South Beach Diet Phase 1 at California Pizza Kitchen

When anyone on Phase 1 of the South Beach Diet sees the word "pizza," it may prompt them to run the other way. In fact, it should prompt them to run the other way. But restaurants like California Pizza Kitchen make it easy for those of you to stick to your plan, even on the strict Phase 1. Most of the choices at CPK are salads-but good, hearty ones that won't leave you feeling the least bit deprived.

As always with these hubs, you may need to get creative with some substitutions, and still watch your portion sizes. Now, on to the CPK menu and your best bets for SBD Phase 1:

Appetizers

Lettuce Wraps-Minced chicken and/or shrimp, wok-seared with shiitake mushrooms, water chestnuts, and green onions in a soy ginger sauce. It's served on a bed of crispy rice noodles with a side of spicy chili-ginger sauce, so you'll want to ask for the rice noodles to be omitted.

Tuscan Hummus-Their original recipe of Tuscan white beans puréed with sesame, garlic, lemon and spices, and garnished with tomatoes, basil and garlic. It's served with warm pizza-pita bread, so here is where you need to get creative if possible-see if they can give you celery or other SBD Phase 1-friendly veggie sticks.

Salads

Steakhouse Chopped Salad-Chopped iceberg and romaine lettuces, applewood smoked bacon, Gorgonzola cheese, jicama, red onions, diced tomatoes and basil tossed in a choice of blue cheese dressing or Dijon balsamic vinaigrette. You can add fresh avocado as well. This is a great Phase 1 dish, but be sure to ask for the dressing on the side just to be safe.

Grilled Vegetable Salad-Grilled asparagus, Japanese eggplant, zucchini, sun-dried tomatoes, scallions and roasted corn, served warm and tossed with romaine lettuce in a djon balsamic vinaigrette. It is then topped with fresh avocado, and you can even add grilled rosemary chicken breast or grilled shrimp. The only issue with this one is that you'll want to ask for the corn to be omitted, but otherwise it's a great option.

CPK Cobb Salad-Chopped lettuce with applewood smoked bacon, fresh avocado, grilled chicken, diced tomatoes, basil, fresh beets and Gorgonzola cheese with an herb ranch dressing or blue cheese dressing. You'll want to ask for this one without the beets, which are a no-no on most phases of the South Beach Diet.

Caesar--Crisp romaine lettuce, shaved Parmesan cheese and garlic-herb croutons tossed in homemade Caesar dressing. You'll want to avoid the croutons and ask for the dressing on the side, but you can also add grilled chicken or shrimp to make this a complete meal.

Other Entrees

Chicken Marsala-Thinly pounded chicken breast that is sautéed with fresh mushrooms and grilled asparagus in a marsala wine sauce. It's served with linguini, so ask for a side salad or acceptable vegetable instead.

Beverages

Acceptable beverages at California Pizza Kitchen are unsweetened iced tea, water, sugar free Italian soda, Diet Pepsi, San Pellegrino Sparkling Mineral Water, coffee or tea

Dessert

You know the drill by now. Avoid what's on the dessert menu, and just have a cup of coffee or tea before heading home to enjoy some ricotta crème or sugar free gelatin.

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