Hello, Weight Watchers sort of…

I can’t believe how busy I have been recently with school starting, Niamhy breaking her leg added to the stress. (Catching her playing badminton and bouncing on a trampoline in a cast at the weekend didn’t help my blood pressure either!)   I have resolved to go back to the Weight Watchers system, but I just can’t afford to pay them $50 a month forever or even for a few months, so I am resolved to cheat and steal their methods.

This is how to calculate your points without going to the meetings…

First your sex and if you are nursing…Females get 2 points, males get 8 points and nursing women get 12 points.  I am female so I get 2 points, my husband gets 8 points.

Next you get points according to age.  Between 17 and 26 years old you get 4 extra points; between 27 and 37 add 3 points; 38-47 add 2; 48-57 add 1; over 58 you add 0.  It’s a metabolic thing.  I am 46 so I get 2 more points, added to my 2 female points brings my total to 4. Andy is 41 so he gets 2 points to add to his 8 points making his total 10.

Then you adjust for your weight.  This is easy, you just take the first 2 numbers of your weight in pounds.  I’m 181 (eek!) so my points are 18.  Andy is 270 so he gets 27 points!   So now I add the 4 points I got from the previous 2 steps to my 18 points and total up to 22.  Andy adds his previous 10 points to this 27 and gets 37.

Next your height; If you are under 5 ft you will add 0, between 5’0″ and 5’9″ you will add 1, and over 5’10” add 2. So, I am 5′ 3″ so I add 1 point, and get 23 points. Andy is 6′ 2″ so he gets another 2 points, totalling to 39 points.

Lastly activity:  If you are a couch potato add no points, if you spend your working day standing add 2 points, if you spend your working day mostly walking add 4 points, if your job is a physically demanding job then add 6 points.  Andy and I both sit at computers a lot so I am adding nothing at this stage.

So my daily points allowance is 23 points and Andy’s is 39.   For the record, the maximum daily points allowed are 44 points.  So now you know come over to the dark side and join me in cheating  Weight Watchers out of a few dollars – I think they can take it…


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Lasagna, Meat Lasagna

I asked Andy what he wanted for supper, and he replied, ‘lasagna, meat lasagna’…so I tried this recipe from Weight Watchers.  Every one loved it.  I do not like the American style lasagna where ricotta cheese is substituted for bechamel sauce, but I found that substituting fat-free cottage cheese worked very well.

I would chop the vegetables more next time – they were a little too chunky to sit well in lasagna…

9 lasagna noodles

1 teaspoon olive oil

1/2 pound lean ground beef

1 onion, finely chopped

1 red bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped

1 zucchini, finely chopped

2 (15 oz) containers refrigerated marinara sauce

1.5 cups fat-free ricotta ( I used cottage cheese)

1/2 cup shredded mozzarella

1/4 cup parmesan

1. Cook lasagna noodles according to package directions.

Drain. rinse, set aside.

2. In a large skillet over a medium high heat, heat the oil; add the beef, onion, pepper, and zucchini.  Cook , stirring occasionally, until all the pan juices evaporate and the beef browns, about 10 minutes.  Stir in marinara sauce and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until slightly thickened and the flavors blend, about 10 minutes.

3. Preheat oven to 375f. In a 9 x 13 in baking dish, spread one-quarter of the meat sauce.  Top with 3 noodles; spread with 1/2 cup of ricotta (cottage cheese).  Repeat the layering twice and end with the meat sauce.

4. Cover with foil and bake 30 minutes.  Remove foil and sprinkle with mozzarella and parmesan.  Bake until heated through and cheeses are lightly browned, about 20 minutes longer.  Let stand about 10 minutes before serving.

This dish can be assembled up to the bit before the cheese is added and refrigerated for 2 days or frozen for 2 months.  To cook, thaw, cover with foil and bake 45 minutes.  Uncover, add cheese, and bake until heated through and cheeses melt.

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Zucchini Risotto with Sun-dried Tomatoes

My eldest girl is a generally picky eater…my middle girl will wolf down anything – as long as it doesn’t have meat and below is a photo of an essay that Imogen wrote in Kindergarten that pretty much sums up her eating habits.  This does not make my life easy and at the moment they are young enough for me to impose my will and pretty much cook what I want, but the day is rapidly coming when Jojo at least will refuse all meats…

"I love cows. They give us steak and milk."

So often I make vegetarian for the whole family and this recipe was a surprising success…it is also  a Weight Watchers meal so you can pretty much guarantee it is low-fat and healthy.


3.5 cups vegetable stock (I used chicken – just don’t tell Jojo)

1/2 cup tomato juice (I used V8 – a favorite drink of Jojo!)

1 table-spoon olive oil

6 shallots, finely chopped  (I used spring onions – easier to hide from the carnivores in the family)

4 medium zucchini, chopped

1/2 cup dry white wine

1 1/2 cups Arborio rice

16 sun-dried tomato halves (not oil packed), finely chopped

1/2 cup finely chopped parsley

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh marjoram ( this means 1/2 teaspoon dry, trust me)

2 tablespoons parmesan, grated

1/4 teaspoon ground pepper

chopped parsley for garnish

1. Combine stock and tomato juice in pan ; bring to boil.  Reduce heat and simmer.

2. Heat oil in non stick pan, sauté shallots until soft, about 2 minutes.   Add zucchini and wine; cook until zucchini is softened, about 5 minutes longer.  Add the rice; cook, stirring about 1 minute.

