Jack LaLanne: 1914–2011

Monday, January 31, 2011 | 0 comments »

By Steve Edwards

Jack, you lied.

You said if you died it would ruin your image, but now that you're gone, nothing has changed.

You were THE fitness icon yesterday; you're THE fitness icon today. Without you, it's impossible to say if there would even be a fitness industry. You started it, you grew it—your influence never waned, and you are still its leader. I think it's safe to say your image is, and always will be, intact.

Jack LaLanne is my hero. I suppose that if pressed, I have others, but he's the first and only one I recognize. And even though his aforementioned famous saying, "I can't die, it would ruin my image," is challenged by his passing, this has little bearing on the validity of his life.

Because Jack's MO had nothing to do with dying. It had to do with living—getting the most out of the days you're given. He wasn't above a bit of hyperbole if it drove his cause, but he was never more straightforward than when he said, "Billy Graham preaches about the hereafter. I preach the here and now."

"My name's Jack," he told my friend Denis, who'd referred to him as Mr. LaLanne, with a look that clearly stated "save the 'mister' for old people, buddy." He was 95. I only met Jack once, but I felt like I knew him well. He was an open book when it came to what drove his existence. To all of us whose lives are a passionate pursuit of fitness, he was simply The Man.

Jack wasn't always this way. Just the last 80 or so years. A sickly childhood motivated his transformation. His mother took him to a presentation on nutrition when he was 15 that changed him. By 21, he'd opened his own health club—back when it not only wasn't trendy, it was practically unheard of.

"People thought I was a charlatan or a nut," said Jack. "The doctors were against me—they said that working out with weights would give people heart attacks and they would lose their sex drive."

Much of the younger generation only knows Jack as "that juicer guy" from a series of infomercials he did late in life. When I tell the under-30 set about Jack's fitness achievements, I generally encounter bewilderment or simple disbelief. But Jack practically invented modern weight training. He invented the Universal Gym, an industry standard for 50 years. He invented and popularized both supplements and specific diet plans for exercise, and he was almost single-handedly responsible for the movement that had athletes train with weight for sports. Without Jack, there would be no P90X®, no INSANITY®, no Beachbody®.

One of my favorite anecdotes is about how Jack got a coach to allow him to train a university football team. The coach was skeptical, thinking that weight training would make the players "muscle-bound." Jack met the team at some sand dunes, hoisted the largest player over his shoulder (Jack was 5' 6"), and sprinted up the highest dune. He got the job and never looked back.

Jack parlayed his passion into a career in television, where The Jack LaLanne Show was a daytime staple for 3 decades. His target audience of stay-at-home moms may have hurt his credibility as a serious fitness enthusiast with scientific types, but those who paid attention knew differently. Though the routines he provided were simple, he found ways to sneak in moves that no housewife—or any person except him, in many cases—could emulate, like fully extended one-arm (arm stretched above his head) fingertip dynamic push-ups.

Then, of course, there were his challenges. He explained them to Donald Katz, in a highly entertaining article in Outside magazine in 1995, this way: "I started the feats because everyone said I was just a muscle-bound charlatan. I had to show them I was an athlete."

"Maybe you don't believe in Jesus," he continued. "But was Jesus a showman? Why did he go around making the blind see and the lame walk and those kinds of things? He did it to call attention to his philosophy."

You won't see Jack's obituary in the sports pages, but that's only because he had no rival. His sports—or feats—were so far ahead of what others were doing, no one else could play. These displays of strength and fitness were so far ahead of the curve they couldn't be measured. Not one of Jack's challenges has been repeated—not one. I submit that he's the best physical specimen—the best athlete—who ever lived.

"'Come to the beach and do some chin-ups with me, Arnold,'" said Arnold Schwarzenegger, quoting Jack at the legend's 95th birthday party. "He didn't tell me that we were going to do chin-ups for 1 hour straight without stopping."

The audience all laughed, but Arnold was likely recounting an actual experience. Jack once did 1,000 chin-ups and 1,000 star jumps in 1 hour and 22 minutes. When a friend of mine was breaking the Guinness World Records® record for number of chin-ups in an hour a few years back, he began with 600 and worked his way to 719—about 25 percent less than what Jack was doing half a century earlier, before we even consider the star jumps. Jack once started doing push-ups during an hour-long TV show and kept going until it ended.

Jack's feats, often done on his birthday, were not about ego or bravado. They were simply a way to justify his training system—or philosophy. After all, it's hard to dismiss a guy as merely "muscle-bound" when you shackle his hands and feet, throw him in the water, and attach him to 70 boats (with a person in each), and then watch him tow them all more than a mile—especially when the guy in question is 70 years old.

As a spokesman, Jack pulled few punches. He had a shtick that he'd champion at any opportunity, from his "if man makes it, don't eat it" stance on nutrition to the evils of sugar and junk food, about which he said, "It destroys the B vitamins. It destroys your mind, affects your memory, your concentration. Why do you think so many of these kids today are screwed up? It's what they're eating. You know how much sugar Americans consume today in white flour, cakes, pies, candy, and ice cream? Would you get your dog up in the morning and give him a cigarette, a cup of coffee, and a doughnut? How many millions of Americans got up this morning with a breakfast like that? And you wonder why people are sick and obese."

On fad fitness equipment, Jack once marveled to Outside, "Have you seen some of the crap they're selling as exercise equipment now? How about that Suzanne Somers? She should have been thrown in jail for selling the piece-of-crap ThighMaster. It just develops a little muscle on the inner thigh. What good is that? And have you seen Tony Little, the guy who screams on TV? He's like an imbecile. He says you need this little thing to hold you while you do a sit-up. Why does the government let him get away with it?"

Of course a guy who's pulling boats around at 70 has some strong opinions on age: "Don't talk age! It has nothing to do with it. One of my guys who started out at my gym is 87 now, and he still does 10 bench-press reps with a 100-pound dumbbell in each hand. He's training to set a leg-pressing record. I put things in the guy's brain way back when, and now he'll never get away from it."

And on living in general, Jack said something I've tried to follow my entire life—my mantra, if you will: "I train like I'm training for the Olympics or for a Mr. America contest, the way I've always trained my whole life. You see, life is a battlefield. Life is survival of the fittest. How many healthy people do you know? How many happy people do you know? Think about it. People work at dying; they don't work at living. My workout is my obligation to life. It's my tranquilizer. It's part of the way I tell the truth—and telling the truth is what's kept me going all these years."

Jack was so good at telling the truth, he did it even when he was lying. His time on earth may have passed, but his image will loom large for eternity.

