Light and easy suppers that can help you lose up to a stone for summer while not skimping on taste 

Now the days are longer and warmer, it’s so much easier to be active outdoors — and adding exercise to your life will definitely boost your summer weight loss.

That’s why the Mail has teamed up with WW, formerly known as Weight Watchers, to help guide you to a healthier and happier lifestyle in time for the summer holidays — and well beyond.

On Saturday in Weekend magazine, we showed you how the WW Freestyle plan works, along with the foods you can eat with zero guilt, while yesterday’s Mail on Sunday featured more delicious recipes to help you achieve your weight-loss and fitness goals.

The Mail has teamed up with WW to help guide you to a healthier and happier lifestyle in time for the summer holidays — and well beyond. Pictured: Quinoa and vegetable soup with mint pesto

Today, we’re bringing you key exercise tips and simple recipes for easy suppers, plus don’t miss our pullouts tomorrow and on Wednesday for more recipes for scrumptious party food and picnics.

Research shows a combination of healthy eating and a more active lifestyle can cause you to lose 20 per cent more weight than by diet alone. An active lifestyle also helps you to feel more positive due to the ‘feel-good’ chemicals released in your brain when you exercise.

This is why exercise is a key part of the WW Freestyle programme, along with the flexible SmartPoints eating plan (see panel overleaf) and mindset techniques.

‘Now the evenings are lighter and longer why not spend 20 minutes outside taking a brisk walk — take time to look at the blossom and the way the trees are changing?’ says Julia Westgarth, head of programme at WW. ‘It’s so much better for your mindset and physical health than flopping in front of the TV.

‘The word exercise frightens some people — who instinctively see it as a painful duty to be endured. In fact, try thinking of it as having fun being active outdoors and you’re much more likely to spend time doing it.’

Fennel and sausage tagliatelle 

Serves 4 10 SmartPoints per serving

Fennel and sausage tagliatelle, which serves 4

Fennel and sausage tagliatelle, which serves 4

  • 250g tagliatelle
  • Calorie-controlled cooking spray
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 8 Heck Chicken Italia sausages
  • 1 large fennel bulb, trimmed and very finely sliced, fronds reserved
  • 2 tsp chilli flakes, plus extra to serve
  • Zest and juice of ½ lemon, plus wedges to serve
  • 4 tbsp half-fat creme fraiche
  • Handful fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped

Bring a large pan of water to the boil, add the pasta and cook for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, mist a large, deep, non-stick frying pan with cooking spray and cook the onion over a medium heat for 6-8 minutes until softened. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes. 

Slice open the sausages, add the meat to the pan and fry, breaking it up with a wooden spoon, for 5 minutes. Add the fennel and chilli flakes to the sausage and onion mixture and stir to combine.

Drain the pasta, reserving 250ml of the cooking water. Add the lemon juice, creme fraiche and a splash of the reserved pasta water to the sausage mixture, stir well, then cook for 1 minute. Season to taste.

Toss the pasta with the sausage and fennel sauce, adding a little more of the pasta water to loosen the sauce if it’s too thick.

Divide the pasta between 4 plates and scatter over the lemon zest, reserved fennel fronds, parsley and extra chilli flakes. Serve with the lemon wedges on the side for squeezing over the pasta.

Roast summer vegetable gnocchi 

Roast summer vegetable gnocchi

Roast summer vegetable gnocchi

Serves 7 – 8 SmartPoints per serving

  • 150g cherry tomatoes
  • 1 small courgette, trimmed and sliced
  • 1 red onion, cut into thin wedges
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
  • Calorie-controlled cooking spray
  • 50g drained tinned sweetcorn
  • 150g fresh gnocchi
  • 1 tbsp finely grated Parmesan
  • Handful fresh basil leaves, finely chopped, plus extra, to serve 

Preheat the oven to 200c/fan 180c/ gas 6. Put the tomatoes, courgette, onion and garlic in a roasting tin, mist with cooking spray and season well.

Roast for 25-30 minutes, until tender, adding the sweetcorn for the final 5 minutes of cooking time.

Meanwhile, cook the gnocchi to pack instructions. Drain and put in a bowl with the roasted veg, half the Parmesan and the basil leaves. Toss to combine then transfer to a serving bowl.

Serve, topped with the remaining Parmesan and extra basil leaves.

Mood-boosting walks

One fitness study showed that people who were asked to walk a mile ‘to have fun’ with friends said they felt less tired and happier afterwards than those asked to do the same walk ‘for exercise’.

