The meat-free dishes that could help you slim down after lockdown

Lose a stone for summer with gourmet veggies! Aubergine & paneer jalfrezi and cauliflower risotto… the meat-free dishes that could help you slim down after lockdown

  • WW series gives dishes designed to appeal to everyone and help maintain a healthy waistline  
  • Meals based around vegetables are packed with vitamins and minerals, affordable and easy to prepare
  • If you’re choosing to eat less meat for health or ethical reasons, these recipes will give you the inspiration for tasty, healthy veg-based meals 

Packed with vitamins and minerals, bursting with summery flavours, yet affordable and easy to prepare, it’s no wonder that increasing numbers of us are basing more of our meals around vegetables.

You may be choosing to eat less meat (or cutting it out altogether) for health or ethical reasons, or perhaps you’re keen to take advantage of the disease-fighting properties that fruit and vegetables offer.

‘There are so many good reasons to embrace all the delicious seasonal fruit and vegetables that we associate with summer, and the fact that they will also help you to lose weight is an added bonus. It’s a win-win,’ says Julia Westgarth, head of programme at WW, formerly known as Weight Watchers.

‘Most fruit and vegetables are classed as having ZeroPoints on whichever myWW+ colour plan you choose to follow, because of their incredible benefits for your health — from boosting your immune system to helping to reduce your risk of certain cancers.

‘Fruit and veg are a fantastic source of fibre, which helps you to feel fuller and also aids digestion. Try to enjoy as many differently coloured varieties as you can.

‘It’s also quite hard to overeat veggies. This means you can enjoy them without worrying about weighing or portion sizes and they won’t count towards your daily SmartPoints budget.

‘We may not be able to travel as we’d like this summer, but there’s no reason you can’t recreate some of your favourite exotic meals at home using the vegetables, pulses, herbs and spices you’d find abroad.’

Let your thoughts drift to Italy as you sit down to a supper of light-but-filling cauliflower risotto or imagine the sunlight on the Mediterranean as you savour a bite of olive and artichoke tart.

Or for something a little more exotic, try our creamy, aromatic recipe for pumpkin kale and coconut curry (see MyMail.co.uk for these and more delicious recipes).

All are featured in today’s exclusive selection of delectable vegetarian and vegan recipes as we continue our fabulous WW series to help you lose up to a stone — and a whole dress size — by the time lockdown restrictions finally end.

‘One of the best things about vegetable dishes is that they’re light yet sustaining, a far cry from the heavy cheese-and-stodge dishes we used to associate with vegetarian options in the past,’ says Julia Westgarth.

The myWW+ app is packed with a wide range of delectable, nourishing vegetarian and vegan suggestions for you to try at home.

You can also use the app to check the SmartPoints values of your own recipes: just tap in the ingredients and quantities and it will do the calculations for you.

‘Try experimenting with flavoured oils — using a spray of coconut or chilli oil instead of olive oil — and don’t forget to add texture with a few nuts and seeds or some crumbled feta cheese on top,’ advises Julia.

If you start today, you could have dropped a whole dress size by the end of June, and be well on the way to transforming your health and quality of life.

And who knows, you may also have discovered a new repertoire of delicious, vegetable-based dishes to enjoy with family and friends.

BUTTERNUT SQUASH & QUINOA SALAD

This butternut squash and quinoa salad (pictured) can help you cut down on your meat intake whether for health or ethical reasons

Prep: 10 mins l Cook: 10 mins 

Serves 1

  • 250g butternut squash, cut into wedges
  • ½ red onion, cut into thick wedges
  • Calorie-controlled cooking spray
  • 60g tricolour quinoa
  • 30g light feta

For the herb dressing:

  • ½ tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp white wine vinegar
  • ¼ garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh dill
  • ½ tbsp finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • ½ tbsp chopped fresh coriander

Preheat the oven to 200c/fan 180c/ gas mark 6.

Put the squash and onion on a small non-stick baking tray, mist with cooking spray then season well. Roast for 30 minutes, turning once, until cooked through and golden.

Meanwhile, toast the quinoa in a small pan set over a medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring constantly, until dry and fragrant. Stir in 180 ml cold water and bring to a boil. 

Reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes, until the liquid is absorbed and the quinoa is tender. Remove from the heat and let stand for 5 minutes, before fluffing up the quinoa with a fork.

Transfer to a bowl and add the butternut squash and onion.

Make the herb dressing:

In a small bowl, combine the oil, vinegar, garlic and herbs, then season to taste. Drizzle the dressing over the quinoa and squash, then gently toss to combine.