A list of his birthday challenges:
  • 1954 (age 40): Jack swam the entire length of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco underwater with 140 pounds of equipment, including two air tanks. A world record.
  • 1955 (age 41): Jack swam from Alcatraz Island to Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco while handcuffed. When interviewed afterward, he was quoted as saying that the worst thing about the ordeal was being handcuffed, which reduced his chance to star jump significantly.
  • 1956 (age 42): Jack set a world record of 1,033 push-ups in 23 minutes on You Asked For It, a television program hosted by Art Baker.
  • 1957 (age 43): Jack swam the Golden Gate channel while towing a 2,500-pound cabin cruiser. The swift ocean currents turned this 1-mile swim into a swimming distance of 6.5 miles.
  • 1958 (age 44): Jack maneuvered a paddleboard nonstop from Farallon Islands to the San Francisco shore. The 30-mile trip took 9.5 hours.
  • 1959 (age 45): The year The Jack LaLanne Show went nationwide, Jack did 1,000 star jumps and 1,000 chin-ups in 1 hour and 22 minutes .
  • 1974 (age 60): For the second time, Jack swam from Alcatraz Island to Fisherman's Wharf. Again, he was handcuffed, but this time he was also shackled and towed a 1,000-pound boat.
  • 1975 (age 61): Repeating his performance of 21 years earlier, Jack again swam the entire length of the Golden Gate Bridge underwater and handcuffed, but this time he was shackled and towed a 1,000-pound boat.
  • 1976 (age 62): To commemorate the United States bicentennial, Jack swam 1 mile in Long Beach Harbor. He was handcuffed and shackled, and he towed 13 boats (representing the 13 original colonies) containing 76 people (representing the Spirit of '76).
  • 1979 (age 65): Jack towed 65 boats in Lake Ashinoko, near Tokyo, Japan. He was handcuffed and shackled, and the boats were filled with a total of 6,500 pounds of Louisiana Pacific wood pulp.
  • 1980 (age 66): Jack towed 10 boats in North Miami, Florida. The boats carried 77 people, and he towed them for more than 1 mile in less than 1 hour.
  • 1984 (age 70): Once again handcuffed and shackled, Jack fought strong winds and currents as he swam 1.5 miles while towing 70 boats (bearing a total of 70 people) from the Queen's Way Bridge in Long Beach Harbor to the Queen Mary.

By DeLane McDuffie
  1. What cocktail is reported to be America's first? Creole pharmacist Antoine Peychaud invented the Sazerac back in the 1830s. A West Indian native who immigrated to New Orleans in 1795, Peychaud's French Quarter pharmacy gained popularity after word spread about his patented ailment concoction. In June 2008, the Louisiana House of Representatives, in a 62-33 vote, declared this mixture of absinthe (or Herbsaint liqueur), rye whiskey, Peychaud's Bitters, lemon, sugar, water, and ice the official cocktail of the city of New Orleans.
  2. What Louisiana dish is made up of multiple birds? The turducken. For the uninitiated, a turducken is essentially a partially deboned turkey stuffed with a deboned duck that's stuffed with a deboned chicken. (Insert: Heavenly chime music). Man, it's hard to smile, salivate, and type this up at the same time. Anyway, each fowl comes with its own layer of Cajun stuffing, thus creating cuisine that can cause carnivorous connoisseurs to cry out and congratulate Creole and Cajun cooks from across the country. Some turduckens can serve about 20 people (or 20 servings for yourself).
  3. Which beloved Mardi Gras food usually has a little plastic baby hidden in it? That would be King Cake. In Europe in the Middle Ages, folks began celebrating the coming of the Three Wise Men, or Kings, bearing gifts for the baby Jesus on the twelfth day after Christmas, hence the name Epiphany or Twelfth Night. The French began a custom of baking cakes in homage to the three kings. From Epiphany to Mardi Gras (the day), King Cake is eaten throughout The Pelican State. It's made of braided Danish pastry and cinnamon, and is often filled with cream cheese and fruit fillings. Almost always adorned in the official colors of Mardi Gras—purple for justice, green for faith, and gold for power—a King Cake has a plastic or porcelain baby, representing the baby Jesus, hidden inside. The person who finds the baby in his or her slice has to host the party next year.
  4. Which fiery drink, invented at New Orleans' famed Antoine's Restaurant, was used to mask alcohol during Prohibition? Café Brulot Diabolique, or "Devilishly Burned Coffee," owes its existence to Jules Alciatore. He first brewed this devil's coffee back in the 1890s. This digestif is prepared in an incendiary fashion. The ingredients (brandy, sugar, lemon peel, cloves, and cinnamon sticks) are put into a fireproof bowl and heated over an open flame. After the brandy gets hot, that's when you light the match. Whoosh! Ever seen Backdraft? Then, you finally add the hot coffee to the already flaming brandy. Kids, don't try this at home. Hmmm . . . in that case, adults, don't try this at home. Let a professional bartender prepare it.
  5. Which drink did Louisiana governor Huey Long call his "gift to New York"? A cousin of Gin Fizz, Henry C. Ramos' Ramos Gin Fizz was the talk of the town back when it debuted in 1888. Today, some people believe that it's doomed to be on the endangered cocktails list because of its legendary high degree of mixing difficulty. It's a hard drink to master (but an easy one to drink). A classy, old-school debonair gentleman like Ramos Gin Fizz in these times of short attention spans, quick fixes, and soft drink-energy drink-club drink-sugary drink drinks has to fight for survival. Most Ramos Gin Fizz recipes call for lemon juice, lime juice, dry gin, sugar, cream, milk, egg white (powdered egg white, if you don't want to down a raw egg), and the "hard-to-find" orange flower water (also called orange blossom water). Huey Long was a fan; in fact, on a business trip to New York, he brought along a Crescent City bartender who would whip up a fresh cocktail whenever the governor wanted one. Long introduced the Big Apple to one of the Big Easy's signature cocktails.

Climbing Michi's Ladder: Chard

Saturday, January 29, 2011 | 0 comments »

By Denis Faye

No, it's not over-grilled meat. It's a leafy green vegetable that's a member of the beet family. However, unlike its shirt-staining cousin, you actually eat the leaves of chard, not the root (although beet leaves are growing in popularity). It also goes by the names Swiss chard and silver beet.

The nutrition facts

You get a whopping 35 calories from a cup of boiled chard, and 4 grams of fiber. You'll also get 214 percent of the recommended daily allowance (RDA)* of vitamin A, 53 percent of vitamin C, 17 percent of vitamin E, 38 percent for magnesium, 22 percent for iron, 27 percent of potassium, 29 percent of manganese, 14 percent of copper, 10 percent of calcium, and a freakishly huge 716 percent of the RDA for vitamin K. And there's a little thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, folate, phosphorus, and zinc for your effort.

How do you eat this stuff?

Feel free to try and eat it raw, but it's pretty tough and bitter, so you're better off boiling it or sautéing it with a little olive oil and apple cider vinegar, maybe with a clove of minced garlic. As with bok choy, the stems take longer than the leaves to cook, so if you're a fancy chef-type, give them a 2- to 3-minute head start.

1 cup of chard, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt (175 g)
Calories Fat Carbs Fiber Protein
35 < 1 g 7 g 4 g 3 g

By Denis Faye

You may know it as Chinese cabbage or pak choi or you may not know it at all. A relative of good ol' American cabbage, bok choy has green leaves and white stalks. If you've ever had soup in a Chinese restaurant, you've probably eaten bok choy.

The nutrition facts

The beauty of some leafy greens is that they pack a massive nutritional punch while being almost calorically void. At 20 calories for a cup of boiled bok choy, you probably burn more preparing and eating it. But that cup also lands you 144 percent of the recommended daily allowance (RDA)* for vitamin A, 74 percent of vitamin C, 72 percent of vitamin K, and nice little hunks of thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate, vitamin B6, calcium, iron, manganese, and potassium. You also get 2 grams of fiber.

How do you eat this stuff?

Pretty much anything you do with cabbage you can do with bok choy, but the three standard methods of preparation are boiling, steaming, and stir-frying. Obviously, the first two are healthiest. The white stalks are much denser than the green leaves, so whichever method you use, separate the two parts and give the stalks a 2- to 3-minute head start in the pan, pot, or steamer.