The ‘fun’ walkers consumed fewer calories from high-sugar drinks and desserts during lunch right after the walk. This supports the WW philosophy that life is to be enjoyed. Moreover, scientific research has shown happier people make healthier choices.

So you can see how a combination of a more active lifestyle and the delicious recipes we are sharing in our exclusive series can give a major boost to your lifestyle goals. If you follow the WW Freestyle programme, you will steadily lose weight — between ½lb and 2lb a week is a healthy and realistic goal — meaning if you start now, you could be a whole stone lighter by the summer holiday season.

Lack of time is the reason most commonly given for not exercising, but you can use WW Freestyle’s mindset techniques to change the way you perceive this.

For instance, instead of thinking there’s no point in exercising as you can only spare 20 minutes, try to focus on the time you do have. High-intensity activities such as running, interval training or resistance training with weights burn more calories than walking.

Set yourself a goal

Setting a goal is a great motivation to be active — and WW’s 5kMyWay challenge is the perfect way to have fun and boost your chances of shedding a stone for summer.

Last year, hundreds of people took part in the challenge, which is to complete a 5km distance any way you like. You could swim, walk, dance, run — it’s up to you. Here’s the lowdown…

when and where? You’ll be asked to complete your 5k on the weekend of June 8 and 9, 2019. You could do it in a local park or leisure centre under your own steam. WW Wellness Coaches will be organising group walks, too.

who can take part? Anyone! Invite a fitness buddy, friends or family to join in, or organise a group event. You could organise a meet-up via WW’s Connect or Instagram. Take pictures of yourself training. If you post them on social media using the hashtag #WW5kMyWay, you can connect with others. Good luck!

WW Top tips for 5K

Build up gradually — Pushing yourself too hard, too soon puts you at higher risk of injury.

Listen to your body — It isn’t a race; the aim is to complete the distance and enjoy the event. Don’t wait until you’re exhausted to take a breather.

Stay comfortable — Opt for layers of light, breathable clothing and comfortable worn-in sports shoes. Women should wear a well-fitting sports bra.

Travel light — A water bottle is really the only essential piece of kit.

Stay motivated — Congratulate yourself on taking part and don’t worry about your time. Remember, you’re achieving more than you would be sitting on the sofa at home.

Lamb koftas with fattoush 

Serves 4 – 10 SmartPoints per serving

Lamb koftas with fattoush

Lamb koftas with fattoush

  • 500g lean lamb mince
  • ½ red onion, finely grated
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 red chilli, de-seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • Handful fresh mint, finely chopped
  • 100g 0% fat natural Greek yoghurt
  • Zest of ½ lemon 

(For the Fattoush)

  • 2 pitta breads
  • Calorie-controlled cooking spray
  • 450g cherry tomatoes, halved
  • ½ large cucumber, thinly sliced
  • ½ red onion, thinly sliced
  • Handful fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp sumac 

Preheat the oven to 180c/fan 160c/gas 4 and grill to high. To make the koftas, combine all ingredients except the yoghurt and lemon zest and season well.

Shape the mix into 8 equal portions. Run 8 wooden skewers under cold water, then shape each portion of mince around a skewer. Grill the koftas for 8-10 minutes, turning once, until cooked through.

Meanwhile, split the pitta breads in half, put on a baking tray and mist with cooking spray. Bake for 5 minutes and set aside to cool. While the koftas are grilling and pittas baking and cooling, put the tomatoes, cucumber, onion and parsley in a bowl.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar and sumac and season well.

Pour the dressing over the salad and toss. Break the cooled pitta breads into rough pieces and mix into the salad. In a small bowl, mix together the yoghurt and lemon zest and season well. Serve the koftas with the fattoush and a dollop of lemon yoghurt on the side.

Quinoa and vegetable soup with mint pesto 

Serves 4 – 5 SmartPoints per serving

Quinoa and vegetable soup with mint pesto, which serves 4

Quinoa and vegetable soup with mint pesto, which serves 4

  • 20g pistachio kernels
  • 30g fresh mint, leaves picked
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushe
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, cut into 2cm pieces
  • 1 carrot, cut into 2cm pieces
  • 2 celery sticks, cut into 2cm pieces
  • 1 small fennel bulb, cut into 2cm pieces
  • 200g prepared butternut squash, cut into 2cm pieces
  • 55g quinoa, rinsed
  • 750ml vegetable stock, made with 1 reduced-salt stock cube
  • 250g broccoli florets

To make the pesto, put the pistachios, mint and one-third of the garlic in a mini food processor and blitz until finely chopped. Add the lemon juice, 1½ tbsp of the oil and 2 tbsp water, then blitz to a chunky paste. Season.

