My wife and I have been dieting since the beginning of the year, following the Weight Watchers “Simple Start” plan. What follows is a collection of Simple-Start-appropriate dinners that I’ve made.
As an aside: I find the Weight Watchers Simple Start diet to be extremely calorie restricted. For example, they recommended for me a diet that works out to about 1200-1400 calories per day. At that level of caloric intake, I am losing weight quickly — one or two pounds per week, almost 15 pounds since January — but I am always hungry. I only find the diet manageable because I know that it is a short-term diet and once I achieve my weight loss goal that I will stop eating this way.
Simple start dinners are composed as follows: a lean meat, a whole-grain carb, and as much vegetables as you want. The lean meat is generally chicken breast, with occasional fish, shrimp, or lean beef. The recommended carb is quinoa, cous-cous, or whole grain rice. For vegetables, it’s the usual suspects: brassica’s (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage), leafy green vegetables, string beans, etc. Weight Watches allows no more than two teaspoons of olive oil for the entire meal, and little or no added salt.
Working within those constraints, here’s a few of the things I came up with.
Pan-fried tilapia, quinoa cooked with chicken stock, braised fennel with garlic, string beans dry-saute’d with garlic and lemon zest. The tilapia was very lightly coated in flour (about 1 teaspoon for each fillet) before frying in 2 teaspoons of olive oil in a nonstick pan. The flour is not WW-acceptable, but I did it anyways, which gives the pretty (and tasty) brown bits on the edges of the fish.
Dry saute’d chicken breast, saute’d zuchinni with lemon pepper, and Chimichurri sauce. Chimichurri is perfect for weight watchers: it’s a flavorful sauce made from parsley and other herbs with a bit of raw garlic and vinegar.
Shrimp with zuchinni and tomato, served on cous-cous. This one is straight from the WW weekly handout. What a great idea to halve and saute cherry tomatoes, they’re delicious!
Salmon, with garlic green beans, quinoa, braised fennel. Reprise of the the tilapia but with salmon. The salmon is topped with minced preserved lemons.
Jerk chicken, saute’d dry, with roasted red bell pepper relish, cous-cous, and zuchini with lemon pepper. The chicken is rubbed with a jerk seasoning paste (allspice, green onion, chili, garlic, salt, and pepper, blended) and marinated for about 15 minutes before cooking.
My take on a WW-appropriate version of Moroccan chicken tagine. The tagine base is parsnips, turnips, carrots, mushrooms and onions, cooked with diced peeled tomatoes and curry seasonings. Separately, I cubed and then saute’d a chicken breast and combined it on the plate. The traditional dish would have olives and raisins (and use bone-in chicken thighs).
Chicken breast blackened with cumin, oregano, and chipotle, served on black beans with salsa and “fat free sour cream” — in other words, with nonfat yogurt.
“Clean out the fridge” stir fry with shrimp. I ate this with white rice, which isn’t allowed on WW but I prefer it to brown rice.
Steak with cauliflower “gratin.” The cauliflower florets are blanched and set into a casserole dish. The cauliflower stems are peeled, diced, and saute’d dry with shallots, then blended with chicken stock, a few spoonfuls of nonfat yogurt, and a pinch of curry powder, nutmeg, bay leaf, and thyme. Mix the cauliflower puree with the florets, sprinkle a bit of low-fat mozzarella on top, and bake at 450 for 10 minutes.
Grilled “teriyaki” chicken breast, with cous-cous and braised fennel. The chicken is marinated in soy sauce. You could add ginger and garlic if you wanted.
Grilled chicken breast, coated with herbs de provence, minced roasted yellow bell pepper, served with cous-cous and grilled asparagus. The chicken is seasoned with salt and pepper, grilled, and then coated in herbs on the plate. The asparagus is grilled dry, then tossed in 2 tsp olive oil and lemon pepper. This recipe was inspired by a bag of mixed mini bell peppers that was going bad in the fridge. I picked out the yellow ones and roasted them for the relish, and grilled two orange ones for a garnish.