With normal family gatherings for all ages just around the corner, finding dishes that everyone will enjoy without losing sight of your own healthy eating goals can be a challenge.
Luckily, help is at hand today as we continue our brilliant WW series with an inspiring selection of dishes specially designed to appeal to all generations while also being kind on your waistline.
You could lose up to a stone in time to enjoy the freedom of summer and still serve family favourites, such as the delicately-flavoured recipe for fish pie with leeks and tarragon featured today.
‘Add a side dish of some steamed greens or a salad and it’s a balanced and nutritious recipe for all age groups,’ advises Julia Westgarth, head of programme at WW, formerly known as Weight Watchers.
‘We’ve adapted it by including low-fat spread, calorie-controlled cooking spray, reduced-fat cheddar and skimmed milk to reduce the calories and SmartPoints value so that it also fits seamlessly with any weight-loss or fitness aims you have.
‘You could always add some fresh bread, extra new potatoes or larger portions if you have ravenous teens or sporty family members to feed.’
For simpler family suppers during the week, you’re unlikely to hear any complaints if you serve a spicy yet filling chicken fajita tagliatelle (7 SmartPoints on all myWW+ plans) or a hearty Quick Mushroom and Macaroni Bake (11 SmartPoints on all plans).
Better still, they’re both quick and simple to prepare; you could easily have either dish on the table in about half an hour after you get home.
‘Using ingredients such as a reduced-fat strong cheese or a small amount of grated hard cheese such as Parmesan, skimmed milk and low-calorie cooking sprays enable you to make any recipe healthier for the whole family,’ says Julia.
‘These are tricks you can use to adapt your own family favourites too,’ she adds.
‘Try making healthier substitutions in other recipes, too, and don’t forget to make use of the recipe builder feature in the myWW+ app to give you SmartPoints values to ensure you stay on track.’
Why not also take advantage of your new health and fitness goals to encourage other family members to build a healthier relationship with food?
‘Try to get everyone involved in the planning and preparing as well as all sitting down to enjoy the food together,’ advises Julia.
‘It’s also a good idea to let them serve themselves from a bowl in the middle of the table so that small children can learn to understand how hungry they are and when they’re full.
‘Encourage everyone to help clear up, too, including scraping unwanted food off their plate into the bin. This has the added bonus of ensuring you won’t pick at children’s leftovers as you clear up the meal!
‘As well as being surprisingly good fun, you’ll be amazed at how quickly younger members of your family start to show an interest in the food they eat and how it can benefit their health.
‘They’ll learn to form habits that will stand them in good stead for their adult lives, too.’
QUICK MUSHROOM AND MACARONI BAKE
The brilliant WW series gives inspiring dishes, including the quick mushroom and macaroni bake (above), designed to appeal to all generations while also being kind on your waistline
Prep: 5 mins l Cook: 25 mins
- 300g macaroni
- Calorie-controlled cooking spray
- 500g chestnut mushrooms, sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 200g cherry tomatoes, halved
- 400g tin cream of mushroom soup
- 45g vegetarian Italian-style hard
- cheese, finely grated
- 2 tbsp fresh parsley, roughly chopped, plus extra to serve
- 25g fresh white breadcrumbs
- Rocket leaves, to serve
Preheat the oven to 200c/ fan 180c/gas 6. Cook the macaroni in a large pan of boiling salted water for 5 minutes.
Drain, reserving a cupful of pasta water. Meanwhile, mist a large frying pan with cooking spray and fry the mushrooms and garlic for 2-3 minutes.
Add the tomatoes and cook for 2 minutes until softened, but not broken down. Season.
Stir in the soup, 2 tbsp of the cheese and the parsley. Loosen the sauce with a little of the reserved pasta water, then transfer to a deep 20cm square baking dish.
Scatter over the breadcrumbs and remaining cheese, then mist with cooking spray.
Bake for 20 minutes until golden. Serve with the rocket.
myWW+: 11 SmartPoints value (green, blue and purple)
CHICKEN FAJITA TAGLIATELLE
For simpler family suppers during the week, you’re unlikely to hear any complaints if you serve a spicy yet filling chicken fajita tagliatelle (pictured)
Prep 10: mins l Cook: 15 mins
- 300g fresh tagliatelle
- Calorie-controlled cooking spray
- 200g skinless chicken breast fillets, cut into strips
- 1 onion, sliced
- 1 red pepper, sliced
- 1 yellow pepper, sliced
- 1 tbsp fajita seasoning
- 400g tin chopped tomatoes
- 2 tbsp fresh coriander, chopped
- 40g WW Reduced Fat Grated Mature Cheese
Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Cook the tagliatelle according to pack instructions.
