the south beach diet

The South Beach Diet is billed as “the delicious, doctor-designed, foolproof plan for fast and healthy weight loss.” So when I needed to lose a few pounds some years ago, I thought I’d give it a whirl. The diet definitely lived up to its billing. I enjoyed the food, and the meal plan always kept me satisfied throughout the day.

Phase One is quite restrictive – e.g., no starches or fruits – which is very difficult for an avowed fruitaholic. But it only lasts 2 weeks and provides a jump-start that builds momentum for staying the course. By taking advantage of all of the recipes in the book, the diet feels less onerous and more adventurous. Phase Two reintroduces fruit and starches (used sparingly) as well as chocolate! Phase Three starts when you’ve reached your goal weight. It is quite livable, especially after adding recipes from the gold-covered South Beach Diet Cookbook. We more-or-less stayed on that plan for years.

We liked most of the 98 recipes that we prepared. The majority of our samplings drew from the Phase One and Phase Two fare. Of those, we’d consider roughly one-third for a repeat appearance. They’re great when you’re on a weight loss plan, but not-so-great for “maintenance.” The red meat dishes also got the “once was enough” treatment even though most were really, really good. Unfortunately, they have a negative impact on our serum cholesterol.

While I’d planned to make every recipe in the cookbook, I stopped at the 80% mark. Spike and I decided to adopt a whole foods, plant based diet based on research by Dr. T. Colin Campbell. That being said, if you are committed to the Western Diet and/or want a livable program to shed some extra pounds, South Beach merits serious consideration.

Explore all of the South Beach Diet posts to view photos of prepared recipes »

Since our first exposure to the South Beach Diet in 2003, Spike and I have been BIG FANS of two breakfast dishes.

The Vegetable Quiche Cups To Go are easy to make and quite tasty. They store like champs in the refrigerator and re-heat beautifully in the microwave. When I went back to graduate school, Spike handed me a couple of warm quiche cups to eat in the car during my 30+ minute commute to school. It was love in a Ziploc bag!

The Light Spinach Frittata with Tomato Salsa was the mainstay of our Saturday and Sunday brunches for years. We loved it so much that it easily trumped our enjoyment of any other frittata. Freshly prepared kale with onions, garlic, and a hint of balsamic vinegar can substitute for spinach should you like variety.

Honorable mentions include the Western Omelet, Oatmeal Pancake, and Sunrise Parfait.

Phase One

cheesy frittata
Cheesy Frittata
light spinach fritatta with tomato salsa
Light Spinach Frittata with Tomato Salsa
smoked salmon frittata
Smoked Salmon Frittata
easy asparagus and mushroom omelet
Easy Asparagus and Mushroom Omelet
western egg omelet
Western Egg Omelet
vegetable quiche cups to go
Vegetable Quiche Cups To Go
artichokes benedict
Artichokes Benedict

Phase Two

oatmeal pancake
Oatmeal Pancake
sunrise parfait
Sunrise Parfait

Phase Three

tomato and herb frittata
Tomato and Herb Frittata
cinnamon surprise
Cinnamon Surprise

The South Beach Diet makes extensive use of salads for its luncheon fare. My favorites include the Cobb Salad, Chicken and Raspberry Spinach Salad, Apple Walnut Chicken Salad, and Rumi Chopped Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette.

We prepared the Spicy Tuna for dinner and wowed our guests with the colorful presentation (even though we overcooked the tuna). The roasted red pepper and jalapeño vinaigrettes are absolutely delicious.

Phase One

greek salad
Greek Salad
cherry snapper ceviche
Cherry Snapper Ceviche
south beach copped salad with tuna
South Beach Chopped Salad with Tuna
chicken pistachio salad
Chicken Pistachio Salad
dilled shrimp salad with herb dressing
Dilled Shrimp Salad with Herb Dressing
clam cobb salad
Clam Cobb Salad
spicy tuna
Spicy Tuna
mixed greens with clam salad
Mixed Greens with Clam Salad
salad niçoise
Salad Niçoise
gazpacho
Gazpacho

Phase Two

poached salmon spinach salad
Poached Salmon Spinach Salad
chicken and raspberry spinach salad
Chicken and Respberry Spinach Salad
apple walnut chicken salad
Apple Walnut Chicken Salad
lamb moutarde 4 pax
Lamb Moutarde 4 Pax
mediterranean chicken salad
Mediterranean Chicken Salad
lemon couscous chicken
Lemon Couscous Chicken
portobello pizza
Portobello Pizza
rumi chopped salad with lemon vinaigrette
Rumi Chopped Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette
south beach salad
South Beach Salad

Phase Three

asian pear salad
Asian Pear Salad
fresh mozzarella tomato salad
Fresh Mozzarella-Tomato Salad
tuna cucumber and red pepper salad
Tuna, Cucumber, and Red Pepper Salad

Spike thought he’d died and gone to heaven when he realized that our South Beach Diet experiment would include red meat. I elected to purchase superior cuts of meat, and we used our Weber kettle grill to good advantage when cooking them. I’ve got to admit – they were mouthwateringly delicious.