Heat the remaining oil in a large pan over a medium heat. Cook the onion, carrot, celery and fennel, stirring, for 5 minutes until softened. Add the remaining garlic and cook for 1 minute.

Stir in the squash, quinoa, stock and 500ml water and bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered, for 20 minutes or until the squash is tender.

Add the broccoli and cook for 3 minutes, or until just tender.

Ladle the soup into bowls and serve topped with the pesto.

Oven-baked ratatouille risotto 

Serves 4 – 8 SmartPoints per serving

Oven-baked ratatouille risotto, which serves 4

Oven-baked ratatouille risotto, which serves 4

  • 2 onions, diced
  • 225g risotto rice
  • 2 tbsp green pesto
  • 750ml hot vegetable stock, made with 1 stock cube
  • ½ aubergine, cut into 3mm rounds
  • 1 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • Handful fresh basil leaves, plus extra to serve
  • 1 courgette, cut into 3mm rounds
  • 3 large vine tomatoes, cut into 3mm rounds
  • Calorie-controlled cooking spray

Preheat the oven to 200c/fan 180c/gas 6. Place a non-stick frying pan over a medium heat, then add the onion and 250ml cold water. Cook and stir for 10 minutes or until the water has evaporated.

Stir in the rice, cook for 1 minute, then transfer the mixture to a 25cm x 15cm baking dish. Stir the pesto into the hot stock, then pour over the rice mixture. Cover tightly with kitchen foil and bake for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a bowl, combine the aubergine, oil and lemon juice.

Remove the foil from the rice mixture and stir in the basil, then arrange the aubergine, courgette and tomato slices over the top, making sure they overlap slightly.

Mist the vegetables with cooking spray, then season and bake, re-covered with kitchen foil, for 20 minutes until the rice and vegetables are tender.

Turn the oven to its grill setting, remove the foil and grill the risotto for 5 minutes, until the vegetables are golden. Serve, garnished with the extra basil.

Iced berries with hot white chocolate sauce 

Serves 6 – 5 SmartPoints per serving

Iced berries with hot white chocolate sauce, which serves 6

Iced berries with hot white chocolate sauce, which serves 6

  • 500g frozen summer berries
  • 120g full-fat natural Greek yoghurt
  • 80g white chocolate, chopped
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • Fresh mint leaves, to serve (optional)

Divide the berries between 6 small dessert glasses or bowls, and allow to defrost slightly.

Put the yoghurt in a small heatproof bowl and set it over a pan of simmering water, ensuring the base of the bowl doesn’t touch the water. Stir the yoghurt until just warmed through, then add the chocolate and stir until melted. Add the vanilla extract to the bowl and stir to combine, then stir in 1½ tbsp boiling water to thin the mixture.

Transfer the hot chocolate sauce to a small jug and pour directly over the iced berries to serve. Top with a sprig of mint, if using.

Take your first steps to a trimmer tum

Running forces your heart and lungs to work harder than when walking, improving your cardiovascular fitness (stock photo)

Running forces your heart and lungs to work harder than when walking, improving your cardiovascular fitness (stock photo)

All activity is good activity in the WW Freestyle programme — but the most important thing is to find something that you enjoy doing.

So whether you decide to go for a run in the park or head to your local pool, here are some tips to help you get the most out of it:

Golden rules of running

  • Running forces your heart and lungs to work harder than when walking, improving your cardiovascular fitness. It is a great way to burn calories, too — and how many you burn will depend on how much you weigh.
  • A person weighing 140 lb (10 stone) will burn roughly 318 calories in 30 minutes running at a ten-minute mile pace (about six miles an hour). Someone weighing 180lb (12st 9lb) will burn 408 calories running at the same pace for the same time. See
  • Invest in proper running shoes to reduce the risk of injury. Women should also wear a well-fitting sports bra.
  • Be aware of your posture: run upright with your arms swinging gently at your sides and your hands relaxed.
  • Always stretch after running. Stretch out your thighs, hamstrings, hips, lower back, bottom and calves.
  • To increase fitness and pace, try simple interval training. Run slightly slower for 60 seconds, then faster than normal for a further 60. Then repeat up to ten times. After you’ve tried this a few times, you will be able to gauge your intervals and increase your pace.

