Monday, 26 July 2010

Standard Weight Watchers stuff

For those not in the know, Weight Watchers is a weightloss and weight management system which currently works on a Points system; all foods are given a number of Points per portion or serving, and then the individual is allocated a certain number of Points to eat per day based on various criteria including starting weight, height, age, gender, lifestyle etc.

Points are worked out based on calorific value and amount of saturated fat; one Point is roughly equivalent to about 60 calories or so, however this does vary somewhat depending on other criteria including the saturated fat. The amount of Points a person will be allocated goes down as they lose weight.

All of the recipes I add here will be Pointed exactly as they are shown, however, it is useful to know some of the basic foodstuffs and measurements. Many foods are free and these are the ones we should focus on to add bulk and variety as well as key nutrients.

Vegetables, with a few exceptions like potatoes/sweet potatoes, parsnips and peas, are free, or 0 Points. Straight away that gives plenty of scope for building interesting recipes. Something I didn't realise is that butternut squash and pumpkin are free, although if you do have insulin resistance, diabetes or other blood sugar disorders it's worth bearing in mind that you probably shouldn't be eating it every day.

Fruit does have Points, although not huge amounts of them. Possibly the highest is banana, which works out on average at about 1.5 Points a go. An apple is 0.5, a couple of satsumas is the same. So they're still the healthy snack/dessert!

Meat should be very lean. As a rough guide, a medium chicken breast, which is about the size of a computer mouse, is around 1.5 Points. I have however weighed all the chicken I have put into the recipes here as it can vary somewhat. Turkey breast is also very good and lean. Bacon works out to about 1.5 Points per slice, although peculiarly (if you're in the UK), ASDA's streaky bacon is only 1 Point per slice.

Rice, pasta and lentils work out very similarly; about 1 Point per 20g dried weight, however WW suggests that about 60g is an average portion.

A slice of wholegrain bread - about 40g - is around 1.5 Points, or thereabouts.

A medium egg is 1.5 Points (and two works out to 2.5 Points)

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Jollof Rice with Chicken

We first had this as cooked for us by our old neighbour Pat and his wife Faye. It was amazing and I have no idea whether this is a faithful representation or not but it tastes pretty good so we don't complain!

Serves 2 at approximately 6 Points each (and it's HUGE)


400g (2 large) chicken breasts, skinless, diced small
1 butternut squash, peeled, diced, roasted with a bit of salt and spray oil
1 red pepper, diced
1 pack of fine green beans. sliced into 1-2cm lengths
1 big courgette, chopped
1 big onion, diced finely
4-5 cloves of garlic (we LOVE garlic)
big squeeze of tomato puree
1 400g can of chopped tomatoes in juice
3 tbsp jollof seasoning
80g basmati rice
1 chicken stock cube (we like Kallo Organic, but whatever floats your boat)
180ml boiling water

First begin by setting your oven to the highest it'll go and putting the oven shelf up near the top. Then, peel, deseed and dice your squash. Dice it quite small; you want it to be bite size and I personally like it to be a bit charred and chewy but I appreciate that's not everyone's taste! Put it in a roasting tray with some spray oil and a good sprinkle of salt. When the oven gets up to speed it needs to go in for 10-minute intervals, turning it at every ten, for about 20-30 minutes til it's as done as you like it. When it's done it can be put to one side if you're not ready with everything else.

While that's doing get the rest of the dish ready. Start with the diced chicken - get that browning thoroughly and while that's happening, get your onion chopped, your garlic crushed, your pepper and courgette diced and your beans cut up. When the chicken's browned add the onions and garlic, get them softened and caramelised a bit, and then add the other vegetables and the jollof seasoning. Give it a few minutes with the lid on for everything to soften, then add the tomato puree, the chicken stock and the canned tomatoes (and your squash if it's ready out of the oven).

When everything is looking like it's starting to come down, add the rice and water, stir well, cover it, turn it right down and go and have a sit down for ten minutes. After that it's just a case of regularly checking and stirring to make sure it's not all sticking and you're away really.

Serve it with a big side salad and I defy you to be hungry for another three days afterwards.

Lebanese 7-Spice Chicken with Fattoush

Serves 2 at approximately 7 Points per person but this will vary according to your quantities of chicken and what pitta bread you use. The Points value for this particular recipe is accurate as everything was weighed and calculated.

This recipe is a 'Nigella Special', which means we were watching La Lawson on the telly and grabbed notebooks to scribble down what she was doing!


400g chicken breast (we had two large ones)
3 Sainsbury's Organic Wholemeal Pittas at 2 Points each
1 cucumber
1 pack of good cherry tomatoes, we used pomodoro, either halved or quartered
1 sweet onion - a red onion or spring onions would also be fine but it's going to be raw
1 fat clove of garlic, grated
Bunch of fresh mint
1 lemon
BIG bunch of fresh parsley (we used flat leaf)
Spray or two of olive oil
Powdered sumac
Lebanese 7-Spice powder

Pop your chicken into a small ovenproof dish and coat well with the Lebanese -Spice powder. That goes into the oven at 200 degrees for about 40 minutes.

While that's doing, peel and chop your cucumber, you're aiming for bite sized chunks. Combine the cucumber, tomatoes, finely sliced onions, grated garlic, lemon juice, salt, and olive oil spray in a big bowl.

Split your three pitta breads open (so they're in thin halves) and lay them on a baking tray in the bottom of the oven with the chicken til they're good and crunchy. Remove them and allow to cool slightly while you finely chop/rip the herbs and stir them through the salad. Tear up the pitta bread and add it to the salad, cover and leave to soak up the juices while you wait for the chicken.

When the chicken's done serve it on top of the fattoush with a sprinkle of sumac and perhaps an extra touch of salt, and enjoy.

I get my Lebanese 7-Spice powder and powdered sumac from Greenwood's, which is available in big ASDA stores in the UK.

A short break followed by a different approach

Well. I've been rather quiet. It's not because I haven't been cooking - far from it, in fact - but thanks to a rather unexpected diagnosis of diabetes in May, I've been seriously changing how I eat and think about food, which has of course had quite a big effect on how I cook it.

Anyway, I'm back in the saddle now and will be posting some of the newer recipes we've been enjoying. We - my fiance and I - are both following the Weight Watchers plan initially while I try and get the blood sugar and weight issues under control and read more about how I can reduce the insulin resistance issues. Since our main priority after we get married next year is to a: stay married for a Long Time and b: make babies, it's all rather important and such.

For the forseeable future then, all recipes will have Weight Watchers points assigned to them, but hopefully they by no means prohibit anyone else enjoying them :)