#392 (1/19/2010) IT'S ALL GREEK TO US!

Tell a friend

You are about to have your first experience with a Greek
lunch. I will kill you if you pretend to like it.

Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis

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Beachbody® Restaurant Rescue: Greek Edition

By Stephanie S. Saunders

Greek cuisine is generally simple, nutritious, and savory, combining the influences of many cultures into a melting pot of flavor. Yes, you read it right. This week, we're actually discussing a healthy international cuisine—healthy, because it uses a wide array of fruits, nuts, grains, legumes, cheeses, and vegetables, with a huge emphasis on heart-healthy olive oil. Seafood is also a huge staple of Greek eating, as are lamb, goat, chicken, and beef.

Greek Salad

Greece is the one country in the world where McDonald's® did not prove to be a success. So how is it possible that Greece is ranked number six in the world in obesity? Some would attribute it to the increased affluence of the Greek people, which means more refined sugar, late-night eating, and greater affordability of meat. With a bit of research, you might also discover that there are some aspects of a Greek menu which might be better left unordered. Baklava, anyone? So to help you figure it out, here is our latest installment of Beachbody Restaurant Rescue, the Greek Edition.


Much of what we think of as Greek food in this country would fall into the appetizer category. What is fascinating is that many of these dishes are the direct result of various invaders' seemingly constant occupation of Greece over the centuries. Some of these dishes are also found in Italian, Turkish, and Middle Eastern cuisines. Hummus, which can be found in virtually every grocery store in America, is completely Middle Eastern, regardless of what your local Greek restaurateur might tell you. Regardless of their origin, Greek appetizers are full of flavor and could comprise an entire meal's worth of calories, as they're usually eaten with bread.

For those unfamiliar with Greek cuisine, hummus is ground chickpeas and tahini sauce; tzatziki is Greek yogurt and cucumbers; dolmades are stuffed grape leaves; olive tapenade is puréed olives and spices; baked feta cheese is exactly as it sounds; and chickpea balls or falafel are fried balls of ground chickpeas and spices. Like I said, simple and nutritious.

  Calories Fat Carbs Sodium Protein
Hummus, 1/2 cup 217 11 grams 25 grams 291 milligrams 6 grams
Tzatziki, 2 Tbsp. 30 2.5 grams 2 grams 25 milligrams 2 grams
Dolmades, 3 rolls 200 5 grams 13 grams 167 milligrams 26 grams
Olive tapenade, 2 Tbsp. 80 8 grams 2 grams 260 milligrams 1 gram
Baked feta cheese, 2 oz. 180 15 grams none 176 milligrams 4.1 grams
Falafel, 4 balls 180 9 grams 21 grams 380 milligrams 5 grams


AvgolemonoLike all cultures, Greece has a huge array of soups to choose from. Some are even believed to have medicinal qualities. Like Mexican cuisine, Greek cuisine has a tripe soup called patsa, which is believed to cure a common cold or a hangover, and is good for the blood, whatever that means. I still believe anything made of sheep, goat, or lamb intestines that smells like a garbage dump can't be good for you. Luckily, there are other healthy, more appealing choices. Domatosoupa is a tomato-based soup with vegetables. Kotosoupa Avgolemono is a soup with eggs, rice, chicken, and vegetables. Lentil soup is pureed lentils, in a vegetable base.

  Calories Fat Carbs Sodium Protein
Domatosoupa, 5 oz. 111 4 grams 16 grams 290 milligrams 6 grams
Chicken and lemon soup, 5 oz. 219 6 grams 17 grams 435 milligrams 19 grams
Avgolemono, 5 oz. 143 4 grams 16 grams 200 milligrams 9 grams
Lentil soup, 5 oz. 236 3 grams 39 grams 507 milligrams 17 grams
Patsa, 5 oz. 227 6 grams 7 grams 221 milligrams 14 grams


Macedonian SaladIn Greece, salad making is an art form, with specific salads eaten at certain times of the year, always with seasonal produce. The Greeks also love their tomatoes, and you will find them in most salads and in many Greek dishes. As always, a salad is a fairly safe dinner starter, and Greek salads are full of pretty great stuff. A traditional Greek salad in this country consists of lettuce, tomato, onions, feta cheese, and olives. A Macedonian salad is eggplant, cabbage, peppers, carrots, and celery. The other two salads below are self-explanatory. Greek salads tend to be lightly dressed in lemon, spices, and olive oil.

