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Wellness

Lose weight and live well in 2019: Fabulous recipe and lifestyle tips from WW


It’s the new year, and you’ve set your resolution. If it involves making some kind of sacrifice like cutting out alcohol or forcing yourself onto the treadmill, you might want to put the brakes on and first ask yourself why you’re doing it.

So say the developers of WW Freestyle™, a pioneering health-boosting and weight-loss programme, designed to help you keep motivated and achieve long-lasting results.

Ninety per cent of adults say that improving their physical, mental and emotional health is a goal for 2019, according to a recent WW Global Wellness Survey.

But if you want to stick to your goal, knowing the reason behind it is vital.

Your goal may be to lose weight or live a healthier lifestyle, but your ‘why’ is the reason you want to achieve those goals and the benefits that reaching them will bring you. 

For example, you might want to lose weight so you can take up your much-loved childhood hobby of horse-riding again. 

Or you may want to embrace a new activity regime so you can feel fitter than ever and more comfortable in your own skin. 

The more detailed your ‘why’, the more powerful it can be.

Ninety per cent of adults set their 2019 resolution to improve their physical, mental and emotional health. Here, Weekend brings you 27 recipes for a happier, healthier you under the WW plan (file image)

Ninety per cent of adults set their 2019 resolution to improve their physical, mental and emotional health. Here, Weekend brings you 27 recipes for a happier, healthier you under the WW plan (file image)

Ninety per cent of adults set their 2019 resolution to improve their physical, mental and emotional health. Here, Weekend brings you 27 recipes for a happier, healthier you under the WW plan (file image)

Visualise a healthier and happier you

‘Your ‘why’ is your motivating factor,’ says Zoe Griffiths, Head of Programme and Public Health at WW, formerly known as Weight Watchers.

‘It’s your make or break. To keep motivated, you have to keep tuning in to your ‘why’. Visualise it, feel it, and imagine how you’ll feel when you start seeing results.’

Your ‘why’ for losing weight, for example, might grow in significance the more you think about it. 

Initially, you imagine it will be about looking better and feeling happier. 

But by visualising the results, you may realise how much more confident – and possibly more assertive – this will make you feel. 

Equally important is working out ‘how’ you plan to do it. 

You’re most likely to achieve goals that are small, short-term and positive. Choose something you want to do rather than something you want to stop doing.

Robbie’s reason: What’s your motivation?

Robbie Williams switched to a healthier lifestyle to recover from a back injury

Robbie Williams switched to a healthier lifestyle to recover from a back injury

Robbie Williams switched to a healthier lifestyle to recover from a back injury

Last year, X Factor judge Robbie Williams, who was suffering severe back pain due to an injury and arthritis, switched to a healthier lifestyle to help him on the road to recovery. 

‘WW is the first programme that truly fits in with my life,’ he says. 

‘After my injury, I definitely let my healthy habits slip and felt I let myself and my family down.

‘I can’t keep trying the same things and hoping for a different outcome. 

‘I trust WW’s history of behaviour science and I’m proud to be a new ambassador.’

His fellow ambassadors include talk show host Oprah Winfrey and actress Kate Hudson.

Robbie had a powerful ‘why’ for driving his health and physical fitness forwards. 

Regularly remembering your ‘why’ is key to your motivation and therefore your success. 

‘Cutting out ‘treats’ or key food groups rarely works in the long run,’ says Zoe. 

‘Research shows that what works best for long-lasting results is gentle, positive encouragement and a sense of enjoyment.’

A flexible eating plan to fit your lifestyle

This is where WW Freestyle kicks in.

 Designed to encourage long-lasting weight loss and better health through lifestyle, the wellness programme combines a SmartPoints® system for food, FitPoints® for exercise, science-backed, proven behaviour-change techniques, along with goal-setting and a members-only online community for support. 

As WW Freestyle’s name suggests, the plan is designed to blend seamlessly into your life, encouraging you to enjoy both food and activity as you lose weight and boost your health.

Denying you nothing, yet guiding you to healthier eating choices and portion control, the SmartPoints system allows total eating flexibility, enabling you to eat less one day, and more the next, so you can easily fit it into your lifestyle.

Extra points, called FitPoints, can be earned through physical activities you love, and if you don’t have an active lifestyle one of WW’s coaches will offer suggestions they think you’ll enjoy.

Anything that gets you moving will benefit your health, mood and wellbeing.

Crucially, WW Freestyle has been shown to work. 

In a clinical trial assessing WW Freestyle at the University of North Carolina over six months, participants lost an average of 7.9 per cent of their total body weight, 93.6 per cent felt healthier and there were significant reductions in food cravings and hunger. 

Vitally, almost all were satisfied with what they’d achieved with the programme.

So where do you get started?

You can enjoy chocolate or a glass of wine

WW Freestyle allocates SmartPoints to the foods you eat. 

Based on calories while also accounting for the impact of protein, fat and sugar, they nudge you towards a healthy, nutritious diet as you lose weight.

So while fruit, vegetables and some lean proteins have a SmartPoints value of zero, a nutritionally empty chocolate bar or white sliced bread will come at a higher SmartPoints cost. 

Biscuits or a fizzy drink are still an option, but the SmartPoints system helps you apply portion control to treats that might otherwise steer you off track. 

Amazingly nothing is off the menu. You can still eat indulgent creamy pasta, enjoy a chocolate-rich nibble or a glass of wine, while steering yourself towards weight loss and improved health.

Now get started… 

To help your chances of success with WW Freestyle, try setting aside 20 minutes at weekends to plan your meals for the week. 

  • Start by flicking through the delicious recipes (0-10 SmartPoints) on the following pages. You’ll find more recipes and healthy tips in the Daily Mail next week to complete your set. 
  • Then simply mix and match the recipes, keeping to your specified daily SmartPoints total (see panel, far right, for more about your SmartPoints Budget). 
  • Overleaf, we’ve listed the wide selection of the ZeroPoint™ foods you can enjoy – and if you’re clever you might find you can treat yourself to dessert and a couple of snacks through the day. 
  • With every meal, we’ve made suggestions for fruit or veg to ensure you get your five-a-day. But because all fruit and most veg are 0 SmartPoints you can switch to your favourites.
  •  Prepare for the week ahead by rummaging through your kitchen to check what you need. Draw a grid with seven rows for the days and columns for breakfast, lunch and dinner each day. Fill it in and note down the SmartPoints values to ensure each day is within budget. 
  • Make a list before shopping to reduce the risk of impulse purchases. Add items from the ZeroPoint foods list so you always have healthy options. 
  • Stick to your plan and you’ll soon reap the rewards! Visit ww.com/uk.

So how exactly do SmartPoints work?

