Healthy meal ideas - Weight Watchers applicable, Atkins would help.

So I’ve just started Weight Watchers (yay!) and have got the family mostly on board, although their portions won’t be controlled and mine will, we’re all eating the same food. Lots of the changes are easy - buy reduced fat cheddar shreds instead of full fat, no problem. But I’m having a fundamental problem - the way I put together a meal in my head.

Growin’ up, the meal planning went: protein, veggie, starch. Now changing that to protein, veggie, veggie, starch is an improvement, and one I’ve already made. But that starch…I just don’t feel like it’s a complete meal without a pile of rice or noodles or potatoes. And I can have some, it’s not verbotten, but what do you do to fill up the plate and the belly? There are only so many tossed salads one can stomach in a week, y’know? (My intestines are already a little shocked at all this sudden raw veggie consumption!)

Some examples:

Baked chicken breast, tomato salad, steamed broccoli and _______________.
(normally I’d put rotini tossed in olive oil with some parm cheese in there)

Salisbury steak, green salad, green beans and _____________.
(usual choice: mashed potatoes)

Wasabi and soy seafood and veggie skewers, salted edamame and ____________.
(first thought: jasmine rice. second thought: soba noodles)

Grilled Chicken breasts with Chimichurri sauce, grilled tricolor peppers and __________.
(idea one: coconut toasted rice. idea two: corn and black bean salad, which I think is actually a good choice - I need more good choices like this that aren’t “white” foods but have that same dense filling quality.)

See the pattern? I can make good choices for main and veggie side dishes, but I feel like there’s a big hole on the plate without some sort of white starchy thing there. Ideas?

Look into carbs that have a low glycemic index. Barley is a good example. Use sweet potatoes instead of regular potatoes. There’s lots of info on-line about this.

Have you taken a look at the Weight Watchers cookbooks? They’ve got a lot of menu planning stuff in them and they’re generally actually pretty decent (except for that one carrot salad thing. Whoops. Sorry. I should have stopped at “fish sauce”.)

When I was doing it (and I really need to get back to it, sigh) I did a lot of stuff like corn and black bean salad, or lentils, etc.

The most difficult adjustment when I started Weight Watchers was the same as yours, WhyNot. You can use starches but you just cannot have that much. I’m a huge pasta fan and I eat it every night. Even after 4 years of Weight Watcher’s, I still have to measure my pasta because it just neve looks like enough and I also want to cook more. However, I have found that a 2- or 3- point serving of starch is plenty, especially if you use a whole grain starch (and the starch, i.e., pasta, is the main portion of my meals). As a side dish, I think you could use a 1-point serving (like a small piece of whole what bread or a small serving of pasta salad) and feel like you got enough. Good luck!

PS - I’ve been on Weight Watcher’s for years and I love it. I lost a lot of weight after having my babies and have managed to keep it off even when I am lazy about what I eat.

Oh, hey, thanks! Barley and lentils are great suggestions that I hadn’t thought of. I decided to go with a barley/mushroom stuffing to complement a veggie strata, and the corn/black bean salad for the chicken with Chimmichuri sauce. I think I’ll go ahead and find a whole grain buckwheat soba noodle for the seafood skewers - maybe with some garlic, diced celery and a splash of sesame oil - just a splash, of course!

So that’s three meals down, and I’m only planning three dinners at a time right now. Doing a whole week at once is A) too overwhelming and B) the fresh produce gets nasty.

But please, if anyone else has ideas, keep 'em coming!

Check our Dana Carpender recipe books. I have 2 or 3 of them and they are packed with some really awesome and easy-to-make recipes. A few here or there will have weird ingredients that might take some tracking down, but for the most part they are her low carb versions of very traditional recipes.

I’ve made at least 2 dozen of her recipes (I don’t cook much :slight_smile: ) and they are all very good.

If I remember right, and didn’t find these recipes elsewhere - her Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes (boil and mash cauliflower, add sour cream and seasoning), Low Carb Coleslaw (use broccoli-based slaw mix, a bit of sweetener, mayo and apple cider vinnegar) and Low Carb Baked Beans (some special Mexican beans which are seriously low in carbs, bacon, and some other stuff) were my absolute favorite sides.

