D and I did P90X in the fall of 2007 while we were living in Manhattan. All of the workouts. And the meal plan. In our 450-square-foot studio apartment. And survived. Without destroying furniture, windows, bones, or each other. Oh, how I grew to despise Tony Horton's voice. I still have nightmares about him chanting ominously, just towards the end of the warm-up for the Plyometrics workout, "Get reeeady... 'cause it's comin'...!"
I lost around 15 pounds in those three months. That sounds like a modest amount, so let me clarify. I got very slim and cut, my physique completely changed, and my net weight loss didn't exceed 15 pounds because so much of my body turned to muscle, which is heavier than fat.
Anyway, lately - and I admit that it's largely my fault because I've been cooking so much decadent food - we've been talking about how we should do P90X again. It can be a little tricky making time for the workouts - and the excruciatingly sore muscles you have for the next several days - but the meal plan isn't so difficult or weird. So here's a less indulgent recipe that I think even Tony Horton would approve of: big protein, high fiber, low fat and carbs, and a pile of greens. The only potentially iffy aspects are the pasta and the sodium content contributed by the soup mix, but you can leave the noodles out, and if you spoon less of the broth into your bowl at the end, you can cut the salt, too. (And to be fair, given their menus, P90X doesn't worry overly much about your sodium intake.)
Two notes about ingredients: I want to say outright that I made a version of this with sea bass when we were living in NYC that actually used authentic miso paste from Gourmet Garage, and it was fabulous. However, if you're working on a schedule and/or a budget, know that Kikkoman makes a lovely, cheap powdered miso soup mix that tastes exactly like what you'd get in a sushi bar, complete with rehydrated tofu cubes, seaweed, and green onion tops. I get it at Wal-Mart (I know, I know - if I could quit it, I would), and I keep packets of it in my office so I can make myself a cup of soup on particularly long days when I need something on my stomach to tide me over until dinner. This tastes much nicer than a plain glass of water - and requires almost as little caloric commitment.
Secondly, Dreamfields pasta is a recent Publix discovery that I highly recommend, while simultaneously divulging that it has lots of questionable (i.e. possibly genetically-engineered) "indigestible" carbs, as well as tons of fiber, along with - ahem! - the digestive consequences of that extra insoluble material.
Thirdly, we also recently discovered barramundi ("Australia's favorite fish!" declares the package) because Whole Foods carries it in their frozen seafood cooler. It's excellent, inexpensive, easily thawed in cold water, and not watery and wimpy textured like flounder or cod. In fact, it actually reminds me a little of sea bass (or a Real Housewife, I guess): rich and thin.
As a final note, let me just add: this dish would probably taste obscenely delicious just after a grueling round of Legs and Back followed by Ab Ripper X.
barramundi with noodles in miso broth + caramelized shallots + bok choy
3 thawed barramundi fillets
2 envelopes Kikkoman miso soup mix
1 cup water
2 green onions, green tops chopped and white parts cut into thirds
1 small piece of fresh ginger, peeled and cut in half
1 garlic clove, smashed and peeled
1 head bok choy, washed well and sliced into one-inch ribbons
2 good-sized shallots, halved and sliced into rings
2 tbsp. dry white wine
1 tsp. unsalted butter
3 tsp. olive oil, divided
4 oz. Dreamfields linguine
Cook linguine according to package directions. Drain, rinse, keep in water, and set aside.
Heat one teaspoon each of butter and olive oil over medium-high heat. Add shallots and cook until they are beginning to brown. Add wine and cook until almost all liquid has evaporated. Set aside.
Boil water in microwave and combine it with miso soup packets in a bowl. Let it reconstitute. (It will be twice the usual concentration of mix to water.)
Grind some black pepper over the patted-dry barramundi fillets. Heat a teaspoon of olive oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high. Add fish to pan and sear on both sides until lightly browned. Add miso soup concentrate to the skillet and turn fish gently to coat. Cover tightly and cook over the lowest heat setting for 10 minutes, carefully turning fish again halfway through.
Heat the last teaspoon of oil over medium. Add green onion white pieces, ginger, and garlic and cook for a few seconds. Add bok choy and 1/4 cup water. Cover and steam for 4 to 6 minutes. Uncover and let water evaporate. Add chopped green onion tops and stir. Remove ginger pieces.
Mound pasta in a shallow bowl, followed by bok choy. Perch fish on top of the pile, and pour broth over it. Garnish with a teaspoon or two of the caramelized shallots.