1 cup of bok choy, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt (170 g)
Calories Fat Carbs Fiber Protein
20 < 1 g 3 g 2 g 3 g

By Valerie Watson

You've learned quite a bit about barley. Just to keep you well rounded, though, we thought we'd toss you a few questions about some other grains—and the diverse and tasty things made from them. See if you can match the food or beverage with the grain from which it's made:
  1. Grits – Corn. Grits is a Southern staple similar to porridge in consistency. It's made by coarsely grinding dried corn, cooking it in boiling water, and seasoning it with salt, pepper, butter, pork fat, bacon bits, or anything else you care to toss in. Grits can also be made from hominy, which is dried corn that's been soaked in lye-water to remove the hulls. The technical word for this process is "nixtamalization," but my personal word for it is "blecchhy"—when it comes to food, I'd rather leave my hulls in (more fiber!) and my lye out (less corrosion of my digestive tract!), thank you very much.
  2. Sake – Rice. Sake, as most people know, is a Japanese alcoholic beverage, but not everyone knows what it's made from: rice. More akin to beer than wine in its fermentation process, sake generally has a higher alcohol content than either. The production of sake dates back to the 3rd century AD, and sake holds an important place in Japanese history and ritual. According to tradition, one should not pour one's own sake. However, if one is alone, extremely thirsty, and not expecting company for a goodly amount of time, what the rest of us don't know (probably) won't hurt us.
  3. Muesli – Oats. Muesli is a cereal made from toasted rolled oats combined with various types of fruit and nuts. A fairly recent concoction, muesli was developed around 1900 by a Swiss physician, Dr. Maximilian Bircher-Benner, for the patients in his hospital, and it really began taking off in popularity around the 1960s because the healthful nature of its ingredients meshed well with the growing international interest in diet and fitness. Nowadays, muesli is often sweetened with honey or even used as a dessert topping or ice cream mix-ins, which is probably not exactly what the health-minded Dr. Bircher-Benner had in mind, but then again, he probably never tasted it mashed into a scoop of Peanut Butter Banana Fudge Ripple, either.
  4. Couscous – Wheat. Couscous, particularly popular throughout the Mediterranean and the Middle East, is made from semolina wheat pellets steamed until light and fluffy, then served with broth, stew, vegetables, meat, or fish. Couscous is similar in form and function to pasta or rice, but is at least twice as much fun to say. (Don't take my word for it; go on and try it for yourself.)
  5. Pumpernickel bread – Rye. Pumpernickel is a dark, heavy bread made either from coarsely ground rye, or from finer rye flour with whole rye berries. Traditional German pumpernickel is characterized by its long, slow baking time; its rich, dark color; and its somewhat sweet flavor, all achieved without later Americanizations like sweetening with molasses, coloring with coffee or cocoa, and/or leavening with yeast. In a delightful example of culinary split personality, pumpernickel is often paired with upscale treats like caviar and smoked fish, even though its name derives from the German words for "to break wind" and "goblin"—it's the rude little creature-emission that made good!

Climbing Michi's Ladder: Barley

Wednesday, January 26, 2011 | 0 comments »

By Denis Faye

Yes, beer is made from barley, but, no, that does not land beer in tier 1 of Michi's Ladder. Barley is actually a highly nutritious cereal grain with a nutty flavor. But to be completely honest, most cereal grains can be described as having a nutty flavor, so you should probably try it for yourself. It's a great way to get those complex carbohydrates without resorting to wheat.

The nutrition facts

The big draw when it comes to barley is the fiber hit—four times more than you'll get from an equivalent amount of brown rice or oatmeal. One raw ounce is 99 calories, with 1 gram of fat, 21 grams of carbs, 5 grams of fiber, and 3 grams of protein. As for micronutrients, you'll find 19 percent of the recommended daily allowance (RDA)* for manganese and 15 percent of the RDA for selenium, as well as thiamin, niacin, iron, magnesium, and phosphorus.

How do you eat this stuff?

Barley works pretty much like any other grain, so bread, pancakes, and muffins are all options. You can use cracked or flattened barley to make hot cereal. You can also add it to stews or soups to "beef" them up a little or just add flavor.

1 cup of barley, pearled, cooked (157 g)
Calories Fat Carbs Fiber Protein
193 1 g 44 g 6 g 4 g

By Stephanie S. Saunders

Thai cuisine dates back 4,000 years, when the region that is now Thailand was part of the major North/South trade route. As a result, this vegetarian-friendly fare has been influenced by China, India, and the Middle East. The United States saw its first immigrants from Thailand in the 1800s, but our true introduction to the cuisine came after the Vietnam War, thanks to soldiers stationed there during the conflict. With its unique tastes and vegetable combinations, a good Thai meal strives to balance five flavors: salty, sweet, spicy, bitter, and sour.

How can one go wrong when ordering from a Thai restaurant? Well, there are several ways. Although not meat-heavy, it can be "fry-heavy," as Thai chefs prefer things "crispy." They're also fond of coconut milk in their curries, and sugary peanut sauce, which is hardly fat free. And the average noodle dish can pack a 600-calorie punch, which is quite a bit if you're having multiple dishes. So, in this installment of Beachbody Restaurant Rescue, let's pay a visit to the land of Siam.


As is often the case, the real danger on a Thai menu lurks in the appetizer section. If you avoid all things fried, you might enjoy one of the following appetizers without doing too much damage to your thighs. And if you must fry it up a little, stay away from the Mee krob, which is a fried caloric nightmare. And be sure to remember that all dipping sauces have sugar in them, and will add 50 to 100 calories to that starter.

For those of us who do not enjoy Thai food regularly, here is an explanation of the appetizers:

Summer rolls are baked tofu, carrots, cucumbers, and red leaf and Thai basil wrapped with rice paper. Curry dumplings are dumplings with shrimp and scallops, served in a light green curry sauce. Satay is bamboo-skewered meat marinated in coconut milk and spices, served with peanut dipping sauce. Egg rolls are fried rice paper stuffed with cabbage, carrots, mushrooms, and vermicelli. Mee krob is crispy rice noodles with shrimp.

Calories Fat Carbs Sodium Protein
Summer rolls, 1 roll 47 1.5 g 12 g 279 mg 2 g
Curry dumplings, 1 dumpling 110 5 g 51 g 324 mg 10 g
Satay chicken, 1 skewer 135 4 g 3 g 320 mg 20 g
Egg rolls, 1 roll 240 8 g 40 g 330 mg 4 g
Mee krob, 4 oz. 443 42 g 14 g 312.5 mg 2 g


Like all Asian cultures, Thailand has a variety of soups, most of which are fantastic ways to begin a meal. Thanks to Buddhist influence, most Thai soups are vegetarian and fairly good for you, except when based in coconut milk. Like many soups, Thai soups pack a sodium punch, so if you are watching your sodium, try not to overindulge.

Lemongrass soup is a sour soup with oyster mushrooms, traditionally seasoned with lemongrass, lime leaves, bird's eye chili, and lime juice. Tom kha is a coconut soup with oyster mushrooms seasoned with galanga, lime leaves, lemongrass, bird's eye chili, and lime juice. Tofu vegetable soup consists of soybeans, baby bok choy, snow peas, cabbage, carrots, and green onions. Wonton soup is a wonton stuffed with chicken, and shrimp with Asian greens in a hearty chicken broth.

Calories Fat Carbs Sodium Protein
Lemongrass soup, 4 oz. 123 4 g 6 g 982 mg 16 g
Tom kha, 4 oz. 207 12 g 11 g 1,232 mg 31 g
Tofu vegetable soup, 4 oz. 253 9 g 29 g 2,134 mg 15 g
Wonton soup, 4 oz. 110 3 g 8 g 410 mg 10 g


Thai salads aren't exactly iceberg, croutons, and ranch dressing. Usually on the spicy side, they tend to include fascinating food combinations. A papaya salad is flavorful, different, and full of some healthy goodness. A Yum tai combines three different kinds of protein and has a lot of kick. Just be sure to avoid the Thai chicken salad, as it is just as bad for you as its Chinese counterpart.

