Farewell Feb Fast and a tomato paste revelation…

Red wine…mmm

Red wine…mmm

I cannot tell you how much happier I am this week, now that FEB FAST is FINALLY over. THANK GOD. Fletch and I celebrated over the weekend, starting with dinner at a Japanese restaurant on Saturday night where I ordered a JAPANESE MOJITO. I’d never heard of a Japanese mojito before, so I ordered it because I could and it was FABULOUS.   Then late on Sunday we left the kids at home and wandered down to a nearby wine bar, which led to a pub-crawl on pubic transport to most of the liquor establishments within a five-kilometre distance of home. It was silly, juvenile and FUN. We even took SELFIES. (The kids will be SOoooo embarrassed.)

Wine bar selfie

Wine bar selfie

I’m not saying FEB FAST was all bad. It just wasn’t exactly a fun-filled month. I’m glad I did it to prove that I CAN survive without alcohol, but I don’t think I’ll do it again. I did one of those lists – pros versus cons – to weigh up its appeal: The Good Stuff about Feb Fast: 1. Time goes veeeerrrrrryyyy slowly… If you’re one of those people who always complains about time moving too quickly, DO Feb Fast and you’ll be amazed. It might be the shortest month of the year, but, but God, it will feel like the longest… 2. You save quite a bit of money. Probably because you don’t want to go out much because you can’t drink, you stay at home. You don’t spend money at bars, restaurants, or taxis OR shout all your friends drinks when you’ve had too much… 3. You meet all your work deadlines EARLY because there’s nothing much else to do… The Bad Stuff about Feb Fast: 1. It’s VERY, very boring. 2. You DO NOT lose weight. This was THE most disappointing aspect of Feb Fast. I should have listened to Linda, my hair colourist, who told me this would be the case and I didn’t believe her. But it’s true. When deprived of wine, you adopt the crazy rationale of, ‘Gee, I’m not drinking, so of course I can have that three kilo block of chocolate!’ Which goes to prove that you should ALWAYS listen to your hairdresser. 3. You don’t see your friends as much. Because you’d rather not join them at the pub where everyone is laughing and drinking while you stand there with a soda water feeling as bitter and twisted as the floating lemon in your glass. 4. There’s nothing to look forward to at the end of the day. Not that I drink EVERY day, but even the possibility is more pleasant than a definitive NO. 5. There’s nothing to ease the pain of a crappy day. 6. Did I mention that it’s very boring? See? I told you. It’s not worth it. And now I’ve now finished FEB FAST, I’m going to have to think about getting back on some kind of diet because I sure as hell ate more than my fair quota of chocolate over the last month.

Emma Dumas and The Muesli

Emma Dumas and The Muesli

At a recent girls lunch, I caught up with Emma the Guru (you may remember, Emma owns/produces THE MUESLI, which has no added sugar) and was again reminded of how important it is to cut sugar from our diets. Emma is proof. She’s consistently one of the slimmest of my friends and is not a yo-yo dieter at all. (bit annoying really… )   So when I went to the supermarket today, I started checking labels again. One product that’s very hard to find with low sugar content is TOMATO PASTE. Often I’ll buy home brand products but here’s proof why it pays to spend a few pennies more on a labelled brand.

Coles Tomato Paste - 11.5g

Coles Tomato Paste – 11.5g

1. Coles Tomato paste contains 11.5 per cent sugar per 100 grams.

Woolworths Tomato Paste

Woolworths Tomato Paste

2. Woolworths Tomato Paste contains a whopping 16.1 per cent per 100 grams.

And the winner is… Leggo's!

And the winner is… Leggo’s!

And LEGGO’S contains 9.8 per cent per 100 grams. So even though I can’t seem to find a tomato paste that fits the UNDER FIVE PER CENT sugar rule, Leggo’s wins. And when it’s a product we use all the time and is a pantry staple, I thought it was worth pointing out. And spending the extra twenty cents on. Pay less, get more sugar. Food for thought indeed. If you have any tips about low-sugar content products, please let me know!

The Fit Fix Diet Plan – an overview, plus more sinning…

I’ve had a bit of feedback that getting this FIT FIX Diet Plan in dribs and drabs is a bit messy and you’d like to see it laid out in its entirety to get a clearer picture about what’s going on. Again, I reiterate that this is a diet I’ve devised for myself as an experiment and you really should check with someone who knows more about these things than me (like a doctor) before embarking on this program.

Here are the basic rules:


Sugar-free lollies ARE allowed!

Sugar-free lollies ARE allowed!

