Sunday, January 28, 2007

Newsletter, week of January 28th

Last Week

One of the four parts of our program is making sure we move more. No matter what your fitness level is now, ask yourself if it could be better. Could you move more?

This Week

Winter eating tends to focus on heavier, comfort foods. Let's talk about how to enjoy those foods without making ourselves heavier, too.


Kristen and Andrew got their first weight loss awards by losing 6.4 and 12.4 pounds respectively.

Shawn has now reached 12 pounds lost.

Laketa has lost 43.6 pounds, and we'll get to celebrate that this week.

Mary is our newest lifetime member, having lost over 90 pounds. She's also on her way to being our newest employee.

Great going everyone, what a week!

WW Product of the Week

Measure-Rite System - no matter the season, these measuring spoons will keep your portions in check. One spoon measures 1/2 cup, the other 1 cup. If you've been thinking about getting a little more accurate with your portions, this is a great tool for you. $13.00

Non-WW Product of the Week

Bill heard last week's plea for recommendations, and submitted a great time-saving idea. Michelina's Lean Gourmet has several great options, including Chicken Alfredo Florentine and Salisbury Steak. With points ranging from about 4-6 depending on variety, pair these with a salad and you've got yourself a quick and easy meal.

How about the rest of you? What stuff tickles your fancy?

Recipe of the Week

Macaroni and Cheese
Serves 8
7 Points

1 pound uncooked elbow macaroni
1/2 cup fat-free sour cream
12 oz fat-free evaporated milk
2 cup low-fat shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
2 Tbsp seasoned bread crumbs
2 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350ºF.

Cook pasta according to package directions. Transfer to a bowl, and while pasta is hot, stir in sour cream.

Scald evaporated milk by heating it over medium heat until tiny bubbles just appear around the edges, about 3 minutes. Remove milk from heat and add cheddar cheese, mustard, pepper, salt and nutmeg; stir until cheese melts.

Add cheese mixture into pasta and transfer mixture to a casserole dish. Combine bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese and sprinkle over pasta mixture.

Bake until top is golden brown, about 20 minutes.

-- from Weight Watchers Recipe Finder

Tip of the Week

Learn about substitutions to make foods healthier. For example, you can make brownies with applesauce instead of oil. Ground turkey is leaner than most ground beef. Most dairy products come in low-fat and non-fat varieties. Splenda works well in place of sugar for just about any recipe. Nonfat plain yogurt is good when a recipe calls for sour cream. Just be sure to think about whether the substitution will affect the overall quality of the recipe, and whether it "fits" with the flavor of what you're making. You don't want to substitute spaghetti squash for coconut now, do you? (Just kidding! OR AM I?)

Quote of the Week

"Live in each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influences of each." - Henry David Thoreau

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Just could be worse!

I have a lot of Weight Watcher cookbooks. Most of my dinners are made from recipes I find in them and on the website. In general I have good luck, but every once in a while I find a dud.

I just thank my lucky stars it's not the 1970s anymore.

Melon Mousse? Liver Pate en Masque?

Quelle horreur!

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Newsletter, week of January 21st

Last Week

We live in a world of instant gratification, so when we learn weight loss doesn't play by those rules, it can be a drag. Focus on your desired outcome and what you want to achieve. Anything worth doing is going to take time and practice.

This Week

One of the four facets of our program is Move More. This week we'll talk about the importance of physical activity and discover ways for you to increase your activity level. Also this week: long-term goal setting. Be prepared with a goal you'd like to achieve by April 30th. We'll be self-addressing postcards again!

WW Product of the Week

Get Moving Mix - since we're talking about increasing activity this week, what better product to highlight than our workout DVD! No excuses with this plan: get activity in as little as 10 minute chunks, or do them all for a longer workout. Exercise in your own home whenever the time is right. You can't even blame chilly temperatures or dark mornings! $15.00

Non-WW Product of the Week

Okay team, here's the deal. I think I've probably already mentioned just about every name brand product I use in my daily life. Your challenge for this week is to send me some of the products you love - whether it's a food, a beverage, something related to activity or something that helps you change your behavior, if you love it, tell me! Drop me a line at

Recipe of the Week

Barbecue Salmon with Ginger
Serves 4
5 Points and Core

1/3 cup ketchup
2 Tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp low-sodium soy sauce
1/8 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp orange zest
4 (6 ounce) salmon fillets, skinned

Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick spray.

