These five delicious and healthy Mediterranean diet staples are all recommended on the South Beach Diet. Enjoy them in a variety of energizing and tempting dishes whether you’re on Phase 1, a two-week period during which you will jumpstart your weight loss while eating lean protein, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and healthy oils, or on Phase 2, when you add in nutritious whole grains and fruit. And if you’d like to enhance your meal with a glass of heart-healthy red wine, another Mediterranean diet favorite, you can do so beginning on Phase 2 of the South Beach Diet.
Protein-packed seafood: All types of fish and shellfish are recommended on the South Beach Diet, and they may be sautéed, poached, baked, grilled, broiled, or steamed to perfection. Season cooked fish to taste with fresh herbs like basil or dill, Dijon mustard, or fresh lemon juice and serve with a large green salad. One of the most nutritious seafood offerings is salmon, a rich source of protein and heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Try it in this colorful, easy entrée, in which the fish is seared in a skillet until lightly browned and served with sautéed zucchini.
Health-boosting vegetables. Fresh or frozen, vegetables are powerhouses of vitamins and minerals, and a colorful addition to a variety of South Beach Diet dishes. One Mediterranean diet staple, tomatoes, is also one of our favorites on all Phases. Tomatoes contain powerful nutrients that may help to lower your risk of heart disease and some cancers. Use canned or fresh tomatoes in chilis and stews, toss chopped fresh tomatoes into salads of all kinds, and make our energizing Egg, Bacon, and Tomato “Sandwiches,” in which a perfectly poached egg is sandwiched between slices of Canadian bacon and oven-baked tomato, for lunch or dinner.
Fiber-rich beans. On all Phases of the South Beach Diet, you can enjoy beans and other legumes, including chickpeas. An excellent source of filling protein, along with disease-fighting phytonutrients, chickpeas are easy to prepare. Drain and rinse canned chickpeas, then add them to soups and chilis. Or mash them for hummus, which is delicious with crunchy veggie sticks for dipping. For a satisfying snack, try our Spicy Roasted Chickpeas, in which the chickpeas are roasted until golden and crisp with extra-virgin olive oil, cumin, coriander, and red pepper.
Satisfying nuts and seeds. Besides providing plenty of satisfying protein as well as heart-healthy mono- and polyunsaturated fats, nuts and seeds lend a flavorful crunch to a variety of dishes. For a midmorning or midafternoon pick-me-up, enjoy a small handful of walnuts with a fat-free latte. Or try toasting them, chopping them, and sprinkling them over plain nonfat or low-fat yogurt. Walnuts may be crushed, seasoned with herbs and spices, and used to coat fish fillets or boneless, skinless chicken breasts before baking. Or make our Salad of Bitter Greens & Walnuts, which features a topping of chopped walnuts and a fragrant tarragon vinaigrette made with walnut oil.
Heart-healthy oils. A good source of powerful disease-fighting antioxidants, extra-virgin olive oil is a healthy monounsaturated fat that is a mainstay of both Mediterranean-style cooking and the South Beach Diet. On the South Beach Diet, it replaces saturated fats such as butter. Use up to 2 tablespoons per day in salad dressings, to sauté seafood, and to lightly drizzle over cooked vegetables. In our Balsamic Chicken, boneless, skinless chicken breasts are combined with rosemary, fresh garlic, and extra-virgin olive oil, marinated overnight, then baked and served with a light sauce prepared with balsamic vinegar and dry white wine.