1. Things you can’t eat: potato, rice, bread and products with more than 5% sugar content. (the sugar rule doesn’t apply to wine or the one day you are allowed chocolate!)

2. You must write down everything you eat and count calories. (sounds boring but I have an easy solution for this!)

3. You must exercise every day for a minimum of between 45 minutes and an hour. I am going to aim for spin classes four days a week, plus two lots of abdominal classes and two sessions of body toning or weights workouts. If you don’t go to a gym, you can ride a bike, run and do toning exercises at home.

4. You must weigh yourself every day.

5. You must have three alcohol-free days a week. I calculate my week starting on a Sunday.

6. You can have one day off the regime per week where you eat what you like and ditch the calorie counting.


My Net Diary I-Phone App

My Net Diary I-Phone App

1. Scales to weigh yourself.

2. Scales to weigh the food you eat.

3. An I-phone or device that can use the My Net Diary App. This is my secret weapon in the fight against flab. It means you can easily put in all your measurements and target weight and it will calculate how much you should safely eat per day in order to lose weight. Add in everything you eat to keep your calories quota in check!




SUNDAY-TUESDAY – Start with a 3-day juice fast to put you in the right frame of mind for your new weight-loss mission. For more tips about juice fasting, see blogs dated from November 19th. ( http://jenniferhansen.com.au/?p=4566 )


Celery snack

Celery snack

Breakfast – The Muesli (50 grams) with skim milk, (100ml),  Greek yogurt (50g) and frozen berries (25g).
Snack – 2 celery sticks
Lunch – can of Sirena basil tuna, lettuce and spring onion
Snack – Tamara sugar-free yoghurt with berries (small tub)
Dinner – Bolognaise sauce – NO PASTA, plus two glasses of red wine



Keeping it simple - ham and cheese on Vita-Wheats

Keeping it simple – ham and cheese on Vita-Wheats

Breakfast – Uncle Toby’s Quick Oats sachet with 125ml skim milk and 1/2 a cup of frozen    raspberries
Snack – 2 celery sticks
Lunch – 4 Vita-Wheat 9-grain biscuits with 2 light cheese slices and ham
Snack – Earl Grey tea with 30ml skim milk and an apple
Dinner – Left-over Bolognaise sauce



Basil chilli tuna salad

Basil chilli tuna salad

Breakfast – Oat Bran pancakes
Snack – hard-boiled egg
Lunch – Tuna salad with can of Sirena chilli-basil tuna, chopped lettuce and 2 spring onions
Snack – Cup of tea with skim milk and Tamara sugar-free yoghurt with berries (small tub)
Dinner – Grilled chicken fillet and broccoli

SATURDAY – Day off. Eat what you like!




Scrambled eggs and ham

Scrambled eggs and ham

Breakfast – 1 cup scrambled eggs and 2 rashes of bacon (or ham)
Snack – celery or carrot
Lunch – Sirena chilli and basil tuna, lettuce and spring onion salad
Snack – Tamara berry yoghurt (small tub)
Dinner – Grilled marinated Steak and broccoli

MONDAY – Juice Fast Day


An easy and tasty snack

An easy and tasty snack

Breakfast – The Muesli (50g), low-fat Greek yogurt, skim milk and frozen raspberries
Snack – 2 Cruskits with onion/chive Philadelphia cream cheese
Lunch – Cold beef, lettuce and tomato salad
Snack –  Body LoCarb Bites (chocolate protein balls – still under the %5 sugar rule)
Dinner – Stir-fry garlic prawns and veggies




Breakfast – Berry smoothie (using Swisse Slim Shake protein powder), Greek yoghurt, frozen berries and skim milk
Snack – 2 sticks celery
Lunch – Ham, spring onion and tomato omelette
Snack – Tamara sugar-free berry yoghurt (small tub)
Dinner – Mongolian lamb stir-fry

THURSDAY (LOW-CAL intake day)

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 apple
Dinner – I chicken pattie with papaya salad



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 – Tamara sugar-free mixed berries yoghurt (small tub)
Dinner – left over chicken patties and papaya salad (recipe listed in Wednesday’s blog)

SATURDAY – DAY OFF. Eat what you like!


