#438 12/15/2010 HEALTHY HOLIDAY GUIDE
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Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.

Richard Steele

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Holiday Gift-Giving Guide: 4 Great Books that Give Back!

By Denis Faye

We know, we know, you're so busy working out and taking in all the information you get from the Beachbody® and P90X® newsletters that you don't have time to read a new book. Well, this isn't about you! It's about all the friends you still need to buy presents for, and for them, books are an ideal gift. They're affordable, you can mail them cheap, and by giving your friends books, you suggest to them that you think they're at least quasi-literate. So with no further ado, let's check out some great reads.

Present

For fitness seekers looking for a little spirituality with their sweat:

A Course in Weight Loss: 21 Spiritual Lessons for Surrendering Your Weight Forever by Marianne Williamson (Hay House $24.95)

The opening paragraph of A Course in Weight Loss reads, "This book is a spiritual curriculum consisting of 21 lessons. It is separate from anything else you might do regarding diet or exercise. It is a retraining of your consciousness in the area of weight."

Heady stuff, huh?

Woman on a ScaleAuthor Marianne Williamson has a good point though. While it's theoretically simple to get your body to do a program like Turbo Jam® and eat a diet of lean protein, whole grains, fruits, and veggies, getting your brain and your heart on board is another thing. That's why so many of us try and fail over and over. This book tries to break that cycle.

Most of the lessons within are nothing new in terms of self-help. Williamson openly admits to borrowing from A Course in Miracles and the 12-step method, but what makes it different is that she's directly targeted overeating and body image. Some chapters are standard feel-good lessons, such as Lesson 14, "Feel your Feelings," or Lesson 17, "Forgive Yourself and Others." Others look directly at the issue at hand, such as Lesson 6, "Build a Relationship with Good Food," or Lesson 7, "Love Your Body," which contains a question I wish someone would have asked me back in my overweight days: "Is it your body you hate, or its size?"

As the title indicates, there's also a strong religious aspect here. Williamson tries to lessen this by proposing readers use the Alcoholics Anonymous theory of "it doesn't matter what you call it, as long as you call on it." That said, there's a lot of talking to God through the book. Even if that's not your thing, don't let that deter you. There's also a lot of insight to ponder and self-discovery to be learned, whether or not you talk to a higher power.

If the person you're playing Santa Claus for is already deep into one of our programs and having great results, she or he probably doesn't need A Course in Weight Loss, but if she or he is still fumbling, this book makes a welcome companion either as passing inspiration or a serious tutorial.

Beachbody Rating: 8 out of 10 bikinis.

For the budding home gardener with a conscience:

From Seed to Skillet: A Guide to Growing, Tending, Harvesting, and Cooking Up Fresh, Healthful Food to Share with People You Love by Jimmy Williams and Susan Heeger (Chronicle Books $30)

Wheelbarrow Filled with Garden ToolsEven the quickest perusal of this beautiful, instructional coffee-table volume on home gardening is enough to make you want to dust off your hoe and overalls and convert your back deck into an organic tomato plot, but be warned: It's not that easy. Sure, veteran green thumb Jimmy Williams does a great job at showing you how it's done, but keep in mind that produce gardening—especially without the aid of time-saving, hellishly evil chemicals—is a time-consuming passion. You don't get weekends off. If you don't tend to your fruit and veggies, they'll probably die.

Public service announcement aside, this is a wonderful book. Williams is a fascinating person. He walked away from a thriving career as a clothing designer to pursue his first love, growing organic produce—a skill learned from his South Carolina grandmother who carried on the traditions of her Caribbean slave ancestors.

You'll find in-depth information on all aspects of gardening, from choosing and creating spaces to soil management to plant grouping to saving seeds for next season. On the gardening end, there's not much missing here, right down to the blueprints for raised beds and a chart on pairing plants. I also really enjoyed "Edible A-List of Must-Have Vegetables, Herbs, and Fruit," a series of essays on Williams' favorite produce.

