Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Weight Watchers Virtual Event

This evening I invited friends over to watch the Weight Watchers Virtual Event. As an Weight Watchers Insider, I was provided with a package of goodies to share with my guests. One of the goodies was the Weight Watchers PointsPlus Cookbook. I had plans to make a few of the recipes, but as I was preparing the Chipotle-Lime Veggie Chips, I had an unfortunate run in with my mandolin - I cut my thumb, so I wound up cutting my menu back to just a few items. (It seems to be a reasonable cut. I had to change my bandage once, because after doing some dishes it was too wet. The bleeding had stopped, but because it is on the end of the thumb on my dominant hand, as I was trying to open and squeeze out some antibiotic cream I managed to cause it to open up slightly. It's not a big deal and really, this isn't the focus of my post.)

As I was saying, I invited over friends to watch the Weight Watchers Virtual Event. We had an evening full of yummy food (although less than planned) and good conversation.

My plan had been to have a spinach salad with feta cheese for dinner and then to share a number of fruit and vegetable snacks as an accompaniment. The first dish I prepared was the Sour Cream and Roasted Red Pepper dip recipe that I found on the new Weight Watchers Kitchen Companion iPad App (love the app, but more about that another time). It was a really simple to prepare dip that gets a boost of flavor and a bit of heat from fresh chopped cilantro. The second dish I prepared was the previously mentioned Chipotle-Lime Veggie Chips with a Zero PointsPlus value. I found this recipe in the PointsPlus Cookbook that Weight Watchers provided as a gift for my guests. It used thinly sliced (I switched to a knife, so my slices weren't as thin as they might have been) carrots, parsnips and sweet potato tossed with a bit of oil and some seasoning including lime zest and chipotle red pepper. Then you bake them in your oven until they brown and crisp. I also had some Chick Peas that I was planning to turn into a toasted snack, but they will wait.

This morning, I had the sweet potato sitting on my counter next to the bananas. As my 4 year old daughter grabbed a banana that she wanted for breakfast, she asked about the funny looking banana. I thought it was cute. I must normally buy yams and not sweet potatoes - the sweet potato was white not red.

As I prepped the vegetables for the chips, my son asked about the Parsnip. I have to say that unless I have had it in a recipe, I don't think that I have ever had a Parsnip. He started by trying the small end that was left after I cut the chips. He immediately asked for more. I went ahead and peeled and chopped a second parsnip. I tried it. The parsnip is similar in appearance to a carrot, but is white. To me, it had a bit more of a bite than a carrot and the flavor was more earthy. I love that we had a chance to try a new vegetable. I love that my kids are adventurous and will try new things - not because I ask, but because they are curious and want to.

When the dip and chips were ready, we all prepped our plates so we could watch the video. There was a bit of a delay in the show starting due to some technical difficulties, so we ate and talked while we waited. The dip was delicious served with celery, carrots and parsnips and it also doubled well as a dressing for the spinach salad. The veggies chips were really good. Since they were thicker, they weren't as crispy as I would expect of a chip, but they were flavorful and had a good texture. After eating the parsnip cooked, I think I prefer it that way to the raw - which is interesting, because I prefer raw carrots to cooked ones.

Not only did my guests enjoy the food we tried, but so did the kids. In fact, my son kept coming over and taking more and more of the veggie chips. I was okay with it, except I would have liked to have had more myself!

The virtual event finally started and was informative. They shared information about the new PointsPlus program and shared insight on why they made some of the changes. I thought it was interesting when they made a comment about the fact that on the old program that a 100 calorie apple and a 100 calorie bag of chips were both the same Points value. This was something that was corrected in the new program where fruits have a PointsPlus value of zero and the PointsPlus values are based not on the calories, but on where the calories come from - the carbohydrates, fats, protein and fiber. They also provided a demo about their free Weight Watchers Kitchen Companion iPad app and shared their new commercial and a performance by Jennifer Hudson.

Then, to end the show they moved on to a cooking demo, where they made Easy Fried Rice. You can find the recipe link on their Facebook page. They also showed some other things that they made - including a Black Bean Brownie. I'm not a black bean eater, it's a texture thing, but maybe pureed and mixed with chocolate, I might have to try these. They also showed a zero PointPlus value Cauliflower Popper (or something like that). I am hoping they share the recipe - the kids and I really enjoy cauliflower.

Since they had problems with the broadcast tonight, they will be replaying it tomorrow. I don't know when, but would check back on their Facebook site for details.

I wish I had pictures to share, but between getting everything ready and cutting myself, I managed to forget.

No compensation was received for this post. I am a Weight Watchers Insider and was provided with a party pack for tonight's Virtual Event. It included a gift card to purchase fruits and veggies for the party, and vegetable peelers, cookbooks and Mint Cookie Crisp Bars for me and five guests.