Thursday, 29 November 2012 - , , , , , 0 comments

SOMETHING FOR NOTHING : Roasted Mini Brussels Sprouts with Soy Dip


Even if you're not a great fan of Brussels sprouts, there's something about roasting them that turns them into tasty little toasted gems! Try to buy small ones as they seem to work best and will roast in about 15-20 minutes.
Speared onto cocktail sticks and served with a soy sauce dip, these make wonderful nibbles with drinks and are 0pp!

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Pop them raw into a bowl and toss them in a little low salt soy sauce mixed with a teaspoon of mirin (optional). 


Mirin is a Japanese ingredient- a cooking rice wine which just sweetens up the marinade. You can buy it in most supermarkets. If you use more than 2 teaspoons per portion, it will need to be propointed so please measure carefully.


Spray with a little Frylight oil, then roast on a baking tray at 200 degrees centigrade. The outside leaves should be browned and crispy and the inside cooked but still with a 'bite'.


Arrange on serving dishes with little pots of soy dipping sauce; low-salt soy sauce mixed with a teaspoon of mirin.
These are absolutely delicious and best served warm.

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TIP


You could also try them with my Blue Cheese & Cranberry dip. (Click HERE for recipe). That's still a whole plate of nibbles for 1pp/under 100kcal!

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Tasty toasty Christmas Nibbles!
Tuesday, 27 November 2012 - , , , , , 0 comments

FILLING & HEALTHY : Wholewheat Tagliatelle with King Prawns in a Fresh Tomato and Garlic Sauce


So...here is my first ever 'Filling & Healthy' (F&H) recipe. Those of you on the Propoints plan will know what I'm talking about- a more relaxed approach to counting propoints, using a select few foods which are on the Weight Watchers F&H list.
It's also ideal for Simple Start.

For those of you who want to use the traditional Weight Watchers propoints or calorie-counting approach, no worries - these are included in this recipe too! You may find that you stay more full up for longer though, which is always a bonus.


I'm not generally a great fan of wholewheat pasta. However, for this recipe I managed to get hold of a fresh version, which I much preferred. It is less 'bran' tasting, good texture and worked extremely well with my other ingredients, absorbing their delicious flavours very effectively.
Another real bonus is that it only takes 4 minutes to cook.
A 70g (uncooked weight) portion of fresh wholewheat pasta is 5pp. If you use dried pasta and you are counting propoints rather than following a F&H day, you will need to calculate the propoints for the amount of pasta you use.



I have to say this is such a simple sauce, made from very few basic ingredients, but is one of my all time favourites. The fresh tomatoes and garlic combine to make the most incredible fresh, sweet, delectable sauce. With the addition of king prawns and a little seasoning, you will be transported to the Mediterranean with every mouthful!

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YOU WILL NEED: (For 2 generous portions)
This works out to 8pp/approx.340kcal per portion

140g (Uncooked weight) Fresh Wholewheat Pasta
1 Teaspoon Olive Oil
500g Cherry Tomatoes
3 large Cloves Garlic
2-3 Tablespoons water
1 tablespoon Artificial Granular Sweetener
Fresh Basil
260g Cooked King Prawns
1/2 teaspoon Chilli Flakes (Optional)
Black Pepper

***



Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and put all the cherry tomatoes in along with some torn, fresh basil.



Chop the garlic and add to the pan. Fry over a medium heat for 5-10 minutes until the tomatoes start to soften.



Once softened, carefully pierce and cut open each tomato with a sharp knife, to release the juices and seeds.



Gently squash the cooked tomatoes with the back of a spoon to flatten them and release more juices.


The smell is heavenly! Add the sweetener, water, black pepper and chilli flakes.
Allow it to bubble away until the tomatoes have really softened and combined with the garlic into a thickened sauce. This takes about 10 more minutes. If it looks too dry, add a little more water.


Cook the tagliatelle in boiling water. If you use fresh pasta, it only takes 4 minutes.



While the pasta is cooking, tip the prawns into the bubbling, hot tomato sauce. Make sure the prawns heat through thoroughly.



Once cooked, drain the pasta and add to the hot sauce, mixing thoroughly to distribute all the delicious flavours. The golden rule with pasta dishes is always add pasta to sauce, rather than sauce to pasta. This way, the hot, wet pasta absorbs the liquids and flavours of the sauce. Add some more freshly torn basil and ground back pepper before serving.



Succulent, sweet, garlicky, gorgeous!

***

PRINT RECIPE HERE
Sunday, 25 November 2012 - , 2 comments

FILLING & HEALTHY : New Category!


Some of you Weight Watchers members may have tried the more relaxed approach to counting Propoints. This is called the 'Filling & Healthy' (F&H) technique.

