HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >

Discussion

Cookbooks & recipes for those on Weight Watchers Core Plan?

  • 114
  • Share

My apologies if this has been asked before, but with the New Year and all of the resolutions that accompany nearly upon us, any recommendations out there for pursuing deliciousness and avoiding boredom while following weight watchers CORE plan? The essence of the core plan, for those who aren't familiar with it, is that you can eat as much of the following foods as you wish (as long as you don't stuff yourself), while following some basic "good health guidelines", (which require you have a certain minimum daily intake of water, fruits and vegetables, dairy, and 2 tsp of "healthy oils" --olive, canola, flaxseed oil. Also, a multi-vitamin)

Here's the list of "allowed" foods:
~lean meats, fish, poultry
~nonfat dairy products, eggs
~whole grains (not whole grain products, just the whole grains themselves)
~sweet potatoes, potatoes, whole wheat pasta, brown rice
~beans and legumes, tofu
~more or less all fresh, frozen, or canned fruits or vegetables as long as they aren't in syrup(but not juices or dried fruits/veggies)
~coffee, tea
~most condiments (I've interpreted "most" as "all") and all herbs and spices, of course

"Limited" foods are:
~"healthy fats" 2 tsp required per day
~potatoes OR brown rice OR whole wheat pasta limited to one meal per day

Also, you get 35 extra "points" per week (more if you exercise) to spend on "non-core" foods at your discretion, if you want an occasional pat of butter, or a glass of wine or bump up your dairy from "non-fat" to "low-fat", etc.

Any ideas for cookbooks or recipes out there? The more specific, the better.

EDIT: Oh, and I just ordered Heidi Swanson's Super Natural Cooking as I had the impression she includes lots of recipes for cooking with whole grains. I seem to really struggle with the grains part of this core plan--my knowledge seems to be pretty limited when it comes to quinoa and bulgar and such...

Artificial sweeters and the like are also permitted, but, I personally try to avoid those and other processed-food type products. I'd rather use my discretionary points to add a little "real" sugar or honey, etc., than go processed if at all possible.

Thanks in advance.

~TDQ

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
Posting Guidelines | FAQs | Feedback
Cancel
  1. This sounds a bit like the South Beach Diet, you could try those books, which aren't too bad.

    I highly recommend any of the Mayo Clinic Cookbooks, which have some fantastic recipes that include many (or most) of the ingredients you've listed. Also, you could try some vegetarian cookbooks as well - there are so many good ones these days, but anything by Deborah Madison will be a good start.

    10 Replies
    1. re: jazzy77

      Oh, I have a couple of those Mayo Clinic cookbooks and, you're right, those would probably have lots of great "core friendly" recipes. I'll have to dust those off.

      Any specific recommendations for South Beach Diet cookbooks? (I always thought you could eat fatty meats, like bacon, on SB. Am I confusing it with Atkins? Maybe I should have a look at those cookbooks.)

      I'll put VCFE on my "to buy" list. Really, I've been meaning to get it for awhile now but it's never in my bookstore. May have to order it, I guess.

      Thank you!

      ~TDQ

      1. re: The Dairy Queen

        I actually have tried both Atkins and South Beach, and the South Beach diet is the closest to WW. When I tried the SB, I used their cookbook to get started (it's the metallic blue book). To be honest, I'm not sure that I'd buy the book myself (someone gave it to me after a week of extolling the virtue of the SB diet), but the recipes were good (and some of the ricotta desserts were suprisingly good...for being on a rather restrictive diet plan).

        One book I highly recommend is Diana Shaw's The Essential Vegetarian. I bought this book to help me lose weight while I was still learning to cook in college and it's been one of my favorites ever since.

        I also use Rick Bayless' Mexican Everyday a lot. It's much easier when you've got a good Latin grocer to get your ingredients from, but his recipes use a lot of lean protein and are extremely flavorful.

        One more recommendation- Cooking Thin With Chef Kathleen: 200 Easy Recipes for Healthy Weight Loss. She used to have a FN show that was really good, but (of course) it was cancelled a few years back. I have a friend that only keeps three cookbooks in her kitchen at any time, and has sucessfully done the Weight Watchers diet with this book lovingly by her side. In fact, the last time I visited her, she still had the book and told me (again) how much she loved it. I've tried the recipes from the FN show, and some of them are still staples in my house.

        1. re: jazzy77

          Thank you, again, for your wonderful recommendations. I have a bias, I guess (right or wrong), against "Diet" cookbooks. I mean, yeah, I'm trying to lose weight, but really I'd like to think I'm really just trying to eat and be more healthy. As part of this process, I really want to expand my repertoire of flavorful, healthy meals that I can draw upon later, once I've taken the weight off, so that I'm building skills for the long run, so the Shaw, Bayless and Chef Kathleen books seem very appealing to me.

          Any thoughts about Cooking Light magazine's recipes? I've been contemplating their 2008 Best Recipes Cookbook.

          ~TDQ

          1. re: The Dairy Queen

            Yeah, I know what you mean, I don't like the idea of "dieting" either - I prefer to just get myself into the mode where I'm eating healthy without feeling deprived - which is why I tend to lean more towards the vegetarian cookbooks over the " diet plan" cookbooks. They are more geared towards a lifestlye of healthy eating, rather than a short-term goal, plus they tend to use foods that have been minimally processed and use very little in the way of preservatives, which my husband and I prefer.

            I have mixed reactions about Cooking Light sometimes.... I don't think their recipes are exceedlingly calorie-conscious, and I don't like to eat all the low-fat, no-fat dairy and cheese product that they include in their recipes. I have had some really good recipes from them too....

            Besides, isn't a year of Cooking Light less expensive than the entire recipe volume? If so, it might be better to have a little "diet reminder" delivered to your mailbox every month, rather than have a cookbook sitting on your shelf...and you get free access to their website all year, which has a lot (most?) of their past recipes on it.

            This has been such a nice little topic, since starting grad school, I've not been able to eat as healthy as before, and it is going to be our New Year's Resolution to eat healthier and lose some of this creeping poundage my husband and I have put on. Thinking about all these great cookbooks is making me more excited about our forthcoming change in eating habits!

            1. re: jazzy77

              cooking light is actually not expensive at all and they were offering a holiday special of a give a gift, get a subscription for free so if you can think of anyone else who'd like it, there's something in it for you for less than $20.
              eating well (magazine) too.
              not perfect but usually a few good recipes each month and i'd agree - it's nice to get the reminder/motivation/inspiration periodically in the mail!

              oh and it's atkins on which you eat lots of meat. gross. south beach is actually pretty healthy. good luck.

            2. re: The Dairy Queen

              It's funny that you ask this, my weight watchers ultimate flex and core cookbook is open right now as i contemplate making corn chowder over the weeknd. I actually highly recommend this book. I haven't been doing ww for almost a year, but i still like to cook from this book and have cooked plenty of stuff for other people from it as well. (as a word of encouragement if you 're doing ww, I lost 20 pounds last year and have kept it off for a year!) some stuff I've modified in the recipe: I dont' use sweeteners, I share your attitude towards sugar, and I use dairy with some fat now that I've reached goal.

              1. re: polyhymnia

                Congrats on achieving your goal. I'll have to look for that cookbook!

                Here's another "core" recipe--for meatloaf:

                OATMEAL MEATLOAF

                1 lb lean hamburger
                1 egg
                1/4 cup catsup
                1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
                2 tbsp finely chopped onion
                2/3 cup oatmeal
                1/2 cup stock or water
                Salt and pepper
                Poultry seasoning

                Combine egg, catsup, Worcestershire sauce, onion, S&P, and poultry seasoning. Add stock or water. Mix in hamburger and oatmeal. Bake in a well-greased loaf pan 1 hour at 350 degrees.

                (this also reminds me that next time I try those turkey meatballs, I might add some oatmeal...)

                ~TDQ

                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                  I made turkey meatballs along the lines of the ones above the other night, and they were great! Much more flavorful than I find ground turkey to usually be: I added tomato paste, chopped onion and garlic, and chopped arugula (spinach would also be good here, I had arugula on hand), salt and pepper, and (listening to one of the other comments in this thread) a handful of pine nuts, but those could easily be eliminated to make it all core. I made the meatballs small, and baked them in the oven until a little browned, and then stirred them into a quick tomato sauce. I scooped it all over browned polenta rounds (thanks for the tips!) and it was a really satisfying dinner, I might make up a big batch of the meatballs this weekend to keep in the freezer for quick meals.

                  1. re: JasmineG

                    Oohh...sounds great. I'll have to try your modifications. I ended up not making meatloaf last night (the ground beef we had was not lean enough, so we made chili instead so we could drain off the fat first), but I remembered to mention that I was going to put some shredded carrots in my meatloaf. I wonder if that would go well in the turkey meatballs, too...

                    ~TDQ

                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                      I bet they would, but I think that you might need to cook the carrots lightly first, because the meatballs didn't cook for very long (I made them little, so they cooked for only about 10 minutes in the oven and then a few more in the sauce), so I would think that the carrots wouldn't cook enough to lose their crunch. I think cooking them in simmering water for a few minutes first before adding them to the mixture might work.

      2. I've always liked Mollie Katzen. You might find "Vegetable Heaven" and "Sunlight Cafe" (fantastic healthy breakfast & beyond recipes).
        Also, "A New Way to Cook" by Sally Schneider is excellent.

        2 Replies
        1. re: poptart

          I love love love Mollie Katzen's books!

          1. re: poptart

            Moosewood Low Fat cookbook is the best ww cookbook I have....even better than the ww cookbooks. They give you the calories fat AND fibre so figuring out the points is a breeze. I love all of Mollies books but now use the LF one the most. The recepies make so much sense and don't use any chemy products as a lot of the ww books do.

          2. it's tough being a food-lover and dieter at the same time, but somehow i've managed to lose about 20 lbs without feeling like i'm missing out on too much...one of the things that has been a god-send are house brand tofu shirataki noodles...i usually use the fettucine style and do a stir fry w/ chicken, broccoli, onions, garlic, soy sauce and sugar. the noodles are ridiculously low in calories - 40 calories per bag, comprised mostly of protein and fiber. also really like trader joe's olive oil spray...i'm also not a big fan of processed foods, but i have liked the recipes i've found on hungrygirl.com which are filled w/ processed foods, but they taste great and really help you feel like you're eating normal food...also, i believe she does the points exchange on every recipe.

            anyway, good luck on your weight loss, it's a difficult but rewarding journey. :o)

            2 Replies
            1. re: soypower

              Great suggestions, soypower, jazzy, poptart and AMFM--I will explore all of those recommendations.

              ~TDQ

              1. re: soypower

                This is so funny, I was just logging onto the Chowhound boards to ask about the House Tofu Shirataki noodles! What is the texture/taste like?

              2. OMG, this was just what I needed! I now work from home and get a lot less exercise. However, I still love to eat. After losing 25 pounds on Weight Watchers almost a decade ago, I have gained the weight back finally and am now about to launch myself on a diet. The new CORE plan sounds like what I"m already trying to do.

