Category Archives: Weight Watchers

S*%# happens

Some days are “revel in good health” days—creative cooking, yummy plant-based meals, and epic C25K training. Fist pump. Go ME.

Other days, I find myself in the unfortunate position of having to track 47 pieces of English marzipan licorice candy.

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I’m owning this for three reasons:

  1. Nothing bugs me out more than hearing a fellow healthy-eating reformist make a comment like, “Oh my gosh, I totally binged today. I had TWO whole-wheat English muffins with fat-free soy cheese. I feel like such a heifer.” Sorry, not buying it. The healthy-living perfectionism schtick is played; EVERYone freebases a jar of Nutella or a bag of chips once in a while. When the shit hits the fan and 1,100 calories of marzipan-coated black licorice gets wolfed, just do the right thing and own it.
  2. I tracked it. Every piece.
  3. I don’t feel guilty. Because this disgusting-sounding pink-candy-coated licorice is the shiz, yo.

Today I learned how to make knock-your-socks-off Simple Start pasta sauce


“Pasta sauce” might be a bit of a misnomer; this stuff would be good on pretty much anything—quinoa, eggs, veggies, and tofu, off the top of my head.

There are recipes born from high-minded culinary inquisition; this is not one of those recipes. This bad boy came from sheer desperation—an incurable desire for a bangin’-good sauce to heap atop my whole wheat pasta. I consulted my Simple Start food list and started tossing things into the food processor. Voila, a new dinner favorite was created.

The result is a sauce that’s low in fat, calories, and carbs; high in protein; and seriously yummy. It tastes kind of naughty and creamy, but the fresh spinach makes it bright and beautiful and good for your body. Loosely translated, that means no guilt when ladling it into your bowl in epic quantities.


  • Fresh spinach, 1 bag/container (I used about 5 cups)
  • Fresh basil, 10 leaves
  • Garlic, as much as desired (I used about 3 T. minced)
  • Lemon juice, 1 T.
  • Olive oil, 2 t.
  • Fat-free cottage cheese or ricotta, 1 cup (I used cottage cheese because I already had it)


Pack the first two ingredients in a food processor and pulse until roughly chopped. Add last three ingredients and blend for about 30 seconds, until mixture is well mixed (lightly chunky is okay). Store in refrigerator until ready to use, then heat through until bubbling and serve atop whatever your heart desires.

Note: If you have the time, let your sauce hang out in the fridge and chill for 12-24 hours before serving. I ate mine a few hours after preparing and it was perfectly fine; the next day, however, it was truly delish.

Another note: this recipe was made to be Simple Start friendly. It’s delicious as it is, but if you want sauce with more flavor body I would recommend adding a half of an avocado, pureed walnuts or pine nuts, or parmesan.

4 tips for rocking Simple Start

Bowl full of rad Mexican food = 8-lb loss. That's the new math; learn it.

Those of you who saw my last post know that I’ve spent the last four weeks plateauing and lugging around some extra Christmas poundage, making me a very UN-jolly fat chick.

Despite a lot of reservations about the Weight Watchers Simple Start plan, I made the decision to give myself over to it for one full week. Well, SS doubters, prepare to believe: I lost 8.2 pounds. For reals.

So, you’re wondering right now: Was it hard? The answer is mostly no. Stowing the tracker was tough for me because I derive a lot of control and peace from weighing, measuring, and counting. And I pretty much gave up restaurant meals for the week and stuck to home-cooking, which was tough at times (although, unplanned bonus: I saved $$$). But if you plan well, it’s actually kind of a breeze.

My 4 tips for rocking Simple Start like a total boss

1. Get the info in front of you. Download the SS phone and tablet apps and (an idea from a reader, Jamie) print out the approved foods list and hang it in your kitchen. Some of the foods weren’t intuitive to my regular eating style, so it helped to review the info every day.

2. Prep! I pre-made big batches of quinoa and wild rice, washed and chopped fruits and veggies, and stocked the fridge with fat-free dairy options. When meal times arrived, I was ready.

