You’ve had a long day and the last thing you feel like doing is spending hours cooking dinner. Despite your best intentions, an unhealthy ready meal or takeaway is calling.
This is where Weight Watchers Flex steps in. For as well as helping you lose up to a stone in eight weeks with its ingenious SmartPoints system, it also offers quick and easy meal solutions for those moments when you’re a little strapped for time.
Our exclusive recipe series, which concludes tomorrow, shows you can make a healthy tasty meal in 20 minutes or less . . .
Quinoa burger pitta: 8 SmartPoints
- Calorie-controlled cooking spray
- 2 courgettes, sliced lengthways
- 1 red pepper, deseeded, cut into strips
- 250g cherry tomatoes, halved
- 250g sweet potato, peeled and roughly chopped
- 50g tricolour quinoa
- 1 small garlic clove, crushed
- 1 red onion, ½ finely chopped, the other ½ finely sliced
- 2 tsp balsamic vinegar
- 4 x Weight Watchers Wholemeal Pitta Breads
- 70g rocket
- 1 tbsp chopped, fresh flat-leaf parsley
Preheat oven to 200c, fan 180c, gas 6. Spray courgettes, pepper and tomatoes with cooking spray and roast for 25 minutes. Transfer to a plate and set aside. Keep oven on. Boil the sweet potato for 15 minutes or until tender. Drain and mash. Cook quinoa according to pack instructions, then drain and add to sweet potato. Mist a frying pan with cooking spray and stir-fry garlic and chopped onion for 2 minutes. Add to quinoa and sweet potato. Season and mix. Shape mixture into 4 patties and mist with cooking spray. Cook in oven for 40-45 minutes, turning halfway. Once cooked, cool for 5 minutes. Combine roasted vegetables with balsamic vinegar and season. Warm pittas in oven for 2 minutes, then fill each with a burger, roasted veg, rocket, sliced red onion and parsley, and serve.
Peach Fool – A sweet treat for 0 SmartPoints
On Weight Watchers’s new programme, you can eat more than 200 foods in portion sizes that suit you, without using up a single SmartPoint — from succulent chicken to fresh fish, filling eggs to fat-free yoghurt, and nearly every fresh fruit and vegetable. All week we’ve shown you the variety of meals you can create from zero SmartPoints foods — and there’s more today with this creamy treat.
- 400g tin peach slices in natural juice, drained
- 150g quark
- 300g 0% fat natural Greek yoghurt
Puree the peach slices using a stick blender or food processor. In a small bowl, mix the quark with the yoghurt until well combined. Layer the puree and quark mixture in small glasses or dessert bowls and swirl. Chill for an hour before serving.
Breakfast – Salmon kedgeree: 5 SmartPoints
- Calorie-controlled cooking spray
- 1 onion, sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 tsp each curry power, ground turmeric and ground coriander
- 100ml fish stock, made with ½ cube
- 40g split red lentils
- 2 x 130g skinless salmon fillets, thinly sliced
- 2 x 250g basmati rice pouches
- 2 eggs
- 100g asparagus spears, trimmed
Mist a non-stick frying pan with cooking spray and fry the onion, garlic and spices over a medium heat for 2 minutes. Add the stock and lentils and cook for 5 minutes, then add the salmon and cook, stirring, for a further 5 minutes. Stir in the rice and cook for 5 minutes until hot. Meanwhile, bring a pan of water to the boil, carefully lower the eggs into the water and cook for 5-6 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon, then peel and halve. Add the asparagus to the pan and cook for 2 minutes. Drain. Divide the kedgeree between plates and top with the eggs and asparagus. Serve seasoned with black pepper.
Lunch – Chicken and cannellini bean salad: 6 SmartPoints
- 400g tin cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
- ½ red onion, finely sliced
- 250g cherry tomatoes, chopped
- Handful fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
- 200g cooked chicken breast, skinless
- 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
- Juice of 1 lemon
- Pinch of smoked paprika
Combine the cannellini beans, red onion, cherry tomatoes, parsley and chicken in a large bowl. Meanwhile, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice and smoked paprika. Drizzle the dressing over the salad then season and serve.
