Extreme Newsletter—Diet and fitness tips, recipes, and motivation

Issue #016 02/17/10 QUICK AND EASY LUNCHES!

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7 Days, 7 Lunches

By Joe Wilkes

Lunchtime's a real danger zone for most people trying to lose weight and keep their bodies—not to mention their wallets—in shape. For most of us, lunch happens somewhere in or around the workplace, which means looming nutritional and financial disasters if there isn't a brown-bagging strategy in place. If I don't bring my lunch to the Beachbody® office, there are always the siren songs of the nearby McDonald's®, KFC®, and Wienerschnitzel® to reduce my bank account and expand my waistline. Or I could take the marginally healthier approach of buying the $10 salads from the lunch guy who shows up at the office, yet another semi-delicious path to financial ruin.

Tuna and White Bean Salad

The best choice is to make your own lunch. You control what goes into the meal and what goes into your body. Instead of the artificial colors, flavors, and various incarnations of high fructose corn syrup you get from the local fast food chain, you can fill your plate with fresh whole foods that will energize your body and save you a ton of money. As my grandfather used to say, there's no point putting your paycheck through your stomach. So here are some healthy ideas to get you through the day with high energy and low cost.

Note: All Nutritional Information is for one serving.

Sunday: Tuna and White Bean Salad

Tuna and White Bean SaladOn Sundays, I like to make a big batch of soup or a salad that will keep for a few days so I have leftovers for the week. While it's noble to attempt to prepare a fresh lunch from scratch every evening or morning, schedules and snooze alarms can sidetrack the best-laid plans. It's nice to have a big bowl of something in the fridge as a backup so if I sleep through the alarm bell in the morning, I won't drive through the Taco Bell® in the afternoon. This recipe's a great source of protein and fiber, and if you want to improvise, it's a great way to use up leftover veggies in the fridge. This meal's good to go for up to 2 days after you make it.

  • 2 6-oz. cans water-packed tuna (reduce olive oil amount if using oil-packed tuna)
  • 2 cups canned white cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 1 cucumber, chopped
  • 2 plum tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 cup canned or jarred artichoke hearts, chopped (reduce olive oil amount if using oil-marinated artichoke hearts)
  • 1 bunch parsley, stemmed and chopped
  • 1 tsp. fresh rosemary, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp. lemon juice (or more to taste)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Mix first eight ingredients in a large bowl. Whisk or mix garlic, olive oil, and lemon juice in a small bowl or cruet with salt and pepper to taste. Add dressing mixture to large bowl with first eight ingredients, and toss. Serves 4. (For extra zip and fiber, serve on a bed of raw arugula or spinach leaves.)

Preparation Time: 15 to 20 minutes

Nutritional Information (per serving):

Calories Fat Total Carbs Fiber Protein
372 12 g 40 g 11 g 33 g

Monday: Turkey Avocado Wrap

Turkey Avocado WrapSomewhere between a pita and a tortilla, a lavash is a low-fat wrap from the Middle East. It's typically lower in carbs than pitas and lower in fat than tortillas, but not all lavash wraps are created equal. When you're shopping, read the label to make sure your dietary requirements will be met. Try to find whole wheat versions. Some brands also augment the protein and fiber contents or add flavors like spinach or sun-dried tomato (which add more color than nutritive value). Making a wrap is a great way to repurpose leftovers like chicken, turkey, or tofu. You can make some delicious combos using what's in your fridge . . . Or try this recipe. (I used Joseph's whole wheat lavash.)

  • 1 lavash wrap
  • 1/2 avocado, mashed
  • 4 slices (3 oz.) deli-style turkey breast or 2 oz. firm tofu
  • 2 slices low-fat Swiss cheese
  • 1/4 cup arugula
  • 1/2 tomato, chopped
  • 2 thin slices red onion

Spread mashed avocado on flattened lavash. Layer remaining ingredients on top of lavash.

