Weight Watchers Gets A Face-Lift With PointsPlus

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After seeing how stunning Jennifer Hudson looked at the 2011 Academy Awards, we had to wonder, what is this new PointsPlus system all about? Like the Awards show, the new program seems to be targeting a younger, hipper demographic by working with fashion guru Tim Gunn and singer/actress Jennifer Hudson to give the face of Weight Watchers a fresher image.

To discover more about the new cookbook and the PointsPlus program, we asked Nancy Gagliardi, Weight Watchers Publishing Group Vice President and Editorial Director of the company's magazine, a few questions.


The book seems to have a wide range of recipes, from healthy salads to richer, more indulgent dishes like baked macaroni and cheese, how does the point system work in the cookbook so that users can balance their diet?

The recipes in this cookbook reflect our new PointsPlus program, the biggest innovation from WW in about a decade. Briefly, the plan focuses on steering consumers to make healthier, more wholesome food choices — so, not surprisingly, the recipes are centered around plenty of fresh foods like fresh fruits and veggies, whole grains, and lean meats... all the good stuff that we know we have to eat more of if we want to be healthier and, of course, lose weight.


How does this new cookbook compare to previous Weight Watcher cookbooks?

I really think this 4th Edition of New Complete is our best yet. Not only did we revise those 500+ recipes, but we went into the revision thinking, "How can we get people back in the kitchen and cooking?" Everyone knows that if you're trying to lose weight and/or live a healthier lifestyle, you have to become more aware of what you eat, so cooking becomes a priority. So we tried to banish all the roadblocks: We included an entirely new up front section, including lists of all the things you should have on hand (like must-have kitchen tools, and pantry staples for the shelves, fridge and freezer, etc.) so that when you want to cook, you can; specifics on how to measure; the basics on food safety — so important to Americans right now; resources for food items/staples you may not be able to find in your market; and more. Plus there are how-to boxes with photos throughout and hundred of tips on everything from substitutions you can make in the recipes to ideas for rounding out meals. Just tons of good, practical, useable info.


It's been mentioned that the new cookbook is aimed at reflecting the way Americans are eating today, how would you say it accomplishes that and what has changed?

When we sat down to look at the recipes we really wanted to weed out the ones that we felt (while still good recipes) really defined an era when cooking with "different" ingredients (like sun-dried tomatoes, for example) signified that something was exotic. Now, people regularly will cook — or are game to try — recipes that use regional Chinese, Southeast Asian, or Indian flavors. So we've included far more dishes with bigger, bolder flavors — without bypassing those classic American favorites (like the baked macaroni and cheese, meatloaf, etc.). We also worked hard at making the recipes easy to prepare with fewer steps. Our recipes tend to be very clearly written (we seldom get questions from confused consumers/readers on our directionals), but we didn't want to overwrite so that the recipes were so long, people wouldn't try them. I think we struck a nice balance on all fronts.


Who developed the recipes?

A core group of creative developers and food editors we regularly work with who understand the WW program, as well as the latest news and ideas that are swirling throughout the food world.


Why were there no cocktail recipes in the book?

Interesting question. Guess I was being biased: I'd rather eat my Points than drink them. Maybe in the next revision we'll include a chapter — thanks for the idea.


Click here to see the PointsPlus Braised Halibut with Tomatoes and Orzo recipe. 

Click here to see the PointsPlus "Fried" Catfish with Potato Sticks recipe.