  Calories Fat Carbs Sodium Protein
Greek salad, 7 oz. 158 11 grams 10 grams 652 milligrams 9 grams
Macedonian salad, 6 oz. 83 6 grams 18 grams 70 milligrams 2.9 grams
Cabbage and carrot salad, 4 oz. 73 4 grams 10 grams 15 milligrams none
Beetroot salad, 4 oz. 66 4 grams 10 grams 2 milligrams 0.5 gram

Main Course

SpanakopitaGreeks have no fear of eating meat, with special emphasis on lamb and seafood. You can find meat prepared in a variety of ways, from baked dishes combining several different meats, to entire lambs being roasted on a spit, to deep-fried seafood drenched in lemon juice. Regardless of your preference, try to consider using meat as the ancients did, as more of an accent to grains, vegetables, and cheeses. Should you be feeling particularly carnivorous, perhaps focusing on seafood and lean grilled meats and avoiding crispy pork and all things fried will save you hours on a treadmill.

Moussaka is ground lamb, eggplant, pasta, and a sauce, served in layers similar to lasagna. Lamb souvlaki is grilled lamb, marinated and served on a kabob. Chicken Athenian is a baked chicken breast stuffed with feta cheese, olives, and tomatoes. Spanakopita is a phyllo pastry shell covering baked feta cheese. Kalamaria is calamari that has been sautéed and covered in tomato sauce. A gyro is lamb and beef ground together, often served in a pita.

  Calories Fat Carbs Sodium Protein
Moussaka, 5 oz. 350 22 grams 22 grams 456 milligrams 16 grams
Lamb souvlaki, 5 oz. 110 5 grams 2 grams 320 milligrams 14 grams
Chicken Athenian, 5 oz. 638 41 grams 25 grams 637 milligrams 37 grams
Spanakopita, 4 oz. 260 8 grams 38 grams 650 milligrams 12 grams
Kalamaria, 5 oz. 400 38 grams 10 grams 100 milligrams 6 grams
Lamb and beef gyro sandwich, 1 pita 390 12 grams 50 grams 950 milligrams 22 grams


HalvasThe number one dessert in Greece is ice cream. There's practically an ice-cream shop on every corner. It's said that previous to the invasion of sweet shops, the Greeks would add sugar to just about anything, and create a dessert. Currently, candied eggplant isn't appealing to me, but before I never knew the pleasures of fudge brownie ice cream, who knows? The following are a few more traditional desserts you might find on a Greek menu.

Loukoumades is a Greek honey dumpling. Halvas is a candy consisting of sugar, lemon, and sesame. Baklava is a phyllo-dough pastry with nuts, honey, and a lot of butter. They're all bad for you.

  Calories Fat Carbs Sodium Protein
Loukoumades, 1 cookie 333 4.2 grams 69 grams 132 milligrams 6 grams
Halvas, 3 oz. 469 21 grams 60 grams 195 milligrams 12 grams
Baklava, 2-in. slice 334 22 grams 29 grams 253 milligrams 5 grams

Greece is a beautiful country with a rich history, warm people, and astounding vistas in every direction. With this incredible culture has come a delightful fusion of cuisines. Like most of the Mediterranean, the Greeks make any mealtime an event that should be celebrated with time, conversation, and various alcoholic beverages. I'm not suggesting you get hammered with your gyro sandwich on your lunch hour, but slowing down and actually paying attention to what we eat and who we're dining with can make a huge difference in the way we enjoy our meals. It also gives our stomachs time to signal to our brains that they're satiated, so perhaps we will overindulge a bit less. So next time you're eating out, give eating the Greek way a try—except for the plate-throwing part. You can probably go ahead and skip that.

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"Beachbody® Restaurant Rescue: Italian Edition"
"Beachbody® Restaurant Rescue: Mexican Edition"

Got something to say? Chat with the writers and other readers this coming Monday, January 25th, at 8:00 PM ET, 5:00 PM PT, in the Beachbody Chat Room!

