Dr. Agatston’s South Beach Diet has swept the nation, with high-profile followers such as Bill Clinton using it to melt away unwanted pounds. The diet encourages its followers to adopt a healthy lifestyle rather than merely focusing on a short-term diet with the goal of losing weight. To this end, Agatson has compiled The South Beach Diet Quick & Easy Cookbook, which provides wonderful recipes designed to prove his point that you can lose weight by preparing healthy meals even if you lead a busy life and have limited culinary skills.
The recipes adhere to the basic tenets of the South Beach plan, stressing food choices that include good fats, good carbohydrates, lean sources of protein and plenty of fiber. The recipes are all designed for one of the three specific phase of the plan, and the appeal is that most require 10 ingredients or fewer and take 30 minutes or less to prepare. Each recipe indicates which phase the dish is appropriate for as well as the amount of time needed to prepare and cook the meal. In addition to a wealth of recipes, the cookbook also includes a comprehensive list of “quick meals you can make without a recipe” which, although I wish were more organized, actually offers some wonderful and creative options for “cooking” on the go.
The chapter on breakfast includes some standard omelet recipes along with more creative options such as a spicy tomatillo scramble that only requires five minutes of prep time and a papaya parfait that can be made in just 10 minutes. The section on Soup and Snacks includes instructions to prepare a Thai shrimp soup with lime and cilantro in just 10 minutes, requiring only an additional 12 minutes of cooking time. If you are in the mood for a salad, warm spinach salad with mushrooms can be made in five minutes, requiring only an additional 10 minutes for cooking.
The chapter on poultry includes an expansive variety of dishes appropriate for all phases of the diet, not surprising since chicken is an integral part of the South Beach plan. Specifically, if you are following phase 1, you can prepare turkey parmesan in just 10 minutes; if you are following phase 2 you can prepare provolone chicken melts in just five minutes, and when you proceed to phase 3, you can make chicken pot pie in just 10 minutes. If your prefer red meat over chicken and are in the initial phase of the Plan, you can enjoy hearty and tasty recipes such as the Thai grilled beef with string beans (which can be prepared in 10 minutes with only 20 additional minutes needed for cooking). Vegetarians will enjoy such meals as macaroni and cheese appropriate for phase 3 (which only requires five minutes of preparation time and 30 minutes to cook) or an interesting cauliflower and kale bake that can be made in 25 minutes and requires an additional 35 minutes for cooking.
Since the South Beach Diet prides itself on being a way of life, it is not surprising that there is an extensive chapter dedicated to desserts. All of the desserts look appealing, but most of them, such as the cocoa swirl cheesecakes, are only appropriate for the final phase of the plan. There are some treats such as the peanut butter and jelly cookies (which can be prepared in just 15 minutes) and green tea truffles (which can be prepared in 30 minutes) that are appropriate for phase 2.
The South Beach Diet Quick & Easy Cookbook makes a great addition to anyone’s cookbook collection since it provides quick, easy, and varied recipes. Even if you are not following or familiar with the South Beach plan, you are likely to find recipes to enjoy. And, in the end, you just might lose a few pounds after enjoying hearty food and spending less than thirty minutes in the kitchen.