Spooked out – Why I should win a Mother of the Year award…

It always fascinates me how our children constantly challenge us and lead us to try new experiences we might never have considered ourselves. Take my daughter, for example, who’s now eighteen. As a child and young teenager, she would beg me to accompany her on the scariest rides at Movie World – like the Superman Ride… And I did.

Superman ride at Movie World

Superman Ride at Movie World

The queue for the Superman Ride was long, but my fear made it move quickly. I was dreading boarding the carriages, convinced I’d become that one in a million chance statistic who was left hanging upside down mid-ride due to a technical failure. Of course, that never happened and I felt such an adrenalin rush from the G-force factor that once the ride was over, I immediately wanted to do it again and again.

From a tiny tot, Veronica has always had a passion for movies. As she grew older, that developed into a love of horror films. It didn’t really surprise me because I’d been the same at her age, until I saw Friday the 13th which took gore and blood-spattering to such an extreme level that I was put off horror for life. Veronica has since seen that too and declared it to be ‘lame and dated.’

So naturally she was over the moon with excitement when she saw the ads for the Cinema Nova Monster Fest – a 2-week celebration of horror films at the Carlton venue.

Cinema Nova Monster Fest

Cinema Nova Monster Fest

She booked a couple of sessions to see with friends but there was one experience she wanted to share with me. The ALL NIGHT MOVIE MARATHON screening of FIVE back-to-back Nightmare on Elm Street films. Really? A WHOLE night of horror starting from 11.30pm sounded spooky enough, let along having to endure ONLY Freddie Krueger in all his gluey-faced glory, mauling his victims for more than eight hours…

Nightmare on Elm Street

Nightmare on Elm Street


But she caught me in a moment of weakness, when she’d been dealt one of life’s disappointments. Wearing her sad face and asking ever so sweetly, I got sucked in.

The event was last night.


Now here’s a spooky photo. Just before the screening, I took this on my I-phone and because it’s not hugely flattering for Ronnie, I might not have posted it – but check out what my flash did to the eyes of a couple of the other patrons… That’s not regular ‘red eye’ – that’s just weird… It was a spooky start.

Spooky photo

Spooky photo

Like the Superman Ride, I was dreading this experience too. Not just because of the horror I knew would make me jump and squirm, but because of the SLEEP DEPRIVATION… I haven’t been drinking much coffee at all lately, but last night I had three large cups – straight, strong and black.

I was pleasantly surprised by the festive nature of the screening. There really was an air of excitement among ‘Nightmare on Elm Street’ fans – some dressing up, others bringing bags packed with goodies, drinks and even dressing-gowns to get them through the night. There was also a trivia quiz at the end of each movie with prizes and lollies being handed out.

And it’s much funnier watching horror classics with diehard (‘scuse the pun) fans, because they will laugh uproariously in the most gory of moments because an actor’s bad line or lack of acting ability has since become infamous. (like Nancy’s mum in the first Nightmare movie – just appalling…)

Never Sleep Again

Never Sleep Again

It was also a wonderful irony that the movie’s major promotion line is ‘You’ll Never Sleep Again’. In the middle of our session, that’s kinda how I felt…

I had warned Veronica I might not be able to last the distance till 8.30am this morning. Even though she initially insisted she wanted to stay for ALL the movies, she agreed after the third movie – at 4.30 this morning – that our bums and legs were numb enough to warrant an exit pass. Thank God!!

(Although I am now on a promise to borrow DVDs of the movies we missed to watch at home.)

Where were you Freddie?

Where were you Freddie?


I finally fell into bed just after 5.30am. But the most horrific part of the experience was by far and away the DAMN BASTARD FORK LIFT DRIVER AND CONSTRUCTION WORKERS who revved up motors and power tools in our street at 6am and woke me up just half an hour later. Timing. Now that’s when I REALLY wanted Freddie Krueger to make an appearance.

Now, don’t you agree I deserve a Mother of the Year award???































I lied, I sinned… but I blame my Mother.

Little Ox at 452 New Street, Brighton

Little Ox at 452 New Street, Brighton

Yes, sorry Mum, but it really is ALL your fault. If it hadn’t been your birthday, I wouldn’t have taken you and Ken (my step-father) out to lunch to one of my fave cafes, Little Ox. And if I hadn’t taken you out to lunch, I wouldn’t have smashed my FIT FIX Diet Plan to pieces. I hope you accept all the blame. Even though it’s your birthday.

To be honest, I suppose I should thank you, rather than blame you. Having stuck to the diet plan for nearly 12 days, I was bound to break it sometime and what better excuse to break a diet than needing to celebrate your birthday.


So yes, dear readers, I lied yesterday when I listed a simple serve of supermarket chicken tikka on the food plan. I knew damn well I was going out to lunch. Still, those of you who are putting this diet to the test need to know what I WOULD have been eating, IF I’d stuck to my word… Which I completely and whole-heartedly DID NOT.

It’s a bit hard when everything on the menu at Little Ox is so mouth-wateringly tempting. My number one choice is usually from the All Day Breakfast section – grilled corn fritters with ham, mashed avocado, salsa and a poached egg on top – just scrumptious. But with my diet in mind, I thought I’d go for the grilled chicken and quinoa salad instead. With part owner and chef Simon Winfield at the helm in the kitchen, I knew it would be delicious.