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I've never tried it before, as I'm not very good at gauging my stomach's satisfaction levels and am nervous I would be tempted to overeat. However, my husband wanted to give it a go as he has been feeling really hungry recently...and judging by the amazingly positive response when I asked my followers if a FILLING & HEALTHY section on the blog would be useful...many of you are definitely up for it!

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If you don't follow Filling & Healthy days, or would like the propoint values and calories, don't worry-they will still be included in every F&H recipe!
Weights of ingredients will also be included, which will help those of you doing F&H to gauge portion sizes, but obviously, you won't need to be so religious about weighing with this technique.

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All you need to do is search under the Categories heading on the top right of the blog page, click on FILLING & HEALTHY, and all my recipes will come up. I will also check any old recipes that naturally fall into this category and add them for you.

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The first recipe will be up shortly!

Friday, 23 November 2012 - , , , , 0 comments

SMASH & GRAB : Blue Cheese & Cranberry Dipping Sauce


Here's a fabulous little dip for the Christmas season. It tastes really decadent and like it's laden with fattening ingredients but it's only 1pp/60kcal per portion! Plus it literally takes 20 seconds to make.


Just pop 2 Laughing Cow light (with Blue Cheese) triangles into a ramekin dish.
Snip 4 dried cranberries into small pieces with scissors and add to the cheese.
Microwave for 15-20 seconds. 'Loosen' with a teaspoon skimmed/soya milk.
Hey presto! A rich, creamy, fabulous dip!


Top with some of my Christmas Sprinkles (Click HERE for link) for a truely seasonal finish.

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TIP

The great thing about this dip is that you can make it in individual portions, then you know exactly how much you've had....plus you can double-dip as much as you like as it's
ALL YOURS!


If you like blue cheese salad dressing, just leave out the cranberries and thin the melted cheese down with little more milk for a yummy, warm version!

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Skinny Dipping!
Thursday, 22 November 2012 - , , , , , 0 comments

SMASH & GRAB : Christmas Seasoning Sprinkle


When I saw these 2 ingredients in the supermarket the other day, their vibrant colours just made me think 'Christmas'!
Their combined flavours also make an interesting and fragrant seasoning, which could be sprinkled onto a few of your chosen dishes when serving to add a splash of festive colour and flavour.

The mix has zero propoints/minimal kcal.


The first ingredient is Pink Peppercorns. As they say on the packaging, they have a fragrant, juniper/aniseed type flavour and a sweetness, rather than the traditional pepper 'kick' we are used to.

 

The second ingredient is Kaffir Lime Leaves. These are freeze-dried so retain their incredibly vibrant green colour. Although traditionally used in Thai curries, they have a very distinctive and familiar lime favour which really compliments the pink peppercorns.


I put both ingredients into a pestle and mortar and gently crushed them together until I had a lovely sprinkle mixture. You will find that the fine stalks from the Kaffir lime leaves work their way loose so you can discard them.


Make your seasoning as coarse or fine as you wish.


Use to sprinkle on dips, chicken, salmon, roast potatoes or any dishes of your choice over the Christmas period.
It will jazz up your dishes visually and dance on your palate.
I would even try this on vanilla ice-cream or something chocolatey!

***

Pretty in Pink & Green.

***

TIP


If you can get hold of some edible gold leaf, add some to the sprinkle mixture for an amazing sparkly and luxurious mix.
(I've just bought some on Amazon).


It's expensive, but 1/4 of a sheet is ample. Just rub it onto the crushed mix. The oil from the peppercorns will attract the gold and allow it to stick.


Sparkly Sprinkles!
Tuesday, 20 November 2012 - , , , , , 2 comments

RECIPE : Sticky Puddings!


To celebrate Gregg Wallace, (Masterchef Judge Extraordinaire), becoming the new face of Weight Watchers for 2013, I just had to devise a pudding in his honour!
There are so many Sticky Toffee Pudding recipes out there-even Weight Watchers ones, so I decided to design 'Sticky' Puddings-ie; Bite-sized puddings on a stick!
These squidgy little cakes are
only 1pp/approx 56kcals per square.
My recipe makes 25 bite-sized morsels.

***

With Christmas approaching, it's important not to feel like you are missing out on all the treats. Sometimes a small taste of a few delicious treats can be better than a large portion of one...So, I've come up with lots of small, low Propoint/calorie ideas you can serve over the festive period. I'll be sharing these with you over the next few weeks.

