#387 (12/15/2009) SOUTH OF THE BORDER
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If God dwells inside us like some people say, I sure hope he likes enchiladas, because that's what he's getting.

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Beachbody® Restaurant Rescue: Mexican Edition

By Stephanie Saunders

Nothing says “fiesta” quite like a good Mexican meal. Flavorful, filling, and always fun, Mexican cuisine is a fan favorite, whether served in a restaurant or at home. Frankly, the endless combinations of beans, rice, tortillas, meat, cheese, and sauce are flat-out dumbfounding. And growing up in Southern California, I knew no distinction between American and Mexican food. We had tacos for Thanksgiving once. I’m serious.

Chili Peppers

But as amazing as Mexican food can be, it can also be loaded with diet mishaps. Mexican food not only caters to the lovers of sour cream and cheese, but tends to contain lard and oil, and is often fried. Even a tostada salad, with all of the fixings, can pack over 1,300 calories and 77 grams of fat! So, let’s walk through a typical Mexican meal in this third installment of Beachbody Restaurant Rescue, and see how to avoid some major diet downfalls.

Appetizer

Chips and SalsaThe minute you take a seat at a Mexican establishment, you’re usually greeted with an overflowing, endless basket of fried tortilla chips and salsa. For every 10 chips you consume, you are looking at 146 additional calories to your meal, which is really not so horrible. Until we start adding queso dip and guacamole—or even worse, upgrading to a nacho platter. Additionally, many people order chimichangas or taquitos, which are fried tortillas stuffed with meat, to begin a meal, adding a whole lot of badness to the mix. Stick with the plain chips and salsa, and count the amount you consume as you are eating them. Should you choose to indulge, use the following approximate nutritional breakdowns as a guide:


  Calories Fat Carbs Sodium Protein
Nachos, plain, 3.5 oz. 320 18 grams 34 grams 560 milligrams 5 grams
Chips and salsa, 2 oz. 266 12 grams 35 grams 461 milligrams 4 grams
Guacamole, 3 oz. 129 12 grams 6 grams 51 milligrams 3 grams
Chimichanga, 12 oz. 487 19 grams 54 grams 1,580 milligrams 16 grams
Taquitos, 5 small pieces 330 15 grams 35 grams 480 milligrams 14 grams

Soup

MGazpacho and Saladexican cuisine puts things in broth that the rest of us may never consider. For example, menudo, widely believed to be the cure for a hangover, contains tripe and hominy. Personally, I’d imagine consumption of cow intestine might do quite the opposite for my stomach.

Even fast food Mexican places seem to have at least the option of a tortilla soup; albondigas, a meatball soup; or gazpacho, a tomato-based, cold vegetable soup. As always, sticking with the veggies will be your safest bet.


  Calories Fat Carbs Sodium Protein
Albondigas, 8 oz. 490 29 grams 22 grams 560 milligrams 35 grams
Tortilla soup, 8 oz. 200 10 grams 19 grams 1,100 milligrams 8 grams
Menudo, 8 oz. 110 3.5 grams 20 grams 760 milligrams 1 gram
Gazpacho, 8 oz. 75 0.3 gram 13 grams 200 milligrams none

Salad

Unless you are eating at a taco stand, most Mexican establishments have greens to offer. And, as always, a salad can be a great way to begin a meal, provided you avoid the dressing, cheese, and tortilla strips that often go on top. There’s also the tostada, which is a lovely salad inside a giant fried tortilla shell, and the Mexican Caesar salad, which could cover your fat requirement for the day and then some. Stick to the house salad, remove anything that isn't a vegetable, and try a spicy salsa for a dressing.


  Calories Fat Carbs Sodium Protein
Green salad with 2 Tbsp. Santa Fe dressing 150 15 grams 3 grams 220 milligrams none
Taco salad, chicken, 6 oz. 377 15 grams 56 grams 882 milligrams 26 grams
Tostada, chicken, 5 oz. 255 13 grams 27 grams 547 milligrams 27 grams
Mexican Caesar salad; 5 oz. 939 85 grams 36 grams 1,751 milligrams 9 grams

Main Course

Here is where the true self-control begins. The Mexican main course can be truly dangerous. A seemingly innocent chicken and vegetable burrito can pack a huge calorie count, depending on the size of the flour tortilla, which can be up to 356 calories all by itself. And the minute we start adding in cheese, sour cream, rice, guacamole, and refried beans, we’re looking at trouble.