Preparation Time: 10 minutes

Nutritional Information (per serving):

Calories Fat Total Carbs Fiber Protein
460 20 g 31 g 14 g 45 g

Tuesday: Healthy Chicken Caesar Salad

Chicken Caesar SaladIf you know Michi's Ladder, you might remember that Caesar salad is way down on Tier 4, the Dodgy Tier. What gives? It's a salad, right? Yeah, but when it's all glopped up with mayonnaise-y dressing and deep-fried croutons, it's not really much in the nutrition department. This recipe uses a tofu-based dressing, so you get extra protein instead of extra fat and calories. You won't taste the difference. And if you skip the chicken, this makes a great vegetarian meal or side dish. The dressing also makes a great sandwich spread or veggie dip.

Tofu-Caesar Dressing:
  • 1 package (10 oz.) soft silken tofu
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce (use anchovy-free sauce if you're vegetarian)
  • 2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. cracked black pepper
  • 3 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese, grated

Mix all ingredients in a blender or food processor until creamy. Makes 16 2-tablespoon servings.

Preparation Time: Less than 10 minutes

Nutritional Information (per 2-tablespoon serving):

Calories Fat Total Carbs Fiber Protein
40 3 g 1 g < 1 g 3 g
  • 3 cups romaine lettuce, torn in bite-size pieces
  • 1 skinless, boneless chicken breast, broiled and diced
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat croutons
  • 2 Tbsp. Tofu-Caesar Dressing
  • 2 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese
  • Fresh ground pepper

Toss lettuce, chicken, and croutons with dressing. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese and ground pepper on top.

Preparation Time: 15 minutes (less if dressing is already prepared)

Nutritional Information (per serving):

Calories Fat Total Carbs Fiber Protein
311 9 g 18 g 4 g 39 g

Wednesday: Shakeology® Oatmeal

Shakeology and OatmealAt Beachbody, there's usually some Shakeology around, so if I've forgotten my lunch, I often improvise with some Shakeology and whatever ingredients I can scrounge (but no stealing from the office fridge—not cool!). This mixture of instant oatmeal, peanut butter, and Shakeology ends up tasting a lot like cookie dough. That would have been my lunch of choice as a kid, but now it's good for me!

  • 1 cup unflavored instant oatmeal, prepared
  • 1 scoop Chocolate Shakeology
  • 1 Tbsp. peanut butter, unsalted and unsweetened
  • 1 Tbsp. flaxseeds

Prepare one packet of oatmeal. Now listen up—this is important. LET THE OATMEAL COOL until it's close to room temperature. If you add the Shakeology when the oatmeal's too hot, you'll kill the healthy enzymes in every scoop, and you don't want that on your conscience. After the oatmeal's cool enough, mix in the Shakeology, peanut butter, and flaxseeds, and eat!

Preparation Time: 5 minutes

Nutritional Information (per serving):

Calories Fat Total Carbs Fiber Protein
430 15 g 51 g 10 g 28 g

Thursday: Lentil and Feta Salad

Lentil and Feta SaladLentils contain lots of healthy protein and are tasty and economical. They're also good sources of iron, as well as other vitamins, minerals, and amino acids. And they come in different colors, including red, green, and brown, so you can make a salad as appealing to the eye as to the palate. This Middle Eastern–style recipe makes for a filling lunch, or you could have half a portion with half of Monday's Turkey Avocado Wrap. If you use canned lentils, try to find low-sodium varieties. Your best bet is to cook dried ones the night before. You can also boil the lentils with a bay leaf or other spices for extra flavor.

  • 3 cups cooked or canned lentils
  • 1 cup feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1 cucumber, diced
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 cup mint leaves, chopped
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Combine first nine ingredients in a large bowl. Whisk together lemon juice, olive oil, thyme, and salt and pepper, and toss with first nine ingredients. Cover and refrigerate for an hour or two. You can eat it as soon as it's done, but it just gets better the longer the flavors combine. The next day is the best! Makes 4 servings.