                Salads are my key now. Today it was baby spinach and romaine with a little parm and asiago, a sprinkling of dried cranberries, pumpkin seeds and whole-grain croutons, topped with a really great low-fat balsamic vinaigrette. The dried cranberries are awesome - they really add a nice little kick to things.

                And apples. I'm eating apples. Drinking unsweetened iced tea with lots of lemon. Those cold-brew tea bags work great.

                I will definitely check out the suggested cookbooks.

                8 Replies
                1. re: Heatherb

                  Oh yay! someone else doing core.

                  Salads are a great choice. I like watermelon and arugula together with a little bit of of oil and vinegar.

                  Great time of year for apples--if you don't have an apple wedger, they're about $7 and can really help make an apple feel like a "snack" very quickly, say if you want to dip it in some lemon yogurt or something.

                  As far as cookbooks and other resources, based on the recommendations in this thread and elsewhere and consulting my own library, here's what I've got so far:

                  ~Heidi Swanson's Super Natural Cooking (should arrive from Amazon day after tomorrow)--I'm hoping this will be heavy on "whole grains recipes" Here's her website http://www.101cookbooks.com/

                  ~Cooking Thin with Chef Kathleen--not so many "core" recipes, but good recipes for days you feel like you need a change of pace and don't mind using some of your points.

                  ~Cooking Light Annual Recipes 2002 (it was on sale at the half price book store) What I liked about it is that has these "cooking clinic" for how to make "light" recipes in various cuisines, Chinese, French, Italian, Mexican etc. that appealed to me. It also has this recipe for green tea chicken I really want to try. They seem to have opened up their recipe archive for everyone--not just subscribers, as in the past. http://www.cookinglight.com/cooking/ Not all of their recipes are "core," but they are otherwise pretty "light" and it's pretty easy to figure out how to make most of them core.

                  ~Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone--by Deborah Madison

                  ~The Flexitarian table by Peter Berley--his "summer" recipes look phenomenal

                  ~Great Cooking every day--Weight Watchers+the CIA. This is an older book--more "points" focused, but real recipes, if you know what I mean. By that I mean they just seem like healthy recipes, not "diet" recipes, and they try to encourage/teach you some real cooking techniques.

                  ~Mediterranean Light by Martha Rose Shulman--another old, old one from my collection that I love that I've forgotten about.

                  ~The New Mayo Clinic Cookbook-another one I already had that I'd forgotten about.

                  ~The Mayo Clinic Williams Sonoma cookbook--another older one with real recipes.

                  ~Self Dishes--a special supplement Self puts out every June with only recipes. I bought this last summer and never used it. Going to try again. I assume most of the recipes are on Epicurious.

                  ~Cooking Light Slow Cooker recipes--it's still winter here in MN, so I crave those warm, crock pot type meals. Another cookbook in my collection I've never used.

                  ~And a number of very "vegetable" focused ones I bought when I was trying to cope with my CSA this past summer, including "Greens Glorious Greens," "Vegetable Love", "Farmer John's Cookbook--the real dirt on Vegetables" and "Serving up the harvest." I also have the SF Ferry Plaza cookbook, but, alas, most of those yummy recipes aren't that diet friendly.

                  I'll try to update this thread with my impressions of these cookbooks as I use them more.

                  Here are a couple of products I've found invaluable on core: Fage 0% yogurt; ready made polenta (you know, those little shrink-wrapped "logs"); Uncle Ben's Ready Whole Grain Rice (sounds gross, but it's only 90 seconds in the microwave for those days you're desperate); frozen peeled and deveined shrimp; hard boiled eggs; those "healthy valley" soup cups--black bean & split pea; 100% buckwheat soba noodles. Clementines are fantastic this time of year. Light popcorn (yeah, I know, but, again, some days you're desperate for a snack). Another way to satisfy the crunchy/salty craving: Takaokaya's "Teriyaki Nori Seasoned Seaweed"--I buy it in snack packs at my Asian grocery or a "jar" of 80 on Amazon. Another couple of things for your freezer--veggies for stir fry, edamame, and blueberries.

                  ~TDQ

                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                    Wow! Thanks, that's a great list of cookbooks, esp. the Cooking Light Slow Cooker one. I am going to start looking for that one right away.
                    I've already got the Healthy Valley soups covered:-) And popcorn, oh yeah. I pop it in a brown paper bag in the microwave and spray it down with some olive oil-based faux butter, which is ok. I will look for the polenta and the buckwheat soba noodles - totally hadn't thought of those. If you're into yogurt, maybe check out Lifeways Kefir yogurt drink if you have it in your area. 174 calories a cup, but it has 3 grams of fiber - very filling. Comes in raspberry, peach and strawberry. Maybe I could dip the apples in that...

                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                      Thanks for some great ideas...I also depend on the Fage yogurt and the nori seaweed...the seaweed seems to be really satisfying to me, and cut my cravings (which are usually for salty things, rather than sweets). The soba noodles are an excellent suggestion.
                      Your impressions on your cookbooks will be appreciated!!
                      2 cookbooks I got recently to help with keeping my weight down/lifestyle change:
                      1. A Spoonful of Ginger by Simonds
                      2. Healthy Slow cooker by Finlayson

                      So far I have made a Harira soup (Morrocan lentil and chickpea) from the Healthy Slow Cooker, which was fantastic.

                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                        What do you do with the polenta, TDQ?

                        1. re: JasmineG

                          It's a quick starch, especially when you've already used your whole wheat pasta/brown rice/potato allotment for the day.

                          My favorite way to use it is to slice it about 1/2 inch thick and fry it in the cast iron skillet or griddle (no oil, just with non-stick spray). You can heat it in the microwave, but I prefer the little crust it gets on the griddle. For breakfast, I would serve the fried slices with or under eggs.

                          You could serve it with beans instead of rice.

                          I might put pasta sauce over the sauteed slices instead of over pasta for lunch or dinner. I've read in cooking light that you can layer thin layers of polenta in a lasagne instead of noodles--I plan to try that one of these days.

                          According to the package you can make soft polenta by heating it in the microwave and adding a small amount of milk or stock and blend until it has a creamy, mashed-potato like texture. I've never tried it that way.

                          If you google on "polenta rounds" you'll get a zillion hits for many more-creative-than-mine ideas.

                          ~TDQ

                          1. re: The Dairy Queen

                            Oh, and I also saw this recipe on Heidi Swanson's site for baked polenta fries. Another one I mean to try soon... She has you make your "slab of polenta" from scratch (and I'm sure it's better from scratch), but I'll bet you could make a decent go of it with the premade polenta if you were crunched for time. http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/...

                            It's incredibly versatile, you can bake it, grill it, fry it... You can go Italian, Mexican or just vegetarian with it... You can serve it with anything that plays well with corn. Some people cut it with cookie cutters to make it pretty (you're pretty limited if you use the premade stuff...]. Still, it might be fun if you've got the right size cookie cutters.

                            Other ideas from Heidi's blog (I haven't gotten around to trying these):
                            ~Cut into cubes and pan-fry them in a little bit of oil until you've got a crunchy crouton - good for salads and soups.

                            ~Cut into rounds, layer in a casserole with pasta sauce and cheese, bake. [Not so core, so use cheese sparingly. Add some vegetables while you're at it

                            ]

                            ~Cut into diamonds, bake or grill, and use as a crostini base.

                            ~polenta crackers. Polenta with fresh herbs, spread thin on a cookie sheet, and baked until crispy. [I forgot to mention--the premade polenta tubes you can buy at the grocery some in "flavors", plain, with herbs, with mushrooms, etc.]

                            ~ as a crust for pizza

                            ~fry or saute to get a bit of color, serve hot with syrup [watch that syrup]

                            ~as an appetizer -slice, fry or saute to brown the edges and served with a mushroom sauce over top.

                            ~slice, layer with a thin slice of spicy cheese [watch that cheese] in between and on top with half a grape tomato on top, bake again to melt the cheese and wilt the tomato

                            ~cut into cubes, fry, and serve in a greens, beets, and egg hash

                            ~slice, fry in a bit of olive oil until crispy. put slices on baking sheet, drizzle with lemon juice, and layer goat cheese [watch that cheese!], bell peppers and sun-dried tomatoes. Bake until the cheese is melted

                            You get the idea... :).

                            ~TDQ

                            1. re: The Dairy Queen

                              These are all great ideas, thanks! I love polenta, but on weeknights sometimes it's hard to make a pot of it, and I once bought one of those polenta tubes and never really knew what to do with it.

                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                I like to pan fry it using a bit of cooking spray, and dump a heated can of TJ's cuban black beans over it. It's a meal in 5 minutes.

                                also like to eat it where I would normally eat a corn tortilla...topped with taco style chicken, some guac and a few shreds of cheese.

                      2. Veganomicon! It's incredible, and has lots of tips on cutting out the extra fat in recipes too.

                        1. My best friend and roommate was doing WW for a while, and I remember eating a lot of those turkey meatballs from the Core cookbook. It was incredibly tasty, and I can't say that I've ever tired of them.

                          If you can swing it, pine nuts are supposed to both suppress appetite and provide healthy fats. Happy eating!

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: link_930

                            Thanks for the tip about the pine nuts. Hmmmm...as far as I know, WW doesn't offer any cookbooks that are exclusively core, so I'm not sure which cookbook you're referring to. (In fact my primary complaint about WW cookbooks is that about 65% of the recipes in any cookbook are "points", not core.)

                            Does this sound like it could be the recipe for the turkey meatballs?

                            12 oz ground turkey breast
                            2 tsp garlic herb seasoning or Italian seasoning
                            14 oz canned diced tomatoes, (with green pepper, celery and onion or, add your own)
                            6 oz tomato paste
                            1/2 cup chicken broth
                            1 tsp dried oregano
                            12 oz uncooked whole-wheat spaghetti
                            1/4 cup basil, fresh, chopped

                            Mix ground turkey and Italian (or garlic herb) seasoning in a bowl. Shape into 16 meatballs (about 2 TBSP each).

                            Coat a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray and set over medium-high heat. Saute meatballs, turning frequently until browned on all sides, approx 5 minutes. Add diced tomatoes, tomato paste, chicken broth and oregano; mix well. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until meatballs are cooked through and sauce reduces slightly, approx 10 minutes.

                            Serve over whole wheat spaghetti.

                            Sounds good!

                            ***
                            Crockpot porkchops & sauerkraut

                            Here's a recipe that's a favorite in our household on a cold winter day when you're looking for something warm and hearty--and something that requires minimal effort to slap together in the morning before work. Plus, eating sauerkraut on New Years Day brings good luck (and it's a cruciferous vegetable, which we need to help us fight our winter colds). We mess with the proportions a lot, so you might have to adjust to taste. This recipe serves 2:

                            2 pork chops
                            2 apples, wedged (or unsweetened applesauce--doesn't matter, the apples distintigrate anyway)
                            2 sweet potatoes, cut into chunks
                            1 big can (or two of the normal 15 oz cans) of sauerkraut, rinsed & drained

                            If you want to brown the chops first: 1 tsp of canola oil, S&P, then brown the chops in a skillet (about 6 mins) Sometimes when I'm throwing this together in the morning before heading to work, I don't bother to brown it. It comes out fine, too, just not as complex and rich and, of course, not brown.