Of the remaining dinner entrées, the Gingered Chicken Breast, Tilapia in Scallion and Ginger Sauce, and Spinach-Stuffed Salmon Fillets were our favorites.

Phase One

chicken en papillote
Chicken en Papillote
balsamic chicken
Balsamic Chicken
gingered chicken breast
Gingered Chicken Breast
savory chicken sauté
Savory Chicken Sauté
florentine style t-bone
Florentine Style T-Bone
marinated sirloin steak
Marinated Sirloin Steak
broiled sirloin steak
Broiled Sirlon Steak
marinated t-bone steak
Marinated T-Bone Steak
grilled steak with tomato relish
Grilled Steak with Tomato Relish
cracked pepper steak
Craked Pepper Steak
poached salmon with cucumber dill sauce
Poached Salmon with Cucumber Dill Sauce
grilled salmon with rosemary
Grilled Salmon with Rosemary
tilapia in scallion and ginger sauce
Tilapia in Scallion and Ginger Sauce
fish kabobs
Fish Kabobs

Phase Two and Three

stir-fry chicken and vegetables
Stir-Fry Chicken and Vegetables
easy chicken in wine sauce
Easy Chicken in Wine Sauce
asian style chicken packets with vegetables
Asian Style Chicken Packets with Vegetables
pan-roasted steak and onions
Pan-Roasted Steak and Onions
meatloaf
Meatloaf
spinach-stuffed salmon fillets
Spinach-Stuffed Salmon Fillets
cod en papillote
Cod en Papillote
grilled rosemary steak
Grilled Rosemary Steak
lemony fish in foil
Lemony Fish in Foil
lime-baked fish
Lime-Baked Fish

Since our introduction to Oven Roasted Vegetables, this dish has been a mainstay of our diet. It’s easy to make up a big batch of vegetables and then re-heat them throughout the course of a working week. Simple and tasty works for me!

If you choose this diet for weight loss, the Surprise South Beach Mashed “Potatoes” provide a decent substitute for traditional starchy tubers. The main ingredient is cauliflower, and it is indeed surprisingly tasty.

One final highlight: I’ve used the Turkey Roll-Ups with Cilantro Mayonnaise as a mid-day snack. It’s palate-pleasing and provides that extra jolt of protein to help me moderate my appetite until dinner.

Phase One

oven roasted vegetables
Oven Roasted Vegetables
roasted eggplant and peppers
Roasted Eggplant and Peppers
spinach stuffed mushrooms
Spinach Stuffed Mushrooms
surprise south beach mashed potatoes
Surprise South Beach Mashed “Potatoes”
stewed tomatoes and onions
Stewwed Tomatoes and Onions
broiled tomatoes
Broiled Tomatoes
broiled tomatoes with pesto
Broiled Tomatoes wth Pesto
edamame salad
Edamame Salad
oriental cabbage salad
Oriental Cabbage Salad
turkey roll-ups
Turkey Roll-Ups

Phase Two

Italian-style-spaghetti-squash
Italian-style Spaghetti Squash
baked tomatoes with pesto and parmesan
Baked Tomatoes with Pesto and Parmesan
zucchini ribbons with dill
Asparagus Salad
zucchini ribbons with dill
Zucchini Ribbons with Dill
vegetable medley
Vegetable Medley
baba ghannouj
Baba Ghannouj

Phase Three

creamed spinach
Creamed Spinach
herb roasted potatoes
Herb Roasted Potatoes

During my weight loss days, I made the Ricotta Crème desserts to appease my sweet tooth. This time around, I found them a bit less satisfying. The Phase Two and Three options were far more appealing.

As a chocoholic, I’m high on the Chocolate Dipped StrawberriesPistachio Bark, and Chocolate Dipped Apricots. I was also pleasantly surprised by the Individual Lime Cheesecakes. I modified the recipe slightly by using ginger snaps instead of vanilla wafers for my “crusts.”

Phase One

lemon zest ricotta crème
Lemon Zest Ricotta Crème
almond ricotta crème
Almond Ricotta Crème
mocha ricotta crème
Mocha Ricotta Crème
lime zest ricotta crème
Lime Zest Ricotta Crème

Phase Two

chocolate dipped strawberries
Chocolate Dipped Strawberries
strawberries with vanilla yogurt
Strawberries with Vanilla Yogurt
pistachio bark
Pistachio Bark

Phase Three

strawberries in balsamic vinegar
Strawberries in Balsamic Vinegar
poached pears
Poached Pears
ginger pears
Ginger Pears
individual lime cheesecakes
Individual Lime Cheesecakes
chocolate-stuffed steamed pears
Chocolate-Stuffed Steamed Pears
chocolate-dipped apricots
Chocolate-Dipped Apricots