Preparation Time: 20 minutes (mostly chopping)

Nutritional Information (per serving):

Calories Fat Total Carbs Fiber Protein
424 19 g 45 g 16 g 21 g

Friday: Pita Party

Pita PartyThis is a great desk lunch. It's like having a cocktail party at your desk (minus the cocktails). You can combine the ingredients so that no two bites are the same. For a busy day without time for a proper sit-down lunch, this is a good way to graze. If you have a bento box–style container with compartments, this is a perfect time to bust it out. The fat and salt contents of hummus vary greatly by brand, so if you don't make your own from scratch (we'll have a recipe in an upcoming newsletter), make sure you read the nutrition label. To reduce the calorie content even more, invite a coworker to your party! (If they don't have tzatziki at the store, combine 1 cup of nonfat yogurt with one minced garlic clove, half a chopped cucumber, fresh chopped dill, and salt to taste.)

  • 1 whole wheat pita, quartered
  • 1/2 cup hummus
  • 1 cup tzatziki
  • Optional: Cut-up carrots, celery, peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, cherry tomatoes, etc.

Bring containers of hummus and tzatziki to work, and dip pita pieces in either or both of them. Bring your favorite crudité-style veggies and dip them as well for a sinless end-of-the-week treat.

Preparation Time: 10 minutes

Nutritional Information (per serving, not counting veggies):

Calories Fat Total Carbs Fiber Protein
511 14 g 71 g 13 g 30 g

Saturday: Mini-Pizzas

Mini-Pizza IngredientsThis recipe's from my friend Ali, who is allergic to gluten but has found a way to still enjoy pizza on the weekend without the gluten and without a lot of the fat and calories of store-bought or delivery pizzas. Try this recipe with your own favorite toppings. It's also a great recipe for kids.

  • 1 spelt (or brown rice) tortilla
  • 2 Tbsp. tomato sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh basil, chopped
  • 1/4 cup mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/4 cup chicken breast, chopped
  • 1/4 cup part-skim mozzarella (or soy cheese), shredded
  • 4 tomato slices

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Lightly toast the tortilla. Be careful not to overcook it—just a couple of minutes, enough to give it the structural integrity to hold the toppings. After you've toasted the tortilla, spread a thin layer of tomato sauce on top. Add basil, mushrooms, and chicken, and top with cheese and tomato slices. Return to oven for 5 minutes or until cheese has melted. Let cool slightly and serve. It's so low in calories, you could even have two!

Preparation Time: 10 to 15 minutes

Nutritional Information (per serving):

Calories Fat Total Carbs Fiber Protein
310 12 g 35 g 2 g 14 g

Feel free to eat any of these lunches any day of the week. And repeat your favorites. Most of these can be integrated into your favorite Beachbody meal plan, including P90X®. Come back next week for part three of our series and get recipes for 7 days, 7 dinners. Bon appétit!

Related Articles
"7 Days, 7 Breakfasts"
"10-Minute Recipe: Power Yogurt Breakfast"
"Recipe: Thin Mint Treat"

Got something to say? Chat with the writers and other readers this coming Monday, February 22nd, at 8:00 PM ET, 5:00 PM PT, in 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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Pink Talks P90X with Oprah

Tony Horton and Dreya Weber

Everyone was talking the day after the Grammy® Awards about Pink's gravity-defying performance of "Glitter in the Air." She talked with Oprah Winfrey later that week about how she got into the tremendous shape that turned her into the "human sprinkler," and the secret was P90X. Kudos to Pink (and to Dreya Weber, the P90X star whom the eagle-eyed may have spotted as one of the gold-painted aerialists).

Related Article
"Losing Weight with P90X"
"A Girl's Guide to P90X"

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10th Law of Exercise: Flexibility

By Tony Horton

Flexibility is the fountain of youth. Flexible people are much less prone to injury. Yoga and stretching allow you to bring more intensity to your workouts. Flexibility is the key component to becoming less vulnerable and more durable. Aging has a funny way of making everything we do harder. Staying limber and flexible is the way to prevent that from happening.

Flexible Woman

When I was a young lad, there was really no such thing as stretching. When I heard the word yoga, I thought people were mispronouncing yogurt. Come to think of it, I didn't know what yogurt was either . . . some kind of healthy sour milk. Nasty! (I love it now!)

