Weightwatchers Ultlimate Chicken Cookbook, by Weightwatchers
It is perhaps unsurprising that I would find this book to be a bit wanting, though I have to say that there was something a bit entertaining in looking at this book and trying to puzzle whether or not it was a good thing or a bad thing to maximize the WeightWatcher points in various dishes. After all, some of the suggestions below various recipes suggested ways that pita bread could add three points to a given recipe as well as other ways that the points could be reduced to only 1 or 2 if prepared differently as an appetizer rather than as a meal. At any rate, this was not the sort of book where I was actively looking for recipes as much as seeing what the approach of the authors would be to a food that has obvious appeal as a lean protein. There are many ways you can make chicken unhealthy (some of them, like southern fried chicken, being ways I deeply enjoy eating chicken) but there are also ways to make chicken healthy and lean and it is always curious to see how that can be done, which is something that a great many readers of this book can also see if they so wish.
This book is a large one at more than 300 pages and is divided into several sections. The book begins with an introduction about Weight Watchers and some notes about the recipes included in the book. Some of these notes are a bit redundant, since even a cursory look at the ingredients will reveal a great deal about the philosophy involved in choosing the ingredients of the recipes. The book begins with hearty salads and then discusses sandwiches and wraps. This is followed by substantial soups and stews, which appears to be labeled as it is mainly to assuage the reader that such meals are in fact substantial as well as to show some alliteration. This is followed by a section on stir-fries and skillet meals and then roasts and bakes, many of which are familiar to various books. There are some suggestions for grilled food as well as slow-cooker dinners. Following this is an appetizer section, food that can be cooked in 20 minutes or less, food that is good to give to company who might not be on a drastic diet, as well as dishes that one makes ahead of time. The book is then finished with a discussion of dishes involving other birds like turkey, cornish hens, quail, and duck, as well as measurement equivalents, conversions, a pointsplus value index, and an index.
By and large, the techniques used in this book are pretty limited in terms of ways to make chicken dishes more healthy. Certain foods are avoided–one does not find mayo as an ingredient here, for example, but one does find a fair amount of Dijon mustard (which is healthier I suppose) and a lot of fruit and vegetable and seasoning options that add flavor without adding a lot of fat. Even as someone who does not tend to to mainly think of this book’s main mission, there was still a good deal here that I was able to enjoy and appreciate. Some of the dishes, like the rosemary roast chicken with potatoes, look particularly tasty and do not sacrifice any flavor or taste in order to achieve a healthy dish. And for those who do not want peppers or would prefer regular chicken broth to the reduced sodium options on offer here, these recipes are often easy enough to adapt to one’s own tastes. To be sure, most of the readers of this book are clearly likely to be following the WeightWatchers plan, but for those who are not there are still some dishes here that are well worth trying out, and that is enough for a book to be a good one.