I’m not on WW, but I do try to eat healthy, and long ago de-emphasized starches in my diet. I’m not saying I don’t eat them, but I’ve gotten to the point where the meals you list seem complete to me.

What I’ve found helpful is not so much finding “replacements” for starches, but spicing up the veggies so much that I don’t miss the starch. Don’t just make a plain green salad. Throw out that bag o’ dry brown salad and get some fresh lettuce from the farmer’s market. Get interesting, fresh vegetables. Make your own vinegarette - it only takes a minute or two, it’s a ton more flavorful than bottle dressing, and a very little goes a long way (yes, it’s full fat. But you can dress a salads with less than a tablespoon, depending on how much dressing you like). Suddenly you are looking forward to that salad, not thinking “oh crap, salad again.”

It works for other vegetables, too. I used to try to eat all my veggies plain, or with a little lemon juice and salt. That never worked. But toss 'em with a little butter or dressing or whatever, and I look forward to them. I know it’s not the most low-cal thing to do, but it’s what’s worked for me as part of a long-term diet change that emphasizes protein and vegetables over starches.

Are you using WW Online Tools?? There are some really wonderful looking recipes out there for side dishes!

I just saw Dijon-Roasted New Potatoes and they are only 3 pts per serving.

I am looking forward to seeing the replys you get!

The other thing to keep in mind is you don’t necessarily need to eliminate all those bad carbs. If you really like potatoes, eat 'em. But eat them once per week instead of three times per week. Make yourself a smaller portion, and leave the skin on (that adds fiber).

You might want to try spaghetti squash instead of spaghetti some time. It’s not bad. You just cut the thing in half, microwave it until it’s soft (about 6-8 minutes) and then scrape out the innards with a fork-- it comes out just like pasta. Or do half and half, if you still want some real pasta in there.

If you go cold turkey, there’s a good chance you’ll binge on the stuff you miss at some point.

I don’t mean to sound harsh, but you just need to get used to not eating that stuff except on special occasions. “Empty calories” as my mother used to say. WHY do you need noodles/rice/potatos next to protein-veggie veggie? It doesn’t add anything except calories. If you skipped them you could have cheese sauce or a yummy pat of real butter on your broccoli. Wouldn’t that be nice instead of fat free “cheez” or “faux butter product” Think about it that way and you might find it easier to “quit.”

One thing I did is to say I could have anything in the starch family… as long as I made it myself. This put noodles, bread & cookies into the “very special occasion” category, because I’m too lazy to do that routinely.

Yeah, I think it’d be better to get in the habit of not eating the starch at all, except for special occasions like Thanksgiving.

I was actually just thinking about this the other day: people ate starches as a filler back when it was difficult and expensive to get enough protein and vegetable. Most starches store well and fill you up. Now that protein is cheap and it’s easy to get good vegetables, starches are no longer needed.

I think you’d be better off adding a second vegetable selection or, as suggested above, lentil or a bean dish would make a good substitute.

For WW Core plan recipes, try this site.

In general, Cooking Light is a great resource for both their plans. If you’re doing Flex, then the nutritional info is right there so you can figure points easily, and a lot of their recipes are Core or very easily converted.

I’m with the people who support small portions. When I was doing WW, I would just carefully measure out a 2 or 3 point portion of whatever starch my family was having that night. It fit just fine within my points allowance, and while it seemed like a small amount of food, it was perfect for filling me up in conjunction with the vegetables.

Barley did become one of my favourite things to make, though - if you’re using WW online tools, they have an absolutely terrific barley asparagus ‘risotto’.

I second their online site. I’m getting most of my recipes from there now. I’m down about 10 lbs since starting on WW and 25 lbs since April.

Here’s one I call “Crack Cauliflower”

Get one head cauliflower.

Break into florets.

Now slice those florets very very thinly, I think the phrase is “across the grain”, so you get extremely thinly sliced cross-sections of a floret.

Scoop up all ensuing crumbles.