FajitasSo, when deciding on your main course, remember that the fewer ingredients you order, the better. Ask if they have whole beans as opposed to the refried variety. Skip the rice, as it’ll be saturated in oil most likely. Just say no to sour cream, cheese, and anything fried. Stick to lean meat choices and request extra vegetables. And ask if your selection can be made on corn tortillas, instead of flour; you could save yourself hundreds of calories in that one step—and many more calories by following the previously mentioned tips.

The following nutritional breakdowns are based on averages from some popular Mexican food chains. In case you aren’t a connoisseur of the stuff, here’s a quick guide. A taco is a tortilla stuffed with meat, lettuce, cheese, and usually salsa. A burrito is a much larger tortilla, containing the same ingredients as a taco, and/or rice and beans. An enchilada is a corn tortilla, stuffed with meat or vegetables, covered in sauce and melted cheese. Fajitas are grilled meat, onions, and bell peppers, served with tortillas and various toppings that you assemble on your own. A quesadilla consists of two tortillas with melted cheese in between them. Sometimes, meat and salsa are included in the mix. Chiles rellenos are chiles with skins removed, dipped in batter, fried, stuffed with cheese or meat, and covered with lightly spiced red sauce. A tamale is steam-cooked corn dough filled with various meats, cheese, and sliced chilis.


  Calories Fat Carbs Sodium Protein
Taco, beef, 4 oz. 228 13 grams 23 grams 505 milligrams 13 grams
Burrito, bean, 7 oz. 370 12 grams 54 grams 1,080 milligrams 13 grams
Enchilada, 7 oz. 379 18 grams 33 grams 431 milligrams 19 grams
Fajitas, 1 skillet, corn tortillas 330 11 grams 23 grams 2,080 milligrams 40 grams
Quesadilla, cheese, 4.25 oz. 350 18 grams 31 grams 860 milligrams 16 grams
Chile rellenos, cheese 365 29 grams 8 grams 521 milligrams 17 grams
Tamale, chicken 222 10 grams 25 grams 600 milligrams 7 grams

Dessert

FlanDesserts in Mexican restaurants are typically the same stuff you’ll find in any American restaurant: sundaes, brownies, cakes, and a variety of other diet disasters. The following choices are more “traditional” in the way we think of Mexican desserts, although I would guess most people living in Mexico do not eat “choco tacos” or flan, which has its origins in the Roman Empire. And note that although fried ice cream is really delicious, it is also the caloric equivalent of two meals. Just not worth it.


  Calories Fat Carbs Sodium Protein
Flan, 4 oz. 305 11 grams 45 grams 96 milligrams 8 grams
Churro, 1.2 oz. 122 7 grams 12 grams 153 milligrams 2 grams
Choco taco, 1 serving 300 15 grams 38 grams 110 milligrams 4 grams
Fried ice cream, 1 scoop 827 35 grams 116 grams 568 milligrams 12 grams

Many towns in America have at least one Mexican joint, even if it’s just a Taco Bell®. Mexico has the second highest obesity rate in the world. But don’t worry, America, we are still number one, possibly because we have had McDonald's®; Burger King®; and, yes, Taco Bell, longer than our southern neighbors.

A lot of what we consider to be Mexican food in this country is what Mexicans would consider fast or junk food, so take a hint from their growing obesity rate, and drive right by the drive-thru. Mexico has a rich culture to explore. Check out the dancing or the music, for example. You’re so much better off doing the cha-cha than eating a chimichanga.

Related Articles
"Beachbody® Restaurant Rescue: Italian Edition"
"Beachbody® Restaurant Rescue: Japanese Edition"
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Got something to say? Chat with the writers and other readers this coming Monday, December 21st, at 7:00 PM ET, 4:00 PM PT, in the Beachbody Chatroom!