This said, it's a bit light on the "skillet," devoting just 19 pages to some of the author's favorite recipes. Also, in my home garden, I often end up with a surplus of some produce and, even after sharing with the neighbors, one can only eat so much squash or watermelon. It would have been nice if the book delved a little into canning and preserving.

But that shouldn't stop you from buying From Seed to Skillet. If you're interested in starting a home garden, making your existing one better, or just having a beautiful coffee-table book to show your forward-thinking friends, this is a great investment.

Beachbody Rating: 7 out of 10 organic tomatoes.

For anyone with a little salt water in their soul:

The Wave: In Pursuit of the Rogues, Freaks, and Giants of the Ocean by Susan Casey (Doubleday $27.95)

Surfers tend to take pause when outsiders take on their sport in print. If you don't ride waves, it's difficult to understand what it's all about, so don't try to tell us about it.

SurfingWisely, author Susan Casey isn't really trying to explain the mysteries of "the tribe" in her latest book, The Wave. She's just using their adventures as a narrative in trying to explain the mysteries of what the tribe rides—waves. And although surfers tend to have a better understanding of meteorology than most thong-wearing slackers, few of us have the in-depth understanding of the waves that you get reading this book. It should be required reading for all water people.

Casey avoids turning this into a 300-plus-page weather report by interspersing two narratives filled with colorful characters and catchy cliffhangers. First, she follows legendary big wave rider Laird Hamilton and his peers as they chase 80-foot giants around Hawaii. Second, she follows a group of scientists chasing the same giants, "nature's biggest tantrum," in hopes of understanding the devastating impact they have on humankind during deep-sea storms and coastal tsunamis.

The most compelling of the aforementioned characters in the book are the waves themselves. Casey paints them as deadly, mysterious creatures that confront—and are confronted by—humankind on all levels.

If you know someone who has any curiosity about the ocean and likes his or her nonfiction to be thrill-a-minute page-turners, The Wave is a great ride.

Beachbody Rating: 9.5 out of 10 surfboards, dude.

For the locavore with a serious Green Acres fetish:

The Dirty Life: On Farming, Food, and Love by Kristin Kimball (Scribner $25)

A BarnWhen Kristin Kimball met her soon-to-be husband Mark, she was a New York City journalist, scraping along in a typical urban existence. Mark, conversely, was anything but typical. The eccentric, handsome, organic-farming savant with a gift in the kitchen and a penchant for wearing his T-shirts inside-out every other wearing (so that they'd wear more evenly) swept her off her feet. Before she knew it, she'd moved out of her rent-controlled apartment and into a dilapidated farmhouse on 500 acres near Lake Champlain to live Mark's dream of building an organic, "all diet" farm.

Today, 100 people are members at Essex Farm. For $2,900 annually, they travel to the farm every Friday to stock up on all the beef, chicken, pork, eggs, milk, maple syrup, grains, flours, dried beans, herbs, fruits, and veggies they can eat for the next week. For many of them, it's all the grocery shopping they need.

The Dirty Life is Kimball's account of her transformation from city girl to farmer. At first, it may seem a bit off-putting to see this very independent woman completely change her life for a man, but much as Mark is no fumbling Eddie Albert, this lady is no prissy Eva Gabor. Mark's dream farm was a lofty ambition and Kimball went after it as an equal—and a determined one at that. They often butt heads throughout the book. Furthermore, her calling was that of writer, not urban socialite, and this book is evidence that she's every bit the scribe she ever was. By weaving her relationship with her husband into the story of founding this farm, she's created a story about the glories of locavorism—a movement that involves eating locally produced, sustainable foods—that deserves a place on the bookshelf next to Michael Pollan's Omnivore's Dilemma and Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.

Beachbody Rating: 9 out of 10 free-range eggs.

