IT'S a struggle many of us know all too well. You tell yourself it's time to lose those kilos that crept up on you. You commit yourself to the latest weight loss fad and restrict yourself to no carbs, no fats, bowls of cabbage soups and grapefruit upon grapefruit. And suddenly, you start to miss the food you loved. Before you know it, you've fallen off the wagon.
This was certainly true for Anna Van Dyken, who has just released her first cookbook 50% Weight Loss, 100% Healthier.
The home cook has shed an astonishing 70kg over eight years through eating nourishing, healthy foods with support from the WW (formerly Weight Watchers) program.
Her new book is a collection of some of the delicious recipes she has created over the years.
There's recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert as well as for special occasions such as entertaining guests and even Christmas.
Think Chai-spiced pears in syrup, Hawaiian pizza bites, Maple soy and sweet-chilli salmon, lemon and raspberry cheesecakes and chocolate mousse. All 120 recipes are easy to cook, budget-friendly and full of flavour.
"Losing 70 kilos has added years to my life. My greatest achievement has been to take control of my family's health and turn all our lives around," Anna said.
While Anna herself is a WW ambassador, the recipes suit both those following the program and those cooks wanting a bit of healthy meal inspiration.
Here's one of her sweet ideas for when you have guests popping around.
Honey, ricotta and date rolls
Makes 16, prep time 15 min, cook time 15 min. One point on WW plans.
Crunchy, sweet-filled filo pastries make a wonderful treat to take to a family gathering, or just to enjoy for afternoon or morning tea. These are best eaten on the day they are made.
- 270 g reduced-fat fresh ricotta cheese
- 21/2 teaspoons honey
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, plus extra to sprinkle
- 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
- 60 g pitted medjool dates, chopped
- 25 g pistachio nut kernels, chopped
- 6 sheets filo pastry
- 1/2 teaspoon pure icing sugar
1 Preheat oven to 180°C. Line a baking tray with baking paper. Combine ricotta, honey, cinnamon, vanilla, dates, pistachios and a pinch of salt in a medium bowl.
2 Lay 1 filo sheet on a flat surface and lightly spray with oil. Repeat with 2 more sheets of filo to make a stack. Repeat with remaining filo sheets to make 2 filo stacks. Cut each stack into eight 10 x 14 cm rectangles.
3 Place 1 tablespoon ricotta mixture in the centre of each rectangle. Roll up like a spring roll and place on tray. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden.
4 Sift icing sugar over the top and sprinkle with cinnamon just before serving.
Extract from 50% Weight Lost 100% Healthier by Anna Van Dyken, published by Macmillan Australia, RRP $36.99, photography by Jeremy Simons.