A papaya salad is green papaya with lime juice, fish sauce, chili, bay shrimp, green beans, and a touch of garlic sauce. Pla-goong is grilled shrimp with lemongrass, lime juice, chili, and mint. Yam tai is a green salad with shrimp, chicken, hard-boiled egg, and crushed peanuts with sweet and sour dressing. Yum nua includes slices of herb-barbecued sirloin tossed in lime juice, tomatoes, Japanese cucumber, shallots, scallions, and bird's eye chili.

Calories Fat Carbs Sodium Protein
Papaya salad, 6 oz. 158 6 g 22 g 829 mg 4 g
Pla-goong, 6 oz. 220 2 g 1 g 123 mg 12 g
Yam tai, 6 oz. 290 7 g 54 g 720 mg 22 g
Yum nua, 6 oz. 324 10 g 33 g 874 mg 25 g


The entrée is where Thai cuisine shows its culturally infused history with an intricate combination of noodles, curries, stir-fries, meat, and seafood. In Thailand, rice is eaten at every meal, and it is always served here in Thai restaurants. Ordering brown rice, if available, will lower the glycemic index of your food, and make you feel satiated much sooner. Again, limiting the amount of coconut milk and fried dishes you order will go a long way toward saving you some calories. Also, remember that Thai food is usually served in large quantities, to be shared with an entire table, so watch your portion sizes.

Pad Thai is sautéed Thai rice noodles with baked tofu, egg, bean sprouts, scallions, and crushed peanuts. Pad see ew features Sen yai noodles sautéed in sweet soy sauce with Asian broccoli and egg. Thai fried rice is jasmine rice sautéed with onions, tomatoes, scallions, and egg. Gra pow is sautéed meat in fresh garlic and chili with red bell peppers, yellow jalapeño, and spicy holy basil. Penang is vegetables and Thai herbs and spices blended in mild chili paste with lime leaves, simmered in coconut milk. Kang dang is meat and Thai spices blended in hot chili paste with apple eggplant, bamboo shoots, Thai basil, and red jalapeño, simmered in coconut milk. Talay Thai is a seafood medley with Thai seasonings of garlic, lemongrass, basil, galanga, lime leaves, and chili peppers. Kang ped is roasted duck in a spicy red curry with pineapple, tomatoes, and Thai basil.

Calories Fat Carbs Sodium Protein
Pad Thai, 6 oz. 766 34 g 75 g 1,752 mg 34 g
Pad see ew, 8 oz. 535 6 g 103 g 1,342 mg 21 g
Thai fried rice, 8 oz. 580 17 g 93 g 702 mg 12 g
Gra pow, 6 oz. 152 4.6 g 9 g 1,056 mg 20 g
Penang, 4 oz. 472 40 g 15 g 786 mg 30 g
Kang dang, 4 oz. 385 26 g 8 g 653 mg 22 g
Talay Thai, 6 oz. 394 6 g 33 g 2,654 mg 42 g
Kang ped, 10 oz. 535 52 g 19 g 328 mg 7 g


There are a million real Thai dessert recipes out there, but most restaurants don't seem to serve them. Perhaps they would prefer to remain focused on the main courses, and let you fend for yourself after the meal. There's usually green tea ice cream, but that's more of a Japanese dessert. You'll usually find lychee fruit, typically covered in sugar. And a Thai iced tea has enough sugar and fat, thanks to the condensed milk, to satisfy your sweet tooth for a while. Again, if you can do without, avoid the extra calories.

Calories Fat Carbs Sodium Protein
Green tea ice cream, 4 oz. 140 8 g 15 g 40 mg 3 g
Lychee fruits, 4 oz. 113 1 g 23 g 2 mg < 1 g
Thai iced tea, 10 oz. 187 5 g 35 g 20 mg 2 g

Despite its healthy cuisine, Thailand is also being affected by an obesity epidemic that is astounding. One in five school-age Thai children is overweight, which the government attributes to sedentary lifestyles and an increase in refined sugar. Just like in the United States, children in Thailand are more interested in playing computer games than playing outside.

Unlike U.S. residents, the average Thai person eats out 13 times a week, as it is more economical and convenient than preparing food at home. And although one might think this adds to the obesity problem, eating out in Thailand is a very different experience than the typical American one. Here, we order an appetizer, a few dishes, a sugary drink, and sometimes dessert. In Thailand, eating out means a small bowl of food from a stall in a marketplace, which is eaten while in transit to work or home.

So should you have a craving for some Thai food, perhaps take a cue from the Thai people, and choose a small portion. Sometimes, savoring one dish can be as enjoyable as consuming several. And think of all the hours you will save not burning off coconut milk and peanut sauce. That alone can make any meal more appetizing.

Test Your Hot Tea IQ!

Monday, January 24, 2011 | 0 comments »

By Joe Wilkes

January is National Hot Tea Month, not to be confused with National Hottie Month, which has never been declared (if only Bill Clinton had served another term). Ever since the rise of Starbucks® and other gourmet purveyors of joe, coffee's less caffeinated cousin, tea, has been growing in popularity. And it's not your mother's Lipton® anymore. How much do you know about Camellia sinensis?
  1. What is traditionally known as The Champagne of Teas? Darjeeling is the preferred tea of the United Kingdom and much of its former empire. It produces a lighter tea than traditional black tea, mostly because the leaves have not been allowed to oxidize as long. It comes from the Darjeeling region of India, and differs from most Indian teas in that it is made from the traditional Chinese tea leaves instead of the larger-leafed Assam leaves, which most Indian teas are made from. Like French Champagne, true Darjeeling tea can be distinguished from copycats by a seal from the Tea Board of India.
  2. Which teas contain antioxidants—black, green, or white? All of the above. White tea has been found to have the most antioxidants, mostly catechins. Green tea is next, and black tea has the least, but all have quite a bit. Studies have shown that catechins can lessen the risk of stroke, heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. They've also shown a decrease in the aging process in mice, leading scientists to believe they may protect DNA. But here's a bummer for dairy lovers: if you take milk in your tea, you are likely not getting the benefits of the catechins, as their absorption is blocked by the milk protein.
  3. What is the common name for tea scented with bergamot oil? Earl Grey tea, which was named after former British Prime Minister Earl Grey. The bergamot orange is a citrus fruit somewhere between a lemon and an orange in flavor and shape. Bergamot oil, like grapefruit, can affect or impede certain medications. Bergamot oil in sufficient quantities (like a gallon or two of Earl Grey tea a day) can also block potassium. Variations include Lady Grey tea with lemon and French Earl Grey with rose petals. Twinings® is the official maker of Earl Grey, as endorsed by Richard Grey, the sixth Earl Grey.
  4. What is oolong tea? Oolong tea is a tea that has been oxidized less than black tea and more than green tea, kind of the half-and-half of teas. The oolong leaves are often rolled into balls as gunpowder tea, so named because the British remarked on its resemblance to ammunition pellets. By being rolled into balls, the tea leaves are kept from tearing, and the oils and flavor of the tea are better preserved. This allows oolong teas to be lightly roasted over longer periods of time. The amount of roasting is what often distinguishes the types of oolong tea. The name oolong means "black dragon" in Chinese, which could refer to its color and curled shape. Another story is that a hunter named Wu Long was interrupted by a deer while picking tea leaves, and by the time he had hunted the deer, the leaves had partially oxidized. The resulting brew was named for him. Oolong tea is also theorized to contain an enzyme that helps break down unhealthy triglycerides and speed up fat metabolism.
  5. What is the difference between English Breakfast and Irish Breakfast tea? Or, as they're respectively called in England and Ireland, tea. English tea blends contain more of the traditional Keemun, or typical Chinese Camellia sinensis, in their blends and the Irish prefer more of the Assam leaf (Camellia sinensis assamica) in theirs. They're not really worlds apart, but most find Irish tea blends to be stronger and more full-bodied. Or as my English friend Philippa said, "English is better than Irish." Or as my Irish friend Cormac responded, "It is, of course, the other way around." Another bit of trivia: Until the 18th century, tea and coffee were largely unavailable to the general English and Irish populations, and they had to rely on the all-time breakfast of champions, ale.