Transfer to a plate and serve with the feta crumbled over the top.

myWW+: 10 SmartPoints value (green), 10 SmartPoints value (blue) and 4 SmartPoints value (purple) 

CAULIFLOWER RISOTTO

Let your thoughts drift to Italy as you sit down to a supper of light-but-filling cauliflower risotto (pictured)

Prep: 15 mins l Cook: 35 mins 

Serves 4

  • Calorie-controlled cooking spray
  • 650g cauliflower, florets roughly chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 200ml vegetable stock, made with 1 stock cube
  • 12g nutritional yeast
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves stripped
  • 250g chestnut mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, to serve

Mist a non-stick pan with cooking spray and set over a medium heat. Add one-third of the cauliflower and all the garlic and cook, stirring, for 2-3 minutes. 

Add the stock, bring the mixture to a simmer and cook, covered, for 15 minutes until the cauliflower is tender. Remove from the heat, sprinkle over the nutritional yeast, and use a stick blender to blitz the mixture to a smooth purée.

Meanwhile, put the remaining cauliflower into a food processor and blitz until the texture of rice, then set aside. Mist a large non-stick frying pan with cooking spray and add the onion, thyme, mushrooms and 2 tablespoons of water.

Cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes until the vegetables are tender.

Add the cauliflower rice and 50 ml boiling water and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes until hot. Stir the cauliflower purée into the mixture, adding a splash of water if the ‘risotto’ is too thick.

Season to taste and serve garnished with the parsley.

myWW+: 1 SmartPoint value (green, blue and purple) 

AUBERGINE & PANEER JALFREZI

If you start today, you could drop a whole dress size by the end of June, and be well on the way to transforming your health and quality of life with recipes like this aubergine and paneer jalfrezi

Prep: 10mins | Cook: 25mins

Serves 1

  • 60g brown basmati rice
  • Calorie-controlled cooking spray
  • 130g aubergine, chopped
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 green chilli, deseeded; ½ finely chopped and ½ finely sliced
  • 1 onion, finely sliced
  • 1 yellow pepper, deseeded and finely sliced
  • ½ tsp garam masala
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp chilli powder
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • 2 tsp grated ginger
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 2 large tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 40g paneer, diced
  • Small handful fresh coriander leaves, to serve

Bring a pan of water to the boil, add the rice and cook for 25 minutes until tender. Drain.

Meanwhile, mist a medium non-stick frying pan with cooking spray and fry the aubergine for 7-8 minutes until soft.

Add the cumin seeds, chopped chilli, onion and pepper and fry for another 7- 8 minutes until soft. Stir in the garam masala, cumin, chilli powder, turmeric, ginger and garlic and fry for another minute, adding a splash of water if the pan gets too dry.

Stir in the tomatoes, 2 tablespoons water and the paneer and warm through for 3-4 minutes. Season to taste.

Serve the rice and curry garnished with the sliced chilli and coriander leaves.

myWW+: 11 SmartPoints value (green), 11 SmartPoints value (blue) and 5 SmartPoints value (purple)

HOW IT WORKS 

WW’s healthy eating programme, myWW+, works because it’s flexible and based on solid science.

It is based on four key elements: healthy eating, exercise, good sleeping patterns and a mindset package that helps you to adopt a healthier frame of mind.

To tailor your food choices to your lifestyle, myWW+ offers a choice of three plans: Green, Blue and Purple.

You can go to ww.com or the myWW+ app for a personalised assessment to discover which plan is best for you.

All plans are based on SmartPoints and ZeroPoint foods; every food and drink has a SmartPoints value — one easy-to-use number that naturally guides you towards a healthier pattern of eating.

On top of this, you can enjoy ZeroPoint foods. These are vital for your health and have a SmartPoints value of 0, meaning you can eat them without counting or weighing them.

When you join myWW+, you’re given a customised SmartPoints Budget according to which plan you are matched with. The list of ZeroPoint foods also depends on your plan.

GREEN: For people who eat on the go or enjoy pre-prepared foods, Green gives a Daily Budget of 30 SmartPoints and 100+ ZeroPoint fruits and veggies to choose from.

BLUE: If you like cooking, but also want the flexibility of the occasional ready-meal, Blue offers a Daily Budget of 23 SmartPoints and 200+ ZeroPoint foods.

PURPLE: Tailored for someone who cooks from scratch and doesn’t want to weigh or measure ingredients, Purple gives the lowest Daily Budget of 16 SmartPoints but the highest allowance of 300+ ZeroPoint foods.

You also get a weekly allowance (weeklies) for splurges or bigger portions; up to four unused SmartPoints from your Daily Budget can be rolled over to your weeklies.

On top of this, you can also boost your SmartPoints Budget by earning additional FitPoints for any activity you undertake.

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