Enjoying Summer Peaches

Sweet, juicy peaches can be enjoyed starting on Phase 2 of the South Beach Diet. Not only are they delicious, but peaches also are rich in beta-carotene and vitamin C, and provide a fair amount of fiber. July and August are the peak months for peaches, though the California season often begins earlier and lasts until October. Here are a few tips on how to select perfect peaches, plus some delicious ways to enjoy them.

Finding the Perfect Peach
Look for plump peaches with a soft yellow or cream background color and unwrinkled skins. (The amount of red in the skin of a peach is a poor indicator of sweetness.) Choose fruit with a mild fragrance and flesh that yields to gentle pressure. Avoid rock-hard peaches and those with bruises or dark spots, which may indicate that the fruit is on the verge of spoiling. Store firm peaches at room temperature until they become soft and juicy. Once they're soft, either eat within a day or store in the refrigerator for no more than 3 to 5 days.

Refreshing Ways to Enjoy Peaches

One medium peach is a serving size on Phase 2. Peaches can be eaten out of hand with the skin on, and are delicious at room temperature or chilled. Be sure to wash the fruit before eating. To cut a peach, insert your knife along the seam of the fruit and slice down to the pit. Continue cutting all the way around the circumference of the fruit. Remove your knife and twist the two halves of the peach in opposite directions.Slice as desired. Peaches also can be poached and made into a compote or be halved and grilled for a tasty accompaniment to grilled chicken, beef, pork, or shrimp. Grilled peaches are also delicious drizzled with a little melted dark chocolate and served as a dessert. Here are 3 additional ways to enjoy peaches:
 
  1. Wine-Poached Peaches. Cut four pitted peaches into quarters. In a large saucepan, combine 1 cup of water, 3/4 cup of dry white wine or rosé, 3-4 tablespoons of granular sugar substitute, and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Heat over medium heat. Stir occasionally until the sugar substitute is dissolved and the mixture beings to thicken, about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to low, add the peaches and poach them in the wine mixture for about 5 minutes or until they soften. For a festive dessert, serve the poached peaches and their liquid in pretty bowls and garnish with some fresh mint leaves and lemon zest. Or add a small dollop of nonfat plain Greek yogurt and a touch of cinnamon, if desired. Be sure to stick to a serving size of two peach halves.

     

  2. Sweet and Spicy Salsa. Peaches add a hint of sweetness to a spicy homemade salsa. Add diced peaches to a mixture of chopped plum tomatoes, sliced scallions, minced fresh cilantro, minced jalapeno, and fresh lime juice. Add salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

     

  3. Peach-Raspberry Shakes. These filling shakes are great as a snack or dessert late on Phase 2 or on Phase 3. In a blender, combine sliced peaches, 1 cup of fresh or frozen raspberries, 1 cup of low-fat or nonfat plain yogurt, 1 cup of 1% milk, ice cubes, and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract; purée until smooth and add sugar substitute to taste.

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