MONDAY – Juice Fast Day, (juices from Pressed Juices)


BSC Lo Carb Bites

BSC Lo Carb Bites

Breakfast – The Muesli, yoghurt and frozen berries
Snack – Hard-boiled egg
Lunch – 4 Vita-Wheat 9-grain biscuits with 2 light cheese slices and ham
Snack –  Body LoCarb Bites (chocolate protein balls – still under the %5 sugar rule)
Dinner – Pesto salmon grilled with broccoli


Breakfast – Berry smoothie (ingredients as per above)
Snack – 2 celery sticks
Lunch – Sirena tuna, lettuce and spring onion salad
Snack – 2 Cruskits spread with onion/chive Philadelphia cream cheese
Dinner – Cold beef salad


Salmon portions

Salmon portions

Breakfast – Oat Bran pancakes
Snack – Yoghurt
Lunch – Peppered Salmon portion (pre-packed from supermarket – 217 per piece) and 1 carrot
Snack – 1 apple
Dinner – Grilled fillet Tandoori chicken with broccoli





Breakfast –  Uncle Toby’s instant oats with berries
Snack – 2 celery sticks
Lunch – Mashed avocado (50g) spread over 2 Light Cruskits topped with four cherry tomatoes
Snack – Yoghurt
Dinner – Grilled flake and salad

SATURDAY – DAY OFF. Eat what you like!

So there you have it! Three weeks of a food plan completely mapped out for you. I haven’t specified weights for all the food servings, as you can be flexible – as long as you weigh your food and record the details in your I-Phone My Net Diary App and keep under your daily calorie limit, you’ll be fine.

Most days listed have a food requirement UNDER the calorie limit, which allows you to add in snacks or larger meals, depending on how hungry you are. And you can drink wine – as long as (again!) you stick to your calorie quota.

Sampling Shane Warne's new '99 Not Out' exclusive beer!

Sampling Shane Warne’s new ’99 Not Out’ exclusive beer!


There will be days when you sin. I do – often…

Take last night for instance. After a fabulous party at Club 23 at Crown, where I very much enjoyed not only trying a new beer cricket legend Shane Warne helped create himself, aptly titled 99 NOT OUT,  (very nice, it is too!) but I also had a couple of wines…

Now, the biggest problem with alcohol is how much it sabotages your will-power. Hence why we NEED at least THREE alcohol-free days a week.




I thought I’d been reasonably well-behaved with my food intake yesterday. Even at the party, where there was a wonderful array of delicious finger-food, I was restrained – only having ONE item – a small peking duck pancake. But then I woke up this morning and found THIS on the kitchen sink along with the dirty dishes, yet to be tidied up…

Yep, I’d demolished what was left of the cookies and cream ice-cream. ALL GONE.

As I always say, you just have to pick yourself up and start all over again… At least my weight has stayed down below the 70kg mark – now on 68.2kg. So I do think the FIT FIX Diet Plan works. Especially if you actually stick to the rules… Let’s see if I can get to my goal weight of 64kg. I’ll keep plodding along and document how this goes just to keep me accountable. I know it’s hardly riveting stuff, but it’s working for me, so selfishly, I’ll stick to blogging about it too. I’ll add new recipes, confess my sins and answer any questions you might have. Stay tuned!




The FIT FIX Diet Plan

So far, I’m pretty happy with my FIT FIX Diet Plan. The three-day JUICE CLEANSE has worked well as a kick-starter and now I’m very much ready to move on to the next phase of this experiment – eating REAL food!

DAY THREE – reviewing Wednesday

Yes, I got weary during the second and third days of the JUICE CLEANSE at certain times, but at others, I felt energised and fabulous. The ‘tired’ part is to be expected, given I wasn’t getting any caffeine. It did help that I reduced my coffee intake drastically over the last month and am now more likely to have an Earl Grey tea than a coffee on most days. At least I was spared a splitting headache, which usually happens with the detoxing process.

My juice selection for Day One

My juice selection for Day One

But three days of juice is DEFINITELY enough. Although I didn’t quite do the FULL three days. As I said yesterday, I planned to eat dinner last night at my Mum’s anyway which I did, and managed to eat only a very small portion of her delicious roast with gravy and said ‘no’ to roast potatoes. AND sweetcorn. AND Yorkshire pudding… I even said NO to Mum’s homemade apple crumble… Heart-breaking but essential if this plan is to succeed.

I also declined the red wine on offer, so I can happily say I’ve kick-started the week with three consecutive AFDs. (That’s alcohol -free days in case you were wondering) I am now very much looking forward to a glass or two tomorrow night. But part of this plan is to also reduce my alcohol intake, so I will be monitoring ‘how much’. (sigh…)


The Fit Fix Diet Plan is designed to be extremely flexible to fit a variety of lifestyles. So many of our plans change so quickly on a daily basis, that we all need something that’s adaptable. Having said that, I also believe planning ahead is essential.