3. Have snacks ready. I’m one for pre-packaged snack foods like Fiber One bars and fruit snacks (and I’ve been hitting them pretty hard lately… which, in retrospect, might explain the stalled weight loss). I knew I was going to have to be armed and ready for these cravings. I prepared ahead of time and stockpiled SS-approved goodies: JollyPop Healthy Pop microwave popcorn, Yoplait Light yogurts (there are about a bajillion flavors and they all sorta taste like dessert), frozen grapes, and roasted chickpeas (1 can washed and drained chickpeas tossed with 1 tsp. olive oil and whatever seasonings your heart desires–curry, salt-free garlic or onion powder, chili powder, cinnamon, etc.–and baked at 400 for 40 minutes. Awesome crunchy snack!)

4. Start the week armed with a new recipe or two. This shit’s supposed to be fun, y’all—not some dreadful chore. It’s always more enjoyable when you get to experiment with a tasty new recipe. Check out my rad bowl full o’ Mexican goodness pictured above–a pile of greens topped with a scoop each of black beans, Greek yogurt, nonfat cheese, quinoa, tomatoes and chilies, red onion, and seasoned meatless crumbles. Make it even better by using some of your bonus points and slicing 1/4 of an avocado on that bad boy.

Test-driving Simple Start

A bowl of cereal, and I didn't have to count it? Absolutely wicked...
It’s the strangest thing: I went to Detroit for two weeks over the holidays this year, and five extra pounds followed me home.

But whatevs, it’s all good. I can gain and lose five pounds just by thinking about a good meal. More importantly, I know what to do to get back on track. So I hopped back on the wagon and… stayed the same. For three weeks in a row.

Maybe the scale is to blame, or the conspiratorial Weight Watchers staff. But the more likely culprit is my newly acquired taste for peanut butter M&Ms. (God damn them.)

Since the moment Weight Watchers unveiled their new Simple Start plan, I announced to all who would listen, “Nope, no way, nuh-uh, not for me.” Not only do I hate the idea of certain foods being off-limits, but as a lifetime overeater/binger, I can’t fathom a plan not centered around weighing, measuring, and tracking.

Four weeks of unsuccessful weigh-ins, however, have changed my perspective. I have decided to embrace Simple Start for a week and see how it goes. I’m three days in, and already I can see the benefits. It’s forcing me to be creative with my shopping and recipes, which is the main reason I found success on the WW program initially. And I can eat carbs. Carbs, people! Whole wheat pasta, brown rice, quinoa, and cereal–it’s all allowed. I said good-bye to these foods months ago because the Points values were too high, and now they’re back. I just ate my first bowl of cereal in a year. #epic.

So, bottom line–Simple Start is more fun than I gave it credit for; whether it’s effective, however, remains to be seen. But I’m optimistic. I’ll check in on Thursday, my weigh-in day, and let y’all know how it went.

Anyone else tried/trying Simple Start? Any tips?

The elusive 75# found me at last


75 pounds on my ten-month Weight Watchers-versary. Thanks for joining me on this journey.

Now, let’s get back to the food. 🙂

Halloween before & after

Trick or treat? My real trick has been learning how to avoid the treats. There are days of fresh veggies and egg white omelets, and there are days of Skittles and York Peppermint Patties. Here’s to enjoying a little bit of that candy and chocolate, and then getting back on track tomorrow. I think we can all agree: when we stick to the program, the result is sweet.

Happy Halloween!

Welcome back, old friend

Ahh, peanut butter—you evil blond temptress.

For years (decades, really), I’ve had a love affair with the stuff. Extra crunchy Jif was my main squeeze, but I’d take it any way it came: spreadably smooth, natural, or chock full o’ nuts.