Related Articles
"Garden State: 3 Quick Steps to Home Gardening in even the Smallest of Spaces"
"Beachbody® Book Fair"
"10 Reasons to Eat Organic—and Local"

Questions about your workout program, diet, the latest newsletter, or anything wellness related? Chat with the overseer of Beachbody's fitness and diet development, who also serves as your Fitness Advisor on the Message Boards, Steve Edwards, on Tuesday, December 21st, at 8:00 PM ET, 5:00 PM PT. Go to the Beachbody Chat Room.

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.

Check out our Fitness Advisor's responses to your comments in Steve Edwards' Mailbag on the Message Boards. If you'd like to receive Steve Edwards' Mailbag by email, click here to subscribe to Steve's Health and Fitness Newsletter. And if you'd like to know more about Steve's views on fitness, nutrition, and outdoor sports, read his blog, The Straight Dope.

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Bring Home BRING IT! for the Holidays

Tony Horton's "Bring It!"Tony Horton's putting the X in Xmas this season! The Master of Motivation's new book Bring It! hits bookshelves December 21st, but you can preorder yours now at the following online retailers for up to 46% off the retail price!

Amazon.com
Barnes & Noble.com
Borders.com
Indiebound.org

Order today to make sure Bring It! gets brought in time for Christmas!

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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Tis' the Season to Have Cocktails: 8 Lower-Calorie Drinks to Enjoy

By Stephanie S. Saunders

Who doesn't like a good cocktail during the holidays? Sure, spending 3 days straight with your extended family might have something to do with it, but beside that, everyone likes to let loose at this time of year. And there are plenty of occasions to do so. From the office holiday party, to the lighting of the menorah, to the various "Eve" and "Morning" festivities, there's no shortage of celebrations in which to involve libations.

Cocktails

Unfortunately, most holiday cocktails tend to give the gifts of too much fat and too many calories. One cup of eggnog has 343 calories and 19 grams of fat (see this week's recipe below for a lighter version)! It's a meal in a cup, with a ton of added fat and sugar. Then, there are the hot chocolates, mulled ciders, and traditional grogs that chase away the winter chill but help hold on the pounds. And we can't forget about all of the themed mixed drinks that make every party a bit more fun, and our waistlines a bit more full. So how do we enjoy the fun of the holiday season without having to hide behind bulky sweaters till July? Here are 8 fun drink ideas that are lower in fat, calories, and sugar than their original versions.

Pumpkin Pie Martini

Yeah, I know. It's as good as it sounds. There are several pumpkin liqueurs on the market, which are convenient, but add a ton of calories. By using the actual squash, you get the flavor without the calories—and, believe it or not, a little fiber in your drink.

  • 6 oz. canned unsweetened pumpkin
  • 6 oz. vanilla-flavored vodka
  • 4 oz. fat-free condensed milk
  • 4 oz. unsweetened almond milk (or fat-free milk)
  • 4 Tbsp. pumpkin pie seasoning
  • Ice cubes
  • 6 crushed reduced-fat vanilla wafers

Place vodka and pumpkin in bowl, and stir until pumpkin has melted. Stir in condensed milk and almond milk. Add seasoning. Dip rim of glass in crushed vanilla wafers. Pour liquid over ice into glass and enjoy. Serves 6.

Nutritional Information (per serving):
Calories Protein Fiber Carbs Fat Total Saturated Fat
105 2 grams 1 gram 6 grams <1 gram <1 gram


Grog

GrogIt's rich history dates back 400 years, when it used to be rationed out to sailors at sea. The big babies wouldn't drink their scurvy-preventing dose of lemon juice straight, so the powers-that-be dressed it up with a little rum. Since the added ingredients only serve to make it that much tastier, it stands to reason that being "three sheets to the wind" was fairly common.