                            Spray your crock with Pam (easier clean-up)
                            Lay the sweet potatoes in first
                            Next layer, the pork chops
                            Next layer, the apples
                            Cover the works in sauerkraut

                            Cook in your crockpot 4-5 hours on high, 8-10 hours on low.

                            I've seen variations on the recipe (but never tried them) that call for onions, beer, caraway seeds...go wild. You can also do a boneless loin roast (about 1 1/2 lb) this way.

                            ~TDQ

                            1. re: The Dairy Queen

                              The one I was referring to is the Weight Watchers Ultimate Flex & Core Cookbook: 200 Brand New Recipes for Every Meal, ed. Eileen Runyan, 2006. I don't have it around, but the meatball recipe you have there sounds spot on.

                              1. re: link_930

                                Awesome, thank you!

                                ~TDQ

                                1. re: link_930

                                  We tried this turkey meatball recipe tonight--it was surprisingly easy and quite good. We tossed a couple of handfuls of baby spinach leaves in with the tomatoes. Next time, I might saute some onions and maybe some garlic to mix in with the ground turkey, but, we'll definitely do this again.

                                  Thanks!

                                  ~TDQ

                                2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                  Thanks so much for that pork chop & saurkraut recipe....sounds perfect for this time of year. I will definitely be trying it!

                              2. This is a great topic. WW is where I am going this week. I do wonder why you chose the Core plan, instead of the points plan. Do you expect to lose faster with the Core plan?

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: sueatmo

                                  Hi there, in order to keep this thread focused on cookbooks and recipes, I've answered your question here. http://www.chowhound.com/topics/475006 Good luck with your weight loss efforts. Let us know how it goes for you!

                                  ~TDQ

                                2. my aunt made a delicious tuna salad the other day that i recreated to fit my diet...it was basically a can of tuna (packed in water, drained), chopped spinach, chopped carrots, minced onions, non-fat yogurt (strained), lemon juice, vinegar, garlic, worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper...

                                  a great dip for celery, carrots, or even rice cakes! :o)

                                  1. Sunset Magazine often has recipes that fit with the core plan. I used the core plan last year to lose 25 lbs- still 10 more to go but I stopped going to WW meetings in August as they didn't fit my budget.
                                    There are many ways to use regular recipes as an inspiration and adjust accordingly....

                                    1. We've been missing Skinner's (a local dive bar) fried chicken and jojos. We also miss the Longfellow Grill's sweet potato fries with chipotle peanut pesto aioli. I haven't found a way to mimic the chipotle peanut pesto aioli using fat free mayo or sour cream, but would be open to ideas if anyone is a master recipe hack. I've been thinking about trying to do something with peanut powder+chipotle+FF sour cream, though I know nothing about peanut powder, that is, whether it tastes like peanuts and is lower in fat...

                                      In the meantime, here are a couple of recipes I tried last week that are core except for the butter in the chicken, for which you'll need to use some of your discretionary or exercise points:

                                      CORN FLAKE (mock fried) CHICKEN (heavily adapted from a recipe I found on cooks.com)

                                      2 eggs (we always use the Omega 3 kind, just to boost the health factor in even the minutist way)
                                      1/4 cup milk (we used nonfat milk)
                                      2 1/2 cups unsweetened corn flakes, crushed
                                      2 tsp salt
                                      1 tsp pepper (we used more--probably double)
                                      (we added a couple of shakes of Tabasco, as well as turmeric, which I'm putting in everything lately, but also because I thought it would help the chicken keep a "golden" fried-looking color)
                                      1 chicken (we used about a pound), cut up (we took the skin off)
                                      5 TBSP butter, melted (we used 3 TBSP butter+2 TBSP Canola--and next time, would cut the fat in half)

                                      ~Preheat oven to 350
                                      ~Spray non-stick spray on a 9X13'' in pan
                                      ~Beat eggs.
                                      ~Add S&P, milk, (Tabasco, turmeric if you wish)
                                      ~Dip chicken in egg mixture, then dredge in the cornflakes
                                      ~place in pan
                                      ~drizzle the butter over the chicken
                                      ~bake 1 hr at 350

                                      We had to cover with foil after about a half hour because it looked like the crust was going to burn. The crust only got crunch on the top, alas, and there is no huge advantage to spooning onto the chicken the "extra" crushed cornflakes as a "thick" layer of cornflakes didn't seem to get crispy. Still, it did satisfy my fried chicken craving. Your mileage may vary.

                                      SWEET POTATO JOJOs (baked)

                                      ~spray cookie sheet with nonstick spray
                                      ~cut the sweet potatoes (allow approx 1 per person) into wedges
                                      ~toss with just a little olive oil
                                      ~sprinkle with Mrs. Dash "Southwest Chipotle" (this can be hard to find at the supermarket--the ingredients include sweet chili pepper, chipotle chili pepper, cayenne, oregano, thyme, cumin, parsley, savory, marjoram, bay, basil, rosemary, mustard, coriander, garlic, onion, sugar, orange peel, lime juice solids, lemon juice solids, carrot...) This is the closest we get to mimicking Longfellow grill's chipotle peanut pesto aioli in a healthy way...
                                      ~place in a single layer on the cookie sheet
                                      ~bake at 350 for 25-35 minutes until they start to brown (this is so dependent on your oven and how thick you slice the jojos, so, just keep an eye on them. They won't get crispy, but they should brown a little. They can go quickly from brown to overdone.
                                      ~Serve, if you want, with fat free sour cream (not necessary, but Skinner's serves their jojos with sour cream, so, I have to do it for the sake of the game.)

                                      Alas, there's no way to make Skinner's fabulous Texas Toast core...

                                      ~TDQ

                                      4 Replies
                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                        i just saw an almond crusted chicken finger dish on eating well's website that got great reviews and looked good - could be something different to try in this vein.

                                        1. re: AMFM

                                          Interesting. My immediate thought was, "almonds aren't core" (and neither is the whole wheat flour the eating well recipe calls for) but then again, neither is the butter in the recipe I used. My guess is the health value of the almonds + whole wheat flour is greater than the health value of the butter I used. And the points value of the "non core" foods of my recipe (3 tbsp of butter+2 tbsp of canola) is 15 (7 if I cut it in half next time like I plan to) vs. the "non core" foods of the eating well recipe (1/2 cup of slice almonds+1/4 cup ww flour+1.5 tsp olive oil) is 10.5. Worth a try, eh?

                                          http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes/chi...

                                          Thanks for the tip.

                                          (Note: though olive oil and canola oil are "core", you're only allowed 2 tsp of oil per day--anything over that you have to count, which is why I counted the oil in both of these recipes. I use my oil allotment for the sweet potato jojos).

                                          ~TDQ

                                          1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                            still seems overall fairly "healthy"! i'm going to try it eventually and will let you know. thought my kids might like it. didn't realize those things wouldn't be core.

                                            1. re: AMFM

                                              Oh, I'm glad you suggested it. There isn't so much of the almond & whole wheat flour in there that I can't use my discretionary points for them. And, honestly, those are two ingredients with a high nutritional value and I can't see how you can go wrong with such a small quantity. Do let me know. I'll report back when I get a chance to try it.

                                              ~TDQ

                                      2. I follow Core and highly recommend a website I discovered on the WW message boards, started by a WW member also following Core.

                                        Here is the link:

                                        http://www.freewebs.com/hwc1973/

                                        My favorites have been the Indian Spiced Braised Chicken and Sushi Salad.

                                        Also, my wife and I make a lot of Ina Garten's recipes from watching the Barefoot Conessa, esp. those that don't involve butter. Just cut back on the oil and make common sense substitutions. My Core faves are Easy Lobster Paella, Guacamole Salad, Broccolini with Balsamic Vinaigrette, and we love her recommendations for cooking salmon fillet and roasting asparagus.

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: brian874

                                          Fantastic! Thank you. Great recommendations.

                                          ~TDQ

                                          1. re: brian874

                                            Thanks for the website....have just finished making the Chocolate Orange Mousse from the recipe collection there! Never used tofu before so I'm anxious to see just how this turns out!!

                                          2. Hi. I've done Atkins, South Beach, and I am now on WW Core Plan. I've lost 20 lbs since the beginning of October and I'm loving the freedom of the Core Plan and the fact that I'm focussing on eating healthy. I'd recommend Dana Carpender's Every Calorie Counts cookbook. I have four of her cookbooks and the others are Atkins-friendly, but not so low fat. Every Calorie Counts has many healthy Core-friendly recipes. You can find it on amazon.com.

                                            1. A good weekend breakfast idea we just tried is "huevos motulenos" or eggs, motul style. There are many recipes out there, but they all seem to be fried tortillas, layered with beans, eggs (poached or fried), salsa, queso fresco (Sheela used queso panela made with part-skim milk), ham & peas, and served with fried bananas (if you don't have plaintains) on the side.

                                              The recipe we tried was from Sheela's kitchen (even though she omitted the peas and ham to make it vegetarian) because it's the one we found first, but, also, she battered and fried the tortillas (we used homemade corn tortillas instead of flour) like savory French toast, which was kinda fun. It's core except for a bit of cheese and a bit of sugar--we cut way back on both. We made our own corn tortillas from a recipe out of Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone--I don't know if they're core or not, but I'm counting them as such--there's no oil--just masa and water.
                                              http://delectable-victuals.blogspot.c...

                                              Apparently, Rick Bayless has a recipe floating out there that requires some prep a day in advance
                                              http://www.worldonaplate.org/world_on...

                                              And this one from the San Francisco Chronicle looks good. All require a few adjustments to be core, but they are easy to adapt if you don't want to dip into your points.

                                              http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article...

                                              ~TDQ

                                              1. I've been successfully following the Core plan, and I definitely second the Cooking Light recs. As mentioned, it's true that many of them actually aren't very calorie concious, but they sometimes can give you good ideas about how to lighten "recipe categories" in general (ie what's their method for fish tacos, and how can I apply those ideas to "real" fish taco recipes from other sources). As long as you choose wisely, you can find some real keepers in their archives.

                                                In terms of cookbooks, I've discovered that pretty much all real cookbooks have plenty of recipes that fit into the Core plan. You may have to sub EVOO for butter, or reduce the amount of EVOO, but oftentimes the original uses too much oil flavor- and greasiness-wise to begin with, at least in my opinion. (I've found that Italian cookbooks tend to be great for these purposes. When I go home in a few days, I'll also check out my shelves for specific ideas.) In fact, that's the great thing about Core--as long as you avoid processed foods, you can eat pretty much anything you want!

