 481 calories, 16 g fat, 5 g fiber, 39 g protein


Fiesta casserole
9/10 Mitch Mandel
Dinner: Fiesta Casserole

From the Flat Belly Diet! Gluten-Free Cookbook.

If you like, assemble this dish the night before you plan to serve it, then cover and refrigerate it. The next day, just pop it in the oven and you're done!

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
1 tomato, chopped
1 can (4 ounces) chopped mild green chiles, drained
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups cooked cubed chicken breast
1/2 cup frozen corn kernels
1/2 cup gluten-free black bean salsa
2 ounces gluten-free corn tortilla chips, divided
1/2 cup shredded reduced-fat Mexican blend cheese, divided
1 Hass avocado, peeled, pitted, and cut into 16 slices

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Coat an 8" x 8" baking dish with cooking spray.
2. In a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, warm the oil. Add the onion, bell pepper, tomato, chiles, and garlic and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes, or until softened. Stir in the chicken, corn, and salsa. Remove from the heat.
3. Line the bottom of the baking dish with half of the tortilla chips. Top with the chicken mixture, then sprinkle with 1/4 cup of the cheese. Coarsely crumble the remaining chips over the top. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup cheese. Transfer to the oven and bake for 20 minutes, or until the filling is hot and the cheese is melted. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.
4. Cut into 4 servings and top each with 4 avocado slices.

Nutrition per serving: 393 calories, 18 g fat, 6 g fiber, 31 g protein


Rodale books
10/10 Rodale

For more protein-filled meals and snacks, check out a few of our favorite cookbooks:

8-Hour Diet

101 Muscle Meals

Flat Belly Diet! Gluten-Free Cookbook

Runner's World Cookbook

Guy Gourmet