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

Issue #017 02/23/10 QUICK AND EASY DINNERS!

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7 Days, 7 Dinners

By Joe Wilkes

If you're trying to get in shape, dinner can be a really dicey time. It's when a lot of us gather with family or friends, and it can entail a big home-cooked meal, a large pizza, or a bucket of chicken. No one's going to appreciate being served a scoop of cottage cheese and a mixed-greens salad when they were expecting lasagna or kung pao chicken. Here are some healthy ideas that'll keep you on track nutritionally but won't get you in the doghouse with your dining companions.

Stuffed Peppers

Note: All Nutritional Information is for one serving.

Sunday: Turkey Chili

Turkey ChiliChili is one of the dishes that's actually fun to make and healthy to eat. If you check out Beachbody's (or anyone else's) fast-food guides, you'll see that Wendy's® chili is one of your healthiest fast-food options. With tomatoes for vitamins, beans for fiber, and some kind of meat or other protein source, the myriad chili recipes out there offer lots of options for a well-balanced meal. Here's a good basic recipe, but half the fun of chili-making is improvisation. That's why chili cookoffs are so popular. Spice it up if you have an iron stomach, or substitute your favorite lean meat or textured vegetable protein. Experiment with different beans and other legumes. The chili pot also can be a great repository for soon-to-spoil leftovers. Just try to avoid certain popular mix-ins like cheese and sour cream that add more fat than flavor. Also, when buying ground turkey, look for extra-lean or all-breast meat. Many "lean" varieties of ground turkey have as much fat as hamburger.

  • 1 lb. ground turkey, extra lean
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 large can (28 oz.) tomatoes, crushed or diced
  • 1 can (12 oz.) tomato sauce
  • 1 can (15 oz.) kidney or pinto beans, rinsed
  • 2 tsp. chili powder (or more to taste)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

In large saucepan, brown ground turkey in olive oil. Spoon out any excess fat. Add onion, garlic, and pepper, and sauté until veggies are soft, about 5 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and simmer 10 to 15 minutes. Can be served immediately (although leftovers are great, too). Serve with hot sauce to taste. Serves 4.

Preparation Time: 15 to 20 minutes

Nutritional Information (per serving):

Calories Fat Total Carbs Fiber Protein
296 9 g 24 g 7 g 33 g

Monday: Chicken Florentine

Chicken FlorentineThis recipe was inspired by a dish I had at Dan Tana's in Los Angeles. James Woods is a frequent guest of the restaurant and has a veal scallopine dish with spinach named after him there. This isn't that dish, but it uses a couple of elements that can make a dish healthier, including making a paillard and sautéing in broth. A paillard is usually a piece of veal or beef pounded thin to tenderize the meat. In addition to tenderizing, it's also a great way to get more surface area out of your favorite protein. To make a paillard, wrap the meat in a high-quality plastic wrap (heavy duty, if available; otherwise, your kitchen will look like a crime scene) and pound away with a meat tenderizer or mallet until you reach the desired thinness. It's good for venting your frustrations as well as turning a small piece of meat into something that feels like a bigger portion. Sautéing it in broth (in addition to oil) also is a good way of reducing calories while creating a yummy sauce.

  • 1 chicken breast, skinless and boneless, pounded thin
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth, low-sodium
  • 1 cup spinach, steamed
  • 1 slice provolone or mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In an ovenproof skillet on the stovetop, sauté garlic in olive oil and broth. Cook until soft but not brown. Add chicken breast and cook until done. If pounded thin enough, it should just take a couple of minutes per side (don't panic if it's a little underdone; it's going in the oven later). Remove skillet from stove and pile spinach on top. Place cheese on top of spinach. Put pan in oven until cheese melts, then put chicken on plate and drizzle pan broth over it as sauce. This recipe is pretty low-carb, so you might serve it with whole-grain pasta if you're not watching your carbs. Serves 1.

Preparation Time: 10 to 15 minutes

Nutritional Information (per serving):

Calories Fat Total Carbs Fiber Protein
416 24 g 10 g 4 g 40 g

Tuesday: Fish Tacos

Fish Taco IngredientsYou don't have to live in Baja to enjoy fast and healthy Baja cuisine. Instead of tacos full of cheese, sour cream, and fat, try these easy-to-make high-protein treats that feature heart-healthy avocado. If you're not crazy about fish, add extra salsa. These are also great projects for kids to assemble.

  • 1 medium tomato, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • Juice of one lime, or more to taste
  • 6 oz. white fish fillet, like tilapia, snapper, or cod
  • 2 soft corn tortillas
  • 1/2 cup cabbage, shredded
  • 1/2 avocado, chopped
  • 1 jalape�o, chopped (optional)
  • Salsa, low-sodium (optional)

Toss tomato, onion, and cilantro with lime juice, and set aside for flavors to combine (add chopped jalape�o for extra kick). You could also skip this step and use a low-sodium store-bought salsa. Steam or grill fish, or sauté it in a little lime juice. Warm tortillas in oven or microwave, and pile with fish, cabbage, avocado, and salsa. Serves 1.

