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Why am I talking about a book from Weightwatchers in Christmas Week? I know, at this time of year we think of feasts and richness. Health eating is shoved to deepest, farthest reaches of our conscious brains. Thing is, the subconscious mind is still there saying, “You oughta …”

Most of us are not going to eat healthy each and every day, and certainly not on many nights in the couple of weeks. Christmas Eve, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, New Year’s, … Life would be drab without celebration and what better days to celebrate.

For over fifty years, Weight Watchers has been devoted to helping us eat both healthy and deliciously. This book, Weightwatchers New Complete Cookbook, is just that: new and complete with over 500 recipes covering every possible way to nibble and bite from dawn to dusk. [Yes, sometimes it is Weight Watchers and sometimes Weightwatchers.]

This book offers you options: everything from healthy eating for every meal to making some modest changes that can make your current style of eating healthier without no great sacrifice. Those changes are ones you can make now, right now, this week. Consider this healthier way of making mashed potatoes, a likely dish for sometime in the coming week:

Creamy Mashed Potatoes

Serves: 6


  • 2 pounds baking potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • ¾ cup reduced-fat milk, warmed
  • 1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ teaspoons alt
  • Pinch black pepper


Combine potatoes and enough water to cover by 1 inch in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil Reduce heat and simmer until tender, about 12 minutes. Drain and return to the pan.

With a potato masher, mash potatoes until smooth. With a wooden spoon, beat in the milk, oil, salt, and pepper.

Yes, these mashed potatoes are a long way from the French style where half the volume is butter. Yes, they will taste less rich, but they are far better for you. On the table, you may add salt and pepper, you may top off with butter, or you may spoon on some gravy. By the time you have made these personal modifications, unless you have the palate of restaurant critic, you should find these mashed potatoes to be just fine. A good olive oil here can add flavor notes that you do appreciate. Or, you might modify this recipe by incorporating a couple of ounces of, say, blue cheese to just add some spark. Divided over six portions, that small amount of cheese is not going to compromise the healthy basis of this mashed potato recipe. Think of the recipes in New Complete as templates and not mandates.

And that’s why I suggest you want this book, now, in your kitchen. Did you just buy some salmon steaks, expecting to use your favorite and rich recipe? Just take a look at the Southwestern Salmon recipe for an alternative that is sure to offer taste and visual pleasure: salmon + cumin + hot pepper sauce + yellow and red bell pepper strips.

If you love lamb chops, you could consider Lamb Chops with Yogurt-Mint Sauce. Pork? There’s Caribbean-Style Pork Tenderloin with garlic, cumin, orange zest and juice, and lime zest and juice.

For many of the dishes already in your recipe portfolio, there will be something comparable in New Complete, something that gives you a terrific meal and has the added benefits of healthy cooking.

I’m suggesting this “look for something like what I’ve been doing” as a graceful way to slide into a new way of dining. Like you, I detest the “sacrifice” word. But, if I can find a way to tastefully adjust, then I will not feel that I am compromising my salt-and-sugar heritage. Well, not compromising too much!

There are 16 chapters in the book, ranging from Breakfasts and Brunch to two final ones on dessert: Cakes, Pies, Holiday Bread and Cookies and Fruit and Frozen Desserts, Puddings, and More.

There are chapters for soups, as sides or main dishes. The same for salads. There is vegetarian, meat, poultry, and seafood. Because this is a truly complete book, there are chapters for 20‑Minute Main Dishes and Slow-Cooker Favorites.

Every meal and every time issue you face during the week is covered somewhere in New Complete.

That last dessert chapter? The one that ends in “and More?” Well, “more” includes a Lemon‑Pear Tiramisu made with limoncello and light cream cheese. It’s a lovely recipe, so emblematic of the entire collection of recipes in New Complete. New Complete is a wide ranging cookbook, one filled with strong ideas that can entice us to changes benefiting us all.

Christmas is in three days. Need a gift for a foodie friend? Need a gift for yourself? New Complete is a 500-recipe stocking stuffer everyone will find interesting and most edible.