3. Add 1 cup of stock mixture, the sun-dried tomatoes, parsley and marjoram; cook stirring, until liquid is absorbed. Continue adding stock 1/2 cup at a time, stirring until stock is absorbed before adding more, until rice is just tender.  The total cooking time should be about 25-30 minutes.  Stir in the cheese and pepper, serve at once garnished with parsley. 

Serves 4 – 368 cals.

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Day one is a bust

I logged everything yesterday and came in about 30 cals under my daily goal (for which www.myfitnesspal.com told me off), but this morning the scales showed no loss.  I find this particularly hard.  Yes, I weigh myself everyday, but I always have…and I have always lost after the first day. 

I ate my oats and yoghurt and got to the gym.    This is not a great experience for me, I go to a gym that is a wonderful mix of gym bunnies, serious athletes and fatties desperately trying to make a difference and no one cares, everyone is welcome.  I feel horrible though, my thighs are rubbing together, my shorts are riding up, I only manage 30 minutes on the elliptical and 10 on the stationary bike before I leave.  Of course I bump into a friend who is slim and chirpy and together, and that I guess is the crux of the problem.  I know she would be surprised to find out that I compare myself to her and obviously come out the loser, because I know she doesn’t do it.  I don’t hate myself, but I hate the way I look and even more hate that I am not doing anything effective  about it.


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My Fitness Pal

I have definitely fallen off the wagon.  In fact my weight is higher than it was when I started this…ho hum.

Any way – I’m starting again – it’s that or buy a new set of clothes – with elasticized waistbands.

About a week ago I signed on with www.myfitnesspal.com and then did nothing after the first day.  Yesterday they sent me a naggy email and here I am trying again – so maybe having them on my back will help!

Watch this space.  I am also resolved to go to the gym this week.

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Lemon Chicken

The other day Imogen was reminiscing on how she loves lemon chicken, especially when the sauce soaks into the couscous.  Can a seven-year old legitimately reminisce?

I went to my old white folder that I have full of leaflets and cuttings and recipes of my mom’s and found her lemon chicken recipe. My parents had guests for  lunch every Sunday, and the menu only changed when the guest list swung round to the top again which meant we could have lemon chicken every Sunday for six weeks.  This is ok when it’s something yummy…

She had changed the recipe slightly to make it less fatty, but still not enough for my tastes so I ‘improved’ on an already improved recipe.  It actually worked out a lot better than I thought. My mom took a high fat recipe and made it normal and I made it low-fat.  I am sure the original inventors of the recipe would turn their noses up at mine, but times and tastes have changed and I thought it was pretty good!

Serves 4 to 6 people

Ingredients  for chicken

1 dessert spoon flour

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

2 teaspoons paprika

2 ½ – 3 lbs chicken breast no skin

Ingredients for sauce

1 tablespoon soy sauce

½ cup lemon juice

½ teaspoon each salt and pepper

¼ cup salad oil (Mom! What the heck is salad oil?)  I used olive oil

1 dessert spoon lemon rind finely grated

1 crushed clove garlic


Combine all ingredients and mix well.  Refrigerate at least one hour before using.


Set oven to 400f. Coat chicken pieces with flour, salt, pepper and paprika.  Arrange pieces in an ovenproof dish in a single layer. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes.  Turn chicken,  pour sauce over and bake for another 30 minutes or until chicken is tender and golden.

Can be served hot or cold, and is good with rice.

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Rachel Ray’s 30 minute Shepherd’s Pie

This is a photo from RR's website not my photo.


This is a great recipe.  Firstly it only takes 30 minutes and secondly everyone loved it.  In  fact ,the following day I opened the fridge to give the girl’s shepherd’s pie leftovers for lunch, but Andy had got there before us.  Ho hum. 



  • 2 pounds potatoes, such as russet, peeled and cubed
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream or softened cream cheese
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/2 cup cream, for a lighter version substitute vegetable or chicken broth
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, 1 turn of the pan
  • 1 3/4 pounds ground beef or ground lamb
  • 1 carrot, peeled and chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup beef stock or broth
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire, eyeball it
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas, a couple of handfuls
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves



Boil potatoes in salted water until tender, about 12 minutes. Drain potatoes and pour them into a bowl. Combine sour cream, egg yolk and cream. Add the cream mixture into potatoes and mash until potatoes are almost smooth. 

While potatoes boil, preheat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add oil to hot pan with beef or lamb. Season meat with salt and pepper. Brown and crumble meat for 3 or 4 minutes. If you are using lamb and the pan is fatty, spoon away some of the drippings. Add chopped carrot and onion to the meat. Cook veggies with meat 5 minutes, stirring frequently. In a second small skillet over medium heat cook butter and flour together 2 minutes. Whisk in broth and Worcestershire sauce. Thicken gravy 1 minute. Add gravy to meat and vegetables. Stir in peas. 

Preheat broiler to high. Fill a small rectangular casserole with meat and vegetable mixture. Spoon potatoes over meat evenly. Top potatoes with paprika and broil 6 to 8 inches from the heat until potatoes are evenly browned. Top casserole dish with chopped parsley and serve. 

 I did add some butter to the potato as it didn’t taste right without it, but apart from that I followed the recipe exactly. 

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