My Top 5: Tania Ante Baron

Sunday, January 23, 2011 | 0 comments »

By Team Beachbody

You probably know Tania as the trainer from the Shakeology® workouts or from shaking it with best friend Shaun T in Hip Hop Abs®, Rockin' Body®, and INSANITY®. Or you might have caught her on tour with Britney Spears or in one of her music videos. Tania has appeared on stage, on TV, and in the movies (look for her dancing the "Tango Maureen" in the film version of Rent). So when Tania says a song gets her going, you know it's going to be good. Check out Tania's top 5 workout songs.

  1. "Bamboo Banga" by M.I.A.
    I love the hard driving beats. It not only makes me want to dance, but it makes me kick up my intensity to another level.
  2. "Distortion" by David Guetta
    This song has a great tempo with a cool, electro-dance vibe. I love running to this track!
  3. "Eye Of The Tiger" by Survivor
    Who doesn't want to work out like Rocky Balboa? This song really amps up my weight-lifting workouts.
  4. "Separate Ways" by Journey
    Not only do I rock out to this song on road trips (belting out the lyrics at the top of my lungs), but it gives me the motivation to overcome obstacles.
  5. "Hot Like Wow" by Nadia Oh
    I love this sexy track. It instantly makes me get up and dance. It talks about having a body that's "Hot Like Wow"!

Beachbody® Book Fair

Saturday, January 22, 2011 | 0 comments »

Reviews by Denis Faye

Now that we're a few weeks into the New Year, you've done one of two things. Either you've made good on your resolution to eat better and you feel like a million bucks—even though you'd kill for a slice of strawberry cheesecake—or you went for that cheesecake, blew your resolutions, and now feel lower than the crumbs left on your empty Cheesecake Factory® plate.

Either way, you could certainly use some inspiration right about now, so we've picked out a little winter reading that might—or might not—do the trick.

Food Rules: An Eater's Manual by Michael Pollan (Penguin Books, $11.00)

In his last book, In Defense of Food, culinary journalist Michael Pollan managed to sum up healthy eating in seven simple words. "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants."

Unfortunately, this simple phrase can create more questions than answers for the uninitiated. And while In Defense of Food and its predecessor, Omnivore's Dilemma, are entertaining, thought-provoking reads, by no means are they simple road maps for dietary success.

Food Rules finds a middle ground. Seeking wisdom from both his own experience and that of his many readers, Pollan sets down a list of 64 simple laws to eat by, then offers a brief commentary for each. For example, rule #12 is "Shop the peripheries of the supermarket and stay out of the middle," because you'll find the good stuff—produce, dairy, meat, and fish—in the outer shelves of the store while the center aisles tend to be reserved for processed foods. I'm also quite fond of rule #39: "Eat all the junk food you want as long as you cook it yourself," which notes that if you only ate French fries that you chopped and fried yourself, you'd probably eat them a lot less often.

The book checks in at 140 pages with lots of illustrations and white space. It's a day's read or a couple months worth of daily meditation. The rules are simple and accessible, thus completely voiding criticism that paints Pollan as a "food elitist." To wit, rule #64: "Break the rules once in a while."

For the beginner, Food Rules are rules to live by. For the experienced, this is a well-written, amusing affirmation. It's definitely worth picking up.

Cook This, Not That! Kitchen Survival Guide by David Zinczenko and Matt Goulding (Rodale, $19.99)

If you're looking for something a little more nuts and bolts, the latest in the Eat This, Not That! series tackles domestic eating (finally) and does it right. As is the case with its predecessors, this book is incredibly comprehensive. It's made up primarily of recipes offering healthy, homemade versions of artery-clogging restaurant fare, and it covers the gamut from breakfast to dessert. It also includes best-to-worst-and-why rankings for common staples, such as meat, dairy, nuts, and breakfast cereals, as well as neat little charts called "matrixes" that allow you to create salad dressings, smoothies, or kabobs—among other things—to your liking while keeping them healthy.

If I have any criticism of this book, it would be that it's extremely meat-centric. (See Food Rules, rule #22.) It would have been nice to see far more vegetable-based recipes. Even the Brussels sprouts have bacon on them! But if you just remember to add a few leafy greens to whatever carnivore concoction you whip up from Cook This, Not That!, you'll be fine.

Vegan Freak: Being Vegan in a Non-Vegan World (Version 2.0) by Bob Torres and Jenna Torres (PM Press, $14.95)

On the other hand, you'll find not so much as a boiled-egg recipe in Vegan Freak. In fact, you'll find very little useful information at all. Instead, you'll get a 217-page diatribe from two very militant vegans who apparently feel anyone who doesn't see the world exactly as they do is a complete monster. Any karma these two may have earned treating animals fairly has probably been voided, thanks to the bile they spit on these pages.

The book is intended to be a hilarious primer for people interested in making the animal-products-free shift, but it fails on so many levels. They operate on the assumption that non-vegans make it their lives' work to torment and mock the chosen few who have seen the meat-free light. Then, with no apparent awareness of their hypocrisy, they go on to mock non-vegans with such rancor that were I on the fence about giving up animal products, I'd run out and buy a pair of Doc Martens® boots and a hamburger about halfway through the book just to spite them. (Full disclosure: I'm a pescatarian and agree with many of their stances, if not their attitude.)

More importantly, they don't even start offering usable information on going vegan until three-quarters of the way through, and even then, a lot of that advice involves suggesting other books to check out.

So I suggest you skip Vegan Freak and check out those other books instead. If you want to learn more about veganism, save yourself a lot of bad juju and check out Becoming Vegan by Brenda Davis for great how-to tips, and Veganomicon by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero for tons of great recipes.

No one likes it when sweet ol' Bessie the cow takes a bolt to the head, Mr. and Mrs. Torres, but life's too short to be that much of a hater.

By Valerie Watson

Our 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.

Climbing Michi's Ladder: Arugula

Thursday, January 20, 2011 | 0 comments »

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.

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 Protein Fiber Carbs Fat Total Saturated Fat
4 < 1 g < 1 g < 1 g < 1 g 0 g

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.

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


Like 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 Sodiuim Protein
Domatosoupa, 5 oz. 111 4 g 16 g 290 mg 6 g
Chicken and lemon soup, 5 oz. 219 6 g 17 g 435 mg 19 g
Avgolemono, 5 oz. 143 4 g 16 g 200 mg 9 g
Lentil soup, 5 oz. 236 3 g 39 g 507 mg 17 g
Patsa, 5 oz. 227 6 g 7 g 221 mg 14 g


In 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 Sodiuim Protein
Greek salad, 7 oz. 158 11 g 10 g 652 mg 9 g
Macedonian salad, 6 oz. 83 6 g 18 g 70 mg 2.9 g
Cabbage and carrot salad, 4 oz. 73 4 g 10 g 15 mg none
Beetroot salad, 4 oz. 66 4 g 10 g 2 mg 0.5 g


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


The 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 Sodiuim Protein
Loukoumades, 1 cookie 333 4.2 g 69 g 132 mg 6 g
Halvas, 3 oz. 469 21 g 60 g 195 mg 12 g
Baklava, 2-in. slice 334 22 g 29 g 253 mg 5 g

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.