When you join WW (Weight Watchers Reimagined), you’ll get access to an easy-to-use app you can download onto your smartphone. 

This will allocate you a SmartPoints Budget based on your age, height, weight, gender and personal goals. 

Containing every SmartPoints value, it comes with a barcode-scanning function so you can check the value of any packaged food before you buy it. 

WW has also calculated SmartPoints values for popular meal choices at restaurants, takeaways and cafes so you don’t need to restrict your social life.

Since no two days are the same, on days when you eat lighter meals because you’re in a rush, you can bank up to 4 unused SmartPoints or ‘rollovers’ for later in the week. 

And because exercise boosts mood and makes weight-related goals easier to achieve, you can earn extra FitPoints through activity. These are then added to your daily or weekly allowance of SmartPoints.

FitPoints make activity a pleasure, not a chore

Whether it’s Bollywood dance, yoga, gardening or running in the park, WW Freestyle encourages you to move for pleasure, not just because you ‘should’. 

Doing what you enjoy is key to making activity part of your life. 

Research has shown that combined with better eating, increasing your activity can lead to 20 per cent greater weight loss than simply changing your eating habits.

‘If physical activity isn’t already a part of your routine, WW will help you find activities you really enjoy to integrate into your lifestyle,’ says Zoe Griffiths. 

‘If you’re already active, we’ll help you set goals and find challenges to keep you going strong.’

How WW Freestyle works 

On the WW Freestyle programme, every food and drink has a designated SmartPoints value – one easy-to-use number calculated according to three key components: 

  • Calories establish the baseline for how many SmartPoints the food is worth.
  • Saturated fat and sugar increase the SmartPoints value because too much of them is not good for your health.
  • Protein lowers the SmartPoints value (the more protein in any food, the fewer its SmartPoints) as protein builds and repairs tissue and helps you feel fuller for longer.

It’s so simple

Any food or meal that is high in lean protein and fibre (a chicken sandwich on wholemeal bread, for instance) will always tend to be lower in SmartPoints than a low-protein food that is high in sugar or saturated fat (such as cake). 

As a general guide, don’t exceed a total of 23 SmartPoints a day, and you will lose weight (a healthy rate of weight loss is ½-2lb per week).

Calculating your SmartPoints Budget

When you join WW (Weight Watchers Reimagined), you get a personalised SmartPoints Budget. 

This is calculated according to your age, height, weight and gender to ensure optimum health and a steady weight loss of ½-2lb per week. 

You’ll also get an extra weekly SmartPoints allowance to use on treats, bigger portions (when you’re really hungry) and nights out. 

Up to 4 unused SmartPoints from your daily Budget will automatically roll over into your weekly allowance.

As long as you don’t go over your total in any seven-day period, you can dip into your weekly allowance at any time.

In addition, you can super-boost your own SmartPoints Budget by earning FitPoints for any activity you do. 

WHAT YOU GET AS A WW MEMBER 

SmartPoints®: Science-backed and simple to use, the SmartPoints system – with over 200 ZeroPoint™ foods – guides you to more nutritious eating.

WW app: With a 4.8H rating – scan barcodes for quick and simple tracking, meditate with Headspace, access on-demand audio workouts with Aaptiv, and track your wellness journey.

Recipes: Thousands of quick and easy recipes using simple, nutritious ingredients with SmartPoints already calculated for you.

Online Coach: Chat to an expert Online Coach for guidance and advice whenever you need it, 24/7.

Connect: Social community support full of food and fitness inspiration and motivation from fellow WW members. Visit ww.com/uk.

Based on the latest science, FitPoints 2.0 – an update to the unique activity currency from WW –encourages activity choices based on what will have the greatest health payoffs. 

Personalised according to your height, weight, age and gender, it’s simple to see exactly how much each activity benefits you.

Making fitness fun

At WW, we believe that all activity is goodactivity. 

The most important thing is that you find something that you truly enjoy doing; after all, that’s the secret of sticking with it! 

FitPoints 2.0 is a more personalised measurement of your activity and helps you make the most informed choices, like encouraging you to try strength-training and high-intensity activities you may not have considered before.

The most common reason people give for not engaging in regular physical activity is lack of time.

FitPoints 2.0 helps you make the most of the time you do have. 

As you can see from the table, strength and high-intensity activities earn more FitPoints:

 FitPoints earned*

Walking for 30 mins  – 2

Circuit training for 30 mins  – 5

Running for 30 mins  – 9

*Based on a 55-year-old woman, 5ft 5in tall and weighing 14st 7lb. Estimate only – the precise amount of FitPoints earned will vary from member to member.

The Zero-hero meal booster: From fish and chicken to most fruit and vegetables, these ZeroPoint foods won’t dent your SmartPoints budget  

Whether you add lashings of beans and lentils to make a hearty winter casserole, or settle down to a satisfying chicken dish with grilled vegetables, you can relax knowing you’re not spending any of your SmartPoints®.

That’s because those foods considered to be a staple part of a healthy diet – such as pulses, eggs, skinless chicken breast and most fruit and vegetables – have a SmartPoints value of 0, so they’re known as ZeroPoint™ foods.

TASTY TIP! 

Base each meal on a ZeroPoint food, and then use ingredients with SmartPoints values to punch u the flavour!

Amazingly, by using ZeroPoint foods as the main building blocks of your meals you’ll never have to worry about going hungry, even when you’ve run out of SmartPoints for the day.

They’re also much less likely to be overeaten than other foods (it’s a lot harder to eat six chicken breasts than six cookies!).

So when you’re low on SmartPoints, scan through the ZeroPoint list below and pick out something tasty to use as a meal base like a salmon steak or piece of fresh cod. Steam a mix of succulent greens – say beans and broccoli – and add a tangy, gingery orange sauce for extra flavour. The only SmartPoints you’ll use will be your cooking oil. Equally, with prawns, peas, peppers, sweetcorn and tomatoes all qualifying, you can use ZeroPoint foods as the main ingredients for easy-to-make pasta or stir-fry dishes.

And when you need to satisfy hunger pangs between meals, ZeroPoint foods can bridge the gap – a boiled egg, a pot of 0 per cent fat natural yoghurt, most fruit and cucumber are all on the ZeroPoint foods list. 