Food shopping the LEAST amount of times possible is a biggie for me too. Life’s too busy to be heading to the supermarket on a daily basis. Twice a week is plenty!

My current favourite

My current favourite

Picking components from various diets and mashing them together also appeals to me, so here’s how this diet will work.

As well as THE RULES I spelt out yesterday, I’m aiming for one juice fast day a week, (MONDAY) and one day with a very low calorie intake. (THURSDAY) This will be in accordance with the 2-5 diet which has a lot of evidence backing it to suggest that by almost fasting two days a week, we can eat what we like on the other five. I tried this, but the ‘eating what you like’ on the other days just meant I pigged out ridiculously. Which is why I’ve decided to create my own plan.

Yes, I’ll still have 2 days which are low calorie, but I’m only allowing ONE day which is a free-for-all. And yes, that’s the day you can have CHOCOLATE and don’t have to count calories. For me, that’s preferably a SATURDAY.

The first week of the FIT FIX Diet Plan differs from the following weeks, because of the 3-day juice cleanse, but as of next Monday, I’ll be aiming to stick to a pretty regular eating schedule. So usually today would be one of the ‘almost fasting days’ but after coming off the three-day JUICE CLEANSE, that’s not happening this week.

As well, I can safely say it’s highly likely social commitments will probably force changes to my plans, but then I can explain how I adapt and hopefully this will help you too.


Here’s the plan I laid out for today:

The Muesli - 97% sugar free

The Muesli – 97% sugar free

Breakfast: The Muesli (50 grams) with skim milk, (100ml),  Greek yogurt (50g) and frozen berries (25g).

Snack – celery sticks

Lunch – can of Sirena basil tuna, lettuce and spring onion

Snack – Tamara Yoghurt tub with berries

Dinner – Bolognaisse sauce – NO PASTA, plus two glasses of red wine


Using the My Net Diary App, the total calorie amount would add up to 1409. This is just under my daily allowance of 1430, so well on target. Especially as I put in a good effort with exercise this morning, doing both a half-hour abdominal class, followed by 45-minutes of a seriously sweaty spin class. According to the My Net Diary App, I burned off 593 calories, which means I still have 614 in the bank. Maybe this means I can have more wine tonight??


Speaking of alcohol, the 3-day JUICE CLEANSE reinforced to me how important it is to have at least three days a week without grog if you want to lose weight. I KNOW once I’ve had a couple of wines, I’m far more likely to grab a handful or two (or 5) of cashews from the cupboard, or to hoe into a cheese and crackers session at 10pm.

Even a couple of glasses will drastically reduce your willpower. Which is why this rule is a MUST.


It’s gone to plan except that I decided to substitute my two snacks with a bottle of green juice, left over from the stash I bought for the 3-day cleanse. Which adds up to roughly the same amount so I’m doing fine.

Let’s see what happens tonight after that red wine. I’ll report back tomorrow and also discuss how my weight is going – which is embarrassing but important for you to know as evidence as to whether this FIT FIX Diet Plan really will work. Stay tuned!






Dental avoidance OR How Time Flies – New Year’s Resolution Update


It’s more than THREE MONTHS since I last posted a New Year’s Resolution update – my, how time flies!

A VERY belated check up...

A VERY belated check up…

That was also brought home by an embarrassing visit to the dentist this morning. As I lay back in the recliner chair, I noticed a newly designed courtyard outside the facing window of the surgery. It’s a pretty white-pebbled and ferny space; a pleasant distraction from the painful work going on inside one’s mouth.



‘Gee, you built that quickly,’ I remarked. ‘That wasn’t here last time.’
‘Ah, no, it wasn’t that quick,’ said Christine, looking at me as though I was one snag short of a barbie. ‘You haven’t been here for two years.’

TWO YEARS? Are you kidding? I felt like I’d been woken from a coma. Usually I visit the dentist every six months like clockwork. It occurred to me two weeks ago that I hadn’t received a reminder notice for a while, so made this appointment without being prompted. I thought maybe a year at most had passed – probably less than a year – so I was staggered to find out it was in fact, more than TWO YEARS. How slack! Or was I sub-consciously avoiding something I dislike intensely?

The ‘time whizzing past’ concept also reminded me I haven’t posted a New Year’s Resolution update for more than three months. As I said in the last update all those moons ago, I was beginning to find them repetitive to write on a WEEKLY basis, which meant they must have been boring to read, so decided to take a short break. Which became a longish break…

Now it’s definitely time for an update, so here’s how those resolutions are looking nearly five months down the track:


(1) Sugar free challenge (apart from wine) – HA, HA, HA and HA! Hmmm… yes, I was starting to fall off the wagon at the end of six weeks and things haven’t improved since. To be honest, I ate a Crunchie bar for breakfast this morning. So NOT GOOD. I love the concept, though, and would like to tackle this again, but on a less extreme level.