Combine the first four ingredients in a small saucepan, and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat and simmer until thickened, stirring occasionally, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the orange zest. Cool for five minutes.

Place the fish 2 inches apart on the baking sheet, and brush with the sauce. Roast until just opaque in the center, 10-12 minutes.

--from Ultimate Flex & Core cookbook

Tip of the Week

Avoid being a perfectionist. Try not to think in all-or-nothing terms - that you've blown your diet, for example, simply because you've overdone it at one meal. Be kinder to yourself. A setback is a learning opportunity - what will you do next time you're in this situation? It's feedback, not failure.

Quote of the Week

"True enjoyment comes from the activity of the mind and exercise of the body; the two are ever united." -- Wilhelm von Humboldt

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Newsletter, week of January 14th

Last Week

Restaurant eating can be stressful, but with the tips we discussed, you can do it. Above all, think first, and chances are you can make successful food choices.

This Week

We all love instant gratification, but healthy weight loss is something that requires patience and a bit of time. We'll talk about how to hang in there and accept that.


This week my meetings saw almost 20 new enrollees. If you're one of those new folks, congratulations on taking the first step. 2007 can be the year you successfully conquer your weight loss goals.

WW Product of the Week

My TurnAround Program Cookbook - this is our newest cookbook, and it's got 200 recipes for you to try. There are recipes for both Flex and Core plans, and many of the Flex recipes are "Core adaptable" simply by changing an ingredient or two. If this is a long-term process, you'll need to have lots of new meal ideas! $13.00

Non-WW Product of the Week

I like to save a couple of points for an evening snack. Recently I've been on a granola bar kick, so this week I'm featuring Quaker Chewy Granola Bars. These guys are pretty healthy, because they come in a reduced-sugar variety and a 90 calorie option as well. And they have some great flavors like Chocolate Chunk and Oatmeal Raisin. Check 'em out!

Recipe of the Week

I know, I know, it's another soup. But this is a recipe that a fellow WW employee made for us at a meeting yesterday. It smelled, looked, and tasted great!

Chicken Tortilla Soup
3 Points per cup and Core

16 oz. cooked shredded chicken
1 can Rotel tomatoes
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can cream corn
1 can kidney beans
1 can pinto beans
1 can ranch beans
1 pkg. dry ranch dressing mix
1 pkg. dry taco seasoning mix

Combine all ingredients together, including the juices in each can and unprepared dry mixes. Simmer in crock pot. If you like, garnish with tortilla strips or shredded cheese (but don't forget to add the Points).

Tip of the Week

Having trouble sticking to your exercise plan? Ask yourself if what you are doing is fun. If not, it might be time to pick a new activity. If you're a social butterfly, consider a group exercise, or a walk with a friend. If you're around people all day, maybe you need an exercise you can do alone. Either way, when it's an activity you enjoy, it makes it less of a chore.

Quote of the Week

The "fork in the road" is our chance to make decisions, to make changes, to experiment with new possibilities.

Monday, January 08, 2007

I Cook...So You Don't Have To

I'm hoping this doesn't become the first post in an ongoing series!

A few weeks ago, a member mentioned that "back in the day" there was a recipe in a Weight Watchers cookbook for a mock coconut cream pie that used jicama. Intrigued, I set out to find the recipe. Several internet searches turned up nothing, though I finally stumbled on what I think is the recipe. The secret ingredient is not jicama, but spaghetti squash. This recipe originally appeared in the Weight Watchers Favorite Recipes cookbook published in 1986.

Serves 8
3 Points

2 cups cooked spaghetti squash
1 cup skim milk
4 eggs
1/2 cup evaporated skimmed milk
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
2 Tbsp plus 2 tsp reduced calorie margarine(tub)
1/2 tsp coconut extract
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp baking powder

Preheat oven to 350. Spray 9" pie plate with nonstick cooking spray; using the back of a spoon, spread squash over bottom and up sides of plate.

In blender combine remaining ingredients and process until smooth; pour over squash and bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour (until a knife, inserted in center, comes out clean). Transfer pie plate to wire rack and let stand for 1 hour. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

The thought of making a coconut cream pie with squash as the crust alternately horrified and intrigued me, so I set to work to see what would happen. I went into this quite frankly not expecting the end product to be edible. I figured if it turned out to be tasty, so much the better, but I had visions of taking one bite, and throwing the rest in the garbage.

