Monday, May 30, 2011

To Jean, With Love - The Next Chapter

On June 30, 1999 - I walked into my first Weight Watchers meeting. Ever.

I will never forget the feeling of stepping on that scale for my starting weigh-in. I was horrified. A little old lady wrote down my weight, handed me my books and then looked me square in the eye. She could tell I was about to cry. She said nothing to me except the following words:

"Honey--You never have to see that number again."

She was right.

I know I usually do a lot of joking around on this blog, but as I approach my 12 year anniversary as a proud WW member I want to get serious for just a moment...

Many people ask me why I am so enamored with Jean Nidetch and all things Weight Watcher. I can only answer that question by explaining how Weight Watchers truly changed my life. There was a time when I woke up every morning dreading the day ahead of me. Everything was hard. Everything was embarrassing. Everything was a major bummer. Food controlled me, and my weight was rapidly getting out of control.

But the day I walked into my first WW meeting, all of that changed. I didn't even have to lose single pound... Just being there I felt more confident. I felt happier. I felt like I was understood. I felt like I fit in. I felt in control.

I could have signed up for any other diet program out there. But thank goodness I didn't. I lost over 40 pounds and I haven't missed a week in 12 years.

A few weeks ago, as I was checking my blog stats, I noticed that several people stumbled upon my blog by searching Google for ways to contact Jean Nidetch and send her a thank you note. I realized that there must be millions of people out there just like me who owe so much to this great lady and want to let her know.

So...If Jean were reading this blog, what would you say to her? Here are just a few of the folks who stepped up to the plate to offer their thoughts...

"Thank You Jean! Your program saved my life!" -- Lynn at Hill Warning

"Thank you aunt Jean! I love your books and I use them as a Bible, as my personal diet plan! I love the way you lost your weight. I love you!" --Mar Si at I Want to Be Thin

"Thanks! - You helped people help themselves and changed lives forever" --Roz at Weighting for 50

"Thank you for Changing my life" --Cilla

"Really Jean, Liver?!" --Leanne at The Skinny Architect

"What's the #1 reason for the obesity epidemic in the US?" --Diane aka Liver Lover

"Thank you, Jean, for proving to us that 'It's choice, not chance, that determines your destiny.'" --- Nacho Mama at Nacho Mama's Blog

As for me? If I could say one thing to Jean it would simply be: If you are ever in the Pittsburgh area - stop by. I can whip up a killer Fluffy Mackerel Pudding, some Coffee Bubblers, and we can invite a few of my WW buddies over for a good old fashioned WW meeting in my living room. I even promise not to gush too much.

OK. Maybe just a little.

Anyone else out there wanna chime in? What would you say to Jean Nidetch?

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Knox to the Rescue (Again)

Here's why it pays off to always keep a few envelopes of Knox Gelatin on hand at all times:

Because all you need is some Knox, hot water, a few drops of extract (I used almond), some non-fat dry milk, some butter flavoring, a couple packets of sweetener and a handful of ice cubes. Throw it in the blender for about 5-8 minutes, and guess what you've got?

Ice Cream. Damn straight you do.

Actually, the 1970 issue of Weight Watchers magazine calls it the Warm Weather Delight. Either way, it is going to blow your mind.

It truly is mind-blowing how these few ingredients come together and form a mousse-like substance that is like no other... One that closely resembles ice cream, but contains no CREAM.

So with this weekend being the "unofficial" start of Summer. I insist you give this one a whirl.

Who needs the Dairy Queen when you can be a Knox Princess? Shut up. You know you want to try it...

Saturday, May 21, 2011

The Worst Thing Ever

There's a show on the Food Network called "The Best Thing I Ever Ate", and I think the premise is that famous chefs talk about foods they have tried all over the world in different categories that are so good--you must eat them before you die. Sort of a culinary bucket list, maybe?

I don't know. I've never seen it. I think it would just tick me off.

Why? Because here is what I ate this morning for breakfast:

Cinnamon Squares

1 16-ounce can bean sprouts
artificial sweetener
1 Tbsp cinnamon
2 slices white bread, toasted

Spread bean spouts on a foil covered cookie sheet and sprinkle with cinnamon & sweetener. Bake at 450 for 15 minutes.

Remove from oven; spoon 1/2 of mixture onto each of 2 pieces of toast. Sprinkle with additional sweetener and cinnamon, if desired. Makes 2 servings.

OK--so mine were not "squares" since I used Arnold's sandwich thins instead of bread. But you get the idea. Whatever.

