By Maureen Brookbanks for the Daily Mail
Published: 20:57 EST, 11 January 2018 | Updated: 20:59 EST, 11 January 2018
The weekend wouldn’t be the same without having a few friends over for a lovely relaxed meal.
But what if you’re trying to lose a few pounds? Surely, nothing can potentially spoil a good dinner party as much as a healthy eating regime? This is where Weight Watchers Flex® can help. Weight Watchers’ weight-loss plan is tailored so well to your needs that even a decadent dinner party is possible — thanks to the ingenious SmartPoints® system where almost nothing is off the menu. Follow it and you can lose up to a stone in just eight weeks!
And you’re less likely to feel hungry, too. Because more foods than ever before now have a SmartPoints value of zero — so you can eat whole meals without affecting your daily Points budget.
Our exclusive recipe series, which concludes today, gives you even more meal ideas — and proves you can still be the hostess with the mostest with Weight Watchers . . .
Dinner party cocktail - Cranberry gin and tonic: 5 SmartPoints
Makes 475g frozen cranberries 35g granulated sugarA few strips of orange peel (use a vegetable peeler)7 sprigs of fresh thyme100ml gin200ml slimline tonic water
PUT the cranberries, sugar and a little orange peel in a small pan set over a low heat. Cover with 125ml water and bring to a simmer. Cook for 5 minutes, then add 3 sprigs of thyme and bring to the boil. Remove syrup from the heat, cover and set aside for 20 minutes to infuse. Strain through a sieve and leave to cool completely. To serve, divide the syrup, gin and tonic water between 4 chilled coupe glasses. Add ice cubes, stir, and serve garnished with a sprig of thyme.
A fresh salad for zero SmartPoints: Super-filling tuna and bean feast
Weight Watchers has made its weight-loss plan even more flexible, thanks to a bigger than ever list of foods that are zero Points. On this new and improved programme, you can eat more than 200 foods in portion sizes that suit you, without using up a single point from your budget — from succulent chicken to fresh fish, super-filling eggs to fat-free yoghurt, and nearly every kind of fresh fruit and vegetable going. All week we’ve been showing you the astonishing variety of delicious meals you can create from your zero Points foods. Today, why not try this hearty zero Points dinner?
Serves 2200g tinned haricot beans, drained and rinsed80g green beans, trimmed, halved and steamed1 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped1 head romaine lettuce, roughly torn½ tsp cumin seeds, crushed¼ garlic clove, crushed1 tbsp lemon juice100g vacuum-packed beetroot, cut into chunks 185g tin tuna in spring water, drained and flaked 2 hard-boiled eggs, quartered
MIX the haricot and green beans with the parsley and lettuce. Combine the cumin seeds, garlic and lemon juice and pour over. Serve the bean salad topped with beetroot, tuna and hard-boiled egg.
Breakfast - Smoked haddock Florentine: 1 SmartPoint
Serves 22 x 175g skinless smoked haddock fillets 2 medium eggs A few drops vinegar300g young leaf spinach
PUT the haddock fillets in a frying pan and just cover with boiling water. Simmer gently for 5 minutes until the fish is opaque. Meanwhile, poach the eggs for 3-4 minutes (add a few drops of vinegar to the water). While the eggs are poaching, wilt the spinach in a pan or microwave for a couple of minutes and squeeze out excess water. Divide the spinach between 2 warm plates, top with the haddock and poached eggs. Season and serve.
Lunch - Beef pitta pockets: 11 SmartPoints
Serves 22 pitta breads90g reduced-fat hummus 50g pea shoots, trimmed½ small red onion, thinly sliced5 cherry tomatoes, quartered100g lean roast beef, sliced
For chimichurri sauceSmall bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley, leaves pickedSmall bunch fresh coriander, leaves picked2 garlic cloves, crushed1 tbsp red wine vinegar 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil1 tsp dried chilli flakes
CUT the pitta breads in half and carefully separate the layers to make a pocket. Divide the hummus between them. Make the chimichurri by finely chopping the parsley and coriander, and combining with the garlic, vinegar, oil and chilli flakes in a small bowl. Season to taste. Toss the pea shoots, onion, tomatoes, beef and 2 tbsp of the chimichurri together in a medium bowl. Season to taste. Divide between 2 plates and serve with the pittas. Fill the pittas with the beef and salad.
