Plan a Healthy Cookout

Hosting a cookout? There’s no need to miss out on your favorite eats just because you’re following the South Beach Diet. Grilled burgers, dogs, and veggies, and grilled fruits (on Phase 2), can all be enjoyed on the plan. We love grilling because it’s a healthy way to cook, and you won’t be slaving over a hot stove. Here are some great ways to make traditional cookout food South Beach Diet-style.

Hamburgers and Hot Dogs
South Beach Diet–style:
When cooking up burgers, choose lean ground round or ground sirloin, ground turkey or chicken breast, or ground pork tenderloin. Ground salmon and tuna also make great patties. When you start on Phase 2, you can occasionally enjoy hot dogs made with beef (preferably all natural), pork, poultry, or soy, as long as they are at least 97 percent fat-free (3 to 6 g fat per serving). Serve burgers or hot dogs on 100% whole-grain or whole-wheat buns on Phase 2. If you’re on Phase 1, use tomato slices, romaine lettuce leaves, or portobello mushroom caps as your “bun.” When it comes to toppings, skip sugary condiments and go for Dijon mustard, sugar-free ketchup and sliced tomatoes, and onions. Or prepare your own healthy topping: Try a sun-dried tomato mayonnaise or jalapeño salsa on any Phase.

Veggies
South Beach Diet–style:
Grilled or steamed corn is a cookout favorite that is rich in vitamins and fiber, but because of its natural sugars, we recommend you stick to 1/2 ear and eat it only on occasion on Phase 2. For a nutritious and delicious all-Phase alternative, prepare grilled vegetable kebabs. Marinate chopped pieces of zucchini or other summer squash, mushrooms, tomatoes, and bell peppers, in a mixture of fresh lemon juice, chopped garlic, and extra-virgin olive oil. Place the veggies on skewers, in a grilling basket, or on a grill topper so they won’t fall through the grates. Grilled asparagus spears is another Phase 1 option; or try grilled sweet potato fries on Phase 2 and beyond.

Fruit
South Beach Diet–style:
While summer fruit favorites like watermelon and pineapple should be avoided until Phase 3 because they contain a high concentration of natural sugars that can affect blood-sugar levels and cause cravings, there are many other delicious fruits that can still be enjoyed on Phase 2. Try making fruit kebabs with peaches, plums, nectarines, and/or mangoes, and grill over medium heat. Keep an eye on the fruit and turn frequently so it doesn’t burn. If you like, melt dark chocolate for a delicious fruit fondue. Phase 1 dieters must avoid fruit but can enjoy a sugar-free frozen fruit-flavored pop as a sweet summer treat.

Summer Salads
South Beach Diet–style:
If you’re on Phase 1, you’ll need to stick with a fresh green salad or a mixed bean (or other legume) salad for the time being. Add a variety of vegetables, like chopped bell peppers, onions, zucchini, and tomatoes. When you’re on Phase 2, use whole-wheat or whole-grain elbow pasta instead of the white-flour varieties for macaroni salad. Be sure to stick with 2 tablespoons of mayonnaise per serving when you’re making the dressing — or use low-fat or nonfat plain Greek yogurt or vinegar and extra-virgin olive oil. Roasted bell peppers or pepperoncini are also a nice addition. For a South Beach Diet–friendly potato salad, use sweet potatoes instead of white potatoes, and mix with nonfat or low-fat plain yogurt, scallions, chopped fresh basil, red-wine vinegar, and a pinch of salt for a tasty dressing.

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