  • 2 lemons
  • 4 Tbsp. of sugar
  • 4 whole cloves
  • One whole orange peel
  • 4 oz. golden rum
  • 10 oz. water
  • 4 cinnamon sticks

In a pan, combine the juice from the lemons, and one of the lemon peels, with the sugar, cloves, orange peel, cinnamon sticks, and water. Let simmer for 15 minutes, and then slowly stir in rum. Pour though a fine strainer into mugs, and serve each mug with a cinnamon stick. Serves 4.

Nutritional Information (per serving):
Calories Protein Fiber Carbs Fat Total Saturated Fat
118 <1 gram <1 gram 14 grams <1 gram <1 gram


Gingerbread Toddy

In cold weather, a hot drink can warm you up faster than a Snuggie® and an electric blanket. This hot toddy will get you warm, and make you think you are eating gingerbread cookies in the process. Yummy.

  • 1 oz. brandy
  • 1 oz. gingerbread liqueur
  • 1 lemon wedge
  • 8 oz. hot water
  • Cinnamon stick (optional)

Pour ingredients into a preheated mug in the order listed. Serve garnished with a cinnamon stick to stir. Serves 1.

Nutritional Information (per serving):
Calories Protein Fiber Carbs Fat Total Saturated Fat
155 <1 gram <1 gram 11 grams <1 gram <1 gram


Holiday Hot Chocolate

Hot ChocolateYou can obviously buy no-sugar-added hot chocolate in packages, and do this the easy way. But you're no slacker. You can make homemade hot chocolate, which makes your house smell amazing, and impresses your friends and family.

  • 4 cups evaporated fat-free milk
  • 1 cup fat-free milk
  • 1/2 cup baking chocolate
  • 2 Tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup sugar, or natural sugar substitute, like agave
  • 6 oz. Frangelico® liqueur

Combine evaporated milk, fat-free milk, chocolate, vanilla, and sugar in pan and heat over stove on low. Stir in Frangelico. Pour into mugs and serve with a small candy cane. Serves 6.

Nutritional Information (per serving):
Calories Protein Fiber Carbs Fat Total Saturated Fat
340 16 grams 2 grams 45 grams 6 grams 3 grams


Peppermint Martini

This is, perhaps, the simplest and tastiest low-calorie cocktail out there. Just three ingredients and a bit of candy cane. It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

  • 9 oz. vanilla vodka
  • 9 oz. peppermint schnapps
  • 3 oz. fat-free condensed milk
  • Ice
  • Mini candy canes

Place all liquids in a martini shaker with ice. Shake and pour into glasses. Serve with a candy cane. Serves 6.

Nutritional Information (per serving; not counting the candy canes):
Calories Protein Fiber Carbs Fat Total Saturated Fat
232 1 gram <1 gram 13 grams <1 gram <1 gram


Mulled Apple Cider

Apple CiderNothing makes a house smell more like Christmas than some mulled apple cider—except those overpriced candles that they constantly advertise on TV. And this tastes better, so take that, Glade®!

  • 8 cups apple cider
  • 1 3-inch cinnamon stick
  • 10 whole cloves
  • 1 navel orange, peeled and sliced crosswise
  • A 2-inch piece of peeled fresh ginger, cut into 6 slices
  • 4 oz. light brandy

In a large saucepan, combine cider, cinnamon stick, cloves, orange and ginger, and simmer the mixture for 20 minutes. Pour brandy into pan. Strain the mixture through a fine strainer into a heatproof pitcher, and serve the mulled cider warm. Serves 6.

Nutritional Information (per serving):
Calories Protein Fiber Carbs Fat Total Saturated Fat
202 <1 gram <1 gram 37 grams <1 gram <1 gram


Blitzen's Bliss

Given Blitzen is the final reindeer in the lineup, he probably gets knocked around a fair bit by the sleigh over the course of Christmas Eve. But once he has circumvented the globe, he comes home, has a few of these, and it's all good. Not only does he feel better, but since they're just 130 calories apiece, he doesn't feel all bloated for his Christmas dinner the next day.