If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, click here to add a comment in the newsletter review section or you can email us at mailbag@beachbody.com.

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7 Ways to Beat Holiday Stress

By Carla Lord

Shopping. Decorations. Shopping. Family. Shopping. The holiday season is supposed to be a magical time—the most wonderful time of the year. So how is it that many of us tend to wind up feeling tired, drained, and stressed out? You don't have to be among the many who feel this way, though. Let's take a look at how you can spend more time singing holiday carols and less time singing the holiday blues.

Scared Man with Holiday Gifts

A good place to start is to take a look at the usual suspects—the main contributors to holiday stress. Finances top the list, being cited in many reports as the number one stressor for Americans during the holiday season, a time when expenses can often meet or exceed the funds in the bank account. Then, there's shopping . . . the choices, the lines, and the overall mad rush to get something for everyone on your list. And then there's family. Ah, family. Tensions invariably run high during the holidays, when so many individual personalities are often crammed together into one very condensed amount of time. Cooking, cleaning . . . it can seem like the list of things you have to do—and the short time in which you have to do it—is insurmountable. Here are a few things to keep in mind that can lighten the load and give you the feeling that there really is peace on Earth.

  1. Glasses with JuiceSpread good cheer—not beer. The holidays are a time when temptations are everywhere . . . eggnog, cordials, and visions of sugar-powdered desserts dancing in your head. One serving of traditional eggnog has 250 calories, 117 of which are from fat! Holiday bingeing can ruin all the hard work you've put in this year to get fit and stay healthy. Limit how much alcohol you consume (and never drink and drive!); instead of having a second glass of champagne, drink fruit juice or water. Take small portions when you eat your meals, and don't go back for seconds.
  2. 'Tis better to give than receive. A great thing to do whether you're on your own or you're part of a group for the holidays. Remembering that there are people who are less fortunate than we are is not only a great humanitarian deed, but it can also lift your heart and add a kick to your step. While you're shopping, grab an extra something to donate to a food bank or a shelter, or, if you have the time, get involved "hands-on" by volunteering in a food drive. Be a mentor and play Santa to a needy child . . . the list can go on and on. Sometimes, even just a smile or a kind word is all it takes to brighten someone's day.
  3. Hip Hop Abs®Jump into the New Year. Exercise! Bet you didn't see that one coming. Even though you may feel busier now than you did at any other point this year, don't slip from your routine. Make time for your workouts—you'll feel good about your own discipline and your body will thank you. You won't have the feeling after the holidays that you need to start over for your New Year's resolution . . . you'll just be continuing the regimen that you've committed to. Plus, keeping a steady workout schedule will make it all the easier to work off those guilty pleasures you've indulged in (come on, we all know there will be at least one). Exercise is also a great stress reliever; you'll feel more at ease just through the workout you're getting. Kick or dance those stressors away while doing Turbo Jam® or Hip Hop Abs®—and stay fit at the same time! It's win-win! And to make sure you don't fall off the wagon, schedule workouts in WOWY SuperGym® to keep yourself accountable.
  4. Leave the masks for Halloween. For many people, this time of year can be quite difficult, and so feeling like you are acting and putting on a fake persona can add to the stress. Don't allow the holiday cheer to bring you down; do allow yourself to listen to your body. Feelings of grief, depression, and loneliness should not be ignored. Check out community events or call friends or family members to get involved in activities. If the blues feel overwhelming or seem to be increasing, don't hesitate to consult a professional—many employers offer EAPs (Employee Assistance Programs) that can give you a good start.
  5. Online ShoppingCheck your list twice. Although it may be too late for this year, don't wait until "Black Friday" to commence your holiday shopping—start making your plans early. Shopping online can save you the effort of going out on the hunt in myriad stores for your gifts of choice (it's also eco- and wallet-friendly, reduces emissions, and saves you gas money!). And now there's even "Cyber Monday" for the serious online shopper. If you're going to play host to your family and friends this year, start thinking about how you want to arrange your party and how you want to organize the meal, so that you can shop accordingly. Will you do all the cooking, or will your guests contribute to a potluck? Making these decisions early can help you avoid those annoying last trips out to the store.
  6. Don't shop 'til you drop. Instead of giving your loved one a gift, offer to give a donation to a charity in his or her name. Perhaps there's a cause you both feel strongly about, or maybe there's a cause you feel your loved one may really enjoy becoming a part of. You don't have to give away your life savings, but whatever you can do will certainly help. From global warming to malaria to cancer or AIDS, someone can always benefit from your goodwill, and both you and your loved one can feel good that you've done something to make the world a better place. And after all, isn't that the spirit of the season?
  7. Silent night. Get plenty of rest, and try to avoid overdoing it with the caffeine. Your body needs the time to repair. When you take into account all of the health-related problems to which a lack of sleep can contribute—including obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and stroke—it's safe to say it's important to get enough shut-eye. If you find it difficult to "turn off," try doing something relaxing to unwind. Whether it takes reading, herbal tea, listening to music, yoga, or meditation (like in Yoga Booty Ballet®), allowing your body to relax before going to bed can do wonders for your ability to get enough rest. Pleasant dreams, and don't let the reindeer bite.