Zero smart point recipes  

Spiced vegetable stew 

Serves 4

A wonderful winter warmer, this spiced vegetable stew is full of the fantastic flavour you crave  

A wonderful winter warmer, this spiced vegetable stew is full of the fantastic flavour you crave  

A wonderful winter warmer, this spiced vegetable stew is full of the fantastic flavour you crave  

  • 2 carrots, sliced thickly on the diagonal
  • Calorie-controlled cooking spray
  • 2 red onions, sliced
  • 3cm piece of fresh ginger, grated
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
  • 1tsp each of ground cinnamon, ground cumin, ground coriander and hot chilli powder
  • ½tsp each of allspice and ground fenugreek 
  • 450g butternut squash, cut into 2cm cubes
  • 2 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes
  • 250ml vegetable stock made with half a stock cube
  • 400g tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 100g kale, chopped
  • 1 cauliflower, cut into florets
  • A handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 170g 0% fat natural Greek yoghurt, to serve (optional)
  • A pinch of ground cloves 

Parboil the carrots for 5 minutes, then drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, mist a large casserole dish with cooking spray and cook the onions over a medium heat for 5 minutes. 

TASTY TIP!

If you’re not a fan of cauliflower rice, simply swap it for half a pouch of microwave brown rice for 6 SmartPoints.

Add the ginger and garlic, cook for 2-3 minutes, then add all the spices and cook for 1-2 minutes.

Add a splash of water to the pan if it starts to stick.  

Add the carrots and squash and cook for 2 minutes, then stir in the tomatoes and stock.

Bring to a simmer then partially cover and cook for 40 minutes. 

Stir in the chickpeas and kale and cook for a final 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, blitz the cauliflower in a food processor until it resembles couscous.

Mist a non-stick frying pan with cooking spray and fry the cauliflower ‘rice’ for 4-5 minutes, stirring, until tender. 

Remove from the heat, stir in the parsley and season. Serve with the stew and yoghurt, if using.

Blackberry fluff 

Serves 4

Need something sweet? This blackberry fluff will satisfy your cravings while helping you stay on track  

Need something sweet? This blackberry fluff will satisfy your cravings while helping you stay on track  

Need something sweet? This blackberry fluff will satisfy your cravings while helping you stay on track  

  • 2 x 6.5g vegetarian gelatine sachets (from supermarkets) 
  • 400g dairy-free natural yoghurt 
  • 1tbsp Stevia, plus an extra 1tsp 
  • 300g fresh blackberries, plus extra to serve  
  • A few sprigs of fresh mint

In a large microwave-safe bowl, whisk the gelatine into the yoghurt along with 1tbsp Stevia.

Microwave on high for 2-3 minutes in 30-second bursts, whisking well between each, until the mixture starts to thicken. 

Set aside to cool.

Put the blackberries in a mini food processor with the extra 1tsp Stevia and blitz to a coarse purée. 

Fold 2tbsp of the blackberry purée through the yoghurt and gelatine mixture.

In a dessert glass or bowl, layer the blackberry yoghurt and remaining blackberry purée, finishing with a layer of purée.  

Chill in the fridge for 2-3 hours, until set. 

Serve topped with the extra blackberries and some sprigs of fresh mint.

Butternut squash soup

Serves 4

Butternut squash soup is a classic and this velvety version is perfect for brightening up a desk lunch 

Butternut squash soup is a classic and this velvety version is perfect for brightening up a desk lunch 

Butternut squash soup is a classic and this velvety version is perfect for brightening up a desk lunch 

  • 750g butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and cubed 
  • 4 garlic cloves, unpeeled 
  • Calorie-controlled cooking spray 
  • 700ml vegetable stock made from 1 stock cube 
  • 4tsp fat-free natural yoghurt

Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan 180°C/gas 6.

Put the butternut squash and the unpeeled garlic cloves on a large roasting tray so that they are spread out and not too close together. 

Mist with cooking spray and season to taste.

Roast for 25 minutes, then toss well and roast for another 20 minutes, until the butternut cubes are dark golden and soft.

Put the butternut squash in a blender and add the stock. 

Blend until you have a smooth soup, then transfer to a pan and place over a medium heat, stirring, until heated through. 

Season to taste and serve in bowls, swirling a teaspoon of fat-free natural yoghurt into each one.

Tuna & bean salad

Serves 2

Beans are a great way of filling up and this tasty salad is chock full of flavour  

Beans are a great way of filling up and this tasty salad is chock full of flavour  

Beans are a great way of filling up and this tasty salad is chock full of flavour  

TASTY TIP! 

You could prepare the beans and dressing ahead of time – the longer they stand, the better the flavour.

  •  ½tsp cumin seeds
  • A quarter of a garlic clove
  • 1tbsp lemon juice
  • 200g tinned haricot beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 eggs
  • 80g green beans, trimmed and halved
  • 100g vacuum-packed beetroot, cut into chunks
  • 1 head of romaine lettuce, roughly torn into pieces
  • 185g tin tuna in spring water, drained

Toast the cumin seeds in a dry frying pan for around 1 minute, until they become fragrant.

 Using a pestle and mortar, crush the cumin seeds and the garlic. 

Add the lemon juice, mix them all together, then stir the mixture into the haricot beans in a bowl, along with the chopped parsley. 

Season to taste and set aside to let the flavours mingle.

Wash the eggs, then boil them for 7 minutes, adding the green beans to the pan for the final 2 minutes of cooking. 

Drain and add the green beans to the haricot bean mixture. 

Cool the eggs under cold running water, then peel and halve them, and then set aside.

Toss the beetroot, lettuce and tuna through the beans, then top with the halved boiled eggs and serve.

Salmon, pea & lemon frittata

Serves 4

This salmon, pea & lemon frittata is essentially a fancy omlette - enjoy it in your lunchbox or as a light dinner 

This salmon, pea & lemon frittata is essentially a fancy omlette - enjoy it in your lunchbox or as a light dinner 

This salmon, pea & lemon frittata is essentially a fancy omlette – enjoy it in your lunchbox or as a light dinner 

  • 2 x 120g skinless salmon fillets
  • Calorie-controlled cooking spray
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 8 large eggs
  • Zest of 1 lemon, plus 1 lemon cut into wedges, to serve
  • 2tsp Dijon mustard
  • 3tbsp fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 200g frozen peas
  • 4tsp capers

Put the salmon fillets in a microwave-safe dish, splash with a little water and cover.

Microwave on high for 2½ minutes. 

Mist a non-stick ovenproof frying pan with the cooking spray and put over a medium heat. 

Fry the onion for 6-8 minutes, until soft.

Beat the eggs in a bowl and season. 

Stir in the lemon zest, the Dijon mustard and 2tbsp of the chopped parsley.

Stir the peas into the onions, then flake the salmon into chunks and add to the pan. 

Pour the eggs in, stir gently, then cook over a low heat for 8-10 minutes until almost set.

Preheat the grill to high. 

Transfer the frittata to the grill for 3-5 minutes, until the top is set. 

Mix the remaining chopped parsley with the capers then scatter over the frittata. Serve with lemon wedges.

