South Beach Diet Phase 1 at Olive Garden

When you think of Olive Garden, you think of pasta, bread, and combinations thereof. I mean, who doesn't love those unlimited breadsticks with the garlic butter and salt? But if you're on Phase 1 of the South Beach Diet, it's not very easy to stick to the plan. However, like all chain restaurants, there are definitely options for you. You may have to get creative and ask your waiter or waitress to swap things out, but you can definitely enjoy a meal at Olive Garden on Phase 1.

I pulled up the menu for the nearest Olive Garden to my house online, and here is what I came up with as suggestions for Phase 1:

Appetizers

Bruschetta-If you take away the bread, this is Phase 1 all the way. Roma tomatoes, fresh basil and olive oil are the main ingredients. You just have to eat it with a fork instead of on the toasted bread.

Mussels di Napoli-Mussels in the shell are simmered in wine, garlic butter and onions. There is likely too much garlic butter being used, so be careful or ask for it to be omitted if possible.

Sicilian Scampi-Sauteed shrimp in olive oil with white wine, garlic and lemon. This one is very Phase 1 friendly.

Salads

Garden Fresh Salad-With unlimited refills, you could easily make a meal out of this one. Just ask for the signature house Italian dressing on the side, and use it sparingly.

Grilled Chicken Caesar-As always with a Caesar salad, omit the croutons and go easy on the dressing. But the grilled chicken, romaine lettuce and Parmesan cheese, with the dressing on the side, makes for a great Phase 1 choice.

Entrees

Pork Filettino-Grilled pork tenderloin marinated in olive oil and rosemary. It is served with Tuscan potatoes and bell peppers, but you can ask for extra peppers or another vegetable instead of the potatoes.

Mixed Grill-Skewers of marinated steak and chicken, served with grilled vegetables and Tuscan potatoes. Again, asked for more vegetables instead of the potatoes.

Chicken Giardino-Chicken and vegetables in a lemon herb sauce over pasta. If you order this one without the pasta, it's a South Beach Phase 1 MVP.

Chicken Marsala-Sauteed chicken breast (make sure it's not sautéed in too much butter) with a sauce of mushrooms, garlic and Marsala wine. It is served with Tuscan potatoes and bell peppers, so as usual omit the potatoes and ask for more vegetables.

Shrimp Primavera-Shrimp, bell peppers, onions and mushrooms in a spicy tomato sauce. It is served over pasta, so ask for it without the pasta and substitute something like grilled vegetables instead.

Herb Grilled Salmon-A salmon filet brushed with Italian herbs and olive oil, and served with broccoli on the side. Another SBD Phase 1 MVP.

There is also an addendum to the menu about carbohydrate counters (this means you if you are on Phase 1!). It says that any grilled entrée can be served with vegetables in place of potatoes. In addition, anyone that is on Phase 2 can enjoy most of the pasta items on the Olive Garden menu, by substituting whole-wheat linguini.

Dessert

As is the case with most chain restaurants, your best bet is to have coffee or tea, and then eat your ricotta crème or sugar free gelatin when you get home.

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