Little Ox part-owner and chef Chris Winfield

Little Ox part owner and chef Chris Winfield

Grilled chicken and quinoa salad

Grilled chicken and quinoa salad


And it was. I truly meant to photograph the plate up close with all its artistic swirls of aioli for you to see, but once it arrived on the table, I was so keen to see how it tasted, I’d eaten almost half of it before I remembered I was supposed to be taking pictures.




Then it was time for coffee and dessert. Mum and Ken sensibly declined the offer of a sweet treat but how can you have a birthday celebration without cake? So I went ahead and ordered a selection of wicked indulgences anyway… It’s much better to have a small taste to LOTS of things than just ONE dessert – right?

Sinfully tempting dessert selection

Sinfully tempting dessert selection

And don’t forget the cream on the side! Double clotted preferably… Starting from the back, that included a mini peach Melba, a caramel brownie and a melt-in-your mouth slice of passionfruit cheesecake. I was in heaven…

So yes, as you can see, I really DID smash up the diet plan. I can feel my jeans getting tighter as I type. Damn, and I WAS doing so well. But heck, it was worth it. It was my Mum’s birthday after all.

Ken and Mum

Ken and Mum

And though Mum really didn’t want her photo taken, I insisted. Judging by the lovely smiles, I think they enjoyed lunch too.





A really, really quick Fit Fix Diet Update

This is a quickie update because life, work, and social commitments are gathering pace… making it harder to stick to the straight and narrow when it comes to the FIT FIX Diet Plan, let alone blog about it.

Fruit Drops and Butter Candy Drops

Fruit Drops and Butter Candy Drops

I talked about ‘cheating without cheating’ on the food plan yesterday, eating those yummy Double D lollies, but last night I did genuinely cheat. Being under the calorie count for the day and after having a whopping THREE alcohol free days straight, I thought I could relax with a glass or two of chardy at the end of the night while watching TV. But of course, once the alcohol takes effect, the will-power plummets… 

Cashews and pistachios

Cashews and pistachios

I was STILL hungry. Now, I didn’t break any of the so-called ‘rules’ here, but I did go overboard with a massive NUT BINGE. Pistachios and cashews. I didn’t weigh them, just hoed right on in – handful upon handful… God knows how many calories that would have added up to – hate to think.

That, combined with a lack of exercise, meant the scales plateaued today – hardly a surprise…

The next three days will be challenging too, with lots of social events booked in, so I’m hoping all my good work won’t fall in a heap. The most important thing is to make a PLAN – try to stick to it, and if you fail, start all over again!

Having said that, here’s the plan for tomorrow. And I don’t need to detail Saturday’s as that’s my day off – yay!


Chicken Tikka pieces

Chicken Tikka pieces

Breakfast – Uncle Toby’s instant oats with berries

Snack – Hard-boiled egg

Lunch – Chicken tikka pieces (about 125g + 166 calories) I buy it pre-made from the supermarket and heat it up in the microwave. Simple.

Snack – small tub Tamara mixed berries yoghurt

Dinner – left over chicken patties and papaya salad (recipe listed in Wednesday’s blog)

RECIPE – Papaya Salad

I green papaya
I bag coleslaw from the supermarket
1/2 cup roasted cashews, crushed
3 spring onions
1 red chilli
handful fresh coriander
1/2 cup fresh basil


1 tablespoon fish sauce
2 tablespoons peanut oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons lime juice
1 teaspoon Sambel Oelek
1/2 tablespoon honey

Grate the papaya and mix into the coleslaw. Mix the dressing ingredients together and pour over. Enjoy!



Cheating without cheating…

It felt like I was cheating on the FIT FIX Diet Plan big time last night, eating a decent share of lollies, but in fact, I didn’t break any rules whatsoever. You see THESE arrived on my doorstep the other day – a box of sugar-free Double D treats.

A sweet selection...

A sweet selection…

My Net Diary App weight loss chart

My Net Diary App weight loss chart

It wasn’t on the diet plan, but I was under my calories quota for the day and joy, oh joy, the scales still went downwards this morning. In fact, I have to say I’m pretty up-myself about the success SO FAR on my self-devised FIT FIX Diet Plan.

Just take a look at the My Net Diary weight loss chart on the right and you can see for yourself, there’s a steady downward trend happening. Now I just have to keep going until I reach the goal weight of 64kg. I’m sure the fact that I’m making myself accountable to this Blog is part of the success too, so I’m going to keep blogging until I get there!

Choc O Jelly Rounds

Choc O Jelly Rounds


I’m always on the hunt for low-cal sweetie options too, so the gift from Double D arrived with perfect timing. Just when I was getting bored with my regular stash of diet-friendly treats, they’ve brought out a new selection of lollies to choose from.

Being obsessed with chocolate, I instantly gravitated to the Choc O Jelly Rounds…




Ronnie with the mint Double D lollies

Ronnie with the mint Double D lollies

But daughter Veronica snatched up the Mint Chews before I had any say in the matter and they proved a big hit with her.