By D. V. Donatelli

An ax-head chomps into your front door, is pulled out, and crunches again into the same spot, splintering the wood, sending a strip of the door clattering to the floor. A crazy old man puts his face into the gash, looks into the eyes of your terrified family, and announces, "HEEEEEEEERE'S WINTER!" Indeed, winter is here—the freezing cold, the leafless trees, the shoveling. With the holiday season past us, and with 3 months of miserable cold to come, we think this is pretty much the perfect time to see what you know about staying healthy in cold weather.
True or False?
  1. False: Wearing sunscreen is not important in the winter. While we're not getting the more-direct rays of the summer, sun rays in the winter can be just as damaging to the health of your skin, because they easily bounce off all the ubiquitous snow, doubling your exposure to their harmful effects. By this point, it should be widely known that it's always important to wear sunscreen if we're going outdoors, no matter what time of year it is, because the sun is a pernicious, insidious monster.
  2. False: When exercising outdoors in the cold, it is best to wear cotton. You would think that cotton, a natural textile, would be helpful in dealing with the harsh cold of winter, but because it so easily soaks up sweat, it is the last thing you want to be wearing—at least right next to your skin—if you're going to exercise outside. Experts suggest starting with a garment made of polypropylene, which pulls sweat away from the skin (our own Steve Edwards suggests Merino wool, which wicks perspiration even more effectively); followed by a fleece, for insulation; followed by a waterproof layer that is also breathable, to get the ideal mix of winter-exercise clothing. Also, shoes and socks are really helpful.
  3. True: In cold weather, eating lightly before going out is better than eating heavily. Digesting a big meal requires a lot of blood to be routed to your digestive system, pulling it away from the extremities, which are the first to feel the effects of cold weather, meaning you will get colder quicker if you go out into the cold after eating heavily. Instead, try a light snack, which should serve to drive up your body heat without diverting warm blood from the extremities. However, to quote the late great Frank Zappa, "Don't you eat that yellow snow."
  4. True: A person burns more than 400 calories per hour when shoveling snow. Anyone who's had to shovel a driveway is probably wondering how that number could be so low. Shoveling snow, in my opinion, is more difficult than childbirth. I don't have any facts or figures to back that up, but at least a woman giving birth is getting something out of it (a baby), and, after all, how many old men have you heard of dying of a heart attack during childbirth? I rest my case. Shoveling snow reminds me of the toils of Sisyphus, except after several trips up and down the hill, Sisyphus didn't have to then scrape a layer of ice off his car and drive to work. Lucky jerk.

My Top 5: Debbie Siebers

Monday, January 17, 2011 | 0 comments »

By Team Beachbody

Sometimes the best thing to get you off the couch and motivated to start getting active is a hot tune to get you energized. Here is the first in a continuing series of what some of our favorite Beachbody personalities are putting on their MP3 players and stereos to get them moving.

Debbie Siebers, creator of Slim in 6®

Slim in 6 creator Debbie Siebers describes what a big part music plays in her life. While she has eclectic tastes from all styles of music, she gravitates toward the classic Motown sounds to put herself in motion. Check out what's in heavy rotation on Debbie's playlist.
  1. "Mercy" by Duffy
    This song has such a rockin' beat! It really energizes me and motivates me to kick it up a notch and challenge myself.
  2. "Crash" by Gwen Stefani
    I love this song! It has a fantastic beat and is a fun groove that really gets me moving.
  3. "Got to Give It Up" by Marvin Gaye
    Every single time I hear this song, I must, and I MEAN I MUST GET UP AND DANCE . . . no matter where I am. It is truly one of my favorite songs of all time! So you can imagine how excited I was when the band at the Four Seasons Hotel played it this New Year's Eve! I was in heaven!
  4. "Little Ramona" by BR5-49
    What can I say? This brings out the rockabilly girl inside of me. I sing it out loud when I'm working out on the elliptical and don't even care who hears me! So fun and brings me back to my Midwestern roots.
  5. "Do You Love Me" by The Contours
    This song has extra meaning for me because Berry Gordy, the founder of Motown, who is like family to me and a mentor in my life, wrote this! I remember dancing to it with him in Maui. What a great night that was! I've even come up with my own cardio/dance moves to this song!

9 Foods That Can Fool You

Sunday, January 16, 2011 | 0 comments »

By Denis Faye

During my South Dakota, 1970s childhood, my mom used to order something called the "Diet Plate." Common in most Sioux Falls-area and greater-Minnesota region restaurants, it consisted of a scoop of cottage cheese; a couple canned peach halves, still dripping syrup; a hamburger patty; iceberg lettuce; and a sprig of parsley.

While delicious by mid-20th-century, Midwestern standards, it was about as calorie restrictive as the chicken-fried steak and baked potato my dad was eating across the table. Still, the perception was that this was diet food, most likely because each element in the "Diet Plate" had a vague resemblance to another healthier foodstuff—except the hamburger, that is. But that had to be there because this was South Dakota and any other meat would be deemed un-American.

It'd be nice to think that we've transcended the Diet Plate. Sadly, this isn't the case. Even today, there are dozens of foods we fool ourselves into thinking are healthful when, in truth, they do nothing but pad our hips and arteries. Here are nine of the worst offenders on your grocery store shelves.
  1. Yogurt. It starts out as good stuff. Fat aside, there's the calcium and protein you find in all milk products, along with probiotics, which make it easier to digest for those with lactose issues. The only problem is, straight yogurt can be pretty bitter, so manufacturers load the stuff with sugar to make it more palatable and masquerade those carbs as fruit. Have a look at most flavored yogurt, and you'll find the second ingredient to be sugar or high fructose corn syrup. One container of Yoplait® Original Strawberry is 170 calories with 5 grams of protein and 33 grams of carbohydrates, 27 of which are sugar. Oddly enough, these are the exact same nutrition facts for Yoplait's other, less healthy-sounding flavors, including Key Lime Pie and White Chocolate Raspberry.

    Solution: Buy plain yogurt and flavor it yourself. You'd be amazed at how far a handful of raspberries or a tablespoon of honey will go to cut the bitter taste. And while you're at it, choose the low-fat or fat-free stuff. You'll still get all the nutritional benefits.
  2. Wheat Bread. If you're reading this, you probably know enough about nutrition to understand that whole-grain wheat is better for you than refined wheat. By keeping the bran and germ, you maintain the naturally occurring nutrients and fiber.

    But for some reason, manufacturers constantly come up with new chicanery to lead you back to the refined stuff. One of their latest tricks is to refer to refined flour as "wheat flour" because, obviously, it's made of wheat. But just because it's wheat-based doesn't mean it's not refined. The distracted shopper can mistake this label for "whole wheat flour" and throw it in his cart. Another loaf of cruddy, refined, fiberless bread has a new home.

    Solution: Slow down when you read the label. That word "whole" is an important one.
  3. Chicken. Just because you made the switch from red meat doesn't mean you're in the clear. If you opt for dark meat—the wings, thighs, and legs—you're losing protein and gaining fat. Three ounces of raw chicken breast, meat only, is 93 calories, 19.5 grams of protein, and 1.2 grams of fat. Three ounces of dark meat, meat only, is 105 calories, 18 grams of protein, and 3.6 grams of fat. It doesn't seem like much, but it adds up.