Lunch - Chicken korma: 8 SmartPoints
Serves 4500g skinless chicken breast fillets, cubed 200g basmati rice
For the korma sauce1 tsp vegetable oil1 small onion, diced 1 carrot, diced1 small apple, peeled, cored and diced 1 tbsp korma curry paste2 tsp mango chutney2 tsp tomato purée150ml reduced-fat coconut milk75ml chicken stock, made with ¼ stock cube
TO MAKE the sauce, heat the oil in a lidded non-stick pan and add the onion and carrot. Cover and cook on a low heat, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes. Add the apple, cover and cook for another 5 minutes or until everything is soft. Stir in the korma paste, mango chutney and tomato purée, then remove from the heat. Blend in the coconut milk and stock, then whizz to a purée using a stick blender. Add the chicken to the curry sauce and leave to simmer for 10 minutes or until cooked through. Meanwhile, cook the rice according to pack instructions. Serve the curry and rice with a selection of steamed vegetables, such as pak choi or baby corn.How Weight Watchers Flex works
In simple terms, all food and drink has a SmartPoints value, one easy-to-use number based on four components:
1. CALORIES establish the baseline of how many SmartPoints the food is worth.
2. SATURATED FAT and SUGAR increase the SmartPoints value.
3. PROTEIN lowers the SmartPoints value — the more protein, the fewer the SmartPoints.
In this series, you have a wide array of meal options for breakfast, lunch, dinner, desserts and snacks, which all come with different SmartPoints values.
Stick to 23 SmartPoints a day and you are certain to lose weight.
Weight Watchers also gives you a personalised SmartPoints budget* based on your age, weight, height and gender, to match your specific needs.
This includes a tailor-made weekly allowance to use on treats, bigger portions or nights out.
And there’s even more flexibility, because you can roll over a maximum of four unused SmartPoints into your weekly total.
Plus, more foods than ever before have a SmartPoints value of zero. So you need never go hungry — and there’s plenty of inspiration here for mouthwatering meals to make.
All this, combined with Weight Watchers Connect in the Weight Watchers app** — which can put you in touch with a supportive and inspiring community of other members, and 24/7 support from online coaches who have been in your shoes — means there’s everything here that you need to achieve your weight-loss dream.
* To get your personalised SmartPoints budget, join a Weight Watchers group, or subscribe online. Go to weightwatchers.com/uk.
** Weight Watchers Mobile app available to Meetings + Online subscribers.
Dinner - Smashed chickpeas with courgettes and feta: 7 Smartpoints
Serves 4Calorie-controlled cooking spray1 small onion, finely chopped2 garlic cloves, minced 2 x 400g tins chickpeas, drained and rinsed 3 tbsp half-fat crème fraîche 1 tsp cumin seeds 2 courgettes Zest of 1 lemon, plus 2 tbsp juice75g tahini paste2 tbsp pomegranate juice50g light feta cheese, crumbled 3 tbsp pomegranate seeds
MIST a non-stick pan with cooking spray and fry the onion over a medium heat for 8-10 minutes until soft. Add the garlic and cook for a further 3 minutes, then add the chickpeas and cook for 1 minute more. Take the pan off the heat then add the crème fraîche and 3 tbsp of warm water. Use a potato masher to crush the chickpeas to a rough purée. Season, then cover and set aside to keep warm. Dry-fry the cumin seeds for 1-2 minutes until fragrant, then transfer to a pestle and mortar and grind coarsely. Peel the courgettes into long ribbons and toss with the cumin and lemon zest. For the dressing, whisk together the lemon juice, tahini, pomegranate juice and 75ml warm water in a small jug. Spoon the smashed chickpeas on to serving plates and top with the courgettes. Scatter over the feta and pomegranate seeds, then serve with the tahini dressing.
Dessert - Mixed berry and hazelnut sponge roll: 8 SmartPoints
Serves 83 eggs, separated 100g caster sugar 50g blanched hazelnuts, toasted, then whizzed until finely ground 25g plain flour 1 tsp baking powder1 tbsp unsweetened almond milk (or any other milk) 300g reduced-fat ice cream 400g frozen summer fruits, defrosted slightly ½ tbsp icing sugar, plus extra for dusting1 tbsp lemon juice
PREHEAT the oven to 180c, fan 160c, gas 4. Line a 33cm x 23cm baking tin with baking paper. Using an electric whisk, beat the egg yolks with 80g of caster sugar for 3-4 minutes, until pale and thickened. Whisk in the hazelnuts, flour and baking powder. Stir in the milk. In a clean bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form, then gently fold them into the cake mixture. Pour the mixture into the tin and bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the sponge springs back when touched gently. Remove from the oven and cool in the tin. Let the ice cream soften out of the freezer for 5-10 minutes. Dust a sheet of baking paper with the reserved caster sugar and turn the sponge onto it. Whizz 100g of the fruit with the icing sugar and lemon juice to make a coulis. Peel the lining paper from the sponge and spread the ice cream over, leaving a 2cm border. Scatter 150g of the summer fruits over then carefully roll the sponge. Serve with the coulis, remaining berries and a dusting of icing sugar.