There’s also Fruit Drops, Butter Candy Drops and Aussie Gummy Bears – all made using the natural sweetener, Stevia.

Double D is an Australian owned company too and lists all the lollies as being 99% fat free, gluten free, cholesterol free, low GI and dental friendly. Guess that ticks all the boxes!


Let’s take a look at the food plan for tomorrow. Remember, Thursday is meant to be a low calorie day, so drink lots of water and herbal tea! The total calorie count for tomorrow is only 473 calories – which is close to the proposed amount in the 2/5 diet.


Avocado tomato Cruskits

Avocado tomato Cruskits

Breakfast – Oat Bran pancakes

Snack – Herbal tea

Lunch – Mashed avocado (50g) spread over 2 Light Cruskits topped with four cherry tomatoes

Snack – 1 carrot

Dinner – I chicken pattie and papaya salad


Oat Bran Pancakes (based on a Dukan Diet recipe)


1 1/2 tablespoons oat bran
1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla Fruche
1 tablespoon Hermestas sweetener
1 egg

Whisk together all ingredients in a small bowl and cook in a pan as you would small pancakes or pikelets. In the Dukan Diet book, fromage frais is used instead of Fruche, but it’s almost impossible to find in Australian supermarkets. Hence, this is the ONE instance where I allow a product that contains more than 5% sugar, because there just isn’t anything else out there that works. But I am open to suggestions if you have any!


Lemon Grass paste

Lemon Grass paste

500g minced chicken
1 tablespoon minced lemongrass
2 tablespoons chopped coriander
2 teaspoons crushed ginger
1/2 can water chestnuts, finely chopped
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
2 spring onions, finely chopped
2 teaspoons fish sauce
2 teaspoons sesame oil
Olive oil spray

Mix all ingredients together. Roll into large golf-ball size rounds, then squash into a pattie shape with the back of a spatula. Spray with olive oil then bake in a moderate oven for about 25 minutes, or until brown. These are also great the next day cold when you’re allowed more!



Mal signs off – the end of an era in television news

Giving up the news chair

Giving up the news chair

After a stellar 42-year career as one of Melbourne’s most respected newsreaders, Mal Walden will present the news for the final time next week on Wednesday, December 4th. Yes, he’s finally relinquishing the Network Ten news chair for a life of travelling, writing and spending time with family and friends.

His departure from our screens marks the end of an era. But unlike most, whose exit from the industry is usually abrupt, Mal has been afforded a well-deserved, gradual parting of ways – kind of like two lovers agreeing to take separate holidays instead of enduring an acrimonious divorce.

‘I resigned last year when the station was in a bit of trouble,’ he said. ‘There were cutbacks and redundancies and it was very unpleasant. I’d had enough so at the end of my contract I didn’t want to go on.’

But Ten made him an offer he couldn’t refuse. They asked him to stay for one more year working just four days a week for the first six months, take a long mid-year break, then return and only do three days a week. How could he say no?

Mal Walden and Stephen Quartermain

Mal Walden and Stephen Quartermain

‘It was the best contract I’ve ever had in my career,’ he said. ‘It was a beautiful transition because it phased me out and phased Stephen in, and it was good. It got my head around the “what am I going to do with myself when I finally give it all away” question.’

For those who don’t know, former sports presenter Stephen Quartermain is set to replace Mal when he leaves and has already been filling in on Mal’s days off.


I’m going to write up the rest of this interview in Q & A format, because Mal and I go back a long way and I like how the conversation between us still flows easily. We read the news together for more than ten years, becoming Australia’s longest serving news duo.

Mal and I in and late 1990s

Mal and I in and late 1990s

I went through some old scrapbooks to see how times changed over the years. Here’s a snapshot:

Winning the ratings

Winning the ratings in 1996 – the year we started together

Newspaper clipping from 1997

Newspaper clipping from 1997

An old Ten News ad in 2000

An old Ten News ad in 2000

Mal's 30-year milestone in 2001

Mal’s 30-year milestone in 2001

Hamming it up in support of Red Nose Day

Hamming it up in support of Red Nose Day

But enough with trips down memory lane. Let’s get back to that interview:

JEN: So with more time on your hands during the year, what have you been up to?
MAL: I don’t know where the hours go. I make appointments, catch up with people and have lunches. Pauline and I might go away for long weekends, which was something I could never do before. It wasn’t that I was fed up with work. I was fed up with the ten to six Monday to Friday routine. That’s what I wanted to get away from.’

JEN: With only a few nights left to go, how are you feeling now?
MAL: I’m feeling apprehensive. I’m feeling nervous. I just want to get through that final night.

JEN: Will you be able to say a ‘proper’ goodbye? Has it been discussed?
MAL: No, they’re planning something and I’m not quite sure of the format, but I guess there will be a period at the end of the news where I guess I’ll say something like ”Thank you very much Melbourne for the last forty-two years.”

JEN: Is that the longest of any newsreader in Australia?
MAL: No, it’s the longest in Melbourne. Brian Henderson has about three or four more years on me.