Believe it or not, this recipe was a third prize winner in the 1971 Weight Watchers Magazine recipe contest. In my opinion? It is the WORST THING I EVER ATE.

Why do I keep torturing myself like this? I don't know. I mean, if the world ended today--would I really want this disgusting Cinnamon Bean Sprout Sandwich to be my last meal? Life's too short. Right? What is the meaning of life anyway????

Dammit. I really need to stop getting so existential about bean sprouts.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

How Jean "Scooped" Us All

Lately, it seems like everywhere I go, someone is talking about making ice cream out of bananas. It's on the web, on television, and in every Weight Watchers meeting from here to Kalamazoo. You take a banana, freeze it, put it in your food processor and yada, yada, yada -- next thing you know you've got ice cream.

But did you know that this is not a brand new idea? Did you know that Jean Nidetch had her own banana ice cream recipe? Of course she did.

Long before the Points Plus generation, Retro Weight Watcher gals were buzzing about a recipe called...

Bananas Arctic

2 medium bananas, peeled and sliced
1 cup skim milk
4 tsp artificial sweetener
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp lemon rind
1/8 tsp cardamom
1 drop red food coloring

Combine all ingredients in a blender; process until smooth. Pour into freezer tray; freeze for 30 minutes. Makes 4 servings.

I made a batch and it was quite yummy...

I ate the whole darn bowl...And I don't feel guilty at all...

Just a little brainfreeze, maybe...

Sunday, May 8, 2011

A Moldy Mother's Day

If I had the time and the patience, my Mother's Day dream would be to prepare the ultimate Retro WW brunch for me & mom. If I had my way, it would be a masterpiece of molds and it would go a little something like this...

We'd start with a salad. A three-step mold of tomato juice and cottage cheese layered in a beautiful display of gelatin love. The Madrilene Cheese Salad--Tres Francais!

Next, we'd move onto the main course. It would be the Shrimp-Salmon Mold. The perfect dish to share with mom! Look at those two perfect little jellied fishies hugging each other atop a bed of fresh lettuce. It almost brings a tear to the eye.

And finally--to top it all off--a Melon Mousse for dessert. Think of the fun we could have sharing our coffee and conversation as we savor the flavor of a pureed, molded cantaloupe mixture.

To make all of these dishes, I would need a whole box of Knox Gelatin, 3 copper molds and about ten hours to prepare them. But it would be worth it to see the look of surprise and delight on my mom's face.

But the reality is--me & my mom are both busy working ladies, so the Ultimate Moldy Retro WW brunch will have to wait. In the meantime, we'll still have a blast hanging out and enjoying each other's company... over a great big pizza just the way we like it. With extra cheese. Oh--and hold the gelatin. Woohoo!

Have a Happy Mother's Day everyone! What are you eating today?

PS: Don't forget to send in your Jean Nidetch love for my great big "To Jean With Love" post coming later this month! Get on board!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Things That Make You Go Hmmm...

If you throw a party in Retro WW style, it's always important to have plenty of the following on hand:
  • A fizzy non-alcoholic punch flavored with rum extract;
  • Assorted Gelatin Molds; and
  • Freaky, yet creative Finger Foods fashioned out of raw vegetables
Here's a fun recipe for a Retro WW party favorite that will have your guests wondering..."What the hell is this thing?"

Cucumber Zips
1 pkg Unflavored Gelatin
2 Cups Tomato Juice
1 1/2 tsps Worcestershire Sauce
1/8 tsp pepper
2 Large Cucumbers

Sprinkle gelatin on tomato juice to soften and cook over low heat until dissolved. Stir in Worcestershire Sauce and pepper. Chill until gelatin is consistency of unbeaten egg whites.

Peel cucumbers; trim off ends and cut in half. Scoop out seeds and pulpy center of cucumber. Stand halves upright in flat dish. Pour slightly thickened tomato juice into cucumbers. Chill until set. Cut into 1/4" slices and serve.

There are many reasons to throw a party this time of year... Weddings, engagements, showers, and graduations. Mother's Day and Father's Day are also right around the corner. So if you are looking for some fun party food to serve to your guests...look no further. The Cucumber Zip is a PIP!

Actually... I'm lying. Please do not serve these things to anyone. Ever.

My advice? Stick to the Chips & Dip. Forget the Cucumber Zip. And get back on the wagon tomorrow!

PS: Don't forget to send in your Jean Nidetch love for my great big "To Jean With Love" post coming later this month! Get on board!