Starter - Broccoli and cheddar soup: 5 SmartPoints
Serves 4Calorie-controlled cooking spray 1 onion, chopped2 garlic cloves, chopped 200g potatoes, peeled and chopped 1 litre vegetable stock, made with 1 stock cube350g broccoli, broken into florets and stalk chopped2-3 tsp wholegrain mustard150g half-fat mature Cheddar, grated
HEAT a large, non-stick pan and mist with cooking spray. Add the onion and garlic and cook, covered, for 3-4 minutes, until starting to soften. Stir in the potatoes and stock, then bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the broccoli and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes until just tender. Remove from the heat, cool slightly and whizz with a hand-held stick blender. Return the pan to the heat, stir in the mustard and season. Warm the soup through and serve, topped with the grated Cheddar.
Main - Crumbed cod with warn potato salad: 7 SmartPoints
Serves 4100g ciabatta1 tbsp each fresh mint, basil and flat-leaf parsley, chopped1 garlic clove, mincedZest of ½ lemon 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil4 x 180g pieces skinless cod loin
For the potato salad:600g baby potatoes, halved 100g frozen peas3 spring onions, trimmed and sliced on the diagonal1 tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley1 tbsp wholegrain mustard1 tbsp lemon juice
PREHEAT the oven to 200c, fan 180c, gas 6. Tear the ciabatta into chunks and blitz in a food processor until you have coarse crumbs. Add the mixed herbs, garlic, lemon zest and oil. Season to taste. Pulse to combine and set aside. Meanwhile, put the potatoes in a large pan of water, bring to the boil and cook for 12 minutes. Add the peas, and cook for a further 4 minutes. Drain and set aside. While the potatoes are cooking, season the fish to taste and put on a foil-lined baking tray. Top each piece with a quarter of the crumb mixture, patting it down to form a crust. Bake for 12 minutes or until the fish is opaque. Put the potatoes, peas, spring onions and parsley in a salad bowl. Whisk together the mustard and lemon juice and drizzle over the potato mixture. Toss, and serve with the fish.
Dessert - Fruit Pavlova: 5 SmartPoints
Serves 124 egg whites200g caster sugar1 tsp vinegar1 tbsp cornflour200ml apple juice1 cinnamon stick1 star anise2 apples, peeled and cored and chopped into chunky wedges3 pears, peeled and cored and chopped into chunky wedges4 plums, stoned and cut into quarters4 figs, cut into quarters150g blackberries500g 0% fat natural Greek yoghurt
PREHEAT the oven to 150c, fan 130c, gas 2. Put the egg whites in the bowl of a freestanding mixer and whisk until they form soft peaks, then gradually add the caster sugar, a tbsp at a time. When the meringue looks glossy, add the vinegar and cornflour, and whisk for another 1 minute to combine. Line a baking sheet with baking paper and spoon on the meringue, shaping it into a circle the size of small dinner plate and make a large indent in the centre. Bake in the oven for an hour, then turn off the oven and leave the meringue inside until completely cool. Meanwhile, put the apple juice, cinnamon stick and star anise in a pan and heat gently to a simmer. Add the apples and pears then the plums and figs. Simmer for about 20 minutes until the fruit is tender, adding the blackberries in the last 5 minutes. Remove the fruit from the pan and set aside. Continue cooking the liquid until it becomes a sticky syrup. Remove the cinnamon and star anise, then pour the syrup over the fruit. Top the Pavlova with the yoghurt and fruit.Yoga for a healthy body and soul
If Weight Watchers Flex® is about helping you feel better, body and soul, then it’s easy to see why yoga is the perfect accompaniment to the programme.
You shouldn’t think yoga isn’t for you — because despite what you might believe, it’s not about being super-bendy.
As well as strengthening your muscles, it’s about taking time away from your busy life to attend to your emotional well-being and stretch away the stresses and strains of life.
Try these three poses, which are suitable for beginners and all ages. They are gentle poses, but do consult a doctor before starting any new exercise regime.
This subtle pose helps with balance by grounding through the feet. Stand tall with big toes touching and heels together. Draw your abdominals in and up, and relax your shoulders down and back. Breathe deeply, in through your nose and out through your mouth, for eight breaths while actively engaging your leg muscles.
This is excellent for leg and abdominal strength and improved hip mobility — as well as improving balance and concentration.
Despite the impressive looking pose in this picture, it’s ok for your bent leg to be placed lower on your inner standing leg. You can also use a chair for support when you start off.
Stand tall and place one foot on the opposite inner thigh, either above or below the knee. Open the leg to the side, bring your hands to the prayer position in front of your chest and try to hold the pose for eight deep breathes.
This is great for your tummy muscles and strengthening your back. Start off on your hands and knees. Stretch one arm forward and the opposite leg back.
Imagine you have a tea cup balancing on your back and draw your belly button towards your spine. Stay for one deep breath, then switch sides. Repeat five times.
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