JEN: Was it ever a competitive thing for you, to be the longest-serving reader?
MAL: No, because I would have been in my late seventies by the time I reached Brian Henderson’s record. I would have been too old and I don’t want to do that.

JEN: How old are you?
MAL: There are three biogs out there. One has me at 67, one 68 and one at 69. 69 is the closest.

JEN: What will you do immediately after the bulletin ends?
MAL: I’ll go back to the newsroom. The staff will be there and we’ll have drinks.

JEN: French champagne, I hope!
MAL: No, I don’t think so! We only had French once and that was years ago, when we were winning the ratings. Remember?

Mal reading the news on Monday night

Mal reading the news on Monday night

JEN: Oh yes, I do…
MAL: And it’s funny, but in all the years I’ve been reading news, out of 42 there were only eight or nine when we were number one. So it means you can survive in this business without being number one. They can put spins on anything. You know, I’m number one for married women with two dogs…

JEN: And what stands out as your career highlight? Apart from reading with me?
MAL: Other than reading with you…(laughter) …the 1970s was the decade that was really the most defining decade of my life. I’d come back from overseas, I’d been in radio up till that stage, I approached Channel Seven for a job and an old boss of mine – Ron Casey, who I knew from radio days – said I can’t give you a job in the news department but come on as a booth announcer, and that’ll give you a foot in the door. Well, that very first night – June 6th, 1970 – at about a quarter to six – the late night newsreader was suddenly taken ill and they asked me to read the news. And I’ve been reading ever since.

JEN: Had you ever been in front of a camera?
MAL: Yes, I had. In the mid-60s, I read the news in Tasmania.

Mal gets promoted

Mal gets promoted

JEN: What else made the 70s such a standout decade for you?
MAL: It was defining for me because I got into television news. Two years after I read my first bulletin, I took a cadetship and then Cyclone Tracey hit and they sent me up to Darwin as a reporter. Because I got the first story out, I was then promoted to being a journalist. Then there was Balibo in East Timor and we were all vying to go there, so, but for the grace of God… Greg Shakleton went and that was sadly, his end.

JEN: How did that affect the newsroom?
MAL: David Johnston was quite upset by the whole thing and gave television away, as an indirect result of Balibo. He just got so pissed off with what it stood for and all the cover-ups. David had an argument with the news director at the time one day, stormed out and never came back. They helped David establish a newsagency business, so when he went I became elevated to the number two newsreader spot. Before that it was Brian Naylor, then David and I was number three.

JEN: Now fast-forward to the present. What do you think about the impact of social media on the reporting of news?
MAL: I think it’s very dangerous actually. A recent example was the marathon bombing in Boston. They were all tweeting that the bomber was a Puerto Rican and was being charged, and the main media picked it up. Even 3AW ran with it, without any fact checking. There are no checks or balances with social media. But it’s only in the last few years when it’s come to the fore. I mean, it can have its benefits, like in the case of the murder of Jill Meagher, where everyone rallied, so it can be useful.

Neil Armstrong walks on the moon

Neil Armstrong walks on the moon

JEN: But I guess you’ve seen a lot of changes over the years.
MAL: Oh yes. I remember in ’69 when man landed on the moon, the world stood in awe as Armstrong stood on the moon. But I was more impressed with President Nixon picking up the phone in the Whitehouse and talking to Armstrong on the phone. To me, that was far more dramatic than the man standing on the moon. That was something we had never seen. So suddenly satellites closed that gap between radio being first and television was on an even playing field. It took a couple of years for satellites to be used locally, but that was the first indication I had that satellites were going to revolutionise news. And they did.

JEN: When did you first get promoted to main newsreader at Seven?
MAL: It was 1977 and I was filling in for Brian Naylor at the time. I was lying in bed listening to the radio thinking, I’ll be glad when Nails gets back because I want to go back on the road, reporting. Then there was a news flash where the reader said, ‘In news just to hand, Brian Naylor has resigned from Channel Seven and is going to Channel Nine. Seven management have just announced that Mal Walden is taking over.’ Then the phone rang and it was the publicity manager from Seven, Eileen O’Shea, and she said,’The general manager, Mr Casey, would like to see you in his office so come on in.’

JEN: And they hadn’t even asked you?
MAL: No, and when I walked into the newsroom, all I could hear was people saying things like ‘Well, that’s the end of the ratings,’ which made me feel terribly insecure. And I didn’t even want the job anyway.  I walked in Casey’s office and he congratulated me and I told him I didn’t want the job. So he picked up the phone and called in the finance manager. He explained that I’d receive $60,000 a year, which sounded great, but I still said, ‘I can’t take it, it’s not what I want to do’. Then they brought in the promotions guy who bought in a picture of a brand new RX7. He put his arm around my shoulders and said, ‘Mal, take this job and the car is yours.’ And I’m thinking of my clapped out car out the front and the $60,000 a year… So I said, ‘I’ll do a deal – allow me to read the news and keep on reporting too.’ Casey then suggested I not do general news, but do special reports. So we did that. And they promoted me as the only newsreader who was a journalist, to give me credibility. And it worked. I never looked back.

