A couple of month ago, I decided to drop twenty pounds by New Year’s Day. As the first step on the road to Slimmerdom, I eliminated alcohol from my diet. That was hard until, suddenly, I got over it. Then in August, I realized that I had to return to the only method that has ever resulted in my losing weight: Weight Watchers. As the Sex and the City character Samantha says, overhearing two women in a bookstore talking about diets, in one episode, “It’s the only thing that works.” It’s true. If you follow WW’s program, you will lose weight. The genius of WW is its simplicity. Simplicity is also what makes it hard. It’s all about repackaging calories in a user-friendly form. You have to have a little bit of the control-freak in you to do it, since you weigh and measure everything you eat. In Spring 2004, I followed the WW regime for about 8 months, and by 2005 I had lost thirty pounds. Since then, my weight has slowly crept back to its starting point. It took a while, but I finally worked myself up to the decision to try WW again. And I’m glad to say that it’s working. Ten pounds down, fifteen to go. And then I’ll lose a last five pounds in a victory lap.

However, I am pissed off. Even though I am in my fifties, when metabolisms are notoriously slower, I am not ready to entirely relinquish my appetites. I like to cook and to eat in reasonable quantity and frequency. It’s the unfairness of life that gnaws at my innards. Some of my friends who are of a similar age eat like birds — or less. Others eat whatever they want and don’t gain weight. They all annoy me. I like to eat. But I am one of those people who will always have to be hungry in order to keep my weight down.

That, as I said, is life. I have to deal with it. The challenge in restraining myself for the next few months to only 1200-1300 calories worth of food a day lies in making it interesting. I don’t want to eat only steamed vegetables. Fortunately, in the five years since I was last on WW the recipe database has greatly improved. It still is by no means a Foodies’ paradise, but one can now make do very well and adapt the recipes to make them more flavorful without adding many calories. Whats more, there’s an iPhone app for WW! When I learned that, I thought all is well with the world.

The photo shows one green pepper cut in half and stuffed. That counts as two servings, if you’re eating anything else in the meal:

2 servings

350 calories or 7 points per serving

about pound of greens (Swiss chard, kale, spinach, or a combination of all three2 green bell peppers)

1/2 onion, chopped

1/2 oz pine nuts

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 cup Israeli couscous

1 ounce hard cheese (Comté, Gruyère, any hard cheese conducive to melting)

Preheat oven to 350.

Clean and stem the greens. Shake the greens of water, but don’t dry the leaves completely. Roughly chop. Set aside.

Chop the half onion. Set aside.

Cut the pepper in half, seed and take out the ribs. Place cavity-side up in a very lightly oiled small baking dish.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet wide enough to accommodate the chopped greens. Add onion and sauté for a few minutes. When the onions are translucent, add the damp greens. Stir to coat with the olive oil and onion. Let the greens throw off their water and wilt. If you want to experiment at this point by adding spices to the greens (a pinch of nutmeg?), do so now.

Meanwhile, place a small saucepan of water on to boil. When the water is boiling, add the half cup of Israeli couscous and cook for 5 minutes. Drain and add to the wilted greens in the skillet. Stir to combine. Add the pine nuts. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Fill the pepper halves with the greens-Israeli couscous filling. Don’t pack it, but you can mound it. You’ll probably have leftover filling. Grate the one ounce hard cheese and sprinkle it over the pepper halves.

Bake in the oven for 50-60 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Variations:

  • If you to add protein and have room for more calories, consider adding a few anchovies to the onions as they sauté.
  • Or skip the Israel couscous, beat an egg and mix it into the sauteed greens after cooling them. The egg will work as a binder.
  • Add a lttle lowfat ricotta to the cooled sauteed greens.