                                                1. Not doing the core, but the flex plan.
                                                  Last night I made pasta with shrimp red, green bell peppers, red onion, shallot, fresh garlic, mushrooms. After all the veggies were cooked, and the shrimp (take them out of the pan) add grape tomatoes, and about half cup diced canned with the juice.While doing this bring a pot of salted water to a boil. I found these small packages of vermecelli, perfect for us for .39 from the Mexican section (less cal and fat) 7.5 oz/ which will make 4 servings)
                                                  I sautee the fresh pound of med shrimp with garlic and tad bit of oil, I leave the shell on tail for flavor. Remove and set off to the side with the veggies.
                                                  Into the pan, I added the diced tomatoes,and the grape tomatoes, I made a sauce with chicken broth and a little vermouth, thickened with a little wondra mixed with 1 % milk.
                                                  So you get a creamy light tomato sauce. Drain the pasta, add to the sauce, and then add the veggies, and shrimp, warm and toss through well.
                                                  Delicious, about 5 or 6 points but if you're on the core, you could eat more.
                                                  I was perfectly full, and my husband too, he did have a bigger portion, but nothing nearly as fattening as we both have been eating until now!
                                                  Chicken broth (fat free with a little vermouth is perfect for a light sauce) no butter at all, and about 1 T of light olive oil (i know...)
                                                  I served the above dish with a heavy sprinkle of fresh basil,and Italian parsley,fresh cracked pepper, sea salt, (my husband added some grated parm) then we topped it all with dried red pepper flakes.

                                                  9 Replies
                                                  1. re: chef chicklet

                                                    chicklet, that recipe sounds terrific. I can bring it very close to core by using whole wheat noodles, and maybe subbing nf evaporated milk for the 1%. The vermouth and the wondra would require a couple of my discretionary points, but it sounds worth it!

                                                    Tomorrow I'm doing one of my crockpot stand-by dishes--we like it at our house for those super busy days, even when we're not on WW. And, it's core.

                                                    Flank steak
                                                    Jar of your favorite salsa
                                                    Can or two of black beans, rinsed & drained
                                                    Bag of frozen corn

                                                    Throw it all together in the crockpot (I find spraying the crockpot with nonstick spray before loading the ingredients helps with clean-up) in the morning and it'll be done by the time you're home from work. Sorry for being lazy with the proportions, but you just kinda do it to preference--whatever seems like enough servings for the number of people you're feeding. It's a pretty forgiving recipe.

                                                    ~TDQ

                                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                      I have everything, but the flank steak, I'll pick it up tomorrow, this sounds really delish, hubby will be soooo happy! He is not a good dieter so i have to make sure its tasty, and filling. Thanks!

                                                      By the way, I added very little milk, 1/4 cup (for 4 servings) and it really can be just as good without the milk. It does need a little thickener for the sauce, water or broth would work.

                                                      We've been eating ww for about 5 days, its actually a fun challenge, and the pay off is very rewarding/ Good Luck!

                                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                        Thanks for the recipe, we tried it and we liked it. Its a little more filling than some of WW recipes. I didn't use a bag of corn, just a cup of white. DH was happy, must keep him happy or he will get bored. He has lost 3lbs in a week, so he is really getting motivated.
                                                        My twist added fresh garlic, onions and cilantro to cook and then more when cilantro when served.

                                                        1. re: chef chicklet

                                                          I'm glad you liked the recipe ('ll bet the garlic, onions and cilantro added a lot!) and that you're having success. Nothing is as motivating as success!

                                                          Another hearty, easy recipe (from WW.com) we like is

                                                          CUBAN-STYLE PORK & SWEET POTATO SLOW COOKER STEW

                                                          ~1 large sweet potato (about 1 lb), diced (the recipe says to peel, too, but we never do)
                                                          ~1 pound lean pork loin, cut into 1-inch pieces
                                                          ~14 1/2 oz canned diced tomatoes with green chiles
                                                          ~1 medium garlic clove, minced
                                                          ~1/4 cup orange juice (if you want to keep this a die-hard core recipe, you can sub out the OJ for an actual orange and maybe add a splash of chicken broth, but, really it's best with the OJ if you can bear the points)
                                                          ~2 medium scallions, chopped (greens only)
                                                          ~1/2 tsp salt
                                                          ~1/4 tsp cumin
                                                          ~1/4 tsp pepper
                                                          ~1 1/2 TBSP lime juice
                                                          ~2 TBSP fresh cilantro, chopped

                                                          ~Cook all ingredients EXCEPT lime juice and cilantro in slow cooker on low for 7 hours.

                                                          ~Stir in lime juice and cilantro; cover slow cooker and cook for 5 more minutes.

                                                          Serves 4.

                                                          ~TDQ

                                                          1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                            that looks yummy! and with the orange/chicken broth sub my mom (diabetic) could do it too. i'm always looking for interesting crock pot recipes. thanks! just got the new cooking light and there are some interesting looking recipes. when i get through, if any look core i'll post.

                                                            1. re: AMFM

                                                              Awesome! Thank you!

                                                              ~TDQ

                                                      2. re: chef chicklet

                                                        what is wondra?

                                                        1. re: jamtart12

                                                          Wondra can be found in the flour aisle. It's made by Gold Medal IIRC and can be found in a blue canister. It's "seasoned" and is used for flour coatings primarily.

                                                          1. re: jazzy77

                                                            Wondra is not seasoned but rather processed to be able to mix smoothly to thicken sauces, gravies, etc. and to be used as a fine flour coating, as jazzy mentioned. It's a malted, enriched flour, but hasn't been salted or peppered or herbed like some of the packaged bread crumbs one can find in similar shape and size canisters at the grocery. My grandma used it to thicken her sausage gravy, so she didn't have to whisk quite so thoroughly and consistently. She was frequently in a hurry since she was a working woman. That was my first intro to it, anyway. It will have WW points for those on core, especially if you use much or eat most of the recipe in which it's used. For those on flex, it's pretty much the same point count as refined wheat flour (bleached or not.) This is by my memory of the plan a couple years ago, so YMMV, of course.

                                                      3. Regarding whole grains, since they can take a while to cook (like an hour for some of them!), I cook up a large batch then freeze it in serving size portions. Pop them in the microwave, and there you go. Ttry kamut if you can find it, or wheat or rye berries if not -- they're really chewy and yummy. Black japonica rice is stunning with seafood. If you have any place that carries South American foods (a Mexican market, perhaps), try Peeled Green Wheat (Trigo Mote Verde; the brand I get, Amazonia, is from Peru). It tastes like it was cooked in chicken broth, even if you just use water, and has a softer texture than the wheat berries. Bob's Red Mill produces a great selection of whole grains. They're good quality and usually have good cooking instructions, which helps a lot.

                                                        Anyhow, having a freezer full of these ready to go makes it easy to choose grains instead of pasta.

                                                        2 Replies
                                                        1. re: Karen_Schaffer

                                                          I tend to be lazy with my whole grain prep, so it's so good to know they're freezable! I've also found that I like mine a bit chewy sometimes, so I don't always have to cook for the full time. :)

                                                          I recently discovered the Kashi plain pilaf packets. They're a nice flavor/texture change from the single-grains I usually make (speaking of which, I def second Bob's Red Mill), and they cook pretty fast, too.

                                                          1. re: Karen_Schaffer

                                                            Yep, that's a great tip. We do that with wild rice because it just seems to take so long to cook. We also use our rice cooker for a lot of grains--quinoa, amaranth, millet, brown rice--it doesn't really take less time, but at least it's passive time where you can be doing lots of other things and not really pay attention to what's going on with it.

                                                            We buy those ready-made polenta logs and Uncle Ben's microwavable packages of brown rice for those days when we suddenly find ourselves without a grain option and we're tired and in a hurry for dinner. 100% buckwheat Soba noodles are pretty fast, too.

                                                            I like Bob Red Mill grains, too. I used their masa this past weekend to make my from scratch corn tortillas.

                                                            I'll have to look for those Kashi plain pilaf packets porceluna mentions below.

                                                            ~TDQ

                                                          2. Another book that is worth looking at is A New Way to Cook. Not a diet book per se, but she definitely focuses on lightening recipes. Without feeling like you're sacrificing.

                                                            2 Replies
                                                            1. re: karykat

                                                              My husband and I are doing Core. Our go to meals include:

                                                              Polenta with fennel fried eggs
                                                              make polenta
                                                              make quick tomato sauce with whatever veg is needing to be stewed up
                                                              warm olive oil in pan, toast fennel seeds in oil, and fry eggs.

                                                              kuba- a Czech barley dish
                                                              rinse dried mushrooms to remove grit
                                                              saute onions
                                                              in same pan: boil barley and dried mushrooms with salt and marjoram (sometimes, im lazy and add a cube of veggie stock).
                                                              once barley is between chewy and tender, drain toss with olive oil (depending how many teaspoons you have left and how many servings you are making)
                                                              bake in 350F oven until crusty on top.
                                                              serve with dill pickles

                                                              as a dessert, yogurt with lemon zest and the smallest bit of honey imaginable is very delicious.

                                                              also, epicurious has a delicious cardamon yogurt panna cotta recipe. there is some suger needed, but it works beautifully with 0% fage.

                                                              1. re: relizabeth

                                                                Thanks for the wonderful ideas!

                                                                ~TDQ

                                                            2. The weight watchers cook books are surprisingly good. try those.
                                                              all cooking light recipe books are good - and you can search all the recipes free on their web site
                                                              canyon ranch cookbook
                                                              and I concur on the South Beach cookbooks as well

                                                              1. I've seen a new cooking magazine in the grocery store called "Cooking Clean" or "Eating Clean" -- something like that. My guess is that most of the recipes would be Core.

                                                                3 Replies
                                                                1. re: gridder

                                                                  I'm on the Core plan, and I've lost 73 pounds. I found fat-free butter in the tub. It's made by I Can't Believe It's Not Butter. One thing I like to do is make a grilled cheese sandwich with D'Italiano light bread, fat free cheese singles and the fat-free butter. Add a can of Campbell's Healthy Request Tomato Soup, and you have a one point meal. Two slices of the D'Italiano Bread is the only points you have to count on the Core Plan.
                                                                  I also make Core plan Lasagna. Using Whole Wheat Noodles, lean beef, fat free cheddar cheese, and a home-made sauce (tomato sauce, tomato paste and seasonings), you can still have your italian fix :-)

                                                                  1. re: maija

                                                                    I have made the grilled cheese sandwiches, add tomato too a thick slice, and it is my favorite. I also have used the fat free cheese, and tomato, with Italian seasonings on WW English muffins for a little pizza treat..and don't forget the fresh basil too.

                                                                    1. re: maija

                                                                      Congrats, maija, on your success. Thanks for the tips!

                                                                      ~TDQ

                                                                  2. Hiya,

                                                                    I have just started the core plan, I have tried the flex plan before and found it works but I got so tired of counting points, and decided this time around I wanted to work on learning a much healthier eating lifestyle with the 5 food groups, than knowing I could blow all my points on a hamburger if I wanted too.. After day 5 I have lost 4 pounds... it is a good start but I know it will not always drop off like this..

                                                                    A few of my saviours this week have been jello with no sugar with some canned fruit in no added sugar, I find if I make some of this up and put it into many small containers and leave them in the fridge they are a quick fix snack, another saviour I have found is making that fruit smoothie in the morning seems to keep me away from needing the sugar kick that I used to in the afternoon, I have been using skim milk, natural yogurt and banana and some strawberries or other fruit.

                                                                    I also bought some low fat ham and sliced it into slices and put this in the freezer, I find having this with a slice of pineapple on top with a salad is very refreshing, and if you like you can slice some of that ham into chunks and have quick and easy access to it for an omlette.

                                                                    Here are 2 of my favourite chicken recipes which are core.