Drain, reserving 1 cup of the cooking water. Set aside.
Meanwhile, mist a large non-stick wok or frying pan with cooking spray over a high heat.
Cook the chicken, onion and peppers, stirring, for 5 minutes or until the vegetables are tender and the chicken is just cooked through and golden.
Stir in the fajita seasoning and cook for another minute, then add the tomatoes. Season and simmer for 3-4 minutes.
Add the cooked pasta to the pan along with a splash of the reserved cooking water and toss to combine. Pour in a little more water if it seems dry.
Add half the coriander and stir through. Divide the pasta between four plates and top with the cheese and remaining coriander to serve.
myWW+: 7 SmartPoints value (green, blue and purple)
FISH PIE WITH LEEKS AND TARRAGON
You could lose up to a stone in time to enjoy the freedom of summer and still serve family favourites, such as the delicately-flavoured recipe for fish pie with leeks and tarragon (above)
Prep: 5 mins l Cook: 40 mins
- 600g potatoes, diced
- 45g low-fat spread
- 600ml skimmed milk
- Calorie-controlled cooking spray
- 2 leeks, trimmed and thinly sliced
- 25g plain flour
- 80g WW Reduced Fat Grated Mature Cheese
- 1 tbsp fresh tarragon, finely chopped
- 350g fish pie mix
- 150g raw king prawns
- 200g green beans, trimmed
- 200g Tenderstem broccoli
Put the potatoes in a pan, cover with cold water and bring to a boil. Simmer for 15 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.
Drain and return to the pan, then mash with 15g of the spread and 100 ml skimmed milk, then set aside. Preheat the oven to 200c/fan 180c/gas 5.
Meanwhile, mist a large non-stick pan with cooking spray and fry the leeks gently for 5-6 minutes until soft.
Remove from the pan and set aside. Reduce the heat to medium. Melt the remaining spread in the pan, then add the flour and cook, stirring, for 1-2 minutes.
Gradually whisk in the remaining milk until smooth and combined. Increase the heat and bring the mixture to a simmer.
Cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the mixture has thickened. Season to taste then whisk in 60 g of the cheese and the tarragon.
Fold the fish pie mix and prawns into the sauce, then spoon into a 20cm square baking dish.
Meanwhile, cook the beans and broccoli in a steamer set over a pan or boiler for 5‑7 minutes until just tender.
Serve the fish pie with the veg.
myWW+: 12 SmartPoints value (green), 9 SmartPoints value (blue) and 5 SmartPoints value (purple)
HOW IT WORKS
WW’s healthy eating programme, myWW+, works because it’s flexible and based on solid science.
It is based on four key elements: healthy eating, exercise, good sleeping patterns and a mindset package that helps you to adopt a healthier frame of mind.
To tailor your food choices to your lifestyle, myWW+ offers a choice of three plans: Green, Blue and Purple.
You can go to ww.com or the myWW+ app for a personalised assessment to discover which plan is best for you.
All plans are based on SmartPoints and ZeroPoint foods; every food and drink has a SmartPoints value — one easy-to-use number that naturally guides you towards a healthier pattern of eating.
On top of this, you can enjoy ZeroPoint foods. These are vital for your health and have a SmartPoints value of 0, meaning you can eat them without counting or weighing them.
When you join myWW+, you’re given a customised SmartPoints Budget according to which plan you are matched with. The list of ZeroPoint foods also depends on your plan.
GREEN: For people who eat on the go or enjoy pre-prepared foods, Green gives a Daily Budget of 30 SmartPoints and 100+ ZeroPoint fruits and veggies to choose from.
BLUE: If you like cooking, but also want the flexibility of the occasional ready-meal, Blue offers a Daily Budget of 23 SmartPoints and 200+ ZeroPoint foods.
PURPLE: Tailored for someone who cooks from scratch and doesn’t want to weigh or measure ingredients, Purple gives the lowest Daily Budget of 16 SmartPoints but the highest allowance of 300+ ZeroPoint foods.
You also get a weekly allowance (weeklies) for splurges or bigger portions; up to four unused SmartPoints from your Daily Budget can be rolled over to your weeklies.
On top of this, you can also boost your SmartPoints Budget by earning additional FitPoints for any activity you undertake.
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