Preparation Time: 10 minutes

Nutritional Information (per serving):

Calories Fat Total Carbs Fiber Protein
511 19 g 45 g 13 g 49 g

Wednesday: Stuffed Peppers

Stuffed PepperThis recipe is always a crowd-pleaser, presentation-wise. It can also be made with ground turkey or vegetarian burger crumbles. As a time-saver, many stores now carry prepared brown rice, which saves a lot of cleanup as well. Stuffed peppers freeze well, too, so this is a good recipe to supersize for future meals.

  • 1 lb. ground beef, extra-lean (less than 5 percent fat)
  • 1 cup brown rice, cooked
  • 2 cups tomato sauce
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 6 green bell peppers

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut tops off peppers and remove seeds and membranes. Mix first seven ingredients and stuff mixture into the bell peppers. Bake for 1 hour and serve! Serves 6 (although they're pretty low-cal—you could eat two easily).

Preparation Time: 10 minutes (more, if cooking rice from scratch)

Nutritional Information (per serving):

Calories Fat Total Carbs Fiber Protein
208 5 g 23 g 6 g 19 g

Thursday: Shrimp Stir-Fry

Shrimp Stir-FryStir-frying is fast, easy, and a great way to use up vegetables that might not make it to the end of the week. Four cups of veggies to a pound of shrimp is a pretty good ratio—although you can always add more veggies.

  • 1 lb. raw shrimp, peeled
  • 1 Tbsp. ginger root, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp. sesame oil
  • 3 to 4 Tbsp. chicken or vegetable broth
  • 4 cups mixed vegetables (broccoli, peppers, carrots, celery, etc.)
  • 1 bunch scallions, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 2 cups brown rice, cooked

Sauté ginger and garlic in sesame oil until soft. Add shrimp and cook about 3 to 5 minutes, depending on the size of the shrimp. Set shrimp aside. Add broth, veggies, scallions, cayenne pepper, and soy sauce to pan and sauté until veggies reach desired softness (I like mine a little crunchy). Use enough broth so the veggies don't burn, but not enough to make soup. Toss the shrimp back in, mix together, and serve over rice. Serves 4.

Preparation Time: 15 to 20 minutes

Nutritional Information (per serving):

Calories Fat Total Carbs Fiber Protein
303 5 g 36 g 9 g 31 g

Friday: Oven-Poached (or Dishwasher) Salmon

Salmon SteakThis is a great recipe to make with little to no cleanup involved. By placing foil-wrapped packet in oven, you can skip the pot- or pan-cleaning that can make cooking such a hassle. However, if you don't have access to an oven (say, at work), you can actually make this in a dishwasher. The dishwasher method is less environmentally friendly, but much more amusing. Please keep in mind, though, that it's a pretty big waste of water, so try to dishwasher-cook more than one serving at a time to help justify the carbon footprint. (Note: For dishwasher method, DO NOT USE SOAP!)

  • 1 6-oz. salmon fillet or steak
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped dill
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 2 Tbsp. dry white wine
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped scallions
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Get a big enough piece of foil (about 12 square inches) to hold the fillet as well as the other ingredients when folded. You might consider doubling the foil to prevent leakage. Put foil salmon packet in broiler and cook for 15 minutes or until salmon is pink all the way through. (If using the more controversial dishwasher method, cook for one wash and dry cycle, and we can't stress enough, NO SOAP!) Serves 1.

Preparation Time: 15 minutes

Nutritional Information (per serving):

Calories Fat Total Carbs Fiber Protein
344 14 g 1 g 1 g 22 g

Saturday: Portuguese Kale Soup

Portuguese Kale SoupThis is a favorite of mine to make on the weekend. It makes the house smell great, and I have lunch leftovers for days. Kale and leeks are both super-healthy, so don't skimp! You can substitute veggie sausage or leave out the sausage completely, and just add a little extra garlic and pepper for flavor.

  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 to 3 large leeks, chopped, just white and light green parts
  • 12 oz. turkey kielbasa, chopped
  • 1 bunch kale, torn and stemmed
  • 1 can kidney beans
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 6 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • Salt and pepper to taste

In a large stockpot, sauté garlic and leeks until soft. Add kielbasa and brown. Add kale, beans, tomatoes, and broth and simmer on low heat for 30 minutes. Serves 4.

Preparation Time: 30 to 40 minutes

Nutritional Information (per serving):

Calories Fat Total Carbs Fiber Protein
377 19 g 36 g 10 g 23 g

Feel free to eat any of these dinners on 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 four of our series and get recipes for 7 Days, 7 Snacks. Bon appétit!

Related Articles
"7 Days, 7 Breakfasts"
"7 Days, 7 Lunches"
"14 Ways to Follow the P90X Nutrition Plan on the Road"

Got something to say? Chat with the writers and other readers this coming Tuesday, March 2nd, at 3:00 PM ET, 12:00 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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11th Law of Exercise: Food and Supplements

By Tony Horton

You are what you eat! Food and supplements are your fuel. The right fuel gives you proper energy, aids recovery, and helps balance brain chemistry.

