blog post 08 | WW UK
Weight Watchers Official Eating Officer
12/11/16 : Tapas, Tracking & Temptation at El Coto, Durham
Hi all, I hope you’re having a great week.
As you’ve all probably guessed by now, I love eating out. I particularly love eating out when I’m given a restaurant on my doorstep to review that I’ve been dying to try for ages. Well, tonight was my lucky night! The restaurant of choice was El Coto, a traditional tapas restaurant just a few miles from me in Durham. I took along one of my friends, (who also follows the Weight Watchers SmartPoints plan) to see whether tapas is really a good option for those of us looking to eat out and remain on track.
El Coto translates to ‘preserve’, which I think is a great metaphor for this hidden gem. Nestled away from the hustle and bustle of the city, El Coto has preserved the traditional look and feel of an authentic tapas bar, in the heart of the North East. The place looks the part, with exposed dark wood floors, white stonewash walls and red candles adorning every table top. It seems like the perfect place for a student hang out or a quiet evening meal with friends.
Now, I must admit, the menu is VERY extensive and can be a bit scary if you’re like me and not particularly ‘tapas trained’! With my group of friends there’s always the age old dilemma of ‘How many tapas do we order?’ We even nosied around the restaurant to see how many plates fellow diners were eating! In the end, we sheepishly asked the waiter and settled on three dishes each.
The great thing about tapas is that its ingredients are focused around fresh Mediterranean flavours and usually come in smaller portions, meaning you eat less. The bad thing about tapas however, is the menu is usually in, you guessed it, Spanish, so sometimes it’s hard to work out exactly how your meal is cooked (i.e. boiled, fried, stewed etc.). There’s also then the added element of temptation – sharing does mean smaller portions, but it can also sometimes mean overindulging if willpower isn’t your forte and you take a fancy to what your friends are having!
With this in mind (and feeling determined to make sensible choices without restriction) I ordered the following three tapas with the SmartPoints guesstimates from Weight Watchers:-
½ portion Ensalada Mixta (Mixed Salad with balsamic drizzle) – 2SP
- ½ portion Chicken Casserole – 8SP
- ½ portion Chicken & Chorizo Paella – 8SP
Eyes bigger than our bellies, we also ordered a portion of ‘Papas Bravas’ (potatoes in spicy tomato sauce) for the table, although I only managed a couple. I put these in my app as a guesstimate of 5SP and I have to say, they stole the show! Since starting this journey, I’ve also been speaking to a lot of vegetarians looking for great places to eat – at El Coto, over half of the menu consisted of veggie friendly options. So if you’re out and about in Durham, I’d definitely recommend this place (my friend ordered the aubergines in tomato sauce and it looked and smelled heavenly)!
In preparation of my visit to El Coto, I had only used 11SP of my daily allowance for breakfast and lunch, meaning I had 24SP left of my daily allowance and a buffer of 18SP from my weeklies remaining for this visit. As this is probably one of the cuisines where it’s hard to guesstimate your SmartPoints, I’ve put together my three top tapas tips:-
Opt for three tapas each, and try and avoid those laden with cream sauces, cheese or bread
Even if you’re unsure of SP values, make an educated guess of each dish and make sure it’s tracked using your Journal, App or Weekly Tracker sheets
Check the menu online beforehand and make note of dishes you’d like – this way you’re less likely to change your mind and also make more informed choices too! Win win
So here’s how my tapas meal fitted into my daily food plan:-
Sophie’s Daily SmartPoints Allowance: 35SP
Sophie’s Remaining Weekly Allowance: 18SP
Cherry Bakewell Shredded Wheat (35g) - 3SP
Skimmed Milk (125mls) - 2SP
Total - 5SP
Mini Gammon Steak - 1SP
3 Boiled New Potatoes - 3SP
Tinned Peas & Carrots - 2SP
Diet Coke - 0SP
Total – 6SP
½ portion Ensalada Mixta (Mixed Salad with balsamic drizzle) -2SP
½ portion Chicken Casserole – 8SP
½ portion Chicken & Chorizo Paella – 8SP
¼ portion Papas Bravas – 5SP
1 x cheese & ham croquette – 5SP
Total – 28SP
Daily Allowance Used: 39SP
Daily Allowance Remaining: -4SP
Weekly Allowance Remaining: 14SP
So as you can see from my tracker, tapas is not necessarily the easiest choice of restaurant when you’re a Weight Watcher, but it’s definitely not off limits. I could’ve eaten more than the three dishes I chose as I’ve got quite a big appetite, but I made the choice not to overindulge. The really great thing about tapas is you have plenty of options so you can even opt for one indulgent dish and two healthier options. It’s also great for vegetarians, ticking another box, and SmartPoints allows for a couple of cheeky sangrias too!
Next on my list I’m travelling to Glasgow and I’m going to be eating the food most Weight Watchers members dread – burgers! Follow me on my UK #WWDinesOut journey via my social media profiles.
Have a great week and if you find any terrific tapas restaurants, let me know!
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