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Carla LordGot something to say? Chat with the writers and other readers this coming Monday, December 21st, at 7:00 PM ET, 4:00 PM PT, in the Beachbody Chatroom!

If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, click here to add a comment in the newsletter review section or you can email us at mailbag@beachbody.com.

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Test Your Mexican Cuisine IQ!

By Monica Nuñez

Burrito, taco, tamale, quesadilla, churro—you may have indulged in one or several of these Mexican foods. And if you overindulged, those trips to the bathroom won't let you forget them. But there are also some lesser-known foods that are equally delicious—and, if you eat too much, potentially just as likely to give you what my dad would call "correle porque te alcanza," or what you know as the runs or your great-grandfather may know as the trots. Match the following Mexican foods with their description. Buen provecho!

  1. BurritoMolotes - Fried maize pancakes. Found in Oaxaca, Mexico, during Guelaguetza (an annual cultural celebration), Easter, and Christmas, molotes are considered a special holiday street food. They are made with fresh masa (cornmeal dough) filled with a chorizo (a pork sausage highly seasoned, especially with chili powder and garlic) and potato mixture. They are then topped with black bean puree and queso fresco (fresh cheese), and garnished with sliced radishes.
  2. Chilaquiles - Tortillas fried in thick chili or green tomato. Chilaquiles are made with corn tortillas cut into quarters. The fried tortilla quarters are topped with either a green or red salsa. And scrambled eggs and pulled chicken are sometimes added to the mix. They are also topped with cheese and/or sour cream, and are commonly served with refried beans. (Recipes can vary slightly by region.) You might be interested—and very happy—to know that chilaquiles are considered a cure for the common hangover. It's the spiciness in the food that supposedly helps you recover.
  3. Buñuelos - Thinly rolled fried pieces of dough with a sweet topping. Like chilaquile recipes, buñuelo recipes also vary by region; they also vary by country. (The Colombian buñuelo is round, while the Mexican buñuelo is flat.) In Mexico, buñuelos are typically made with thinly rolled pieces of anise-flavored dough. They are topped with a cinnamon and sugar mixture. The buñuelo is a typical Christmastime food, served during posadas (a 9-day celebration with origins in Spain beginning December 16 and ending December 24).
  4. Sopes - Baked cornmeal dough topped with refried beans, onion, and hot sauce. Sopes are a typical Mexican antojito (appetizer). The cornmeal dough is shaped into small bowls for the garnishes and toppings. Sopes are baked on a comal (griddle). Besides refried beans, onion, and hot sauce, toppings also include vegetables, meat, cheese, and cilantro.

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"Great and informative article, but the end was kind of missing more info. Yes it's true that Mexico has the highest obesity rate but it's not beacuse of the traditional mexican diet. The obesity rate shot up when NAFTA was created and more canned food started to make it's way across the border. Not to mention the fact that nafta also opened the doors for fast food places like Mc'D, BBK, Carl JR. But all else aside this was a great aritcle and @ least I know the calorie count now."

– Jeff, Milwaukee, WI

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