Scrummy Breakfasts 

Beetroot and egg hash 5 SmartPoints value 

Serves 4, all SmartPoint values are per serving

Swap your full English for this scrummy breakfast packed full of both flavour and nutrients  

Swap your full English for this scrummy breakfast packed full of both flavour and nutrients  

Swap your full English for this scrummy breakfast packed full of both flavour and nutrients  

  • 400g potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 4 raw beetroot, peeled and diced
  • Calorie-controlled cooking spray
  • 75g chorizo, chopped
  • 4 eggs 
  • Chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, to garnish

Put the potatoes and beetroot in separate pans and cover them with water. 

Bring each pan to a boil then simmer for 5 minutes. 

Drain the potatoes (they should be easy to pierce with a fork, but not completely cooked through) and cook the beetroot for a further 5 minutes. 

TASTY TIP! 

Beetroot adds a sweet and earthy flavour, and also brings a pop of colour to this delicious all-in-one brunch.

Drain the beetroot, which should be similar in texture to the potatoes by now, and leave both to dry.

Mist a large frying pan with cooking spray and set over a medium heat. 

Add the chorizo and cook for 3-4 minutes, until crisp on the edges and the fat has been released. 

Use a slotted spoon to transfer the chorizo to a small plate. 

Add the potatoes and beetroot to the pan and cook for 10 minutes, until they each start to colour all over and are tender. 

Now stir in the chorizo. 

Make 4 holes in the hash and crack an egg into each. 

Cook for 4-5 minutes, until the egg whites are mostly cooked, and then cover with a lid for another couple of minutes. 

The egg whites should be set but the yolks should still be runny. 

Scatter the chopped parsley over the top and season well before serving.

Bacon & egg wraps – 8 SmartPoints

Serves 4

Bacon & egg wraps are a healthy way to start the day with the sweet potato sure to keep you full until lunch

Bacon & egg wraps are a healthy way to start the day with the sweet potato sure to keep you full until lunch

Bacon & egg wraps are a healthy way to start the day with the sweet potato sure to keep you full until lunch

  • 240g sweet potato, cut into small chunks
  • 4tsp olive oil
  • 125g bacon medallions, chopped
  • 4 eggs
  • 4 tortilla wraps
  • 80g sauerkraut (or shredded white cabbage) 
  • 125g baby plum tomatoes, halved
  • Half a small red onion, thinly sliced
  • A small handful of fresh coriander leaves

Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan 180°C/gas 6 and line a baking tray with baking parchment. 

Put the sweet potato on the tray and drizzle over 1tsp of oil. Roast for 25 minutes, until tender.

Heat 2tsp of the remaining oil in a large non-stick frying pan set over a medium heat.

Fry the bacon for 3-4 minutes, until crisp. Transfer to a plate and set aside until ready to assemble.

Heat the last 1tsp of oil in the pan and fry the eggs for 3 minutes, or until cooked to your liking. 

Meanwhile, warm the tortilla wraps to pack instructions.  

Top each wrap with sauerkraut, sweet potato, tomatoes, onion, bacon, some fresh coriander and a fried egg.

Sheet-pan eggs – 2 SmartPoints

Serves 4 

Coming in at only two SmartPoints, this sheet-pan egg bake makes the perfect weekend brunch dish

Coming in at only two SmartPoints, this sheet-pan egg bake makes the perfect weekend brunch dish

Coming in at only two SmartPoints, this sheet-pan egg bake makes the perfect weekend brunch dish

  • Calorie-controlled cooking spray 
  • 8 eggs 
  • 50ml skimmed milk 
  • 30g half-fat mature Cheddar cheese, grated 
  • 1 courgette, trimmed and spiralised or finely sliced 
  • 1 yellow pepper, deseeded and sliced 
  • 10 button mushrooms, thinly sliced 
  • 8 cherry tomatoes, halved 
  • 65g light feta cheese, crumbled

Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/gas 4. Generously mist a 25 x 30cm baking tray with some cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and milk until it goes really frothy, then gently fold in the Cheddar cheese and season to taste.

Arrange the vegetables evenly over the prepared tray, then pour the egg mixture over them to cover. 

Crumble the feta cheese over the top and bake for 15-18 minutes, until the eggs are just set and the vegetables are cooked through. 

Cut into 4 pieces and serve immediately.

Apple & vanilla bean porridge – 7 SmartPoints

Serves 4

A twist on the classic porridge, this is a delicious way to start the day. Serving 4, this comes in at just 7 SmartPoints

A twist on the classic porridge, this is a delicious way to start the day. Serving 4, this comes in at just 7 SmartPoints

A twist on the classic porridge, this is a delicious way to start the day. Serving 4, this comes in at just 7 SmartPoints

  • 135g porridge oats
  • 300ml skimmed milk
  • Half a vanilla pod, split and seeds scraped
  • 1 red apple, skin left on, grated
  • 15g pecan halves, coarsely chopped
  • 1tbsp pumpkin seeds
  • 1½tbsp pure maple syrup

Combine the oats, skimmed milk, vanilla seeds and 450ml water in a large pan over a medium heat and bring to a simmer. 

Cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes, until the oats are tender and creamy. 

Stir in the apple, then remove from the heat and set aside to thicken slightly.

Meanwhile, dry fry the pecan halves and pumpkin seeds over a medium heat for 3 minutes, stirring often, until fragrant and toasted. 

Serve the porridge in bowls, topped with the pecans, pumpkin seeds and some pure maple syrup.

Savoury breakfast muffins – 5 SmartPoints

Serves 9

At just 5 SmartPoints these savoury muffins are an easy 'grab n go' breakfast to make ahead of time 

At just 5 SmartPoints these savoury muffins are an easy 'grab n go' breakfast to make ahead of time 

At just 5 SmartPoints these savoury muffins are an easy ‘grab n go’ breakfast to make ahead of time 

  • Calorie-controlled cooking spray
  • 100g bacon medallions, finely chopped
  • 125g plain flour
  • 125g wholemeal flour
  • 2tsp baking powder
  • ½tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 75g half-fat mature Cheddar cheese
  • 80g low-fat spread, melted
  • 2 large eggs
  • 200ml semi-skimmed milk
  • 100g cherry tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • Handful fresh chives, finely chopped

Preheat the oven to 190°C/fan 170°C/gas 5. Line 9 holes of a 12-hole muffin tin with paper cases. 

Mist a large frying pan with cooking spray and put over a medium heat. 

Fry the bacon for 2-3 minutes, turning occasionally, until golden, then remove from the heat and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the flours, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda, then season.

Grate the mature Cheddar cheese. 

In a separate bowl, beat together the cooled melted spread, eggs, milk and grated cheese, then add to the bowl of dry ingredients. 