                                                                    Low Fat Chicken.
                                                                    1 kg pieces of skinless and boneless chicken.
                                                                    60 grams of fat free cheese grated.
                                                                    1 egg beaten.
                                                                    200 grams of natural yogurt.
                                                                    season to taste, salt and pepper.
                                                                    1 tablespoon of dry mustard powder.

                                                                    Season chicken, mix mustard, egg, and yogurt and then dunk the chicken in it. Place in a shallow oven proof dish, sprinkle with low fat cheese, cover with foil, bake in hot oven at 400F for 30 minutes. Remove foil and cook for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown..

                                                                    Next recipe..

                                                                    Chicken in Tomato Sauce.

                                                                    chicken pieces ( skinless, enough to feed everyone)
                                                                    Place skinned chicken pieces into oven proof dish.

                                                                    In a bowl mix the following...
                                                                    1 Cup of Ketchup.
                                                                    1 onion chopped finely
                                                                    1 tablespoon of soy sauce
                                                                    1/2 glove fresh garlic crushed.
                                                                    1/2 teaspoon of dry mustard powder.
                                                                    black pepper
                                                                    herbs to taste.

                                                                    Once mixed put mixture over chicken in oven proof dish and bake 1 and 1/2 hours or until tender ( just keep putting your fork in it to check).

                                                                    Cheers D.

                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                    1. re: Aussie_Gal

                                                                      Aussie_Gal--congrats for joining and already seeing progress. It's true that you can't expect to lose as much per week on an ongoing basis as you can in the first week, but, I have to say, for me, nothing is more motivating than success. Thanks for the fabulous recipes!

                                                                      Here's a recipe our leader taught us at weight watchers last week, which I'm posting because it belatedly occurred to me that it might be helpful to someone who mentioned in another thread that he was worried about how he was going to have time to prepare himself a healthy breakfast "on the fly" once school started--so, I'm going to post it here, then refer him to this post. I have mixed feelings because the recipe calls for a ziplock freezer bag, which I find a tiny bit wasteful (not to mention vague nagging concerns about possible health concerns surrounding boiling zippies), but then again, if using a ziplock bag is what keeps you on track, go for it and save the earth that day by taking the bus to work/school instead. :).

                                                                      OMELET IN A BAG
                                                                      ~2 jumbo eggs (or egg-beaters for you "flex" folks)
                                                                      ~whatever omelet fixin's you want--fat free cheese, diced Canadian bacon, veggies, salsa etc.
                                                                      ~Break into a quart-size heavy duty (e.g. freezer) ziplock bag (use the real thing, don't use cheap baggies--they don't hold up--someone said she only had cheap sandwich bags and triple bagged it and it worked fine...) You can put the zippie in a cup or something to hold it upright to make it easier to drop the eggs in.
                                                                      ~press the air out (one fanatical poster on allrecipe suggests sucking the air out with a straw!)
                                                                      ~shake or squeeze the baggie to mix up the ingredients
                                                                      ~Place in a pan of boiling water and boil for 13 minutes.
                                                                      ~Remove from the boiling water and roll the omelet out onto plate (or, onto a tortilla, if you want your omelet "to go"--just remember to count the points for the tortilla as it's not core).

                                                                      I would also add some cooked wild rice to mine so there's some grain in there, too.

                                                                      Shockingly more omelet-like than scrambled eggs-like. (Refer to the photos on allrecipes to get a sense...)

                                                                      Some people say it's good wrapped in a tortilla, especially "to go" but don't forget to count the extra points for the (non-core) tortilla. Minimal clean-up...

                                                                      If you google on Omelet in a bag you get all kinds of hits, like this one on allrecipes.com http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Omelet-i...

                                                                      I've tried this only once. We boiled our bags for 8 (because they suggested 8-10 minutes at WW) and they were too runny for my tastes, so we had to 'wave them. The allrecipes recipe says to boil for 13 minutes for a 2-egg omelet (jumbo eggs, I guess) and 15 minutes for a 3-egg omelet. If you use large rather than jumbo eggs, someone says to reduce the cooking time by 2 minutes. So, you probably have to experiment.

                                                                      You can make up the bags the night before (some were suggesting this if, say, you had a bunch of kids over for a sleepover it would be a fun thing to do--put out a spread of chopped veggies and other ingredients and let each of the kids choose her own omelet ingredients and when finished, seal it up & write her name on the outside of the bag with a permanent marker or "notch" the bags at the top, remembering to take note of who has how many notches) and, apparently, boil up to 8 bags at a time in a large pot. the next morning People say it's good camping trick, too.

                                                                      If you're worried about the baggies touching the sides of the pan--and you DO have to be careful--, someone on allrecipes suggest dropping a plastic colander into the pot first (I don't know why the colander itself doesn't melt, but, well, I'm just passing the tip along and letting you decide).

                                                                      ~TDQ

                                                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                        You could also put the mixture in a microwave safe bowl and nuke it. I use to do this and it wouldn't take as long. Also, I like to add more seasonings/flavor which are also 'free' such as dill or curry powder, depending on my mood.

                                                                    2. Bulgur Crust:

                                                                      # 1/2 cup bulgur wheat
                                                                      # 1 cup water
                                                                      # pinch of salt

                                                                      Bring water to a boil; add bulgur and salt. Return to a boil, lower heat, and cook 15 minutes. Lightly oil pie tin and press hot bulgur evenly in pie tin. Bake at 350°F for 12 minutes or until somewhat dry and "crust-like."

                                                                      Works really well for quiches.

                                                                      6 Replies
                                                                      1. re: jnstarla

                                                                        A belated thank you for this recipe--would this crust work for pizza?

                                                                        ~TDQ

                                                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                          I'm not sure - I always used polenta made with water as a pizza crust when I was doing WW. Can't hurt to try though, right?

                                                                          Let us know how it turns out if you do!

                                                                          1. re: jnstarla

                                                                            Hmmm...maybe I should try that. Do you cook the "polenta" crust first, before adding your pizza toppings?

                                                                            ~TDQ

                                                                            1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                              This is how I did it:

                                                                              -Make soft polenta and spread thinly in whatever pan.
                                                                              -Bake for a bit (350 for 10 minutes, maybe?) to give the outside an "edge" so it wasn't so much like a sponge.
                                                                              -Top and bake like you would a regular pizza.

                                                                              1. re: jnstarla

                                                                                Excellent, I'm going to try that. We miss pizza at our house. What did you use for cheese?

                                                                                ~TDQ

                                                                                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                  I just used real mozz, sparingly. I don't really like fat free cheese though.

                                                                                  Sorry, just saw this reply today!

                                                                      2. I know I'm a little late with my post, but still wanted to chime in because a) I did weight watchers (flex) and lost 15+ pounds and have been maintaining ever since b) I am both a foodie and a healthy cook. Initially I felt like being healthier was going to make it hard to be a foodie, but I've actually found the opposite. Since I now eat less I am more willing to splurge on ingredients and I spend more time really savoring flavors.

                                                                        My short list:

                                                                        Canyon Ranch Cooks: More Than 200 Delicious, Innovative Recipes from America's Leading Health Resort

                                                                        Canyon Ranch Cooks: More Than 200 Delicious, Innovative Recipes from America's Leading Health Resort -- I love this book. The recipes have huge flavor, aren't skimpy on portion size and still surprisingly healthy.

                                                                        Conscious Cuisine

                                                                        The Professional Chef's Techniques of Healthy Cooking, Second Edition (Hardcover)

                                                                        The Food You Crave: Luscious Recipes for a Healthy Life

                                                                        What I love about these books is that they are all about good food that happens to be healthy vs. a strict focus on nutrition with less attention to taste. I also do have a subscription to Cooking Light and do get inspiration from there as well.

                                                                        1. I don't belong to WW, but I follow the principles of the Core Plan. One cookbook that I highly recommend is Lorna Sass' book called Whole Grains, Every Day Every Way. She introduces all of the grains on that core list that may be unfamiliar to you. Let's you know how to cook a basic recipe and then has tons of wonderful recipes throughout the book. I would be lost with this book. Good luck and let us know how you do!

                                                                          1. I read on here that after using your 2 tsp of olive oil on core, you need to count anymore that you use for the day. I don't think you have to count extra olive oil. I just got a weight watchers recipe book, and a recipe calls for 3 tsp of olive oil, list this recipe as a core recipe and didn't specify that we need to count for the extra tsp.

                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                            1. re: maija

                                                                              Does the recipe serve one?

                                                                              1. re: amyzan

                                                                                I didn't even take that into consideration. TY it serves 4

                                                                            2. For St. Paul's winter carnival festival this year, they had a hotdish recipe competition. The winner's recipe was featured in the "hotdish" tent during the two weeks of of the festival. I've modified the recipe to be core (except for the TBSP of flour)--it's quite nice.

                                                                              Smokey Chipotle Chicken and Quinoa Hotdish (serves 2-4)

                                                                              1⁄2 cup dry quinoa
                                                                              1 cup chicken broth
                                                                              1 TBSP EVOO
                                                                              1⁄2 cup red onion, diced
                                                                              2 cloves garlic, minced
                                                                              1 TBSP flour
                                                                              1⁄2 cup smokey chipotle salsa
                                                                              1 can (14 1⁄2 oz) diced tomatoes with green chilies
                                                                              1⁄2 tsp cumin
                                                                              1 TBSP lime juice
                                                                              1⁄2 baked chicken, shredded
                                                                              1⁄2 cup shredded fat free cheddar cheese
                                                                              salt to taste
                                                                              Optional (for garnish):
                                                                              Avocado, diced or sliced and/or
                                                                              Fat free sour cream

                                                                              Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
                                                                              Prepare quinoa according to the package using chicken broth.
                                                                              Heat 1 TBSP of EVOO over medium heat.
                                                                              Add onion and garlic.
                                                                              Sauté until tender ( 3-5 mins).
                                                                              Add flour and whisk until smooth.
                                                                              Add salsa and liquid from tomatoes.
                                                                              Whisk until thickened.
                                                                              Add remaining ingredients.
                                                                              Salt to taste.
                                                                              Scoop into a 1 1⁄2 - 2 quart casserole dish.
                                                                              Cover and bake for 15-20 mins.
                                                                              Remove cover.
                                                                              Bake another 15-20 mins until meat thermometer inserted in center reads 165 degrees. (If you double the recipe, you'll have to bake covered about 20 mins and uncovered about 30 mins.)
                                                                              Remove and let stand for 10 mins. Garnish as desired.

                                                                              [Edit--by the way, I couldn't see that the fat free cheese added anything--I might leave it out next time and see what happens. I was reluctant to include it in the first place...]

