Chicago-based Weight Watchers chef Ryan Hutmacher recognizes that there's "no silver bullet" to the weight-management process, but he does believe that Weight Watchers offers the "accountability and support" people need to maintain long-term goals. As the program's first chef, Ryan takes a healthy approach we can get behind: "It's not about deprivation. It's about opportunity." Read on for his healthy cooking tips.
Eat with your eyes: Through his six weeks of competition to take home the title of The Weight Watchers Chef  on ABC's The Chew, Ryan made sure that his recipes did more than taste delicious — they had to look pretty on the plate. Ryan suggests "picking out a variety of ingredients that are going to be colorful and exciting to even explore cooking with." Before the cooking begins and up until the plating process, "we eat with our eyes, and we have to be drawn in and almost mesmerized." When cooking feels like an artistic, soulful expression, it's easier to find awareness and not overeat.
Play with texture and flavor: People who believe healthy eating is "boring and bland" should start to change their tune; it just takes a little creativity in the kitchen! In order to make healthy recipes taste delicious, Ryan aims to "harmonize texture and flavor" and urges dieters to do the same at home. For example, Ryan says that his roasted eggplant dip  (a recipe a lot like babaganoush) with carrot sticks or rice crackers is snack that "satiates, since it gives you that depth of flavor and creamy texture that fills you up and makes you feel like you're being more decadent than you are." Luckily, it's also low in Weight Watchers points!
Nothing is off-limits (but be aware): For Ryan (and in alignment with the Weight Watchers approach), there are no foods that are strictly "off-limits," but Ryan was candid about the foods he's struggled with in the past. "Very carbohydrate-driven" foods that were low in fiber and high in sugar foods would elevate Ryan's blood-sugar levels, leaving him feeling "ravenous and . . . eat[ing] anything in sight." Understanding the foods that trigger unhealthy eating patterns will help you make smarter choices for your individual tastes and needs moving forward.
With all that said, it's clear we can't rely on convenience foods for results; Ryan says that cooking is "a fundamental part of weight loss." If you're not sure where to start, check out the Weight Watchers recipes  featured in the show plus the healthy cooking techniques  you need to know in order to feel confident in your healthy kitchen. Once your body is reaping the benefits of your lifestyle changes, you'll wonder how you ever ate another way.