Keralan coconut fish curry: 9 SmartPoints
- 1 small onion, roughly chopped
- 3 garlic cloves
- 2cm piece fresh ginger, sliced
- 1 tbsp hot curry powder
- Grated zest and juice of ½ lime
- 300ml reduced-fat coconut milk
- Calorie-controlled cooking spray
- 450g firm white fish fillets, cubed
- 200g cherry tomatoes, halved
- 100g baby leaf spinach
- 2 x 250g pouches microwaveable basmati rice
Put the onion, garlic, ginger, curry powder, lime zest and juice in a small food processor with 2 tbsp of the coconut milk and whizz to a paste (or use a handheld blender). Mist a non-stick saucepan with the cooking spray and add the spice paste. Fry for 4-5 minutes to cook out the raw flavours. Add the fish to the pan and turn gently to coat in the spice paste. Pour the rest of the coconut milk into the pan and stir in the tomatoes. Bring to the boil and simmer gently for 5 minutes until the fish is cooked but not falling apart. Remove from the heat and stir in the spinach to wilt in the heat of the sauce. Season to taste. Ladle into warm bowls and serve with rice.
Dinner – Veggie Pad Thai with satay dressing
- 300g pack spiralised butternut squash
- 300g pack microwave ribbon rice noodles
- 4 spring onions, trimmed and finely sliced
- 100g young leaf spinach, roughly torn
- Handful fresh basil, leaves picked and torn
- 30g unsalted peanuts, chopped
For the dressing:
- 2 tbsp rice vinegar
- 2 tbsp reduced-fat peanut butter
- 2 tbsp light soy sauce
- 1 red chilli, finely chopped
Microwave the squash and the noodles according to pack instructions. Put the squash and noodles in a large bowl and toss together with the spring onions, spinach and basil, letting the heat from the noodles wilt the spinach. Meanwhile, whisk together the dressing ingredients, along with 1 tbsp water until combined. Divide the noodles between plates and serve drizzled with the dressing and topped with the peanuts.
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.
Swirly wrap: 6 SmartPoints
- ½ red pepper, deseeded and cut into chunky strips
- Calorie-controlled cooking spray
- 25g reduced-fat houmous
- 1 Warburtons Square Wrap
- 1 tsp harissa paste
- Large handful rocket
- 1 small carrot, cut into very fine matchsticks
Heat a griddle pan to high, mist the pepper with cooking spray and griddle for 3 minutes until softened and just charred. Spread the houmous over the wrap, then dot with the harissa. Top one half with rocket, the other half with carrot and put the pepper in a line down the middle. Roll up tightly, then cut in half and serve.
Strawberry parcels: 6 SmartPoints
- 4 tbsp reduced-sugar strawberry jam
- 4 Weight Watchers White Wraps
- 200g strawberries, hulled and thinly sliced
- Zest and juice of 1 orange
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 2 tsp freeze-dried strawberries, crushed
- 350g 0% fat natural yoghurt
Spread 1 tbsp jam over each wrap, then halve. Preheat the oven to 180c, fan 160c, gas 4. Put the strawberries in a bowl with half the orange zest and toss to combine. Spoon berries over one half of each halved wrap, leaving a 1-2cm border. Stir the remaining zest through the beaten egg and brush a little along the edge of the wraps. Fold the plain side of the wraps over the filling to make 8 triangles. Press down to seal the edges with a fork. Put the parcels on a large baking sheet. Brush with half the remaining egg wash and bake for 18 minutes, until crisp and golden. Remove from oven, brush with the remaining egg wash and sprinkle with freeze-dried strawberries then bake for a further minute. Stir the orange juice into the yoghurt and serve with the strawberry parcels.
Grilled chicken with pesto pasta: 7 SmartPoints
- 600g skinless chicken breast fillets
- 260g wholewheat fusilli
- 24 cherry tomatoes, halved
- 4 tbsp reduced-fat green pesto
- Large handful fresh basil leaves, to garnish
Preheat the grill to medium-high. Season the chicken and grill for 15 minutes, turning once, until cooked through. Set aside to cool slightly, then slice into bite-size pieces. Meanwhile, cook the pasta to pack instructions, then drain. Combine the chicken, cooked pasta, tomatoes and pesto in serving bowls. Garnish with the basil leaves to serve.