                                                                              ~TDQ

                                                                              1. I've been experimenting (a little) with Mark Bittman's cornstarch ice cream (or frozen yogurt) recipe, which uses cornstarch as a thickener and to give it a smooth feel, which means you can use skim milk (and, if you want) skim yogurt--however, neither sugar nor corn and cornstarch is core. The first time I cut the sugar in half, and tried to supplement with agave nectar (which also isn't core, by the way, but it's sweeter than sugar, so you can use less), but it didn't taste that great and it didn't reduce the points as much. Even if you use skim milk, the sugar plus the cornstarch as called for in the Bittman recipe uses up 5 points per serving... so, I broke down and used Splenda as a sweetener. I thought the Splenda would be too noticeable in vanilla ice cream, so, I roasted 3 bananas, sliced, at 400 degrees for 30 minutes with about a tsp of canola oil, mashed them, and poured them into the mixture right before freezing. We really liked it; a very nice, occasional treat. Also, the first time out, we let the mixture cool down too much, which combined with the lack of fat, turned the ice cream well, very icy. Since I thought the bananas would add a little thickness, I cut the cornstarch in the recipe from 3 TBSP to 2 TBSP and added the mixture to the ice cream maker (we use the kind with the frozen canister) warm. With the Splenda and skim milk, the recipe is now only 1 point (for the cornstarch) per serving:

                                                                                http://www.chowhound.com/topics/42792...

                                                                                Recipe: Cornstarch Banana Ice Cream
                                                                                Time: 20 minutes, plus chilling
                                                                                Yield: generous pint (the more bananas, the more generous).
                                                                                Serves: 2-3
                                                                                Points per serving: 1 (if you're following core).

                                                                                2 1/2 cups skim milk
                                                                                1/2 cup Splenda
                                                                                Pinch of salt
                                                                                1 tsp vanilla extract
                                                                                2 TBSP cornstarch (vs. 3 in the Bittman recipe).
                                                                                3 med bananas
                                                                                1 tsp Canola oil

                                                                                1. Slice bananas (about 1/2-1/2 inch thick) and drizzle with tsp canola oil. Roast at 400 degrees (use a little non-stick spray!), stirring occasionally, until mushy and a little bronzed. Once they are roasted, mash them with a fork.

                                                                                2. Put 2 cups milk, the Splenda and salt in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Cook until mixture starts to steam (about 5 minutes).

                                                                                3. In a bowl, blend cornstarch and remaining 1/2 cup milk until there are no lumps. Add cornstarch mixture to saucepan. Cook, stirring, until it begins to thicken and barely reaches a boil, about 5 minutes. Immediately reduce heat to very low and stir until thick'ish (approx 5 minutes). Stir in vanilla extract.

                                                                                4. Strain mixture into a bowl. Stir in mashed bananas. Pour into ice cream machine canister and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

                                                                                BIttman also has variations suggesting swapping 1/2 the milk for yogurt OR adding a cup of sliced, hulled strawberries or blueberries or sliced, chopped peaches or halved cherries before freezing OR swapping 1/2 cup very strong coffee for 1/2 milk that we'll try one of these days. I'd also like to try to make green tea ice cream or Andrea Nyugen's lemongrass ice cream one of these days. I thought it could be fun to stir in some of that PB2 but I don't know how much you'd need and the points might not be worth it--you could just sprinkle it on as a topping, I guess. Finally, I plan to experiment a little with replacing some of the skim milk with nonfat evap milk and seeing if that does anything.

                                                                                ~TDQ

                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                  DQ, I would encourage you to experiment with making frozen yogurt with Greek style or home drained lowfat yogurt. Yogurt will have a much lower water content than ice cream made with skim or even lowfat milk. The points value will differ, as yogurt is denser with calories (and nutrition!) but I've found that it needs much less sugar, if any. I've actually come to prefer unsweetened frozen yogurt, though I realize some may still want added sugar, or fruit. Added fruit will increase the iciness, making the yogurt best eaten the day or day after it's prepared. If you keep it much longer than that, fruit fro yo will require sitting out at room temp before it becomes scoopable again. Unfortunately, I have no taste for nonfat dairy products, but if you were to start with a nonfat yogurt with no gelatin, where the whey can drain off, you might even find an unsweetened core fro yo this way.

                                                                                2. I just started the core program and so far like it. I have a few questions tho...

                                                                                  No juice? What if its fresh squeezed from home? I understand how this could be abused, but I can't see how juicing an orange for my smoothie is any different than cutting up the orange and putting it in it. So can I use fresh squeezed OJ for recipes?

                                                                                  No mayo? If I make it myself its oil, egg, salt, pepper, lemon juice. Whats the problem here?

                                                                                  Same with home made Caesar salad dressing:
                                                                                  * 3 crushed and chopped up garlic cloves
                                                                                  * 2 coddled egg yolks
                                                                                  * 1/3 cup olive oil
                                                                                  * 2 dashes Tabasco sauce
                                                                                  * 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
                                                                                  * 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
                                                                                  * 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
                                                                                  * 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
                                                                                  * salt & pepper

                                                                                  As long as everything is home made is it still core?

                                                                                  15 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: hogx1

                                                                                    These are all good questions and my answer to them is, it depends, The idea behind eating a whole orange instead of orange juice is that an orange, with its pulp etc. fills you up more for the same calories from just the juice from that orange. The same with your mayo--you're not using the whole egg, just the yolks. Again, a whole egg would fill you up faster than just the yolk of the egg...which is where all the fat and calories are. So, in a way, it's the entire egg that's core, not the individual components of the egg...

                                                                                    I have still had success with the program and have occassionally bent the rules in small ways without a problem. It's when I start bending the rules in big ways that I stop seeing success on the scale. If you exercise a lot, your small "cheats" will go entirely unnoticed. So, experiment at your own peril and when you stop seeing success on the scale, you know you've gone too far. I say whatever works for you works. It might take you longer to reach goal if you cheat more, but, seriously, you have to be able to live.

                                                                                    They have this weird rule I don't quite get about how you have to count the points when you "mix" a core thing with a noncore thing. Apparently, you can eat a nonfat yogurt and not count it. After you finish your nf yogurt, you could eat the points for a tsp of peanut butter (not core) and count it. But if you mix the PB into the nonfat yogurt, the entire mixture and everything in it become noncore and you have to look up the points for the nonfat yogurt and count those, too. I don't get it, but I'm guessing these rules are designed to keep you following the spirit of the plan.

                                                                                    There's a cuban style pork with sweet potato recipes that isn't core because it calls for orange juice. We just throw orange slivers in there and call it core. :). http://www.chowhound.com/topics/47339...

                                                                                    ~TDQ

                                                                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                      Thanks for the answer.

                                                                                      I understand the whole idea of more filling to eat the entire orange or egg. If I am going to use orange juice its only going to be used sparingly to cook rice in, or to add liquid to a smoothie.

                                                                                      the mayo and dressing thing is that if i use an egg id eat a whole egg, but i would only use a tablespoon or so of dressing.

                                                                                      I didn't know about the mixing core with non core. So if I have a 1 point wrap with chicken salad +oil vinigar dressing inside I have to count everything or just the one point wrap? If you have to start counting everything 35 points are going to go fast.

                                                                                      About the exercise. Is there points you gain for working out? I go to the gym at least 3 times a week and do mostly heavy weight lifting with about 20-30 minutes medium cardio. Some days ill just do 45 minutes - hour of weight training or an hour of cardio. More than I would consider a "brisk walk".

                                                                                      Thanks again.

                                                                                      1. re: hogx1

                                                                                        No, I think if you are literally making a mixture of something or blending things together, as in a smoothie, do you have to count the points for everything, even the core things. The situation you describe with the chicken wrap sandwich, I would just count the wrap. Pita bread, by the way, is only a point, so, it's a good thing to have on-hand. It freezes well.

                                                                                        Yes, you get points for activity. They should have given you a little slidey thing--I'm not sure which week you get that, though. For me it's about 2 points for 30-45 mins worth of moderately intense activity.

                                                                                        ~TDQ

                                                                                      2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                        I'm a lifetime WW member, maintaining about a 40 pound loss. I go back and forth between flex and core, but even when I'm on flex, I eat mostly core items anyway. Even though I still attend meetings nearly every week, I get most of my support, information, and advice from the Bootcamp Buddies message board. Far and away better than the forums over at WW.com. http://www.healthdiscovery.net/forums... (that link will take you to the core recipes folder, but also cruise through all the other recipe categories. There are indexes of the core recipes in the top of each category folder. I go to meetings for accountability, I go to BCB for advice and support.

                                                                                        I've found that preparation is the key to my success on core. I need convenience foods that I can grab and eat quickly. Some of my favorite recipes include:

                                                                                        Joann's creamy bulgur breakfast
                                                                                        baked oatmeal (a lifesaver--and check out Prevention magazine's article on resliliant starches
                                                                                        ) Homemade whole wheat pasta (just try it and see if you don't feel decadent and satisfied!)
                                                                                        BBQ shredded beef or pork (crock pot--incredibly easy)
                                                                                        Sweet and spicy baked shrimp (a point for honey over the whole recipe)
                                                                                        core cornbread and chili
                                                                                        taco salad (made a 1 point crispy tortilla bowl with a la tortilla factory tortilla in the microwave)
                                                                                        grilled salmon
                                                                                        various smoothies--depends on what I have on hand. (try using PB2 powdered peanut butter from bellplantation.com--1 point for 2 T instead of 5. Makes an incredible chocolate peanut butter smoothie)

                                                                                        I love the core plan, and Weight Watchers in general. It's the only plan that's ever worked for me, probably because it addresses the psychological side of weight loss. Not just eat less, move more--I had that one figured out a long time ago, thank you.

                                                                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                          Those are the rules that made me go back to the points program after three weeks on core, that and the nonfat dairy, which I couldn't adjust to, unfortunately. I felt it was a real shame, because if they weren't so strict, it seemed to me to be a workable plan. But, I was told I couldn't combine core ingredients to make recipes of my own, but that their recipes combining core ingredients were fine. It seemed entirely arbitrary to me, as if they didn't trust the judgement, intelligence, or inventiveness of their members to make this (at the time new) program work. I mean, obviously, if I'd started gaining weight, I would've reassessed my approach. But, my leader was entirely unsupportive, even reprimanding my attempts to share ideas in front of the group. I was trying to help her sell the new program, but no, they were too rigid for that. Okay, I'll stop ranting about WW now. Sorry, I just have issues with their corporate culture...though I did get a lot from the membership, it's not for me any longer.

                                                                                          As to the orange juice issue, my advice would be that's it's okay to fudge that one IF you eat the orange pulp and membrane leftover from juicing along with your smoothie. I know that sounds ridiculous, but that's the kind of weird judgement call the core program demands. Probably if you were to ask your leader, she'd have something to say about it, too. You're probably going to have to decide where to draw the line, and whether you'll reassess if you don't get results. Of course, if you're not willing to ingest the whole orange in one sitting in some form, like TDQ says, you're likely gonna have to subtract the points of the juice from your weekly allotment.

                                                                                          1. re: amyzan

                                                                                            WW has always been ambiguous about some of those core rules, true. I'm lucky to have a leader who has followed core for years, and is incredibly supportive. It makes all the difference. And according to WW, core+core=core, no matter if it's their recipe or yours. Some of the quizzes they've put out have created a *ton* of confusion, but the core+core=core rule has *never* been removed, so I stick to it. It makes sense. And like you said, if I had trouble losing weight, I'd asses what I was doing and make adjustments. This is why I like the BCB boards over the WW boards--a lot less venomous freakout, a lot more reasonable and thoughtful discourse.

                                                                                            1. re: modthyrth

                                                                                              What's BCB an acronym for? It's unfamiliar to me.