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Cammie Lusk Wins $1,000 with P90X and Shakeology

"My life has changed, and it's only getting better!" - Cammie Lusk "Before" and "After" Photos

After the onset of multiple sclerosis, Cammie Lusk couldn't walk, and as her energy drained away, she slipped into depression. After trying P90X and Shakeology, she found the strength and energy she needs to be the mom and wife she wants to be.

Got something to say? Chat with the writers and other readers this coming Monday, January 25th, at 8:00 PM ET, 5:00 PM PT, in the Beachbody Chat Room!

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Climbing Michi's Ladder: Arugula

By Denis Faye

Arugula is just the American name for this aromatic salad green. In the UK, they call it rocket. In France, it's roquette—which is actually just a fancy way of saying rocket—but no matter what you call it, the stuff is a zingy addition to any salad.

Salad Bowl and Arugula on a Fork

The nutrition facts

Like many leafy greens, Arugula is nearly calorically void. Half a cup has 2 calories. It is filled, however, with some decent nutrients for those 2 calories, including 5 percent of the recommended daily allowance (RDA)* for vitamin A; 14 percent for vitamin K; and 2 percent for calcium, manganese, folate, and vitamin C. You'll also find a little bit of riboflavin, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium.

How do you eat this stuff?

Even if you're absolutely jonesin' for vitamin K, I would never ever recommend a salad made entirely of homegrown, mature arugula. I learned this one tear-filled, mouth-burning evening after making a bowl of rocket from the yield of my backyard garden. You may be able to get away with it if using milder, store-bought stuff, but still, I suggest using it as a spicy touch to a lettuce salad with a little oil and vinegar sprinkled on top. If you want to add a little zip to your pizza, wilted arugula makes a flavorful, peppery topping.

1 cup of raw arugula (20 g)
Calories Fat Carbs Fiber Protein
4 < 1 gram < 1 gram < 1 gram < 1 gram

Michi's Ladder is Beachbody's guide to nutritious eating. If you only ate from Tiers 1 & 2, you would have a near-perfect diet!

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"Climbing Michi's Ladder: Artichokes"
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Denis FayeGot something to say? Chat with the writers and other readers this coming Monday, January 25th, at 8:00 PM ET, 5:00 PM PT, in the Beachbody Chat Room!

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Test Your International Cuisine IQ!

By Valerie Watson

Caviar BliniOur nation is a fabulous mélange of cultures—and their cuisines! On one block, it's not uncommon to see a Mexican restaurant next to a Japanese teppanyaki house next to a French boulangerie next to an Indian eatery next to a Middle Eastern kebab palace. So now it's time to test how closely you've been paying attention to the various international hash houses you've sampled: match the ethnic foodstuff with the nation where it originated.

  1. Chiles Rellenos de Queso - Mexico. Green chili peppers stuffed with cheese and/or meat, coated in thin batter, fried, and served with piquant tomato-based sauce. Made perfectly, they're delectable. Made imperfectly, they're a lot like corn dogs with a vitamin-C-rich, green-vegetable surprise inside.
  2. Sauerbraten - Germany. Pot roast of beef marinated in red wine vinegar and spices. Often served with potato pancakes, apple sauce, and red cabbage. Eating this dish can give you the urge to don lederhosen and sing songs with a lot of oom-pah-pahs in them.*

    (*Depending on how many beers you consume with your meal.)

  3. Coquilles St. Jacques - France. Scallops sautéed with white wine, shallots, and mushrooms, tossed with savory cream sauce, then placed in individual scallop shells, topped with bread crumbs and Gruyere cheese, and broiled. That's a lot of steps for one entrée, but when it's done, c'est magnifique!
  4. Caviar Blini - Russia. Blini are thin, yeast-leavened pancakes made from buckwheat flour. Caviar? Well, it's fish eggs, and some folks insist it's a delicacy, so who am I to argue? But if you feel the way I do, you can serve your blini with fillings that are less off-puttingly textured and flavored, including fruit, potatoes, cheese, jam, and chicken.
  5. Feijoada - Brazil. Feijoada is a Brazilian stew of black beans with beef and pork meats, traditionally prepared over a slow fire in a clay pot and served with white rice and oranges. The meats in question often include ears, feet, bellies, tail, and tongue, which might go a bit beyond the definition of “recycling” most of us have grown accustomed to.

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