In my starving-grad-student days (and my even leaner post-grad-first-job years), I bought institutional-size drums of peanut butter and strawberry jam. I rationed bread by having “PBJS” dinners—that’s peanut butter and jelly on a spoon. Grab both containers and a tablespoon, head to couch, alternate PB and J spoonfuls, wash it down with a huge glass of milk. Commence carb coma.

Weight Watchers prides itself on being a program that allows everything in moderation. I find that to be both true and awesome. By choosing smaller portions or substituting ingredients, I’ve made peace with many of my former junk food staples.

There are, however, a handful of foods I haven’t been able to adapt to the WW plan. Mac and cheese, for instance (did you know that there are more than TWO servings in a box of Kraft Mac and cheese? That shit ain’t right.) And, of course—peanut butter. Two tablespoons = 5 Points+. Five. FIVE. That’s a seventh of my daily Points, in two measly tablespoons of the stuff. And by the way, have you seen a tablespoon lately? My PBJ sandwiches of yore were heaped and slathered with mountains of peanut butter—certainly not lightly frosted with two measly #@$!*% tablespoons worth.

Since January, my Jif jar has been sitting untouched, mournful and alone, in my pantry. I have done my best to ignore my salty-sweet spreadable peanut cravings. But no more! Friends: meet PB2.

Okay, what the hell is PB2 and why is it so amazing?
Let me give you the scoop (pun intended). The official dealio, according to the Bell Plantation website: “PB2 reduces fat through a chemical-free process. PB2 is all natural, preservative free, and contains no artificial sweeteners. And that makes it a sweet alternative for active lifestyles, dieters, and moms who want healthy snacks for their kids.”

PB2 isn’t your typical peanut butter experience. It’s powdered and packed in freeze-dried foil bags like coffee. You can mix with water to make traditional peanut butter, or create peanut-flavored novelties by adding to smoothies, cake or brownie mixes, bran muffins, Cool Whip—the options are endless.

How does it taste?
PB2 is pretty delicious—but if you’re expecting an exact replica of peanut butter you’ll be disappointed.

The reason it’s so much lower in calories and fat is because much if its oil has been removed. That reflects in its taste and consistency. Have you ever drained the oil from a jar of natural peanut butter? Think of a smoother version of that. It looks and smells like the real deal, and spreads fairly easily, but it feels drier and slightly less creamy in your mouth. It’s also not as sweet as I was accustomed to—think crushed roasted nuts, not a sweetened spread. As a true peanut lover, I find this to be a plus.

So, is it good for you?
Naturalist foodies will be happy to know that the company’s “preservative free” claim is true; there are just three ingredients: peanuts, sugar, and salt.

As for WW, it is much lower in Points. Two tablespoons of PB2 = 1 PP versus 5 in traditional peanut butter. I ate four tablespoons today (FOUR!!!) slathered on rice cakes and topped with chopped walnuts and sliced banana for a hearty, filling, satisfying breakfast.

I even licked the knife, just like old times. Welcome back, old friend!

More Weight Watchers bling

40 pounds gone. WW gave me a shiny copper doodad. I’m giving myself a Pizza Hut P’Zone.


Yep. That’s why Weight Watchers WORKS, people—nothing is taboo. Track it and go back to living your life. In smaller pants.

Before + after

Some people have asked how much weight I’ve lost. A few subtle individuals have even sent messages straight-up asking, “What do you look like?” and (my personal favorite) “How fat are you?”

To appease the hungry masses yearning for photos, here they are. Me in 2008 and now. I’ve lost 125 pounds total, 30 on Weight Watchers.


Dessert + pill chaser

One photo says it all.Image

This was taken last year: Portrait of a Young Woman Gorging on Cake. Caught with my hand in the metaphorical honey jar. I even sort of look like Pooh. “Oh, bother.”

A careful observer will note that I was mowing into that mountain o’ cake mere inches from a bottle of blood pressure medication. Yes, I recognize the irony.

I’m not on that medication anymore. I’m on bell peppers, bananas, and bok choy. They’re a little bit pricier than the pills—but a lot more fun to take.