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 For my 'Sticky' Puddings, I've kept the propoints low by using some interesting ingredients in place of traditional 'cake' ones. There's no butter at all either. The idea was to produce a dense cakey/pudding-type treat, firm enough to pop a cocktail stick into, even when serving warm.
If you like carrot cake, you'll love these. Instead of carrot, I've used butternut squash which gives a natural sweetness and great texture. I've also used banana and dried fruits to further sweeten the pudding.
The gooey toffee topping is 'tangified' with lemon and ricotta. Each bite-sized serving is completed with a fresh raspberry and a tiny dusting of icing sugar.

***


You Will Need:

300g Butternut Squash
50g Ready-to-eat Dried Apricots
50g Dried Cranberries
2 Tablespoons Water
1 Fresh Banana
1 Medium Egg
50g Ricotta Cheese
100g Self Raising Flour
2 Tablespoons Granular Sweetener
1 Tablespoon Cinnamon
1 Teaspoon Mace

*

For the Topping:

40g Caster Sugar
200g Light Soya 'Cream'
(It's measured in grammes on the packaging)
100g Ricotta Cheese
Zest and Juice of 1 Lemon

***



Start by peeling and chopping the butternut squash into chunks. Pop into a bowl with the dried fruits, spices and 2 tablespoons of water. Cover and microwave until the butternut squash is really soft and mashable. This took two 5 minute bursts in my microwave.



Once the mixture has cooled down, pop it into a blender with the banana. Blitz until you have a smooth, soft 'paste'.



Add the egg, sweetener, 50g ricotta and flour 1 tablespoon at a time whilst blending. (No need to sieve the flour).



Spray your baking tin with Frylght Oil then dollop the mixture into it. For bite-size squares, you need a square brownie tin. For more traditional slices, use a round one.
Pop into a pre heated oven at 200 degrees centigrade for 30-40 minutes. This pudding won't rise or brown like a regular cake, but will set, remaining soft and squidgy with a fudge-like texture.

***

The Topping:



I've used this soya 'cream' as it's the lowest propoint/calories of any cream or half-fat cream I could find (2pp/74kcal per 100ml).



 While the pudding is in the oven, make the topping. Put the sugar and 100ml of the light Soya 'cream' into a small saucepan. Slowly bring to the boil, stirring occasionally.



Cook on a medium heat until it turns into a thick, sticky goo-a bit like condensed milk.



Add the remaining soya 'cream', the ricotta and zest and juice of the lemon, stirring well. This makes a silky, beautiful, thick topping.



Once the base is cooked and firm to touch, pop it out of the tin and allow to cool down slightly...but this pud needs to be served warm for ultimate squidgyness.
Cut into 25 even squares. Top each square with a teaspoon of sticky topping and a fresh raspberry. Insert a cocktail stick into the side of each one for easy devouring when handing round!
Finally, dust with a fine sprinkling of icing sugar for a snowy finish. (You need very little. Click HERE for my post about Twist and Sprinkle Icing Sugar).

***


Here's how the multiples work out;
For the squares;
1=1pp
2=3pp
3=4pp
4=5pp
5=6pp
6=8pp


For a traditional approach, baked in a round cake tin, here's how the portions work out.
If cut into:
6 portions, they are 5pp/approx.233kcal each 
8 portions, they are 4pp/approx.175kcal each
10 portions they are 3pp/approx.140kcal each

***

Squodge.

***

TIP:

You can make this in advance. The base also freezes well. Make sure you heat the pudding base gently before serving. Leave the topping out of the fridge so it's at room temperature.

*** 

PRINT RECIPE HERE
Monday, 19 November 2012 - , 2 comments

CUPBOARD LOVE : Twist & Sprinkle Icing Sugar


If you're coming along on a Christmas cooking journey with me over the next few weeks, you might want to have some icing sugar in the house. For a light dusting of 'snow' on your desserts, there is nothing like sifted icing sugar. If, like me, you want to stay in control of tiny amounts, this Whitworths canister is quite genius. It has a built in sieve with a twisting action.



 You turn the pink top, a bit like a pepper mill, slowly for a fine misting, and faster for a heavy dusting.
I bought mine from Tescos. It's quite expensive (over £2), but this will last me yonks....and I have a feeling I'll be able to refill it from the bottom afterwards too...so a wise investment.

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Sprinkle sprinkle little star!
Thursday, 15 November 2012 - , , , 3 comments

CRAFTY CHRISTMAS CAKE : As Featured in Weight Watchers (UK) Magazine December 2012/January 2013



Many of you will have seen my 'Crafty Christmas Cake in a previous issue of Weight Watchers (UK) Magazine. It was the first of my regular Slice-of-Slim feature pages!


Obviously, there's limited space in the magazine, so they've very kindly agreed to let me share more detail with you on the blog.
I thought I'd show you early so you have plenty of time to plan and make the inedible 'crafty' parts.
Another reason is so that my US followers who can't buy the magazine can also have it in time for Thanksgiving!