JEN: Now, after forty-two years of news reading being your life, it must be hard to imagine what you’re going to do with yourself?
MAL: We’re going to take a holiday. Pauline’s got the bags packed already. She’s probably at the airport waiting for me now, actually!

JEN: After that?
MAL: I’ve got nothing planned whatsoever.

JEN: Weren’t you writing a book?
MAL: Yes, I’ve finished my book. It’s biographical. I’ve diarised every day of my life since June, 1961. I have fifty-two diaries at home. Every day there’s an article about a news story, a conversation I’ve had, interwoven with my personal life, from radio right through to this year. And of all the chapters, the last two are the most telling.

JEN: In what sense?
MAL: About what’s been happening in the last few years at Ten. It’s probably a bit close to the bone. They’re pulling out of the slump now. But that bit will never get to print.

JEN: Will you still have an association with Ten?
MAL: That’s on the cards. They’ve asked me to stay on for another twelve months as ‘ambassador’.

JEN: How do you feel about Stephen being your replacement?
MAL: I can’t think of anyone more suitable. He has skills I’ve never had and they’ll channel those into promoting him.

Having a laugh

Having a laugh during the photo shoot

JEN: Looking back, have you any regrets?
MAL: Not one! Not one at all. I’ve never had to make any major decisions in my life. They’ve all been made for me. I’ve been hired, fired, promoted, demoted… The only time I ever made a decision, and it involved you, was when I was reading the weekend news at Ten. I had young kids (twins, James and Sarah) and a holiday house at Rye and Pauline said, ‘I need you at home on weekends, this is ridiculous.’ So I went and told management I needed to give up the weekend news and then you took the role, but three months later, they made the weekend news national.

JEN:  And I was dumped off the weekend news.
MAL: So had I not made the decision, it would have been made for me.

JEN: So let’s wrap this up. Just one last question. Who was your favourite female newsreader to have alongside you?
MAL: Jen Hansen!

Of course!

So next week will be a major milestone for this icon of news. Don’t forget to watch Channel Ten news next Wednesday night to see Mal sign off for the last time. I’ll miss him on air, but I know we’ll keep in touch as we have done over the years. As for his future, I’m looking forward to reading that book. And there’s plenty of other options for him too. Heck, he may just even start a Blog…

When dieting sucks…

Sometimes dieting sucks. Take yesterday for example. The planned JUICE FAST day as part of the FIT FIX Diet Plan. All good in theory, until I get to this wonderful charity event to play golf – the Token Blokes Day at the Heritage Country Golf Club in Chirnside, Victoria.

Felicity, Anthea, Helen and me at the Token Blokes Day

Felicity, Anthea, Helen and me at the Token Blokes Day

The brainchild of sports presenter Tiffany Cherry, the event was a triumph, serving to not only put the spotlight on women’s golf and encouraging more of us to pick up a club, but raised more than $40,000 for the Koala Kids Foundation, which helps children with cancer.

Tiffany Cherrry with tournament winner Shura Taft and Catherine Murphy

Tiffany Cherrry with tournament winner Shura Taft and Catherine Murphy

Once we’d finished playing, we headed inside where the champagne was flowing freely, alongside a vast array of pizza, souvlakis and hotdogs. See that mineral water on the table in the first photo? Yep, that’s mine. That, washed down my green juice which was lunch… Not NEARLY as much fun as hoeing into all the yummy stuff on offer, but it had to be done. Knowing I’m reporting what I eat in this Blog is great incentive for staying on the straight and narrow.

Cuppa anyone?

Cuppa anyone?

It was also tough at home when I cooked the kids an easy Pasta Bake for dinner with crispy golden cheese on top. Nothing smells as good as warm, melted cheese… I was looking forward to my chocolate almond drink for my ‘main meal’, but I still really wanted the Pasta Bake… I needed something to make me feel better after all this deprivation. The best advice I have for when you’re feeling the same is to focus on something else – like TEA.

Berry fruit teas

Berry fruit teas

Making a cuppa is a fabulously distracting ritual, plus there are now hundreds of new flavours to experiment with. It can take some time deciding which one to brew. Red berry flavoured teas are among my favourites. Hmmm – do I want the Temptation Summer Fruits or the Raspberry, Strawberry and Loganberry?


T2 Licorice Legs tea

T2 Licorice Legs tea


The other flavour that’s brilliant for squashing sugar cravings is the T2 brand of licorice tea, called ‘Licorice Legs’. It’s best to make a whole pot of this so you can just keep on pouring. Lots of sweet flavour minus the sugar.



Chocolate tea

Chocolate tea

With my current tea infatuation going on, you can imagine how excited I was to discover THIS brand in the supermarket on Sunday. CHOCOLATE TEA. Wow – my two favourites combined. It HAD to be a winner. Now was definitely the time to test it out.

Sadly, the flavour did not live up to its name. There’s barely a hint of chocolate in the mix, but loads of over-powering cinnamon going on. And something else that’s just weird… Not on my recommended list. Better off just making a hot chocolate with skim milk!

Now back to the food for the FIT FIX Diet Plan. I gave you the food lists for Monday and Tuesday yesterday, but not the recipes. So if you’re interested, here they are!