    Solution: Go for the breast, and while you're at it, ditch the skin. It's nothing but fat.
  4. Frozen or canned fruit. Any food swimming in juice or "light syrup" isn't going to work in your favor on the scale. Furthermore, most canned fruit is peeled, meaning you're being robbed of a valuable source of fiber.

    Frozen fruit is a little trickier. While freezing preserves the fruit itself, adding sugar during the freezing process preserves color and taste; so many store-bought frozen fruits add it in.

    Solution: Read that ingredients list! You want it to say fruit, water—and that's it.
  5. Canned veggies. "What?" you declare. "There's light syrup in canned string beans, too?" No, actually, they add salt to preserve this produce. A half-cup serving of canned string beans has approximately 300 to 400 milligrams of sodium.

    Solution: Many companies offer "no salt added" options. If you can't find one to your liking, go frozen instead—no salt (or light syrup).
  6. Peanut butter. Squish up peanuts, maybe add a little salt. How hard is it to make that taste good?

    Apparently, it's so incredibly difficult that many companies feel compelled to add sugar or high fructose corn syrup into the mix. Why? I do not know. Some manufacturers, such as Skippy®, are up front enough to admit this and call their product "Peanut Butter Spread," but many others still refer to their sugary concoction as good old "peanut butter."

    Solution: Read the label. (There's a theme emerging here.) Considering real peanut butter has one ingredient, two ingredients max, it shouldn't be too hard to figure it out.
  7. Juice. The range in the nutritional value of store-bought juices is massive. On one end, you have "fruit drinks" with just a modicum of actual juice in them. On the other end, you have fresh-squeezed, 100% preservative-free juice such as Odwalla® and Naked Juice®. But no matter which one you choose, it's important to remember that it's never going to be as healthy as whole fruit. And if you're trying to lose weight, it's a flat-out bad idea. First off, it's been stripped of fiber, so you absorb it faster, which makes it more likely to induce blood-sugar spikes. Secondly, you consume it faster and it's less filling, so you're more likely to drink more.

    Solution: If you must buy it, go fresh squeezed, but you're usually better off just skipping it entirely.
  8. Canned soup. As is also the case with canned veggies, you're entering a sodium minefield. Half a cup of Campbell's® Chicken Noodle Soup has 890 milligrams of sodium. That's 37 percent of the recommended daily allowance (RDA)*—and who eats half a cup?

    Solution: Read those labels carefully. Most companies make low-sodium versions.
  9. Fat-free salad dressing: Dressing, by definition, is supposed to be fatty, thus highly caloric. You use a little bit of it and in doing so, you get a healthy hit of the fats you need for a nutritionally balanced diet. Unfortunately, people prefer to buy fat-free versions so that they can drown their greens yet avoid excess fat.

    Nothing's for free. All this stuff does is replace the fat with carbs and salt, so you've basically gone from pouring a little healthy, unsaturated fat on your salad to dumping on a pile of sugar. For example, Wish-Bone® Fat Free Chunky Blue Cheese is 7 grams of pure carbs and 270 milligrams of sodium for 2 tablespoons, which you'll never stop at anyway. Also, given that there's no fat or protein in this particular dressing, one can only imagine what makes it "chunky."

    Solution: Make your own salad dressing. One part vinegar and one part olive oil with a blob of Dijon mustard makes an awesome vinaigrette. And here's another trick: Make your salad in a sealable container, add a tiny bit of dressing, and shake it up. It'll coat so much more than tossing will.

    And finally, make that salad with romaine lettuce, spinach, or some other nutrient-rich leafy green. As far as we're concerned, nutrient-poor iceberg lettuce should have gone the way of the South Dakota Diet Plate.

Test Your Breakfast IQ!

Saturday, January 15, 2011 | 0 comments »

By Joe Wilkes

It may be the most important meal of the day, but how much do you know about these breakfast favorites?
  1. Which breakfast food is one of the few that contain vitamin D? The egg; its yolk in particular is one of the few food sources with naturally occurring vitamin D. In fact, the egg also is one of the best proteins for humans, containing nearly all the essential amino acids. Did you know a hen rotates the egg 50 times or more a day so the yolk won't stick to the side?
  2. How many pounds of bacon are produced in the U.S. each year? Two billion pounds of bacon are produced each year. That's almost 7 pounds for every man, woman, and child. In the U.S., bacon is made from the belly of the pig; in Canada, from the pork loin; and in Europe, from the thigh or shoulder.
  3. What are grits and groats? Grits, or hominy grits, are kernels of corn that have been soaked in an alkaline solution, which improves the flavor and texture of the kernel. It also makes it easier to grind. The flour used in corn products like tortillas and chips usually are ground from hominy grits. Groats are kernels of the oat grain with the hull removed. Groats are much chewier than rolled oats and require longer soaking to make them more edible. Irish steel-cut oats are chopped groats. They are chewier than regular oatmeal but cook faster than whole groats.
  4. How many pounds of milk does it take to make 1 pound of yogurt? One pound. It's made by adding bacteria to ferment the milk, without affecting the volume. Americans put away about 300,000 tons of yogurt each year.
  5. How many peanuts are in a 12-oz. jar of peanut butter? Five hundred and fifty peanuts are ground into one 12-oz. jar of creamy peanut butter. Peanut butter is largely consumed only in America. Only in the latter part of the 20th century has peanut butter caught on overseas, but it is still considered a specialty item abroad. It is believed to have initially been developed by a doctor for a patient with bad teeth.

By Ben Kallen

On a blustery winter morning, a hot and hearty breakfast is the most comforting way to start your day. It can also supply a significant portion of your daily nutrition, and get your body ready for whatever's to come. (Or, in the case of New Year's morning, make up for whatever excesses you may have indulged in the night before.)

A well-balanced breakfast is even more important than most people think. Complex carbs feed your brain and can literally make you smarter, while adequate protein keeps your blood sugar steady so you don't get snack cravings or conk out before lunch. (Of course, it's also necessary for fat loss and lean muscle growth.)

If you're in the habit of grabbing some toast, a granola bar, or even cold cereal with a little milk in the morning, you aren't getting all the nutrients you need, and probably aren't performing at your best throughout the day. Try the following hot, nourishing breakfast dishes instead. They're easy to prepare, and will provide a great nutritional foundation for your daily activities as well as for your fitness plan.

Overloaded Oatmeal

While it's a great source of slow-burning carbs, oatmeal doesn't have enough protein to be considered a complete breakfast on its own. But with a few extras, you can turn it into a filling one-dish meal that'll easily last you till lunch.

This simple recipe balances out your grains with plenty of protein, healthful fats from walnuts, and antioxidant-rich dried fruit.
  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned, steel-cut, or rolled oatmeal. (Any brand will do, but less processed oats taste better and are healthier than the "quick" or "instant" varieties.)
  • 1 cup nonfat milk
  • 1 scoop Beachbody Vanilla Whey Protein Powder
  • 1/2 oz. walnut pieces (or other nuts if you prefer)
  • 2 Tbsp. dark raisins, dried cranberries, or other dried fruit
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
Stir the oatmeal and milk together in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the walnuts, dried fruit, and cinnamon. Cook until the oats soften and thicken (or as long as the package instructions recommend), stirring constantly. Stir in the protein powder until smooth. If the mixture becomes too thick, add extra milk or water.