First, if you've never worked with spaghetti squash, here's the deal. The squash is yellow and oval, probably about the size of a football. I cooked the squash by microwaving it, remembering first to pierce the flesh several times with a knife. After about 10 minutes in the microwave, the skin is soft enough to cut through. You'll want to scoop out the stuff that looks like pumpkin innards (the seeds and slimy stuff). The remaining flesh will be stringy and bears a resemblance to spaghetti. You can dislodge the threads with a fork. The squash I used netted about 3 cups of cooked threads.

The pie plate I used is a pretty standard shallow nine inch dish. By the time I poured the remainder of the filling in, it was full to the top. If you have a deep dish pie plate, that's probably better. Otherwise, you might want to watch how fast you pour. The trip from the countertop to the oven was pretty dicey.

The directions call for a baking time of 50 minutes to an hour, but it still looked a little jiggly to me. I ended up baking the pie for an hour and 5 minutes total. It came out of the oven puffed up a bit, but settled down a bit within a few minutes of letting it cool.

Having successfully made the mock coconut pie, I can't help but feel a little apprehension. Is this going to be good? The pie slices easily, and it has a very custardy consistency. After about 4 hours in the refrigerator, it's settled to a bit less than an inch tall. (Sadly the photos I took at this point were lost in the ether.)

I'd like to tell you that this recipe works, I really would. But in reality, what this recipe yields is an eggy monstrosity with threads of squash in it. I'm not sure I even tasted the coconut extract over the decidedly strong egg base. I'm not really a fan of custards to begin with, so if you're in to that sort of thing, you might not be as put off as I was. The biggest problem, though, was the threads of squash. It really destroyed the smoothness of the pie, and when breaking off a bite, the threads poke out. Maybe chopping the squash threads into smaller pieces would help, but I'm not convinced.

In short, if you're craving coconut cream pie, go for the real thing. Cut a smaller piece of you must. But a custardy pie with squash? Sheesh, at least the WW test kitchen could have suggested toasting some coconut and sprinkling it over the top, right? Sometimes there's just no substitute for the real thing.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Newsletter, week of January 7th

Last Week

Setting goals is a great way to keep you focused. Remember, a good goal is something that is positive and specific, is within your control, and is a good fit with your lifestyle.

This Week

Dining out can be a challenge. This week we talk about what tools you can use to make the experience easier, and will share some tips.


Well, the big holiday push is over. Lots of you stayed on program and had good results despite all the challenges. You should all be proud of yourselves!

WW Product of the Week

If you're a salty snacker, have you tried our Pretzel Thins? Individual 2 Point portions of thin, crispy pretzels could be your key to a good snack. Available in honey mustard, our NEW everything flavor, and while supplies last, original pretzel flavor. $4.50 per box ($3.00 for original flavor while available)

Non-WW Product of the Week

Following program doesn't mean you have to give up your coffee. But if you like adding flavor, often that means adding calories. Splenda Flavor Blends for coffee is a nice no-calorie alternative. Available in French vanilla, mocha, and hazelnut.

Is there a product you like? Let me know what it is, and I'll be happy to share it.

Recipe of the Week

This is a recipe that Monday night member Marianne shared with me. Originally it called for butter and regular coconut milk, but using the Recipe Builder with eTools, I managed to lighten it up a bit. It is absolutely fantastic!

Creamy Pumpkin Curry Soup
Serves 4
2 Points

1 cup chopped onion
2 tsp olive oil
1 clove minced garlic
2 tsp curry powder
dash salt
dash pepper
14.5 ounces chicken broth
1 cup water
15 ounces canned pumpkin
3/4 cup light coconut milk

Cook onion in oil until soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, curry, salt and pepper cooking one minute more. Add broth, water and pumpkin; mix well. Reduce heat and cook on low for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in coconut milk. Puree soup with an immersion blender until smooth.

Flavor is more developed if made a day ahead. When doubling the recipe, use a 13.5 ounce can of the light coconut milk.

Tip of the Week

What's the hurry? Did you know that it takes a while for your brain to figure out that your stomach is full? Try slowing down when having a meal or snack. You might find out that you're satisfied with less if you give your body time to send your brain the message. Try to take at least 30 minutes to complete your meal.

Quote of the Week

"Doctors will tell you if you eat slowly, you will eat less. Anybody raised in a large family will tell you the same thing." -- Country magazine