(BTW – a small omission on my part – I forgot to add ‘half an avocado’ to the beef salad for the lunch listed today. Oops, sorry…)

TUESDAY DINNER – Stir-fry garlic prawns and veggies


Lemon Grass paste

Lemon Grass paste

750g uncooked prawns
2 tablespoons chopped mint
2 tablespoons lemongrass (I prefer to use the paste in a tube for convenience)
2 cloves crushed garlic
1 teaspoon lemon rind
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon sambal oelek
I tablespoon peanut oil
I packet fresh baby sweetcorn, sliced
1 bunch broccolini chopped

(NB – for those, like me, also cooking for kids, add a batch of angel hair pasta that you can stir in AFTER serving your own meal, to give them what they want.)

Mix all the ingredients from mint down to sambal in a bowl and add the prawns to marinade for about half an hour.

Heat the oil in a pan and stir-fry the prawns until they change colour. Then add the chopped veggies and stir-fry until tender.

WEDNESDAY DINNER – Mongolian lamb stir-fry


750g lean lamb strip

Always keep some Sambal Oelek in the fridge for when you don't have fresh chilli on hand

Always keep some Sambal Oelek in the fridge for when you don’t have fresh chilli on hand

1 tablespoon peanut oil
2 onions, slice
2 cloves crushed garlic
3 spring onions, sliced
1/2 red capsicum thinly sliced
2 red chillies, finely chopped
2 teaspoons cornflour
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1/2 cup chicken stock

(NB – again, if cooking for a family, you may like to serve their meal on top of a bed of steamed rice.)

Heat oil in pan and add lamb strips. Stir-fry then set aside.

Stir-fry the onions, garlic, spring onions and chillies for 2 minutes.

Mix the cornflour, soy sauce and stock in a cup. Return lamb to the pan and add the cornflour mixture and cook for about 3 minutes, or until it thickens slightly, then serve.

That’s enough for today. Apart from saying that, yes, I am sticking to the food plans and so far, have not broken the ‘rules’ either. Well, apart from Saturday, but that’s the allowed DAY OFF, so I’m doing okay. And I’m still down to 68.4kg so it IS working! More food plans and recipes tomorrow. Happy eating!





The FIT FIX Diet Plan for Week Two

Champers darling?

Champers darling?

When I look back at how I survived the first week of the FIT FIX Diet Plan, the one thing that stands out is that for the first time in AGES, I had FOUR alcohol-free days in one week. I’m sure that’s a huge part of why I dropped weight quickly in week one. And while that’s been great, I fully expect the weight loss to be a lot slower this week.

I’m having a JUICE FAST day today, which in effect gives me another day off from calorie counting. And cooking! Well, I’ll whip up a pasta dinner for the family, but it is a relief not to have to think about food for myself all day. Just crack open a bottle of juice, down the hatch and we’re done!

Monday's cooking sorted

Monday’s cooking sorted

Another reason I expect the weight loss to slow this week is that I won’t be able to exercise quite as much as I’d like. Various work and family responsibilities will take priority, so I’ll try my best but there aren’t quite the same gaps in the diary for gym time that I had last week… Even this morning, the scales tipped upwards a fraction after a heavier meal last night with steak, mushroom, onion and broccoli.

But I am looking forward to getting stuck into those juices again. Even though I enjoyed my piggy lash-out on Saturday, sugary food didn’t taste quite so fabulous after a week of being a health-food junkie. And I didn’t feel that great after eating all that sweet stuff, plus it took much longer to get out of bed yesterday morning as a result. Or maybe that was the wine?


An easy and tasty snack

An easy and tasty snack


Yesterday I stuck to the food plan listed in Friday’s Blog – Keeping It Simple – but substituted one snack item after going to the supermarket and finding this! You may have discovered it already, but it’s new to me. Philadelphia Chive and Onion cream cheese – mmmm… Spread it on a couple of Cruskits (both items meeting the less than 5% sugar rule) and it’s a great simple, tasty snack.



Now let’s have a look at the first few days for this week’s food plan:

MONDAY – Juice Day, (juices from Pressed Juices)


Breakfast – The Muesli, yoghurt and frozen berries

Snack – hard-boiled egg

Lunch – Cold beef, lettuce and tomato salad

Snack – Tamara strawberry yoghurt

Dinner – Stir-fry garlic prawns and veggies


Breakfast – Berry smoothie (using Swisse Slim Shake protein powder), Greek yoghurt, frozen berries and skim milk

Snack – celery

Lunch – Ham, spring onion and tomato omelette

Snack – Body LoCarb Bites (chocolate protein balls – still under the %5 sugar rule)

Dinner – Mongolian lamb stir-fry

Normally, I would vary the stir-fry options, rather than have a stir-fry two nights running, but for various logistical reasons, Thursday’s dinner will need to be cooked in advance, so that’s the way it’s panned out.

My favourite -  chocolate almond mylk

My favourite – chocolate almond mylk


Plus my daughter was nagging me for prawns so I caved and slotted that dish in for Tuesday. And stir-frys really are a great low-fat, tasty food option. More about the recipes later. Right now I don’t have to think about cooking with my favourite chocolate almond ‘milk’ waiting for me in the fridge for tonight’s main course. Yum.