Crab, chilli & tomato linguine: 7 SmartPoints
- 250g linguine
- Calorie-controlled cooking spray
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 1 red chilli, deseeded and chopped
- 335g cherry tomatoes, halved
- 2 x 170g tins white crab meat, drained
- Zest and juice of 1 lemon
- 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tbsp fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
Put the pasta in a large pan of boiling water. Bring back to the boil and simmer for 6-7 minutes, or until the linguine is al dente. Drain, reserving a little of the pasta cooking water. Meanwhile, mist a large pan with cooking spray, add the garlic and chilli and cook over a medium heat for 1-2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook for another 3-4 minutes until they begin to break down. Gently stir in the crab meat, lemon juice and olive oil until combined. Add a couple of tablespoons of the reserved pasta water to the sauce, then add the cooked linguine, tossing everything together until well combined. Divide between bowls and serve garnished with the lemon zest and parsley.
Lamb & black bean stir-fry: 14 SmartPoints
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 400g lean lamb mince
- 200g pack Tenderstem broccoli and green beans, cut into bite-size pieces
- 2 red peppers, deseeded and chopped
- 175g baby corn, halved
- 1 red onion, sliced
- 2 x 250g packs microwaveable brown rice
- 150g black bean sauce
- 1 tsp cornflour
Heat a wok over a high heat. Add the olive oil and heat for 20 seconds, then add the lamb mince and stir-fry for 3-4 minutes or until browned. Add all the vegetables and stir-fry for 4-5 minutes. Meanwhile, cook the rice according to the pack instructions. Mix the black bean sauce with the cornflour and 60ml water in a small bowl until smooth. Add the sauce mixture to the wok and stir-fry for 1 minute or until heated through. Serve the stir-fry with the rice in serving bowls.
Dessert: Carrot cake with cream cheese frosting
200g gluten-free self-raising flour
1½ tsp gluten-free baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
Seeds of 3 cardamom pods, ground
Zest of ½ orange, plus extra to decorate, and 1 tsp of the juice
75g low-fat spread
80g light brown soft sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
175g carrot, grated
50g eating apple, grated
125g low-fat soft cheese
1 tbsp icing sugar
Preheat the oven to 180c, fan 160c, gas 4, then line a 900g loaf tin with baking paper. Sift flour and baking powder into a bowl. Add cinnamon, ground cardamom and zest of half an orange, and mix. In a separate bowl, beat together the spread and sugar, using a hand-held electric whisk, until light and creamy. Gradually add the eggs, beating well after each addition. Add the flour mixture and mix until just combined. Fold in the grated carrot and apple until evenly distributed. Pour into the loaf tin and bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes, until browned on top and a skewer comes out with a few wet crumbs. Put it on a wire rack until cool then remove cake from the tin. For the icing, beat together the cream cheese, icing sugar and the orange juice. Spread on the cooled cake and scatter with orange zest.
EXERCISES FOR A FLAT STOMACH
Of all our body parts, we’re likely to feel our stomachs aren’t up to scratch. One survey found more than 40 per cent of women dislike their tummies.
But there’s plenty you can do to strengthen your abdomen, no matter your age. Try these exercises for beginners three times a week:
BEFORE YOU START
You should seek your GP’s guidance before embarking on a new regime.
Proper breathing is important — especially if you’re a little older. Holding your breath can lead to dizziness and changes in blood pressure.
Breathe out as you initiate your movement and breathe in as you release.
LIFTS AND TILTS
For pelvic lifts, lie on the floor with your knees bent. Lift your pelvis toward the ceiling, hold for ten seconds, and lower to the ground.
For a pelvic tilt, lie on the ground with your knees bent. Slowly tilt your pelvis up — but curl your lower back into the floor, holding for up to ten seconds. Repeat each exercise 20 times.
you can do curl-ups instead of endless sit-ups that will only jar your neck.
Lie flat on your back with your knees pointing toward the ceiling. Keeping your hands at your sides, palms against the floor, slowly lift your shoulders. Try to do 15.
HOLLOW YOUR TUM
This is a gentle, subtle way to strengthen deep abdominal muscles. Get down on your hands and knees. Take a deep breath, letting your tummy hang down in a relaxed position. Pull your pelvis in toward your waist, hollowing out the tummy. Keep your back straight. Hold the position for ten seconds and release. Repeat ten times.
You may feel that getting down on the floor is a bit of a challenge some days. So you can use a supportive chair to do abdominal exercises, which can also help if you have balance issues.
Try the reverse chair crunch. Sit upright in a chair with your feet flat on the floor and your hands in front of your body. Lean back, keeping your abdominal muscles tight, until you feel your weight shift on to your tailbone at the base of your back. Slowly return to an upright position. Do up to 15 repetitions, making sure to stop if you feel fatigue or strain in your lower back.