Back in the '60s (yes, I'm that old), there were benchmarks that determined how fit you were: push-ups, pull-ups, dips, sit-ups (not crunches), the 100-yard dash, and touching your toes. The first five items on the list involved strength and speed. Some kids had it, while others did not. I was in the "did not" category. (That changed later.) Touching your toes was a breeze for all of us. Even out-of-shape kids like me could touch their toes.

When you're young (no matter what kind of shape you're in), you're naturally flexible and prone to recover quickly. Kids get scrapes, bruises, even broken bones, but it's pretty rare for a young child to pull a muscle, and if they do, they recover in the blink of an eye. Back in the good old days, the focus was on running faster and jumping higher. The only kids in my neighborhood who stretched were gymnasts or ballerinas. Try to imagine a stretch class for children in the '60s. Yeah, right!

Back in the day, proper stretching didn't happen. For most adults it still doesn't. Studies show that pulled muscles (due to lack of flexibility) cause as many people to quit their fitness programs as joint injuries. Back and hamstring muscle strains/injuries can take as long to heal as broken bones . . . or longer.

People hate to stretch because they think it's too boring. They believe stiff, tight people can't become flexible. They say stretching and yoga are too uncomfortable, and they don't see results fast enough. People don't like it because it cuts into their workout time. I'm here to tell you it's time to rethink the importance of flexibility.

Tony Horton StretchingStretching, yoga, and Pilates improve overall body awareness, enhance all aspects of physical fitness, reduce muscular soreness, and increase skill levels during training and athletic performance. Flexibility increases mental relaxation, greatly reduces the risks of various injuries (like back problems, muscle strains, and joint sprains), and slows the aging process in muscles and joints. Who wouldn't want all that?

The only reason people don't become more flexible is because they're not willing to put in the time. The axiom for other aspects of fitness also applies to flexibility: you get better at the things you do often. Stretching and yoga are just as important as strength conditioning and cardiovascular fitness. Stretching and yoga can replenish the natural flexibility and durability we have when we're younger. If you decide and commit to becoming less vulnerable through flexibility, you will also discover a calmness (much like meditation) that comes with stretching and yoga.

Flexibility is the Fountain of Youth. Give yourself that amazing gift. Here's to touching your toes.

Tony H.

Related Articles
"1st Law of Exercise: Variety"
"5th Law of Exercise: Reality"
"6th Law of Exercise: Sports"

Got something to say? Chat with the writers and other readers this coming Monday, February 22nd, at 8:00 PM ET, 5:00 PM PT, in 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.

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Recipe: Zesty Chicken with Brown Rice

Zesty Chicken with Brown Rice

All right. Truth be told, this recipe takes a good bit longer than our usual 10-minute recipes. It really takes about 45 minutes, but you could shave some serious time off by using precooked rice. Otherwise, start the rice, knock out a couple of 10-Minute Trainer® workouts while you're waiting, and before you know it, it's chicken time!

  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut into 1-in. strips
  • 2 cups brown rice
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 4 cups water
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 can low-sodium diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup low-sodium chili sauce
  • 1-1/2 cups green pepper, chopped
  • 1-1/2 cups celery, chopped
  • 1/4 cup onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh basil (or 1 tsp. dried), chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh parsley (or 1 tsp. dried), chopped
  • 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper

Heat 2 Tbsp. of olive oil in a large pot on medium heat. Add rice and stir until it starts to crackle (about 2 minutes). Add water and 1/2 tsp. of salt. Cover pot and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cook for about 30 minutes, until rice is soft. In a deep skillet, heat 1 Tbsp. of olive oil on high. Cook chicken in skillet until juices run clear when chicken is pierced (about 4 minutes). Reduce heat and add remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for another 10 minutes. Serve over cooked brown rice. Makes 4 servings.

Preparation Time: 15 minutes

Cooking Time: 45 minutes

Nutritional Information (per serving):

Calories Protein Fiber Carbs Fat Total Saturated Fat
310 31 g 5 g 43 g 6 g 1 g

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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