                                                                                              1. re: amyzan

                                                                                                BootCamp Buddies

                                                                                            2. re: amyzan

                                                                                              I think Weight Watchers realized their inconsistency about combining Core ingredients; they recently changed their official policy (in January, maybe?) to be Core + Core = Core. I've also heard that for recipes including both Core and NonCore ingredients you only need to count the points for the NonCore items. I do this with my WW pasta and homemade tomato sauce - I only count the points for the Parmesian Reggiano I grate over the top (TOTALLY worth it!).

                                                                                              I don't attend meetings and also get my ideas and support from the Bootcamp Buddies message board mentioned above. I've been on Core for about 3 weeks and have lost almost 10 pounds. It's been the easiest "diet" I've ever done!

                                                                                              1. re: FlyerFan

                                                                                                I'm glad to hear they've gotten more consistent, and like modthyrth said above, yes, who your leader is and what plan she follows can make all the difference. Mine had only ever done the Points program, hence my experience, I think.

                                                                                          2. re: hogx1

                                                                                            hogx1--One more that--I'd point out while all of the ingredients you list in your mayo recipe are core, you're still only allowed 2 tsp of olive oil per day before you have to start counting the points. If it were me, I'd go ahead and make the your mayo recipe, but only allow myself 2 tsp of it a day if I didn't want to count any of it.

                                                                                            amyzan--I don't allow myself to get too hung up on the rules. I'd been following the core plan, successfully, for a couple of months before I heard the mixture/blending rule. It doesn't make sense to me, and it doesn't seem to be causing a problem for me, so I just ignore it. I'm sorry the whole WW thing rankled you--not everything is for everyone. C'est la vie. Also, I will say they've adjusted the core plan quite a bit since they introduced it 4 or so years ago and the leaders are a lot more educated about the plan. Before that, the only plan that existed was a form of the flex plan.

                                                                                            modthyrth--thanks for the tips. That "taco" salad sounds like a fun thing to try. We've just been frying polenta on a cast iron griddle until crispy, then layering our taco salad incredients on top of that. Last week we made a wonderful ground turkey taco salad with griddled polenta as the crust. Surprisingly good.

                                                                                            FlyerFan, the core+noncore=noncore is only for things that you literally blend together, like mixing peanut butter and nonfat yogurt together for a smoothie. On the otherhand, If you just put a slice of (noncore) cheese on top of a (core) lean piece of beef, all you have to count is the points for the noncore cheese.

                                                                                            As I said, I don't get too hung up on this kind of nuance because it just doesn't come up that often for me and hasn't been a factor. Go with what works, I say.

                                                                                            ~TDQ

                                                                                            1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                              Thanks TDQ, I am really confused about the oil. Just correct me if I am wrong here.

                                                                                              I MUST consume 2 tsp of oil a day but not over? What happens if I don't have the oils?

                                                                                              And also what is considered 6 glasses of water? I only ever drink out of the big pint glasses they have at bars which is 1 3/4 cups of water. I drink 6 of these and find I am peeing all the damn time haha.

                                                                                              1. re: hogx1

                                                                                                Yes, you must consume 2 tsp of "healthy" oils (Canola, flaxseed or olive) per day in accordance with the "Good Health Guidelines" whether you're on core or flex. If you're on core, you don't have to count the 2 tsp, just any amount more than that. If you're on flex the 2 tsp comes out of your points budget, sadly.

                                                                                                If you don't have the oils, well, you're probably not eating as healthily as you should because your body actually does need oil to function. you can try to make it up the next day, I suppose. You should try to get them in if you can. I asked once what should I do if it's 8pm and I haven't had my healthy oils and I'm not hungry and my leader said mix 2 tsp into a little nonfat milk and drink it. What I actually do is have a little decadent popcorn popped in canola oil as an evening snack if I haven't used all my fats.

                                                                                                They don't really say how big your 6 servings of noncaffeinated beverages are, but I think about 8 oz seems reasonable.

                                                                                                ~TDQ

                                                                                              2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                Making the tortilla bowl is really very easy. I use the La Tortilla Factory brand, because they're large for 1 point, and they crisp well. Not all brands crisp up as nicely. They're kind of foul by themselves, but they work well in this application and in core enchiladas, where they're more of a vehicle for moving other tasty things.

                                                                                                Take the tortilla and drape it in a microwave-safe bowl. Prick it with a fork, like you would a pie crust. Spray with a light coat of olive oil, and sprinkle with salt. Microwave on high for 2 minutes.

                                                                                                I've been obsessed with pan-friend plantains lately. They're delicious, and it's awfully fun to smash them with the mallet. Aggression therapy and a good snack, what could be better?

                                                                                                1. re: modthyrth

                                                                                                  I love plantains and just found a terrific source for them (an Asian grocer near me)--I posted this recipe for huevos motulenos above http://www.chowhound.com/topics/47339... but would love others if you know of any.

                                                                                                  ~TDQ

                                                                                            2. LUCK O’THE IRISH PASTA SALAD (core)

                                                                                              Ingredients:
                                                                                              4 oz uncooked whole-wheat pasta, corkscrew shape (about 1 1/2 cups)
                                                                                              4 oz uncooked whole-wheat pasta, penne shape (about 1 1/2 cups)
                                                                                              8 TBSP olive oil
                                                                                              8 TBSP chopped fresh basil
                                                                                              1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
                                                                                              1 tsp dried oregano
                                                                                              1 TBSP Dijon mustard
                                                                                              1/2 tsp salt
                                                                                              1/4 tsp black pepper
                                                                                              2 medium garlic cloves, minced
                                                                                              5 oz canned black olives, sliced
                                                                                              2 medium green peppers, chopped (about 2 cups)
                                                                                              3/4 cup grape tomatoes, quartered (about 10 tomatoes)
                                                                                              2 medium zucchini, quartered lengthwise and sliced (about 1 cup)
                                                                                              2-3 stalks of celery, chopped
                                                                                              1 cup frozen green peas, thawed (still frozen, if you have about 16 hours to let your salad sit in the fridge)

                                                                                              Directions:
                                                                                              Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and rinse pasta with cold water and drain. Set aside.

                                                                                              Meanwhile, in a small bowl, prepare dressing by mixing oil, basil, lemon juice, oregano, mustard, salt, black pepper and garlic. Set aside.

                                                                                              In a large bowl, combine cooked pasta with vegetables; pour in dressing and toss thoroughly to coat. Cover and chill about 2 hours. Yields about 1 cup per serving.

                                                                                              Serves: 12

                                                                                              ~TDQ

                                                                                              1. I made the orange and cucumber salad from Marcella Hazan's "Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking" cookbook and posted about that here, with photos. http://www.chowhound.com/topics/50189... The recipe serves 6 and called for a cucumber (if waxed, then peeled), 3 medium oranges (peeled), and 6 radishes. Slice very thinly the cucumber and layer it on a platter; then slice thinly and layer the oranges; finally, slice thinly and layer the radishes. Salt to taste. Then, drizzle the whole works with olive oil (I used 4 tsp--she didn't specify) and the the juice of half a lemon. Very refreshing and colorful.

                                                                                                ~TDQ

                                                                                                1. COTM overview from a core plan perspective re: Fucshia Dunlop's "Land of Plenty" and "Revolutionary Chinese" cookbooks of the month:

                                                                                                  I've not been able to visit my favorite Sichuan restaurant in town since I've started the core plan. I know they use way too much oil (and now that I've spent several weeks cooking Sichuan food, I realize they must use more oil than I ever dreamed). But, I was really missing it and craving it. So, when Fucshia Dunlop's books were chosen as Cookbooks of the Month, I was very excited to participate, knowing that I could adjust and control the quantities of oil and other ingredients.

                                                                                                  I thought I would post my impressions of the books and recipes from a core perspective, in case anyone else following Core has a craving for Sichuan or Hunan food.

                                                                                                  Overall, this experiment was a success because I was able to satisfy my craving. However, I had to abandon the COTM project after about 2 weeks of daily cooking multiple dishes and eating leftovers because even though I thought I was being very very careful, I was gaining weight. I think if you followed some adjustments as I discuss below, you could be fine cooking from this book on occasion, but not daily. Or, you might consider switching to Flex/Points plan if you want to cook from it intensively.

                                                                                                  The first thing that got me in trouble is that I had the philosophy of "oil is oil from a calories perspective" and used peanut oil and sesame oil in lieu of my "2 tsp of healthy oils per day" that WW requires. Mistake. I now realize that those healthy fats help you metabolize and process your food and I've come to the conclusion that peanut oil --which nearly instantly solidifies in the fridge--does not. It really mucks up the works, at least, for me it did. So, next time, I would use Canola oil everywhere Dunlop calls for peanut oil.

                                                                                                  In addition, Dunlop seems to use sesame oil as a seasoning. It's a very powerful (and delicious!) flavor, but you can use just a teensy amount --say, 25% of what her recipe calls for--and still get that hint of flavor. Since I was using it in such small quantities, I was okay with subbing whatever tiny quantity of sesame oil for the same quantity of my "healthy oils" without sabotaging myself.

                                                                                                  So, using peanut oil, a "non-healthy" oil was the first problem. The second problem is that nearly every recipe called for huge quantities of oil. (And there seemed to be a growing consensus among the COTM crowd, not just the ones trying to lose weight, that many of the recipes were too oily for their tastes). What I did was disregard the quantity of oil Dunlop called for--and used my full 2 tsp WW daily fat allotment times the number of servings. But, if I was cooking two Dunlop dishes, I could use only half that amount in each dish, right? This made it really hard to cook the recipes faithfully, so, in the end, I would say, just one recipe per meal and, honestly, no more than 1 of these kinds of meals per week (though you might be able to squeeze out a couple of meals if you have leftovers.)

                                                                                                  Also, I stopped using Sambal oelek because it has a high number of calories. Instead, I used minced fresh chiles or dried chile flakes or whatever Dunlop recommended as a substitution (as she occasionally did.) Also, many of the specialty ingredients (vinegars and wines etc.) calc out to 0 points individually. But, if you used a bigger quantity of them, you'll notice they creep up to 1 point. Since you're using small quantities of so many ingredients, you think they're 0 points, but, in reality, I think you need to count it as a point because I think they add up. Again, this is one of those things I didn't do until "after the fact."

                                                                                                  In general, I used the following substitutions:
                                                                                                  Brown or wild rice instead of white rice
                                                                                                  Soba (in soups, especially) or whole wheat spaghetti instead of rice noodles
                                                                                                  Canadian bacon instead of ground pork (since Canadian bacon is salty, you'll need to reduce the amount of salt in the dish)
                                                                                                  Minced fresh chiles or dried chile flakes instead of Sambal oelek

                                                                                                  Substitutions I should have used, but didn't until too late:
                                                                                                  Canola oil instead of peanut oil

                                                                                                  What you need to have on hand:
                                                                                                  Frying pan with teflon coating (since you're using so little oil)

                                                                                                  Points values for common ingredients:
                                                                                                  Peanut oil: 120 calories/TBSP
                                                                                                  Dark soy sauce: 33 calories/TBSP (0 points)
                                                                                                  Black vinegar 2 calories/TBSP (0 points)
                                                                                                  Shao Xing wine 54 calories/cup (1 point/cup; 0 points per TBSP)
                                                                                                  Soy sauce 15 calories/TBSP (0 points)
                                                                                                  Sesame oil 15 calories/TBSP
                                                                                                  Sambal oelek 45 calories/tsp (1 point/tsp--maybe higher because I forgot to look up the fat grams. If it has fat grams, it will be more points)
                                                                                                  potato flour 0 points/TBSP
                                                                                                  Tianjin preserved vegetables 11 calories/TBSP

                                                                                                  My favorite of the dishes I tried:
                                                                                                  Ma Po Tofu (Land of Plenty, hereinafter "LOP").
                                                                                                  http://www.chowhound.com/topics/49466...