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Christmas can be a daunting time for a Weight Watcher, but hopefully you'll see that you can still have some fun with my whimsical idea. All these goodies are low-fat and, presented on sticks in this way, enable you to have a few treats without feeling like you are missing out.
If you are a guest at someone else's house, you could offer to bring a dessert...then present this gorgeous table centre, knowing it's not going to tempt you off plan.
My 'snow'-capped strawberries, and dancing snowmen will appeal to everyone, young and old, Weight Watcher or not!

***


HOW TO MAKE
my
CRAFTY CHRISTMAS CAKE

  I thought I would show you in detail exactly how I made the cake, step-by-step.
You could make a base like mine, but if you don't have the time or the inclination, the goodies look great arranged in a vase or jug!

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THE BASE



Using florists polystyrene or oasis, create your desired base shape.



Stick the oasis onto a 'hat-box' style box, then cover it with florists' moss from a craft shop.



Glue a paper napkin or wrapping paper around the cardboard base.
Tie a bow with rustic string.
Decorate with ornaments of your choice.
(I bought these gorgeous vintage-style painted plaster toadstools from a Christmas shop. I cut the wires really short so I could stick them into the polystyrene). 

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THE MINIATURE FLAGS & BUNTING


Make some little decorative flags and tiny bunting out of bamboo skewers,
wire and WASHI tape.
(You can buy this tape from gift and craft shops. If you are local to Leamington Spa, BERYLUNE on Park Street have an amazing selection. Paperchase sell it too).


Open out a length of tape (sticky side up) and pop the bamboo skewer in place.



Fold the tape back over the stick. The great thing about washi tape is that it's low-tack, so if you mess up you can unpeel and restick as many times as you wish! 



Cut into a flag shape.
Make as many flags as you need.



Make the miniature bunting the same way. Wrap wire around two bamboo skewers. Fold the tape over the wire and cut into triangles.

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THE FRUIT POPS



These are 1pp/approx.50kcal for 2 fruit pops.

For every 5 Fruit pops, you need:

5 Large Strawberries or 15 Grapes
8g Plain Chocolate
8g White Chocolate
2 Teaspoons Sugar Sprinkles


Weigh all the ingredients into separate small containers. Melt the chocolate. 



Make sure your strawberries are chilled.
(The chocolate sets much quicker).
Snip the stalks off the strawberries, leaving the foliage intact.



Make a hole with the sharp end of a bamboo skewer.



Insert the flat end of a bamboo skewer into the hole you made.
(You need the sharp end to stick into your polystyrene base).



Using a teaspoon, make a thin stripe of plain chocolate about a third of the way down the strawberry.



 Coat the top of the strawberry with a thin 'cap' of white chocolate.



Make sure the white chocolate overlaps the plain. Allow it to look random and wavy, like fallen snow.


Gently dip the end into the sugar sprinkles. (You only need a few).


Leave to set in glasses.
If you make a grape version, stack them in threes.

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THE MERINGUE SNOWMEN



These are 2pp/approx.90kcal each

For 15 snowmen you need:

4 Egg Whites
(Use '2-chicks' liquid egg white if you don't want to waste the yolks. Click HERE for link)
200g Caster Sugar
Selection of decorations
(Propoints are included for these)



When making the snowmen, choose a variety of small fruity and chocolate treats for decorating. Red laces or tiny dots of black icing are great for mouths. 



The tiny coloured chocolate beans I used for eyes and buttons are from the cake decorating department in supermarkets.



 Half a dried cranberry or these tiny marshmallows make wonderful noses!



Whisk the egg whites until firm, then add the sugar 1 tablespoon at a time, whisking until you have a beautiful, glossy mixture.



Line a baking tray with baking parchment. Shape the meringue mixture with a teaspoon.
(Approx. 1 generous teaspoon for the head and 2 for the body).



Decorate BEFORE baking.



(You could even customise them to look like friends and family!)


Bake for 1 hour at 140 degrees centigrade then turn the oven off and leave to cool in the oven.
Carefully insert bamboo skewers and arrange in the 'cake' base.



Fruit Winders make fantastic scarves,but you must add these AFTER baking, once the snowmen are cool. Cut to desired length and wrap around the neck.



For a 'candy cane' effect, you can pop the skewers through stripy straws as you place them into the mossy base.



T'is the season to be jolly!
  
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GIFTY TIPS:



Small, hand-tied bunches of fruit pops.



Individual snowmen wrapped in cellophane.



A box of snowmen for a special family you know!


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PRINT INSTRUCTIONS HERE