Mix well, then stir in the bacon, tomatoes and fresh chives until well combined. 

Divide the mixture between the muffin cases and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until they are risen and golden.

Huevos rancheros – 6 SmartPoints

Serves 4

Spice up your breakfast with this Mexican dish which is great for feeding hungry families or hosting a brunch

Spice up your breakfast with this Mexican dish which is great for feeding hungry families or hosting a brunch

Spice up your breakfast with this Mexican dish which is great for feeding hungry families or hosting a brunch

  • 1tbsp olive oil
  • 1 red onion, finely sliced
  • 1 red pepper, finely sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
  • 1tsp ground cumin
  • 1tsp dried coriander
  • 1tsp smoked paprika
  • ½tsp chipotle chilli flakes
  • 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 400g tin of kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 5 WW White Wraps (from supermarkets)
  • Calorie-controlled cooking spray
  • 4 eggs
  • A handful of fresh coriander, roughly chopped

TASTY TIP! 

Spice up your weekend with this easy brunch dish packed full of the flavours of Mexico – the name means ‘eggs ranch-style’.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan and fry the onion and pepper for 6-8 minutes, until soft. 

Add the garlic, ground cumin, dried coriander, smoked paprika and chipotle chilli flakes to the pan and cook for 2 minutes.

Add the tomatoes, 100ml of water and the kidney beans to the pan. 

Stir then simmer gently for 10 minutes, until thickened, and then season to taste.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200°C/fan 180°C/gas 6. 

Warm the wraps to pack instructions. Use them to line the base and sides of a round ovenproof dish, making sure they overlap so there are no gaps. 

Mist with cooking spray and bake in the oven for 6-8 minutes, or until crisp but not too golden.

Spoon the tomato and bean mixture into the centre of the tortilla wrap shell. 

Make 4 indentations in the mixture, then crack an egg into each. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until the whites are firm and the yolks soft.

Serve topped with the chopped fresh coriander.

Luscious Lunches

Pork taco with spicy pineapple salsa – 7 SmartPoints

Serves 4

As rich in colour as they are flavour  these pork soft tacos have some real bite - but at just 7 SmartPoints they are pretty innocent too

As rich in colour as they are flavour  these pork soft tacos have some real bite - but at just 7 SmartPoints they are pretty innocent too

As rich in colour as they are flavour  these pork soft tacos have some real bite – but at just 7 SmartPoints they are pretty innocent too

  • 1 small pineapple, peeled and cored
  • 1tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1tsp chilli flakes
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2tsp dried oregano
  • 1tsp ground cumin
  • A pinch of ground cloves
  • 600g lean pork shoulder, cut into 2cm cubes
  • Calorie-controlled cooking spray
  • 1 red onion, finely sliced
  • Zest and juice of 1 lime
  • A handful of fresh coriander, chopped
  • 1 red chilli, finely sliced
  • 4 WW White Wraps
  • Green salad leaves

TASTY TIP! 

If you can’t get hold of fresh pineapple, replace it with tinned chunks in juice, drained, for a speedy alternative.

To make the marinade, roughly chop half the pineapple and whiz in a food processor with the white wine vinegar, chilli flakes, garlic cloves, oregano, cumin and cloves.

Put the pork in a large bowl, spoon the marinade all over it, then cover and marinate in the fridge for at least 1 hour (preferably 4 hours).   

Remove from the fridge 30 minutes before cooking to bring the pork to room temperature.

Cut the remaining pineapple into thick rings.

 Mist a large non-stick griddle pan with cooking spray and griddle the pineapple rings for 2-3 minutes on each side. 

Remove from the griddle pan and leave to cool before finely dicing. 

Toss the diced pineapple with the onion, lime zest and juice, fresh coriander and red chilli in a small bowl. 

Season to taste and set aside.

Mist the griddle pan with cooking spray. 

In batches, griddle the pork for 5-6 minutes, turning often, until cooked through. 

Warm the wraps to pack instructions. 

Serve topped with salad leaves, pork and pineapple salsa.

Pasta primavera with asparagus & peas – 10 SmartPoints 

Serves 4

Coming in at 10 SmartPoints, this is the way on munch on pasta and still loose weight

Coming in at 10 SmartPoints, this is the way on munch on pasta and still loose weight

Coming in at 10 SmartPoints, this is the way on munch on pasta and still loose weight

  • 200g asparagus, chopped
  • 270g tagliatelle
  • 200g frozen peas
  • Calorie-controlled cooking spray 
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 180g light crème fraîche   
  • Grated zest and juice of 2 lemons

Blanch the chopped asparagus in a pan of boiling water for 1 minute, then remove with a slotted spoon and refresh under cold running water. 

In the same pan of water, cook the tagliatelle according to the pack instructions, adding the peas for the final 5 minutes of cooking time. 

Drain the tagliatelle and the peas, reserving 30ml of the cooking water.

Meanwhile, mist a large frying pan with cooking spray and fry the shallot and garlic for 5 minutes. 

Stir in the crème fraîche, lemon juice and the reserved pasta water. 

Season to taste, then add the cooked tagliatelle, peas and asparagus to the pan, and toss everything together to combine.

Leave the pan on the heat for 2-3 minutes, until everything is warmed through. 

Serve garnished with the lemon zest.

Cauliflower, coconut and turmeric soup – 6 SmartPoints 

Serves 4

Packed with superfoods, this soup is the perfect winter warmer to pop in a lunch box or enjoy on a cosy night in

Packed with superfoods, this soup is the perfect winter warmer to pop in a lunch box or enjoy on a cosy night in

Packed with superfoods, this soup is the perfect winter warmer to pop in a lunch box or enjoy on a cosy night in

  • 1tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 3cm piece fresh ginger, grated
  • 2 red chillies, finely sliced
  • 1tbsp ground turmeric
  • 1 large cauliflower, leaves removed, cut into small florets
  • 400g tin of reduced-fat coconut milk
  • 600ml vegetable stock made with 1 stock cube
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • A handful of fresh coriander leaves

Heat the oil in a pan over a medium heat. 

Fry the onion for 6-8 minutes, until softened. 

Add the garlic, ginger, half of the chilli, and the turmeric then cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. 

Add the cauliflower and cook for 5 minutes. 

Pour in the coconut milk, reserving 2tbsp, and the stock. 

Simmer for 25-30 minutes, or until the cauliflower is tender.

Remove from the heat and let cool slightly before puréeing with a stick blender. 

Stir in the lime juice and season. 

Serve topped with the reserved coconut milk, remaining chilli, and coriander leaves.