Toss in giant plastic bowl. Season with salt, your choice of seasonings (I use Prudhomme’s fish spice blend) and a couple of tablespoons olive oil.

Roast on Pam-sprayed aluminum foil on top of one of those flat metal pans (I think they are called cookie sheets?) in the oven. Play around with times-some people like a high temp for fewer minutes (like 420 for 20 max). Some people like longer at lower temp (like 40 to 45 at 350 or 375).

The faster-higher method gives the crispest results but you MUST check it every few minutes after about 10 minutes because they can burn easily.

Take out with the crumbles are golden and crispy. The crumbles are a good measure of when to take it out. When they are golden brown and don’t taste “burnt” your roasted crack cauliflower is done.

Tastes kinda like french fries. Check it out on eGullet if you don’t believe me. Very very addictive. I bet your baby would really like.

Goes well with pan fried tilapia and a salad if we’re talking WPF.

As for me, I find white rice is the worst, my doctor sister claims it’s like straight sugar to the bloodstream, which is sad since it’s a staple of an Asian diet. I measure it out when I eat it-only 3/4s of a cup cooked. I find that I can easily control portions of rice (but I have an automatic gluttony response to spaghetti so I’ve cut pasta out of my diet entirely) but it’s not worth it to make it every day anyway. I toss extra daal on top to make up for eating less of it when I do make it though. Oh, and if you are comfy with flatbreads I can post my chapati recipe which is made out of whole wheat flour and Mori-Nu silken tofu. They’re amazing.

:smack: I forgot about Dana! (The cousin of a good friend of mine, actually.) I have at least one of her books from my (very, very short-lived) Atkins attempt.

I am, but I was having a lot of problems with the site today - long loading times, pages loading incompletely. It got very frustrating.

Yeah, that’s exactly what I’m worried about. The aforementioned Atkins phase was seriously less than two weeks because I was ready to murder someone to get a noodle. The WW Flex-plan is my dream - I can eat ice cream every night. Maybe that’s why I’ve only wanted it one night out of the four - it’s not forbidden fruit, so I spend less time thinking about it.

See above. Just not going to happen. I’m happy to reduce to a few times a week, but I seriously and without hyperbole would rather die than feel like I did for those (not) two weeks without (anything but complex) carbs. I’d rather leave my children an orphan than again subject them to my explosive anger, migraines and lack of energy during that time.

I couldn’t do the full-on low carb thing for very long either. I didn’t have the temper, but I felt as tired as I did when I was first pregnant.

I do best on Core, because I hate writing stuff down, but I do notice that when I stick to just Core foods for a week or so, the craving for sugar goes way down.

I also want to recommend cous cous, if you haven’t tried it. It’s Core and not restricted like rice. It’s also really quick to make–just boil water or broth, add the cous cous, cover and it’s ready in 5 minutes.

My girlfriend went on a South Beach kick awhile back and tried to get me into it. I liked some of the ideas and adopted them, but I don’t do well with rigid plans. You can do this stuff intelligently as long as you take the long-term view. I think it’s really hard for most people to completely switch their diet around. I cut way down on bread and other highly refined foods, and I feel a lot better about eating almost unlimited amounts of other foods. I’m actually enjoying my slightly modified eating habits.

(And I completely ignore the advice about alcohol. Sorry, I’m not giving up wine. Life’s too short.)

Heh, isn’t THAT the truth. I long ago decided I’d rather carry around an extra ten or fifteen pounds and have wine in my life than be skinny with no wine. Sometimes you just have to accept the facts. :stuck_out_tongue:

My wife is on WW, and I eat as much of the meals as I want. We have a lot of the books, and she goes to the online sites also.

Carbs haven’t been a big problem, if they fit into the points available. We both like rice, so that helps.
We plan the entire week on Saturday morning, and make one big shopping trip. It saves gas, and time, and with a list we don’t buy stuff that we don’t need, but will eat anyway.

One thing that has worked for us is a notebook where we keep pointers to recipes we’ve tried and which have worked. That way, six months on, if you can’t think of anything one week you can browse through old favorites.

Good luck! It worked for her, and I even lost weight.