I’m Helen (@ww_helsbels), a WW Gold Member, lifestyle over-hauler and a full-time working Mummy to two children, Daisy (9) and Oliver (3).
I started on my WW journey just over three years ago after the birth of Oliver and have since lost 4.5 stone and maintained a much healthier and happier lifestyle as a result of my weight loss.
There’s also been a much-needed shift to my mindset, which I honestly believe is the key to a long-term lifestyle change.
I can still bake on the WW programme!
The flexibility of the WW plan and the ethos that no food is off limits works for me as I LOVE to bake! For me, baking evokes memories of various seasons, holidays and events and I love creating traditions through baking for my family.
I enjoy looking at the season ahead, considering what fruits and flavours are evocative of that time of year and planning bakes around the calendar. Spring time is absolutely my favourite season as my birthday, Mother’s Day and Easter all fall within this time and are the perfect opportunities for us to get our ‘bake-on’!
My daughter Daisy loves to bake too, and it’s always been something we’ve enjoyed doing together since she was young. With me working full-time, our midweek routine is hectic and once we’ve organised dinner, homework and bath time, there’s little time left to bake, so I like to plan it in over the weekend when we can really enjoy the quality time together.
Baking is also a great way to connect with friends and family, who are often surprised when I tell them what they’ve eaten was a WW recipe!
WW has taught me how to enjoy baked treats in moderation
I’ve learnt how to savour sweet treats nowadays and enjoy them in moderation. I don’t gorge on cake and pastries – and feel guilty as a result – as I know that WW is all about balance.
If I do have a blip (several cakes in a sitting), I simply draw a line under it and start again the following day. I know that one bad day does not make a bad week and whereas previously I’d have fallen completely off plan, WW has taught me to focus on the bigger picture.
I’ve also learnt how to substitute ingredients to make my bakes healthier, but also that ‘traditional baking’ is not off the menu completely as long as I allow for it within my SmartPoints® Budget and enjoy a sensible portion!
I love experimenting with healthy ingredients
As you might expect, we’re huge Great British Bake Off fans – watching the contestants helps us appreciate that not everything turns out perfectly each time!
Baking is all about experimenting and I’ve tried all sorts of weird and wonderful combinations over the years to make recipes healthier…some more successful than others!
I’ve substituted black beans for flour, 0% Greek yoghurt or light mayonnaise in place of butter and vanilla extract for reduced quantities of sugar. The kids are often unaware that I’ve managed to incorporate beetroot or courgette into a chocolate cake, packing in extra moisture and hidden vitamins!
My top tips
If you have the WW app, you can pretty much search for any traditional cakes or desserts and it will list several recipes for a healthier version. Carrot cakes, mince pies, chocolate brownies and hot cross buns are just a few examples, allowing you to enjoy those treats and holiday celebrations without worrying about veering off-plan.
If you are eating out or enjoying someone else’s bakes with little control over the calorie content, don’t deprive yourself. Enjoy them, but in moderation and maybe try and squeeze in some exercise to balance out the splurge!
If it’s your birthday, I live by the mantra that birthday cake is FREE for that one day. Enjoy it, irrespective of the number of candles you’re blowing out!
Our favourite family recipes
Here are a few of my favourite bake recipes that have been given the family seal of approval. I’d love to see posts of your finished bakes, so please feel free to tag me on Instagram @ww_helsbels!
Blueberry Muffins, 4sp each (WW Comfort page 108)
My favourite WW muffin recipe is from the WW Comfort cookbook. The whole family enjoys them and they’re perfect for lunch boxes, picnics and breakfast at my desk. They’re quick and easy to make and freeze incredibly well so I always make double the quantity and store them away ready to defrost in the microwave when I feel like a sweet treat.
Mini Lemon Meringue Pies, 2sp each (WW Bakes page 34)
I love these mini pastries and something about the zesty lemon colour makes me associate them with springtime and Easter. I made these last Easter and served them on a nice platter next to a big bunch of lovely daffodils and some egg decorations. They didn’t feel like a compromise at all!
Cheats Chocolate Brownies, 6sp (Weight Watchers Everyday Favourites page 204)
(The recipe in print is for 16, but I usually cut into 12 which I think is a better portion for 6sp)
Like most children, my two LOVE chocolate desserts and puddings – and I’ve found what I deem to be the best (healthiest) chocolate brownie recipe out there! The main substitution is replacing butter for lightest mayonnaise and it works a treat. We make these regularly and present them in lots of different ways depending on the occasion. For Valentine’s day or a dinner party, I’ve served them with fresh berries and coulis with a dusting of icing sugar. For birthdays, we’ve adding icing, sprinkles and candles. They always go down really well with kids and adults alike, and they’re so moist and chocolatey…people are shocked when I tell them these are WW friendly!
Ginger Biscuits 3sp each (WW Freestyle™ cookbook page 204)
In autumn and winter, there’s nothing better than returning from a lovely long walk to a cup of tea and a biscuit. I always make little gingerbread people with the kids at Christmas, but you can also adapt to the seasons with whichever cutters you have. We will make these in heart shapes for Valentine’s day, flowers for Mother’s Day and bunny rabbits for Easter, icing them for whatever the occasion. My top tip for these is to check them after 13 minutes as they can go too crispy otherwise!