No cook mackerel salad with beetroot and vinegar – 9 SmartPoints value

Serves 4

By using mackerel in spring water or brine you can reduces the points to two per serving

By using mackerel in spring water or brine you can reduces the points to two per serving

By using mackerel in spring water or brine you can reduces the points to two per serving

  • 1 cucumber, trimmed 
  • 200g young leaf spinach
  • 3 cooked beetroot in natural juices, drained and roughly chopped
  • 225g hot smoked peppered mackerel fillets, roughly flaked
  • 2tsp pumpkin seeds
  • 100g 0% fat natural Greek yoghurt
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • A few fresh mint leaves, finely sliced
  • 80g French bread stick, torn into quarters, to serve

TASTY TIP! 

Use 2 tins of mackerel in spring water or brine in place of smoked mackerel  o reduce the SmartPoints to 2 per serving.

Using the base of a heavy pan, gently bash the length of the cucumber until just crushed, but still intact, then chop. 

Divide the spinach leaves, chopped beetroot and cucumber between serving bowls. 

Top with the smoked mackerel flakes, then scatter the pumpkin seeds over the top.

In a small bowl, mix together the yoghurt, lemon juice and mint to make a dressing.

Season to taste. 

Serve the salad with some bread and dressing on the side.

Lemon & Chilli chicken with courgette – 2 SmartPoints value

Serves 4

This lemon & chilli chicken with courgette is only two points and easy to prepare for the perfect midweek meal

This lemon & chilli chicken with courgette is only two points and easy to prepare for the perfect midweek meal

This lemon & chilli chicken with courgette is only two points and easy to prepare for the perfect midweek meal

  • 4 x 125g skinless chicken breast fillets
  • Pared zest and juice of 1 lemon, plus extra lemon zest, to serve
  • 2 garlic cloves, 1 crushed and 1 thinly sliced
  • 4tsp olive oil
  • 180g mixed cherry and baby plum tomatoes, halved, or quartered if larger
  • 2 small red chillies, 1 finely chopped and 1 finely sliced, to serve
  • 60g pitted green olives, halved
  • 3 courgettes, trimmed and spiralised (or 600g prepared courgetti)
  • A few sprigs of fresh flat-leaf parsley, leaves picked

Put each chicken fillet between two sheets of cling film and flatten with a rolling pin to a thickness of approximately 2cm.

Transfer the chicken to a large bowl with half the lemon zest and juice, and all of the crushed garlic. Season well and turn until the chicken is evenly coated.

Heat half the oil in a large non-stick griddle or frying pan over a medium heat then cook the chicken for 5 minutes each side, until golden and cooked through – you may need to do this in batches. 

Transfer the chicken to a plate, cover with kitchen foil to keep warm and set aside until later.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining oil in a separate frying pan set over a medium heat.

Cook the sliced garlic, tomatoes, chopped chilli and olives for 3-4 minutes. 

Add the courgette or courgetti and remaining lemon zest and juice, and stir-fry for 1-2 minutes, until the courgetti is tender. 

Season then serve the chicken and courgetti garnished with the parsley, sliced chilli and extra lemon zest. 

Delicious dinners 

Thai vegetable red curry – 7 SmartPoints

Adding a bit of spice, this Thai red curry is a healthy and delicious vegetarian meal, using just 7 SmartPoints

Adding a bit of spice, this Thai red curry is a healthy and delicious vegetarian meal, using just 7 SmartPoints

Adding a bit of spice, this Thai red curry is a healthy and delicious vegetarian meal, using just 7 SmartPoints

Serves 4

  • Calorie-controlled cooking spray
  • 1 red onion, thickly sliced
  • 2 red peppers, deseeded and roughly chopped
  • 500g prepared butternut squash, cut into 3cm pieces
  • 80g Thai red curry paste
  • 400ml vegetable stock made with 1 stock cube
  • 200ml reduced-fat coconut milk
  • Small handful fresh coriander, finely chopped, plus extra leaves to garnish
  • Grated zest and juice of 1 lime
  • 4 mini naans

Mist a large pan with cooking spray and fry the onion and peppers for 5 minutes over a medium heat. 

Add the squash and curry paste and stir to combine.

Pour in the stock and coconut milk, bring to a simmer and cook, covered, for 10 minutes. 

Remove the lid and cook for a further 10 minutes, until the squash is tender and the curry has thickened a little. 

Add the coriander and lime zest and juice, then stir to combine.

Warm the naan according to the packet instructions. 

Serve the curry in bowls, garnished with coriander and with a mini naan on the side.

Braised lamb with borlotti beans – 7 SmartPoints

Serves 4

This braised lamb serves four and is a great alternative to a Sunday Lunch at only 7 SmartPoints

This braised lamb serves four and is a great alternative to a Sunday Lunch at only 7 SmartPoints

This braised lamb serves four and is a great alternative to a Sunday Lunch at only 7 SmartPoints

  • 2tsp olive oil
  • 450g lean lamb leg steaks, fat trimmed, cut into 2cm pieces
  • 1 large leek, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 2 celery sticks, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2tsp grated lemon zest
  • 2tsp chopped fresh rosemary, plus extra to serve
  • 400g tin of cherry tomatoes
  • 250ml chicken stock made with 1 stock cube
  • 400g tin of borlotti beans, drained and rinsed
  • 150g roasted red peppers in brine, drained and sliced
  • Steamed courgette, sliced, to serve

Heat the oil in a large flameproof casserole dish over a medium-high heat. 

Brown the lamb, in batches, for 3-4 minutes. 

Transfer to a bowl. 

Preheat the oven to 160°C/fan 140°C/gas 3. 

Cook the leek, celery and carrots in the casserole dish for 6 minutes. 

Add the garlic, lemon zest and rosemary. 

Cook for 1 minute. 

Stir in the tomatoes and stock and bring to a boil. 

Return the lamb to the casserole dish, then cover and bake for 1 hour 15 minutes.

Stir in the beans and peppers and bake for a further 30 minutes, until the lamb is tender. 

Season to taste then serve with the courgette and extra rosemary.

Chicken and artichoke tray bake – 4 SmartPoints

Serves 4

This chicken and artichoke tray bake which can also be made with fish, is a hearty, healthy and filling meal

This chicken and artichoke tray bake which can also be made with fish, is a hearty, healthy and filling meal

This chicken and artichoke tray bake which can also be made with fish, is a hearty, healthy and filling meal

TASTY TIP! 

Swap the chicken for skinless sea bass or cod fillets for no extra SmartPoints. Bake the fish for 15 minutes.

  • 400g new potatoes, halved and larger ones quartered
  •  1 onion, cut into wedges
  • 4tsp olive oil
  • 4 skinless chicken breast fillets
  • 2 x 400g tins of artichokes, drained
  • 2 lemons
  • 8 fresh oregano sprigs
  • 4 tomatoes, halved
  • 1tsp Dijon mustard
  • ¼tsp agave syrup

Preheat the oven to 230°C/fan 210°C/gas 8. 