Calories Protein Carbs Fiber Fat
452 33 g 54 g 8 g 12 g

Hot Chocolate "Soufflé"

This is a delicious, filling breakfast that tastes like dessert, but is full of protein and fiber. (Just don't expect it to be as light as a regular soufflé.) Organic cocoa powder contains almost no sugar, is good for your heart, and has chemicals that provide a mental boost to help you get through your morning.
  • 2/3 cup low-sugar, high-fiber "pellet-style" cereal (such as Fiber One® or Trader Joe's High Fiber Cereal)
  • 2/3 cup egg substitute
  • 1/4 cup low-fat milk
  • Enough sweetener to equal 6 teaspoons of sugar, or to taste (you can use Splenda®, agave syrup, or any sweetener that can be heated)
  • 2 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder (organic and unprocessed if possible)
Mix ingredients and cook in a pot over low heat, stirring frequently, until mixture gets very thick. Pour into a bowl, and let it set for 3 more minutes before eating. (You can also cook the mixture in a microwave oven, as long as you stop and stir it every 30 seconds or so—and watch to make sure it doesn't bubble up over the edge of the container.)

Calories Protein Carbs Fiber Fat
316 26 g 38 g 19 g 3 g

Better Breakfast Sandwich

Far healthier than a fast-food breakfast but almost as quick to prepare, this sandwich is perfect for those rushed mornings when there's not much time to eat. Serve alongside a bowl of fresh berries or a glass of Shakeology® for an antioxidant boost.
  • 1 whole wheat English muffin
  • 1 whole egg and two egg whites
  • 1 Tbsp. low-fat milk
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 oz. slice low-fat cheddar cheese
Separate two eggs and put the whites in a bowl, along with the whole egg. Add a splash of milk. Beat with a fork until well mixed and frothy. Pour into a small nonstick pan coated with cooking spray, and scramble with a spatula over low heat. When eggs are almost done, add salt and pepper to taste. When they're fully cooked but still at a soft consistency, remove from heat.

Divide English muffin into halves and toast them. As soon as you remove them from toaster, place cheese slice over one hot half so it starts to melt. Form scrambled eggs into a mound and place on other half of muffin, then cover with first half.

Calories Protein Carbs Fiber Fat
315 28 g 29 g 4 g 7 g

Healthier Hash

A rib-sticking breakfast that's perfect for weekends, this hash is a vast improvement on your local diner's version. Serve with organic ketchup (rich in the heart-healthy antioxidant lycopene) or a side of sliced tomatoes.
  • 4 oz. low-fat ground turkey
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • 1/8 cup chopped onion
  • 1/8 cup chopped green pepper
  • 1/2 large potato, peeled and diced into small cubes
  • 1/2 tsp. oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste
In a frying pan, brown the turkey with the olive oil, onions, and potatoes. Add the green pepper and spices. Cook over a low heat, stirring frequently, just until potatoes are tender. If desired, you can add a little more oil to the pan, flatten the mixture with a spatula, and cook for a few more minutes on each side to form a crust.

Calories Protein Carbs Fiber Fat
290 26 g 19 g 2 g 10 g

By Debra Pivko

Each year, so many of us make New Year's resolutions to lose weight and get healthy. Now that the holiday treats have stopped miraculously showing up at our doors and desks, there's no excuse not to get in health mode to look and feel better. Wanting to lose weight is a start. But it's better to break this daunting task down into achievable behaviors that get the job done. Even if you can't leave your house to work out or dine out, you can still set yourself up for weight loss success by following these 8 simple tips.

  1. Start each morning with something healthy. By starting off your day with a healthy breakfast, you're already ahead of the game each day. Pick out a cereal high in protein and fiber and low in calories and sugar such as Kashi® Go Lean® Crunch. This will keep you full on few calories so you don't eat the wrong foods at lunch. It's an easy way to start the day off healthy without the guesswork and get closer to your weight loss goals each day. Plus, if you take a daily vitamin such as ActiVit® Multivitamins with your breakfast, you know you'll ensure you get the nutrients you need each day to fuel your body and your workouts without even thinking about it.
  2. Look before you eat. Ordering in takeout or even visiting fast food restaurants doesn't mean you have to pack on the pounds. Look up the calorie count of meals at your favorite restaurants, and pick one that's under 500 calories. Check out dietfacts.com to look up the calorie count of foods at popular restaurants. You can even take a look at the nutrition guides that come with the Beachbody® workout programs, as many of them include fast food guides to help you make healthy choices when in a rush or on a budget.
  3. Preportion your snacks. I don't know about you but if I have a bag of Pirate's Booty® or even chips with me in front of the TV, I'll chow through the whole thing by the end of the show. It's important not only to stock your house with healthy snacks but also to preportion them out into baggies when you buy them, so you stick to eating one serving whether you're in front of the TV or at work. Most foods are healthy in moderation, but overeating can make the pounds creep up. You can also prepare healthy foods such as sliced-up cucumbers or red peppers to munch on or dip in balsamic vinegar. You're more likely to reach for those—since they are ready—rather than high-calorie, easy-access foods, like chips or a quick frozen quesadilla or egg roll. P90X® protein bars are a convenient preportioned meal replacement or snack to keep with you on the go.
  4. Socialize health-consciously. Hanging out doesn't have to mean eating out. Instead of going out for dinner or drinks to catch up with friends, go on a hike or walk to catch up. It's a great way to get a workout in while catching up with friendly conversation. Plus, you save money and calories. Or host a health-conscious potluck, where everyone makes his or her favorite healthy treat and prints out the recipes so you get an arsenal of healthy treats to make in the future and enjoy. If you're feeling daring, try hosting an activity party where you pop in a Beachbody workout, play Nintendo Wii®, or go ice skating so you know you'll burn off those extra calories.
  5. Top your foods on the down-low. Of calories, that is. The calories in creamy sauces and dressings can really add up. Stock up on low- to no-calorie toppings like pico de gallo, hot sauce, mustard, pepper, 1-calorie-a-spray salad dressings from your local market, and even parmesan cheese in moderation. You'll be surprised at how quickly the weight will come off without sacrificing taste.
  6. Commit to workout times. Whether you're doing Tony Horton's 10-Minute Trainer® or an hour of P90X®, make sure to set the times in your schedule to work out and stick to them. Plan other obligations around those times. Working out is important to your health and your life, and making it and yourself a priority will not only help you meet your weight loss goals but help you live a better life. Use a calendar from the workout programs or set up a time to work out with a friend—whatever it takes. I like to set the time in my phone calendar so an alarm beeps and says "Time for Slim in 6® Ramp It Up." If that is my workout planned for that day and if I'm not doing it, I'm not gonna get slim in 6 weeks. It's my choice. You can even sign up for Beachbody's WOWY Supergym® for free, where you can log in your workouts and get support from hundreds of people cheering each other on.
  7. Lay out your workout clothes the night before. This can make a big difference not only in saving time but also making sure you commit to actually doing the workout. I like to get my workout clothes ready the night before for motivation but also so I can snooze through the extra time before working out. If you don't work out at home, then pack your gym bag the day before and always have it ready in your car or at work, so there's no excuse not to work out. My favorite new workout here is Brazil Butt Lift®. Leandro Carvalho (known as the "Brazilian Butt Master") created such a fantastic workout, with booty-sculpting moves, cardio, and Brazilian dance beats, that I don't mind waking up a bit early to do it before work and starting my day with some fun.
  8. Drink the healthiest meal of the day. Replacing one meal a day, even a snack, with Shakeology® is the simplest way to lose weight and get the nutrients you need for optimal health. By targeting nutrition, fullness, digestion, and detoxification, Shakeology provides a multifaceted approach to help you keep full, shed fat, reduce food cravings, improve digestion, lower cholesterol, and have more natural energy—all through a delicious 140-calorie shake. I've been drinking it every day as an afternoon snack or after working out. Everyone at work makes them a little differently to craft their favorite concoctions. Some of us use water; others use milk, or even add a teaspoon of peanut butter or mint. They're delicious!