So you’re on the South Beach Diet… Have you met your new best friend, the non-starchy veggie? (If not, check out our non-starchy vegetables cheat sheet here to get the run-down >). You two will be very close this first week. If this seems like unchartered territory for you, or if the thought of endless bland salads has your taste buds crying out with boredom, not to worry—we have some tasty tricks up our sleeve to help you take any veggie from “ugh” to “yum” in minutes flat!
Let’s take a look at some important diet tips from our very own experts to help in becoming a non-starchy veggie expert:
- If you can, shop for produce that’s in season and fresh. This will keep a variety of flavors and textures on tap to ensure you don’t get bored. When shopping, look for fresh, crisp vegetables with no sign of wilting, spots or bruises.
- Explore a variety of preparation methods. Don’t settle for a steam-and-go; some vegetables can take on a whole new taste through roasting, grilling, sautéing, stir-frying, spiralizing or “ricing.” Be bold and don’t be afraid to try something new!
- Spice things up with fresh herbs and dried spices. Parsley, dill, thyme, sage, basil, rosemary, scallions, garlic, ginger, curry, paprika, chili and cumin are just some of our go-to flavors. Add your fresh herbs after cooking to enhance the freshness they bring. Don’t forget a spritz of citrus! The acid from a lemon or lime can brighten and balance just about any veggie dish.
Here are seven healthy veggie recipes to kick it up a notch:
1. Mexican Street Squash
Inspired by the popular preparation of Mexican street corn, this easy squash recipe is filled with flavor! Using nonfat cooking spray, roast or grill strips of yellow summer squash until browned on both sides. When cooked to your liking, top with salt, fresh ground black pepper, chili powder, finely chopped red onion, cilantro and a generous squeeze of fresh lime juice. Olé!
2. Lemon-Dill Green Beans
Add some zing to your string beans tonight! Steam or sauté fresh, raw, green beans until crisp-tender. Toss with fresh lemon juice, chopped fresh dill, minced shallot, ground mustard, salt and pepper to taste. These are great warm or chilled!
3. Zucchini Noodles
Get ready to hop on the “zoodle” train! Use a spiralizer or julienne peeler to create thin, noodle-like ribbons out of your fresh zucchini. From here, it’s just a quick steam or boil and you’re in business. You can enjoy them as a side dish with a dash of salt, pepper and garlic powder, or use them as a base for your favorite South Beach Diet entrée. This is especially great with the Italian-Style Meatballs in Zesty Tomato Sauce > or the Dill Poached Salmon > .
4. Lemony Grilled Asparagus
Who knew something so simple could taste so insanely delicious? Add a spritz of calorie-free cooking spray to your fresh asparagus, along with salt and pepper to taste. Grill (when you see those gorgeous grill marks, it’s go time), squeeze on fresh lemon juice and dig in!
5. Garlic-Thyme Mushrooms
In a hot frying pan, add some butter-flavored nonfat cooking spray and your favorite sliced mushrooms. Cook undisturbed until golden brown, then flip and repeat. Once you’ve achieved caramelized perfection, toss in fresh minced garlic, a couple sprigs of fresh thyme, salt and pepper. This would make a great side to the South Beach Diet’s Chicken Provençal > or Mushroom Stuffed Chicken Breast > .
6. Tomato-Basil Salad
A salad?! Trust us, this is a far cry from the flavorless iceberg lettuce concoctions that give veggies a bad name, and is a must-make when fresh produce is bursting at the seams. Dice Roma tomatoes, cucumber and red onion, add chopped fresh basil, dress with fresh lemon juice, finely minced garlic, salt and pepper, and serve chilled. If you’re looking to veg out even more, feel free to toss in some diced red bell peppers or serve over a bed of chopped fresh spinach.
7. Super Sprouts
Toss halved Brussels sprouts with nonfat olive oil cooking spray, ground mustard, paprika, fresh minced garlic, salt and pepper (don’t wash the mixing bowl just yet!). Roast at 450 degrees until browned on both sides, or grill on skewers for five minutes on each side. After cooking, return the sprouts to the mixing bowl and toss to coat with any remaining seasoning.
Fire up these easy and healthy recipes and you’ll be a South Beach Diet pro in no time!