Put the new potatoes and onion in a large baking tray, drizzle over half of the oil and season well. 

Bake in the oven for 5 minutes.

Put the chicken breasts between two large pieces of cling film and use a rolling pin to flatten them slightly. 

Slice the artichokes in half and cut one of the lemons into thick wedges. 

Add the chicken, artichokes and lemon wedges to the baking tray along with the oregano and tomatoes.

 Season to taste and drizzle over 1tsp of the remaining oil. 

Bake for a further 20 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through and the new potatoes are tender.

Meanwhile, juice the remaining lemon and then whisk the lemon juice with the rest of the olive oil, the Dijon mustard and agave syrup. 

Season to taste. 

Divide the chicken and vegetables between four plates and serve with the dressing drizzled over the top of them.

Baked cod with pea and potato mash – 9 SmartPoints  

Serves 4

A great alternative to fish and chips, this baked cod with pea and potato mash is a delicious dinner that's only 9 SmartPoints

A great alternative to fish and chips, this baked cod with pea and potato mash is a delicious dinner that's only 9 SmartPoints

A great alternative to fish and chips, this baked cod with pea and potato mash is a delicious dinner that’s only 9 SmartPoints

  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges
  • 150g chorizo, diced
  • 180g vine cherry tomatoes
  • 4 skinless cod fillets
  • 50ml white wine
  • 400g Maris Piper potatoes, diced
  • 400g frozen peas
  • 50ml skimmed milk
  • 15g low-fat spread

Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan 180°C/gas 6. 

TASTY TIP! 

The addition of diced chorizo in this dish really takes it to a whole new level – the smoky flavour gives it a nice kick. 

Put the lemon wedges, chorizo and vine cherry tomatoes in a roasting tin and bake for 10 minutes. 

Add the cod fillets to the tin and pour the wine over the top. 

Season well, then tightly cover the tray with kitchen foil. 

Steam-bake for 10 minutes, until the fish is cooked through.

Meanwhile, bring a large pan of water to the boil, add the potatoes and cook for 5 minutes, then add the peas and boil for a further 5 minutes. 

Drain, then return the peas and potatoes to the pan and mash with the milk and spread. 

Season to taste.

Serve the cod with the pea mash, tomatoes, chorizo and lemon wedges.

Open salmon burgers

Serves 4

These open salmon burgers are a great swap for fastfood and are simple to make, serving four

These open salmon burgers are a great swap for fastfood and are simple to make, serving four

These open salmon burgers are a great swap for fastfood and are simple to make, serving four

  • 2 x 120g skinless salmon fillets
  • Calorie-controlled cooking spray
  • 2 spring onions, trimmed and sliced
  • A handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Juice of 1 lemon, plus wedges to serve
  • 20g panko breadcrumbs
  • 4tbsp 0% fat natural Greek yoghurt
  • 2 ciabatta rolls, halved
  • 60g rocket
  • 4 gherkins, sliced lengthways

Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan 180°C/gas 6, and line a small baking tray with baking parchment. 

Put the salmon on the tray, mist it with some cooking spray and bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes, until cooked through. 

Remove from the oven and use a fork to break into large flakes.

In a mixing bowl, combine the flaked salmon, spring onions, most of the parsley (reserving 1tsp for the yoghurt sauce), egg, half the lemon juice and the breadcrumbs. 

Season well, then use your hands to form the mixture into 4 equal patties.

Heat a large non-stick frying pan over a medium heat and mist with cooking spray. 

Fry the patties for 3-4 minutes on each side, until cooked through. Combine the yoghurt, remaining lemon juice and reserved parsley in a small bowl. 

Season to taste.

 Toast the ciabatta rolls then top each half with the rocket, followed by a salmon patty. 

Spoon over the yoghurt sauce, garnish with the gherkins and serve with the lemon wedges.

Divine desserts

Rhubarb sorbet with pistachio brittle – 5 SmartPoints

Serves 8

This rhubarb sorbet with pistachio brittle is a fantastic way to get your 'ice cream' fix, without all the caloires

This rhubarb sorbet with pistachio brittle is a fantastic way to get your 'ice cream' fix, without all the caloires

This rhubarb sorbet with pistachio brittle is a fantastic way to get your ‘ice cream’ fix, without all the caloires

  • 800g rhubarb, chopped
  • 1tsp ground ginger
  • 4tbsp agave syrup
  • 2 bananas
  • 300ml buttermilk 

For the brittle

  • Calorie-controlled cooking spray
  • 10g butter
  • 35g caster sugar
  • 2tbsp agave syrup
  • 40g pistachio kernels, chopped 
  • A pinch of sea salt flakes

Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan 180°C/gas 6.

Combine the rhubarb, ginger and half the agave syrup on a baking tray.  

Cover with foil and roast for 15 minutes.

Cool. 

Blitz the rhubarb, bananas and remaining agave syrup in a blender. 

Increase the speed and add the buttermilk. 

TASTY TIP! 

If you serve this sorbet without the pistachio brittle on the side then the dish will have a SmartPoints value of only 2!

Pour into a freezerproof container and then freeze overnight.

To make the brittle, mist a non-stick baking tray with cooking spray.

 Melt the butter with the caster sugar and 1tsp of water in a pan over a low heat. 

Stir in the agave syrup and bring to a boil.

Bubble for 8 minutes, until amber, then pour onto the tray. 

Scatter the nuts and salt over. 

Set aside for 10-15 minutes to harden, then break into shards. 

Thaw the sorbet for 15-20 minutes. 

Blitz in the blender until there are no ice crystals.

Scoop into 16 balls and serve 2 per person with the brittle.

Chocolate black bean cake – 5 SmartPoints

Serves 10

Have your cake and eat it with this black bean and chocolate dish. Only 5 SmartPoints it's a great treat at the end of the day

Have your cake and eat it with this black bean and chocolate dish. Only 5 SmartPoints it's a great treat at the end of the day

Have your cake and eat it with this black bean and chocolate dish. Only 5 SmartPoints it’s a great treat at the end of the day

  • 100g low-fat spread, plus extra for greasing
  • 400g tin of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 5 eggs
  • 2tsp vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
  • 100g light brown soft sugar
  • 50g cocoa powder
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • ½tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 20g white chocolate
  • 20g milk chocolate

Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/gas 4. 

Grease an 18cm round cake tin with low-fat spread and line with baking parchment. 

Put the black beans, 3 of the eggs and the vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract in a food processor and blitz until smooth.

In a large mixing bowl, beat together the low-fat spread and sugar using a hand-held electric whisk, until pale and fluffy. 