Be a savvy cyclist

  • Suitable for all fitness levels, cycling is low impact, so you’re less likely to strain or injure muscles and joints. It can also be easier to cycle for longer than you could run or walk.
  • Check your seat height: you shouldn’t be able to straighten your legs as you pedal.
  • On longer rides, try shifting the position of your hands and bottom to prevent soreness.
  • Avoid pedalling in a high gear for long periods of time, as it can put strain on your knees (aim for 70-90 revolutions a minute).
  • Nervous about road cycling? Find safe routes on the Sustrans website:
  • For a short, but tough, workout, try Tabata intervals, a form of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), where you pedal fast for 20 seconds, then rest for ten. Try six rounds to start, gradually increasing to ten.

Get in the swim

  • Swimming is very low impact and suitable for everyone, including those with joint problems. If you can’t swim for long, walking in the water is also effective. As water is denser than air, it adds resistance, meaning muscular strength is improved.
  • Control your breathing with a steady rhythm, and don’t forget to take a water bottle to the poolside to stay hydrated.
  • Different strokes work different muscles, so mix them up.
  • If you want to focus on upper or lower body strength, use a hand-held float to work on your legs, or slip a float between your legs to give your arms a workout. Most pools will have these.
  • Try wearing fins. They will increase your speed through the water, improve leg strength and help you focus on perfecting your arm movements.

The power of walking

  • Walking just 30 minutes a day can help to reduce your risk of developing chronic illnesses, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes and certain cancers.
  • If you now do little or no activity, begin with 10-15 minutes walking a day, then increase by five minutes every few days.
  • When you’re ready to increase your pace, use a pedometer or activity tracker to see how many steps you do in 30 minutes, then next time try to beat it.
  • Listen to music or an audio book as you walk to stay motivated.
  • If you’re on a treadmill, set the incline to one per cent to increase the challenge.

For a change of pace…

For variety, incorporate different elements into your #WW5kMyWay challenge. If you play tennis or netball, say, or love Zumba classes, wear a Fitbit or pedometer while working out and count your session towards your 5k. For every 1,320 steps, you will have completed 1k*. Aerobics, boxing, circuit training, dancing, soccer, golf and tennis also qualify.

*1,320 steps per km calculated using an 0.762m stride.

If you are on medication, have health concerns or haven’t exercised for a while, consult your GP before starting a new programme.

‘I went from 5K to marathons’ 

Catering manager Darren Goult, 44, of Dunstable, Bedfordshire, has lost almost five stone, dropping from 15st 10lb to 10st 12lb

Catering manager Darren Goult, 44, of Dunstable, Bedfordshire, has lost almost five stone, dropping from 15st 10lb to 10st 12lb

Darren Goult, 44, of Dunstable, Bedfordshire, has lost almost five stone, dropping from 15st 10lb to 10st 12lb. He is a catering manager and married to Melanie. They have two sons, aged 22 and 15, and a daughter, 17.

THE turning point for me came two years ago when I was pulling out my summer clothes for a special holiday to the Dominican Republic. Everything was a size XXXL or a 38in waist, but they still felt tight.

My problem is my job. I’ve always worked in hospitality — running pubs and hotels, so I can pick at food all day.

My wife, sister and mother had all joined Weight Watchers (as WW was then called) and were losing weight, so I figured it might work for me, too.

The weight loss was so rapid I’d lost two stone before our holiday. It felt fantastic to be back in size M/L shorts.

I got into the habit of going to the hotel gym each morning to use the running machine — and I loved it.

When we got back I joined a gym and my trainer suggested entering a 5k. Even though I’d only been running for two months, I finished the race in 22 minutes. I was officially hooked.

I entered a 10k race the week after and did that in 48 minutes (an hour is considered a good time for newby), so the next challenge was a half marathon (I did six), then marathons.

I never thought I’d be able to run a mile, let alone 26 miles, but I’ve set a target of running the six major world marathons before I reach the age of 50.

I still go along to my Monday WW weigh once a month, just to keep myself on track.

When I started out, I was 15st 10lb (I’m 5ft 10in tall) and I said I wanted to get down to 12st, but I’ve exceeded all my expectations. These days my weight varies between 10st 12lb and 11st 2lb.

My message to all the men out there is don’t assume WW is a girl thing. You won’t feel out of place at a meeting. I never did.