                                                                                                  Dry-Fried Green Beans I (LOP, pg 289).
                                                                                                  http://www.chowhound.com/topics/49466...
                                                                                                  http://www.chowhound.com/topics/49466...

                                                                                                  Red Bell Pepper with Sesame Oil--, LOP, this is one of the variations of the "Bitter Melon with Sesame Oil" recipe Dunlop cites at the bottom of page 157
                                                                                                  http://www.chowhound.com/topics/49466...

                                                                                                  Noodles with Shiitake Mushrooms and Baby Greens pg 267, LOP, the variation suggested at the bottom of the recipe, using "fresh mushrooms of your choice"--in our case, fresh oyster mushrooms
                                                                                                  http://www.chowhound.com/topics/49466...

                                                                                                  Steamed Eggs, from page 149 of "Revolutionary Chinese, hereinafter RC"
                                                                                                  http://www.chowhound.com/topics/49466...

                                                                                                  Chicken with Chiles, pp 240-241 LOP
                                                                                                  http://www.chowhound.com/topics/49466...

                                                                                                  Numbing and Hot Chicken pg 129, RC
                                                                                                  http://www.chowhound.com/topics/49466...

                                                                                                  Beef with Cumin, RC, page 102
                                                                                                  http://www.chowhound.com/topics/49466...

                                                                                                  Beef Slivers with "water bamboo", LOP pg 105
                                                                                                  http://www.chowhound.com/topics/49466...

                                                                                                  Fish-fragrant pork slivers from pg 197 of LOP
                                                                                                  http://www.chowhound.com/topics/49466...

                                                                                                  Traditional Dan Dan Noodles (LOP, page 87).
                                                                                                  http://www.chowhound.com/topics/49466...

                                                                                                  Noodles with Fresh Shrimp and Baby Greens from pg 269 of Revolutionary Chinese
                                                                                                  http://www.chowhound.com/topics/49466...

                                                                                                  Cold Chicken with Fragrant Rice Wine (LOP, page 183).
                                                                                                  http://www.chowhound.com/topics/49466...

                                                                                                  I am not bothering to post the link to the Yolkless Eggs because even though I made it core, it wasn't very good and I wouldn't make it again or recommend it, really. But, you can find my post about it in the same thread as the steamed eggs, which I linked above.

                                                                                                  Anyway, thus ends my COTM experiment. I'm glad I did it; learned lots; had tons of fun; ate well. I might say, though, that unless the COTM is an expecially core-friendly book, it might be worth considering switching to the flex/points plan. Just a guess on that point... And, don't forget to exercise!

                                                                                                  ~TDQ

                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                    I wanted to make a point here about my suggestions above re: the nonstick pan. I do believe the results in a non-stick pan are far inferior/less authentic than using other kinds of pan. The only advantage is that it helps you reduce the amount of oil. I haven't tried using a well-seasoned wok, though.

                                                                                                    ~TDQ

                                                                                                  2. I haven't updated this in awhile, but I thought I would list out some products that are particularly helpful for those following core. This list leans heavily towards "convenience" products since those days when you're short on time are the ones that are the most difficult to stay on core. For the most part, I advocate from scratch cooking and developing a repertoire of healthy recipes as a way of following core. But, I've found it's important to have some back-up convenience products for those stressful/busy days where I find myself sliding back into old habits.

                                                                                                    ~32 oz insulated water mug for having at your desk: http://cgi.ebay.com/WEIGHT-WATCHERS-3...
                                                                                                    ~True lime packets for jazzing up your water http://www.truelemon.com/purchaselime...
                                                                                                    ~Torani sugar free syrup for jazzing up your water (I also splash a bit of it in my silken tofu and frozen berry smoothies).
                                                                                                    http://www.torani.com/flavors/categor...
                                                                                                    ~Uncle Ben's "ready rice" brown rice packets http://www.unclebens.com/rice/
                                                                                                    ~Ready made polenta "chubs" http://www.polenta.net/SanGenPolenta.htm
                                                                                                    ~100% buckwheat noodles http://www.edenfoods.com/store/produc...
                                                                                                    ~ (For desperation/quick snack or meal) Boca brand burgers and sausages. This time of year, the sausages are pretty good on the grill. http://www.bocaburger.com/products/sa...
                                                                                                    )~(For desperation/quick snack or meal) Gardenburger meatleff "riblets" http://www.gardenburger.com/eat-posit...
                                                                                                    ~Canadian bacon
                                                                                                    ~Hard boiled eggs (I just boil a batch on Sundays to have for the week).
                                                                                                    ~Sweet potatoes
                                                                                                    ~Diana's banana babies (The Wedge is the only place I've found them so far in the Twin Cities, though, I've found them at SuperOne in outstate MN!) --you have to count the points for the chocolate--soooo worth it http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/5287...
                                                                                                    ~For desperation days: Alexia frozen sweet potato fries http://heateatreview.com/2008/06/24/a..., olive oil & sea salt fries http://www.alexiafoods.com/products.h..., olive oil rosemary and garlic fries http://www.alexiafoods.com/products.h...
                                                                                                    ~Wild rice (I see Von Hanson in the Twin Cities sells it frozen!).
                                                                                                    ~Fat free yogurt
                                                                                                    ~microwave popcorn (the reduced fat stuff, of course).
                                                                                                    ~Laughing cow cheeses in various flavors (not core, but very cheap points wise and comes pre-portioned. Good for spreading on apples and celery and such).
                                                                                                    ~Frozen shrimp: easy to turn into a quick meal or snack
                                                                                                    ~Takaokaya's "Teriyaki Nori Seasoned Seaweed"--I buy it in snack packs at my Asian grocery (United Noodles in the Twin Cities) or a "jar" of 80 on Amazon.
                                                                                                    ~For your freezer: veggies for stir fry
                                                                                                    ~For your freezer: edamame for snacking
                                                                                                    ~For your freezer: blueberries for everything
                                                                                                    ~For your freezers: berries and peaches for blending into silken tofu smoothies
                                                                                                    ~Tofu, especially silken tofu for smoothies or just firm tofu to chop up and quickly stir fry with frozen veggies on desperation days
                                                                                                    ~PB2 powdered peanut butter--sounds gross but if you really like peanut butter, this has 25% of the fat of regular peanut butter and isn't bad.
                                                                                                    ~"Nile Spice" dehydrated split pea and lentil soups that I buy at the co-ops
                                                                                                    ~Molly McButter sprinkles is the best of the butter substitutes we've found--it contains real butter solids
                                                                                                    ~Mrs. Dash southwestern chipotle--we have several Mrs. Dash's but this one is our favorite
                                                                                                    ~Make sure to stock up on different whole grains: quinoa and amaranth and wild rice are our favs
                                                                                                    ~Pressure cooker is great for your grains and beans
                                                                                                    ~Rice cooker is great for your grains
                                                                                                    ~Canned pineapple in its own juice--great to have on hand
                                                                                                    ~A pedometer and good cross training shoes (if those "products" help you exercise).
                                                                                                    EDIT:
                                                                                                    ~smoked salmon or lox
                                                                                                    ~smoked Lake Superior trout
                                                                                                    ~pickled herring (in wine)--not entirely core, but pretty close.
                                                                                                    ~Wholly guacamole 100 calorie snack packs (available at Lunds) --great to pack in your lunch "to go" for dipping veggies etc. http://www.whollyguac.com/our_products

                                                                                                    Here are some core friendly recipes I haven't added to this thread yet:

                                                                                                    Berley's butter and white wine tofu:
                                                                                                    http://nowthatsgoodeatin.blogspot.com...
                                                                                                    (you have to count the points for the wine; I use my allotment of healthy oil instead of the butter and sprinkle on a wee bit of Molly McButter if I feel I need the buttery taste).

                                                                                                    Berley's fresh corn polenta w/sauteed cherry tomatoes:
                                                                                                    http://www.nextnc.com/content/view/16...
                                                                                                    (leave out the butter, use your daily allotment of healthy oil instead, count the points for the parm cheese, add a dash of Molly McButter if you feel you need the buttery flavor).

                                                                                                    Gio's Chipotle Meatloaf:
                                                                                                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/526852
                                                                                                    (We leave out the cheese--it's still delicious).

                                                                                                    AND DON"T FORGET TO EXERCISE. ;-) Walk to the grocery store! Walk to the farmers market!

                                                                                                    ~TDQ

                                                                                                    6 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                      I'm not on WW but I do watch what I eat (eh, er..most of the time)...this was so nice of you to take the time to post all of this...and I'm trying Gio's bison meatloaf soon; we haven't had meatloaf in ages...I almost didn't click on the link, thinking it used regular ground beef & then I saw it uses ground bison, much healthier.

                                                                                                      1. re: Val

                                                                                                        It's a terrific recipe, even if you're not dieting! And it was just something Gio mentioned in passing in one of the COTM threads, and I'm so glad she did, and then so generously shared her recipe when I requested it!)

                                                                                                        Dieting deliciously is incredibly hard, I think, and the core plan is a particular challenge for someone like me who has historically been more of a "dining out" 'hound than a home cooking 'hound.

                                                                                                        I'm going to edit my post above to append a couple more items to my list.

                                                                                                        ~TDQ

                                                                                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                          Made it tonight...LOVE it! Thanks so much! I used the max amount (2 TB) of the chipotle chillis in adobo...well, the max could be whatever you can handle, right? I may add a bit more next time...seems like fresh garlic is such a great addition to ground bison, I use it always in our grilled burgers...oh...I also added some freshly grated onion to the meat mixture.

                                                                                                      2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                        Some of you have mentioned using PB2 powdered peanut butter. I have it but need some recipes for it. Can you share yours with us? Thanks!

                                                                                                        1. re: synergy

                                                                                                          I haven't done much cooking with it. Mostly, I just add water per the directions on the jar to make it creamy, then use it to dip apples and celery and to spread on WW 2 point sourdough "pretzels" etc.

                                                                                                          I've always meant to try some of the "Asian inspired" recipes on the PB2 site but haven't gotten around it it, sadly, such as the "beefy noodles", "Asian PB2 chicken", "Veggie peanut stirfry", and "Easy slowcooker Thai peanut chicken"... If you end up trying any of these or have some of your own that are good, I would most definitely love to hear about it!

                                                                                                          http://www.bellplantation.com/index.p...

                                                                                                          ~TDQ

                                                                                                          1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                            Thanks TDQ for your reply and the link back to bell plantation. I forgot they had recipes. When I try them I'll report back. :-)