A 50th anniversary calls for a big celebration with lots of food. Even an organization dedicated to eating less is no exception.

Weight Watchers International Inc., the worldwide leader in weight management, is marking its 50th anniversary with a new cookbook, “Weight Watchers 50th Anniversary Cookbook: 280 Delicious Recipes for Every Meal.”

It was in May 1963 when serial dieter Jean Nidetch decided that losing weight was too challenging on her own, and recruited friends to come over once a week to share tips on eating better.

The combination of information and moral support proved so popular that soon the meetings outgrew Nidetch’s living room and her neighborhood in Queens, New York.

Now, an estimated 1 million people attend weekly meetings, including four meetings held each week in Galveston County. League City, Dickinson, Texas City and Galveston each host a meeting in a business, church or community center.

Each meeting features advice on healthy eating and recipes that enable Weight Watchers members to enjoy their meals without overindulging. Many of the most popular of these recipes are included in the anniversary cookbook.

The cookbook also contains a few blasts from the past that have been Weight Watchers classics for decades. Orange Chicken made its Weight Watchers debut in the 1970s and after appearing in several others Weight Watchers cookbooks, was chosen as one of the family favorites for the anniversary cookbook.

Just as the Weight Watchers organization has updated its image with younger spokeswoman singer Jennifer Hudson, the recipes also have been updated to reflect a modern preference for fresh ingredients. Orange Chicken originally called for canned mandarin oranges, but has received a 21st century makeover calling for fresh fruit instead.

Many of the new recipes incorporate ingredients formerly branded as illegal in the early years of Weight Watchers when dieters were expected to swear off nuts, bananas, alcohol, avocados and other tempting items.

In the current Points Plus weight-loss plan, no food is ever off limits; moderation is seen as a more effective strategy than prohibition.

While all the recipes are presented with nutritional information consistent with the Weight Watchers Points Plus method, they are designed to help anyone eat a healthy, better-balanced diet even without joining the program.

The cookbook also features dozens of helpful tips on cooking techniques, grocery shopping strategies and new ingredients.

The recipes range from everyday dinners to elegant meals that are appropriate for celebrating special occasions — like a 50th anniversary.

Orange Chicken


  • 1 medium orange
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary, crumbled
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
  • 1 1⁄2 pounds uncooked boneless skinless chicken thighs,

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Peel off the zest with a zester or vegetable peeler, making sure to avoid the bitter white pith underneath; mince the zest. Trim off the remaining orange rind with a knife and cut the orange into eight wedges.

Stir the orange zest, oil, paprika, rosemary, garlic salt and pepper in a small bowl. Rub the orange mixture all over the chicken. Transfer the chicken to a roasting pan and scatter the orange wedges around the chicken pieces.

Roast the chicken and oranges until the juices run clear and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the chicken reads 165 degrees, about 35 minutes.

(Recipe from “Weight Watchers 50th Anniversary Cookbook: 280 Delicious Recipes for Every Meal”)

Fish Tacos


  • 1⁄2 cup light sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, minced
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon table salt
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 16 oz uncooked Atlantic cod, or halibut, skinless fillets cut in 1-inch pieces
  • 8 medium corn tortillas, 6-inch
  • 1⁄2 cup uncooked green or red cabbage, thinly sliced

Spray a broiler rack with cooking spray; preheat the broiler.

Stir together the sour cream and chipotles in a small bowl. Set aside.

Sprinkle the fish with the chili powder, salt and pepper. Lightly spray the fish with olive oil cooking spray and place on the broiler rack.

Broil 5 inches from the heat until the fish flakes easily when tested with a fork, 3-5 minutes.

Divide the fish among the tortillas and top with the sour cream mixture and cabbage.

(Recipe from “Weight Watchers 50th Anniversary Cookbook: 280 Delicious Recipes for Every Meal”)

Cheese Puffs

  • 1 12-ounce can evaporated fat-free milk
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3⁄4 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 3⁄4 teaspoon salt
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1⁄3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1⁄2 cup shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese

Bring the milk, butter, mustard, salt and pepper to a boil in a medium saucepan; reduce the heat to medium.

Beat in the flour and Parmesan cheese with a wooden spoon, stirring vigorously, until the mixture leaves the side of the pan. Cool for 10 minutes.

Adjust the racks to divide the oven into thirds; preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Line two baking sheets with foil and lightly coat with nonstick spray. With an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the eggs into the flour mixture until well blended.

Sift in the baking powder, then add the egg whites and continue beating until the mixture is glossy and smooth. Beat in the cheddar cheese on low speed until just combined.

Spoon the mixture into a pastry bag or a plastic food-storage bag with a corner cut off. Pipe into 1-inch mounds, spacing 1 inch apart.

You can also pipe the mixture into 11⁄2-inch-long fingers if you prefer.

You should have about 75 puffs or fingers.

Bake until golden brown and firm to the touch, 22 minutes. Serve hot or warm.

(Recipe from “Weight Watchers 50th Anniversary Cookbook: 280 Delicious Recipes for Every Meal”)

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