Healthy Food; Supplements on a Fork

Even though my job title is Trainer and Coach, I put a lot of time and energy into diet and supplementation. We need energy and enthusiasm to exercise. That energy and enthusiasm is determined by the quality of fuel we choose. The Double Es (as I call them) can make or break your day. When they're strong, we're strong. When they waver, we falter. Your fuel intake is a key component to your success with Power 90® and P90X® (and everything else in life). Healthy, nutritious food provides the energy you need to get through a hectic day. Poor food choices (aka "FOOD PORN") causes napping. Your choice. When you do the right thing, you're sharp, ready, enthusiastic, and willing to take on the day. When you fill your gullet with processed foods and grease, trying to organize a sock drawer feels like climbing Mt. Everest.

Everything you put in your mouth—all the food, snacks, liquids, supplements, and even drugs (prescription or otherwise)—affects your quality of life. Excess quantities of low-quality food and drink can and will lead to weight gain, excess fat stores, heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and even things like arthritis, osteoporosis, and Parkinson's disease. Recent research shows that this is only a partial list. A poor diet will affect mood, energy, and strength, and destroy healthy sleep patterns (see Law # 8: Sleep [and Stress]). Recent studies have also shown that a poor diet leading to extra pounds increases your risk of cancer of the breast, prostate, colon, esophagus, ovaries, uterus, kidneys, and possibly more.

Eating high-quality foods, combined with proper supplementation, greatly reduces the risk and the possibility of developing and/or dying from such health problems. High-quality foods and supplements assist in lowering fat stores, losing weight, increasing energy, recovering from workouts, and maintaining healthy bones, muscles, and joints. Supplementation and eating well also reduce bouts of depression, sadness, and anxiety while promoting psychological well-being. The Power 90 and P90X diet plans show you what kinds of foods to eat and when to eat them. In the test groups I witnessed firsthand the difference between folks who ate well and took their supplements and those who didn't.

I take my supplements every day. My belief is that going without them is like going without water. They supply us with the nutrients required for living a healthy lifestyle. The vitamins and minerals in supplements work together with food to supply us with the energy we need to do a six-day-a-week program like Power 90 and P90X. Supplements are NOT drugs. A prescribed drug is taken when your body and/or mind is no longer capable of functioning normally. Supplements are taken to subtly assist the mind and body to reach beyond everyday activities.

Bacon with "FOOD PORN" StampWhen it comes to food, I have never been a calorie counter. I have enough things to think about, and keeping track of calories is not one of them. I'm equally uninterested in percentages, formulas, and "weird" combinations of different foods to trick the body into losing weight for a short period of time. This battle of overeating, eating garbage pretending to be food, and choosing dangerous ways to lose weight is a nightmare. If you really care about your health, you must clean up your diet. If you consume high-quality fuel, your mind and body run smoothly. Low-fat chocolate cake is NOT a healthy choice. Fat-free potato chips aren't healthy either. Bacon, for example, is not the best way to start your day. This stuff is FOOD PORN.

Don't get caught up in all the fad diets and weight loss pills. Long-term success doesn't happen with Atkins, Slim-Fast, or the Coconut Diet. It happens when you consistently eat lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats. Showing up for six workouts a week requires great discipline. It's also important to show restraint and discipline in your choices regarding food and supplementation. Our bodies don't run on exercise, they run on the fuel we put in our mouth. You cannot substitute good exercise for a bad diet. Good diet and exercise have to happen at the same time. If you bring the same level of consistency and discipline to your daily fuel intake as you do to your workouts, you'll greatly reduce a lifetime of health risks, improve your overall quality of life, and see much greater physical change in a shorter period of time.

Tony H.

Related Articles
"8th Law of Exercise: Sleep (and Stress)"
"5th Law of Exercise: Reality"
"6th Law of Exercise: Sports"

Got something to say? Chat with the writers and other readers this coming Tuesday, March 2nd, at 3:00 PM ET, 12:00 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: Chicken and White Bean Soup

Chicken and White Bean Soup

Here's a classic Tuscan comfort food that's full of protein, fiber, and flavor, but low in fat. It's the perfect food to warm you up on a cold winter night.

  • 4 cups roasted chicken meat, skinless, shredded
  • 1 can cannellini (white kidney) beans, rinsed
  • 2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 leeks, cut into 1/4-inch rounds (white and light green parts only)
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh sage, chopped (or 1/4 tsp. dried)
  • 3 cups chicken broth, low-sodium
  • 2 cups water

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add leeks and cook, stirring often, until soft, about 3 minutes. Stir in sage and continue cooking until aromatic, about 30 seconds. Stir in broth and water, increase to high heat, cover, and bring to a boil. Add beans and chicken and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until heated through, about 3 minutes. Serve hot. Makes 8 servings. Click here to get more great healthy recipes when you sign up for Team Beachbody®.

Preparation Time: 10 minutes

Cooking Time: 15 minutes

Nutritional Information (per serving):

Calories Protein Fiber Carbs Fat Total Saturated Fat
231 26 g 3 g 15 g 7 g 2 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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