Add the remaining eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. 

Add the smooth black bean mixture to the bowl and stir until everything is well combined.

Finally, gently fold in the cocoa powder, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda.

Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 40-45 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. 

Remove the cake from the oven and leave it to cool in the tin for 15 minutes, then turn it out onto a wire rack and leave to cool completely. 

Put the white and milk chocolate in two separate bowls and microwave each one for 30 seconds, until the chocolate has melted. 

Drizzle both the melted chocolates over the top of the cake, leave to set, then slice to serve.

Lemon pavlova – 5 SmartPoints

Serves 12

Get your citrus fix with this lemony dish, serving 12 people it's great for dinner parties at only 5 SmartPoints per serving

Get your citrus fix with this lemony dish, serving 12 people it's great for dinner parties at only 5 SmartPoints per serving

Get your citrus fix with this lemony dish, serving 12 people it’s great for dinner parties at only 5 SmartPoints per serving

  • 3 egg whites
  • 150g caster sugar
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 1½tsp cornflour
  • 500g 0% fat natural Greek yoghurt 

For the lemon curd

  • 10g cornflour
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon and juice of 2 lemons
  • 40g caster sugar
  • 15g low-fat spread
  • 1 egg yolk 

 For the candied lemon

  • 100g agave syrup
  • 2 lemons, very thinly sliced

Preheat the oven to 170°C/fan 150°C/gas 3.

Line the base and sides of a large baking tray (about 20cm x 30cm) with baking parchment. 

Whisk the egg whites using a stand mixer until they form stiff peaks. 

Continue whisking as you add the sugar, a spoonful at a time. 

Once the meringue is glossy, smooth and firm, fold through the lemon zest and cornflour.

Spoon onto the tray and spread out to the edges.

Bake for 1 hour then turn off the oven, leaving the meringue inside until it is completely cooled.

To make the lemon curd, put the cornflour, lemon zest and juice, sugar and 4tbsp water in a pan.

Gently heat, stirring continuously, until it boils and starts to thicken. 

Remove from the heat and whisk in the spread and egg yolk. 

Leave to cool.

To make the candied lemon, combine the agave syrup and 250ml water in a separate pan and bring to a boil. 

Simmer for 5 minutes, add the lemon slices and simmer for a further 5 minutes. 

Carefully transfer the lemon slices to a cooling rack and leave to cool completely.

Transfer the meringue to a serving plate, top with lemon curd and yoghurt, and decorate with candied lemon.

Strawberry bakewell cake – 5 SmartPoints value

Serves 10

A classic re-imagined with a healthy twist using cannellini beans, this is a delightful way to finish a dinner

A classic re-imagined with a healthy twist using cannellini beans, this is a delightful way to finish a dinner

A classic re-imagined with a healthy twist using cannellini beans, this is a delightful way to finish a dinner

  • 2 x 400g tins of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 8½tbsp agave syrup
  • 100g low-fat spread
  • 2 large eggs, plus 2 large egg whites
  • 100g plain flour
  • 2tsp baking powder
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 1tsp almond extract
  • l75g strawberries, hulled and halved
  • 5g flaked almonds
  • 1tsp icing sugar, to decorate

Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/gas 4. 

Line the base and sides of a 20cm spring-form or loose-bottomed cake tin with baking parchment. 

Put the beans, agave syrup and low-fat spread in a food processor and blitz until smooth. 

Transfer to a large mixing bowl, whisk in the whole eggs, one at a time, then whisk in the egg whites. 

Fold in the flour, baking powder and vanilla and almond extracts, then pour the mixture into the prepared cake tin. 

Arrange the strawberries, cut-side up, on top and then scatter the flaked almonds all over.

Bake for 45-50 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. 

Leave the cake to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then carefully transfer it to a wire rack and leave to cool completely. 

Dust the cake with icing sugar and then serve.

Beetroot brownies – 7 SmartPoints

Serves 20

A twist on the classic gooey chocolate number, these brownies are just as enjoyable and much healthier, coming in at just 7 SmartPoints

A twist on the classic gooey chocolate number, these brownies are just as enjoyable and much healthier, coming in at just 7 SmartPoints

A twist on the classic gooey chocolate number, these brownies are just as enjoyable and much healthier, coming in at just 7 SmartPoints

  • 375g raw beetroot, peeled and quartered
  • 175g dark chocolate, chopped
  • 200g low-fat spread
  • 3 eggs
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 150g wholemeal self-raising flour 
  •  1tsp cocoa powder, for dusting

Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/gas 4. 

Grease and line a 20cm square cake tin. 

Put the beetroot in a microwave-safe bowl with a splash of water and cover with cling film.

Cook in the microwave on high for 10 minutes, or until tender. 

Leave the beetroot to cool, then grate it to give 250g.

Melt the chocolate and low-fat spread in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water (don’t let the bowl touch the water). 

Stir to combine then set aside.

Whisk the eggs with the caster sugar for 5 minutes, until they are thick and creamy, then gently fold in the chocolate mixture.

Fold in the self-raising flour, then the grated beetroot. 

Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tin and bake for 55 minutes to 1 hour, until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out covered with a few sticky crumbs. 

Leave the brownie to cool in the tin, then cut into 20 pieces and dust with cocoa powder before serving.



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Wellness

In the Country of Motherhood, Finding My Own Path


Motherhood, I realized, was just another place I didn’t fit in.

By the time my first child was born, I’d lived in three different countries. Born in Poland, raised in Germany, I later followed my German husband to Canada, and then back to Germany, where our first daughter was born. When she was only 6 weeks old, we moved to the Netherlands, where my husband was working at the time. After a few years, our two other children were born here.

With time, I was able to toss away all parenting books and blogs, and the advice they shot at me, and start making my own path. Far away from my family, I was a mother without guidance. There were no rules for what I was doing, and I was left fully to my own devices. I thought that this lack of norms would make things more difficult for me. But in the end, it was freeing. We — my husband and I — had no one to answer to but ourselves. Without a system of norms and customs to burden us, we could make our own decisions.

My children are now older, mercifully many years away from babyhood. My elder daughter will soon enter the tween years. My son has just started school. All of them move seamlessly among three cultures. Dutch pancakes, Polish pierogi and German liverwurst will elicit the same enthusiastic response from them. They speak three languages and are learning a fourth, English, at school. I can’t be certain, but it’s reassuring to believe that despite all the mistakes that I’ve made in the past and inevitably will make in the future, the kids are all right.

A while back, a friend shared a meme in Finnish. I was about to ignore it when one surprisingly familiar word caught my attention.

“What does matka mean in Finnish?” I asked.

The friend wrote back, “It means journey.”

Olga Mecking is a writer, journalist and translator living in the Netherlands.



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