Weightwatchers phenomenon Anna Van Dyken lost 70 kilograms - half her body weight - in 2016, achieving her goal weight over a remarkable four-year journey. Fast-forward to 2021 and Anna has maintained her goal weight for five years.
Now she shares her tips and tricks for weight loss maintenance, as well as more than 90 new recipes for long-term success.
Weight Watchers started in 1963 in the United States; the first meeting attracted 400 people. The first Australian meeting was in 1969 in Sydney. Now, there are more than five million members world-wide.
The weight-loss program has recently rebranded itself as WW, focusing on wellness as well as weight loss.
"If you've started, or are planning to start your own wellness journey, always remember you are stronger than you think and more capable than you realise," she says.
"Take each day as it comes and try to find as much joy as you can."
And here are some delicious recipes to start with.
- How I've Kept the Weight Off, by Anna Van Dyken. Macmillan Australia, $39.99.
Chocolate almond slice
I can confirm that this slice is absolutely delicious. Rich and naturally sweet, this is a treat for all chocolate lovers.
65g roasted almonds
45g gluten-free rice puffs cereal (see tip)
400g chopped pitted medjool dates
100g almond butter
2 tsp vanilla essence
70g dark chocolate (70% cocoa)
1 tsp sea salt flakes
1. Lightly spray a 20cm square cake tin with oil. Line base and sides with baking paper.
2. Process almonds in a food processor until coarsely chopped. Transfer to a large bowl with rice puffs.
3. Process dates in a food processor until coarsely chopped. Add almond butter and vanilla and process to form a thick paste. Add to bowl with almonds and rice puffs. Mix with clean wet hands until well combined. Press evenly into tin.
4. Microwave chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl on High (100%) in 30 second bursts, stirring, until smooth and melted. Spread over slice and sprinkle with sea salt. Refrigerate for about three hours, or until slice is firm. Lift from tin and cut into 16 pieces.
To firm up the slice faster, place it in the freezer, instead of the fridge.
I use the Freedom Foods rice puffs cereal, but you can use any sweetened rice puffs cereal, such as rice bubbles. Just be sure not to use pure puffed rice, or you won't get that crispy, crunchy texture.
Best consumed within 2-3 days for maximum crunch.
Berry breakfast bars
I love these bars for so many reasons. They're a great option when I'm on the move and are just as delicious warm and topped with yoghurt, or as a snack. They freeze well, reheat well and eat well. This is the ultimate staple on my weekly planner.
2 eggs, separated
100g quick oats
1 tsp baking powder
170g 99% fat-free plain yoghurt
2 tsp finely grated lemon zest
2 tsp pure maple syrup
2 tbsp unsweetened almond milk
1 tsp vanilla essence
160g mixed berries, roughly chopped
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1. Preheat oven to 160C. Lightly spray six holes of a 12-hole (200ml capacity) mini loaf tray with oil and line with baking paper.
2. Lightly whisk egg whites in a bowl until just starting to foam. Set aside.
3. Combine all remaining ingredients and egg yolks in another large bowl. Gently fold through reserved egg whites (do not overmix). Spoon mixture evenly into paper-lined holes in tray.
4. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until a skewer inserted into centre comes out clean. Set aside in tray for five minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool. Serve.
Keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to two days, or freeze for up to three months.
You can use fresh or frozen berries.
Spinach and ricotta stuffed mushrooms
My delicious mushrooms are the perfect option for a light lunch, either served with a crispy side salad, or simply on their own. Omit the bacon and you have a vegetarian alternative, just as flavoursome.
6 large flat mushrooms, stalks removed
200g reduced-fat fresh ricotta cheese
20g grated parmesan cheese
30g short-cut bacon, fat trimmed, finely chopped
40g baby spinach, finely chopped
3 green shallots, finely chopped
30g semi-dried tomatoes (not in oil), finely chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tsp Tuscan seasoning
2 tsp finely grated lemon zest
1. Preheat oven 180C. Place mushrooms stalk-side-up on a baking paper-lined baking tray.
2. Combine remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper and mix well. Spoon evenly onto mushrooms, lightly spray with oil and cover with foil. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove foil and bake for a further 15-20 minutes or until mushrooms are tender. Serve.
For the best result, use reduced-fat ricotta cheese from the fresh deli section in major supermarkets.
Cheesy broccoli tuna pasta bake
My boys absolutely love tuna mornay and I'm a massive fan of mac 'n' cheese. So I've been inspired to combine the best of both worlds and create this delicious and simple fusion. Success.
250g elbow pasta
1 tsp garlic-infused olive oil
1 brown onion, finely chopped
125g cup mushrooms, sliced
125g broccoli, cut into small florets
1 tbsp dried mixed herbs
100g 99% fat-free plain yoghurt
185g can tuna in springwater, drained, flaked
3 eggs, lightly beaten
25g grated parmesan cheese
100g grated reduced-fat mozzarella cheese
1. Preheat oven to 180C. Cook pasta in a large deep pot of boiling, salted water, following packet instructions. Drain, rinse under cold water, drain well and return to pot.
2. Meanwhile, heat oil in a non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Cook onion, mushrooms, broccoli and herbs for eight to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender. Season with salt and pepper and add to the pasta.
3. Add yoghurt, tuna, eggs, 20g parmesan and half the mozzarella to the pasta. Mix well to combine. Transfer to an ovenproof dish (2.5 litre capacity) and smooth top with a spatula. Sprinkle with remaining parmesan and mozzarella. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden.
Use a pastry brush to distribute olive oil evenly over the surface of frying pan.
Cover the dish with foil if the cheese browns too quickly during baking.