  • 2 cups pomegranate juice
  • Juice of two limes
  • 8 oz. vodka
  • 1 tsp. peppermint extract
  • 12 ice cubes
  • 6 mini candy canes
  • 4 Tbsp. chopped mint

Place all liquids in shaker with ice. Shake and pour into individual glasses. Top with sprinkle of mint and candy cane. Serves 6.

Nutritional Information (per serving; not counting the candy canes):
Calories Protein Fiber Carbs Fat Total Saturated Fat
130 <1 gram <1 gram 11 grams <1 gram <1 gram


Sangria for Santa

Santa really appreciates the cookies and milk. But after hundreds of years, he's over it. Want to be on the nice list next year? Then get a little naughty. Leave some sangria for Santa by the fireplace.

  • 10 green grapes, halved
  • 4 fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
  • 1 peach, pitted and sliced
  • 1 bottle of white or red wine
  • 1-1/2 cups white grape juice
  • 1/2 cup brandy
  • 2 sprigs fresh mint

Fill a large glass pitcher halfway with ice; add fruit and wine. Add juice and brandy; stir gently. Stir in mint. Let sit in refrigerator for 2 hours before serving. Serves 6.

Nutritional Information (per serving):
Calories Protein Fiber Carbs Fat Total Saturated Fat
183 1 gram 1 gram 14 grams <1 gram <1 gram


So if this holiday season finds you having a "cup of cheer," at least you can enjoy it and not have to wear your Santa outfit for the month of January. Happy Holidays!

Related Articles
"Holiday Hooch: 5 Holiday Favorites Made Healthier"
"Everything You Need to Know about the Glycemic Index"
"7 Days, 7 Desserts"

Questions about your workout program, diet, the latest newsletter, or anything wellness related? Chat with the overseer of Beachbody's fitness and diet development, who also serves as your Fitness Advisor on the Message Boards, Steve Edwards, on Tuesday, December 21st, at 8:00 PM ET, 5:00 PM PT. Go to the Beachbody Chat Room.

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.

Check out our Fitness Advisor's responses to your comments in Steve Edwards' Mailbag on the Message Boards. If you'd like to receive Steve Edwards' Mailbag by email, click here to subscribe to Steve's Health and Fitness Newsletter. And if you'd like to know more about Steve's views on fitness, nutrition, and outdoor sports, read his blog, The Straight Dope.

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Recipe: Low-Fat Holiday Eggnog

Recommended by P90X nutritionist Carrie Wiatt

Low-Fat Holiday EggnogWant to serve something festive that won't have you looking like Santa in the New Year? P90X nutritionist Carrie Wiatt's twist on this holiday favorite has a great carb-protein-fat ratio that'll help you stay healthy for the holidays.

  • 4 cups skim milk
  • 12 oz. evaporated skim milk
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • Ground nutmeg

Chill 6 oz. of the evaporated milk in the freezer for 30 minutes so it will whip better. In a saucepan over medium heat, whisk together skim milk, remaining 6 oz. of evaporated milk, eggs, and sugar. Rinse your whisk in hot water to ensure that no bacteria from the egg remain. Once you've done that, use a wooden spoon to stir the mixture on the stove constantly for 10 minutes until slightly thickened. (Do NOT boil.) Remove pan from heat; transfer mixture to a large bowl and let it cool for several minutes. Place chilled evaporated milk and vanilla in a small bowl and whisk together until slightly thickened. Add it to the egg mixture and whisk for a few minutes more, until frothy. Refrigerate for 4 to 24 hours. If the eggs begin to coagulate, you can strain the mixture to remove the solids. Top with ground nutmeg before serving. You may substitute 1/2 cup of rum or brandy for vanilla. Makes 12 servings.

Preparation Time: 20 minutes (mixing), 4 hours and 30 minutes to 24 hours (prechilling)

Nutritional Information (per serving)
Calories Protein Fiber Carbs Fat Total Saturated Fat
73 6 grams <1 gram 7 grams 2 grams 1 gram

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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