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Weight Watchers Oriental Express Recipe Book

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

I was recently contacted by Weight Watchers...WAIT! I know what you are thinking. Please stay with me, this post is not about any diet programs (well, maybe just a little), diet menus or meatless, tasteless low calorie recipes. Just continue reading and you will be rewarded with a spicy, yummy recipe, I promise...so, I was contacted to review Weight Watchers' newly launched Oriental Express recipe book.

Weight Watchers Oriental Express recipe book 2

The book features recipes for the ProPoints plan, Weight Watchers’ revolutionary new weight loss system. Instead of counting calories, the ProPoints plan is based on the latest nutritional science, which is apparently more accurate for weight loss than traditional calorie counting approaches. This plan takes into account how protein, carbohydrates, fat and fibre are processed and converted into a useful form of energy in the body. The higher the energy conversion cost of a food, the lower its ProPoints value and the more eating satisfaction it provides. Protein and fibre-rich carbohydrates are harder work for the body to process and provide a greater feeling of fullness than fat and carbohydrates without fibre.

Here's an example, a ­chocolate bar and a steak might have the same points value in the old system because they have the same amount of calories, under the new ProPoints system, steak would have fewer points because your body uses up so much more energy processing it. In short, the better the food is for you, the more energy your body can burn digesting it, so, the more of it you can eat. OK, enough of the program I am actually more interested in what I can eat, if you want to find out more, do hop over to their official website.

Back to the cookbook, it promises to bring the flavours of the Far East into your own kitchen with illustrated, detailed but simple recipes offering healthy choices when cooking oriental food. It has six chapters including Rice and Noodles, Grills and Roasts and In a Wok, featuring 60 easy-to-follow recipes inspired by the tantalising flavours of Southeast Asia, India, China and Japan. Apart from the beautiful and drool-worthy pictures, what caught my eye was the design. All the pages are printed on glossy coated paper, spiral bound and it has thick cardboard stand, built just like tabletop calendar. You can prop it up easily in the kitchen beside you when cooking.

Weight Watchers Oriental Express recipe book

As for the recipes, it's not the usual salads, steamed meat dishes or vegetable soups. It has really delicious looking dishes like Chinese rice with pineapple and ham, chili pork ramen, hoisin duck stir-fry, plum and sweet chili beef kebabs, Vietnamese salmon and mango...I've bookmarked quite a few while flipping through the pages. There are also desserts like jasmine tea and ginger pears, cherry blossom and snow, coconut pancakes with caramelised bananas...YUM.

Weight Watchers Oriental Express recipe book 3

I made oriental beef with butter squash stew. The meat is seared then slowly simmered in a sauce flavoured with orange juice, Chinese 5 spice powder, star anise, ginger and chili. The dish is then sweetened and thickened with the addition of butternut squash. It was really rich and flavourful, so good with rice!

oriental beef with butter squash
Ingredients:
From Weight Watchers Oriental Express recipe book
  • 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) lean beef brisket - visible fat removed and diced [I used 400 g]
  • Low fat cooking spray
  • 2 onions - sliced
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 tsp Chinese 5 spice powder
  • 5 cm (2 inches) fresh root ginger - sliced finely
  • 100 ml (3 1/2 fl oz) fresh orange juice
  • 400 ml water (14 fl oz) [I used 300 ml]
  • 5 tbs dark soy sauce [NOT thick caramel sauce, it's the salty one, I used only 3 tbs]
  • 1 red chili - de-seeded and chopped [I left the seeds on.]
  • 450 g (1 lb) butternut squash - peeled, de-seeded and cut into large, bite size pieces [I used 400 g]
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Directions:
  • Heat a large lidded casserole dish. Spray the beef with the cooking spray and add half of the meat to the pan, searing until browned all over. Using a slotted spoon, remove the beef and set to one side. Repeat with the remaining beef.
  • Once all the beef has been seared and removed, put the onions in the pan, spray with the cooking spray, and cook over medium heat for 4 mins, stirring occasionally. Add the star anise, Chinese 5 spice powder, ginger and chili (if using) then stir fry for a min.
  • Pour in water, orange juice and soy sauce. Stir and then add the beef. Bring to boil, then redice the heat, cover, and simmer for 1 hr.
  • Add the squash and cook for 30 mins, partially covered, or until the squash and beef are tender and the sauce is reduced and thickened.[I left it uncovered as there was quite a lot of liquid.]
  • Season to taste before serving.

oriental beef with butter squash 2

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