A piggy day brings surprising results…

I didn’t post an update for the FIT FIX Diet Plan yesterday, as if was my scheduled ‘day off’ from counting calories and having any food restrictions. So I was pleasantly shocked this morning when I stepped on the scales and saw that despite a day of unhealthy indulgences, I’d still lost weight!

Ronnie's cake

Ronnie’s cake

It’s surprising given how much I ate. The day started off with thick cafe-style raisin toast with lashings of butter and a cup of tea.

Then for morning tea, I went all out. For days, I’ve been yearning for a slice of a heavenly cake my daughter baked, so yesterday was the day to tuck in – and I did it in style with two big scoops of cookies and cream ice-cream on top.

For lunch, the kids wanted cheesymite scrolls from Baker’s Delight, so naturally, I had one too.

Two large pieces of dark chocolate for afternoon tea, followed by a night out at a Japanese restaurant with bucket loads of wine followed, so it only seemed logical that I’d face the music on the scales this morning.

But no. Joy, oh joy, the number dropped to 68.4kg. This time last week I was 71.4kg. I can only imagine it’s the result of the cumulative effect of being ‘good’ all week and exercising pretty hard with daily spin classes. (And that wine is very good for you.) Today, I’m back on the program and sticking to my guns. See Friday’s post for today’s food list if you are wanting to follow suit.

The pineapple, mint zest juice is my favourite!

The pineapple, mint zest juice is my favourite!


Tomorrow, I’m back on a one-day JUICE FAST and looking forward to it. And very grateful there’s a store like PRESSED JUICES to do all the hard prep work for me. Will keep you posted on the rest of the week’s dietary plan tomorrow.



Getting Neighbourly with ocean guardians, Sea Shepherd

Feel like saving the planet this weekend? Okay, that sounds like I’m asking you to be a super hero, but I’m not. You really can contribute just by visiting the Sea Shepherd ships which are dockside in Melbourne at Williamstown and open to the public for tours this weekend.

Three ships dockside at Wlliamstown will be open to the public

Three ships dockside at Wlliamstown will be open to the public

A stall for souvenirs

A stall for souvenirs


Donating helps too. Not just money – long-life food stocks that Sea Shepherd can take on its missions are greatly appreciated because it’s an organisation that relies completely on the generosity of supporters. There’s also a stall where you can buy Sea Shepherd t-shirts and souvenirs.


Fletch and I finding our sea legs...

Fletch and I finding our sea legs…

We went along for a tour of the ships last weekend and it was a real eye opener. Fletch’s fellow Neighbours actor Saskia Hempele and her partner, TV presenter Kayne Tremills also joined us.

Just in case you haven’t heard about Sea Shepherd, these guys put their lives on the line trying to prevent the illegal poaching of protected whales and dolphins. We were also shown a couple of videos of clashes with Japanese whaling ships and I can only imagine how terrifying it would be to be caught on one of their smaller boats, being deliberately rammed by these massive vessels.

The Bob Barker being rammed by Japanese ships in February

The Bob Barker being rammed by Japanese ships in February this year.

We were given a tour of the Bob Barker by Quarter Master Ben Harris who explained Sea Shepherd’s background. ‘It was founded in 1977 by Paul Watson,’ he said. ‘Watson was one of the original founders of Greenpeace but left Greenpeace to found Sea Shepherd because he wanted a much more direct action organisation. We’re a marine conservation organisation but we use direct action tactics to directly intervene in the poaching of whales.’

This ‘direct action’ is heavy stuff. The Australian arm of Sea Shepherd makes an annual pilgrimage to the Southern Ocean whale sanctuary every year. ‘That’s been a whale sanctuary since 1994 and whaling has been banned since 1986,’ explained Ben. ‘But the Japanese whaling fleet continues to whale illegally – under a legal loophole which allows them to whale under the guise of scientific research. They go after either Humpbacks, Fin whales and Minkes which are endangered or close to being endangered.

TV presenter Kayne Tremills with Neighbours actors Saskia Hempele and Alan Fletcher hear about the serious business of saving whales

TV presenter Kayne Tremills with Neighbours actors Saskia Hempele and Alan Fletcher hear about the serious business of saving whales

The Bob Barker played a huge role in the last campaign. ‘We used this ships as a wedge,’ said Ben, ‘because they were refuelling inside the whale sanctuary which is breaking another whole load of rules. But we put this ship between the Japanese factory ship and the refuelling ship. The factory ship is 5000 tonnes and our boat is 500 tonnes. We were nearly squashed but we stopped them from refuelling.’

It was this bravery that made February’s intervention the most successful Sea Shepherd campaign yet. ‘We saved 932 whales,’ said Ben. ‘They had a quota of 1135 whales but because they couldn’t refuel, they cut their season short.’

Was anyone hurt in this campaign? ‘No, we’re aggressive but not physically violent. We’re not out to harm anyone. They’ve never lost anyone and we’ve never lost anyone. The only injuries that have been caused happened when some of our crew was pelted with large nuts and bolts from the whalers. They also swung a grappling hook at us,’ he said.

Next stop was a tour of the dining quarters. If you want to volunteer to be part of a Sea Shepherd campaign, make sure you’re happy to go vegan. After hearing about the horrific slaughter of whales and dolphins all day, it’s something I’m going to have to seriously consider.

Checking out the dining quarters

Checking out the dining quarters

Ben says that less and less of the Japanese population eat whale meat now, as awareness about the plight of the whales grows. ‘People have gone off the idea. They’re also aware there’s a lot of mercury in the meat, so they’re getting better educated, but the industry keeps pushing it, trying to get the next generation to eat it but putting it in school dinners. But now less than 4% of their population actually eat it.’

Worldwide support for Sea Shepherd is growing rapidly. It was fascinating to hear how so much has been donated by the US celebrity set. The Bob Barker ship, for instance, is named after the US games show host from The Price is Right, who donated a whopping FIVE MILLION DOLLARS to not only buy the ship, but a helicopter as well. Actor Pierce Brosnan is on the board of directors.

And I loved the story about how Sea Shepherd purchased its latest boat, the Sam Continue reading “Getting Neighbourly with ocean guardians, Sea Shepherd” »

FIT FIX Diet Plan update – Keeping it simple

A helpful mantra during life's busier moments...

A helpful mantra during life’s busier moments…

Life’s so busy I barely have time to write this FIT FIX Diet Plan update, which just reinforces to me how important it is to keep the food simple. This probably won’t work for those of you who want to go the ‘all natural, all organic’ route, but for me, it’s trying to balance the hectic with the healthy.

So yes, I do buy some processed foods and commercial brands as well as organic juices and fresh vegetables. It’s all a matter of combining the two, to provide the healthiest, fastest eating options.

Some of you may also find this a bit too basic and repetitive, but the less time you spend thinking about food the better.

DAY FOUR – reviewing Thursday

The outline of yesterday’s eating plan was detailed in the last blog, so let’s take a look at what happened after that report.

I always struggle when cooking, not to sample the ingredients, which again reminds me how important it is to WRITE EVERYTHING DOWN with this diet. Imagine how many more calories you’d consume if you ate half the cake mix when baking but didn’t count it as part of your food plan?

A bit of sampling went on last night while whipping up the Bolognaise sauce, but I made sure to write the bits down, which included a piece of carrot and five Kalamata olives. Not a problem, given I was under my calories quota.

But I did exceed my two glasses of wine… Well, red wine goes into the Bolognaise sauce so I HAD to have a glass while cooking. Which meant another glass during dinner and another later in the evening while watching TV. So I broke a rule, but I still got in under the calories quota and the bathroom scales reading didn’t skyrocket this morning. YAY!


Breakfast – Uncle Toby’s Quick Oats sachet with 125ml skim milk and 1/2 a cup of frozen    raspberries

Keeping it simple - ham and cheese on Vita-Wheats

Keeping it simple – ham and cheese on Vita-Wheats

Snack – 2 celery sticks.

Lunch – 4 Vita-Wheat 9-grain biscuits with 2 cheese slices and ham

Snack – Earl Grey tea with 30ml skim milk

Dinner – Left-over Bolognaise sauce




Celery snack

Celery snack

As I said, it’s all pretty simple fare. And here’s a tip about the celery snack. It sounds pretty boring, but if you buy it in pre-prepared packs in the supermarket, it tastes MUCH fresher and crisper, making it far more enjoyable to eat. Plus it gives good crunch factor, which you need if eating a diet which focuses more on protein. Not much crunch in meat, hard-boiled eggs and yoghurts…



Time to own up to how much I weighed before starting the FIT FIX Diet Plan. Hmmm. Let’s put it in perspective and remember I’m 172cm tall (just under 5 foot 8). I’m not trying to make excuses it’s just that you might get a shock… About five years ago, my average weight was around 62 – 64kg.

On Monday morning, I weighed in at 71.4kg.

Then I started the 3-day JUICE CLEANSE.

By Thursday morning, I weighed in at 69.4. Which is to be expected, with such a drastic dietary change, and I know such a dramatic drop will not continue. After a day of eating ‘normal’ food, I went up slightly today.

Friday morning – 69.6kg

But still, that’s a drop of 1.8kg in five days, so it’s a great start. My ultimate goal is to get to 64kg.


SATURDAY – Day off. Eat what you like!

Basil chilli tuna salad

Basil chilli tuna salad

SUNDAY Breakfast – 1 cup scrambled eggs and 2 rashes of bacon

Snack – celery or carrot

Lunch – Sirena chilli and basil tuna, lettuce and spring onion salad

Snack – Tamara berry yoghurt (small tub)

Dinner – Steak and broccoli


MONDAY – Juice Fast Day


I’ve stuck to the diet plan for today and am planning another AFD. Tomorrow is Saturday – my day off! It will be interesting to see how the scales tip after that… I may still pop my food intake into the My Net Diary App, because I’m on a roll, and you may be curious to hear how I piggy I really was. I’m also giving myself permission to eat chocolate but right now, don’t even feel like it. We will see…