Regardless, I will keep eating The Muesli for breakfast most days – except when there’s a Crunchie Bar lying around.

I felt great (and lost weight!)  when I gave up sugar, but there were too many treats I missed – sharing chocolate with my daughter while watching a DVD, buying a fruit bun down the street while doing the food shop and ICE-CREAM.

Crazy Sexy Diet

Crazy Sexy Diet

Now I’ve come across a new diet – which includes a lot of GREEN JUICE – and I’ll share that with you next week. It also involves some tips from the Crazy, Sexy Diet book by Kris Carr, which is well worth a read.

After much research, I’ve even bought a whiz bang juicer and will give you the low-down on which is the best on the market and why, next week.



(2) Not to play I-Phone Games – I failed on this one too. I went through a downer-patch in Feb/March and resorted to playing games as a mind-numbing way of blocking out the bad stuff. I suppose it’s better than taking drugs.

(3) To tidy my office before the end of March – And again, I laugh. Not because I failed, but because I COMPLETELY FORGOT this one. I have managed to clear a mass of paperwork piles from the floor, but the desk still looks like a tsunami’s hit.

(4) To go to the gym at least 3 times a week – At last – a tick! YES!!! For a short while I was inspired by my new trainer, Ross, who I Blogged about. Then Ross left for another gym, so now I’m doing classes instead. Which I like. In fact, this week I have been to a Spin Class (stationary group bike-riding) three times already. Yay, me. It helps to combat that sugar addiction.

Give smoking the chop

Give smoking the chop

(5) To NEVER smoke another cigarette again – Another tick. Big back pat. It really does get easier all the time. Especially when you pass the one-year mark. This is my biggest achievement and even though I was slightly tempted on a recent girls’ night, I stayed strong.

I don’t think I’d be surviving as many spin classes if I was still a smoker and the financial saving is also a huge bonus.


So overall, I’ve scored two out of five. Which doesn’t say a lot about my willpower. Or are New Year’s Resolutions pointless? Did you make any this year? Have you stuck to them? I’d love to hear your stories in our comments section.


Emma the anti-sugar Guru – PLUS a special recipe tip


The more I talk with Emma Dumas about the sugar-free ONE LINE RULE diet, the more respect I have for her knowledge and advice. Henceforth, from here on, I will refer to Emma only as Emma the Guru.  (and for newbies, the ONE LINE RULE diet means you can only eat products that contain five per cent or less sugar -always check the nutrition label on all products!)

Emma the Guru

Emma the Guru

I’ve been trying to stick to the ONE LINE RULE diet since New Year’s Eve. I’ve only broken it once – inadvertently – but it is tough. I REALLY miss my chocolate and cakes. And ice-cream. Another reason I call Emma – Emma the Guru – is that she hasn’t eaten ONE lolly or chocolate in seven years. Which is quite phenomenal. In a bow-down-and-scrape-WOW kinda way. Because I am a serious sugar addict.

Lorne Greens

Lorne Greens


Emma also sells one of the only breakfast cereals on the market, THE MUESLI, which is practically sugar-free. It’s mostly sold at exclusive health stores. You can find your nearest stockist by going to The Muesli’s website at http://themuesli.com.au
Emma the Guru’s range is spreading far and wide. From this summer, you can now find The Muesli -even as far away as Lorne at a super cute health shop called Lorne Greens. Yep, I was there and saw it on the shelf. Very impressed!


And no, I am not paid to write this. I bought my own The Muesli at a local health shop yesterday. Emma is a friend, and I am supporting her product because I believe in it and I don’t ask for freebies. And it tastes bloody good. I can’t find anything else that comes close. If you can – let me know.

But it’s now 24 days into this ONE LINE RULE diet and it’s getting a bit boring. I’m also a bit worried that in order to compensate for the lack of sugary treats in my life, I’m over-indulging in every protein bar under five per cent sugar on the planet. This can’t be good – can it? I decided I needed to talk with Emma the Guru for some more advice – and hopefully inspiration – to keep me on the straight and narrow.

Here’s how our chat went:

Jen: So I suppose it’s not good that I’m eating so many protein bars and sugar substitute treats, is it?
Emma: My belief is that the sugar addiction is very much based on that sweet taste which is what you crave. So if you can, try and get away from needing to supplement that sweet taste and ultimately that craving should go away. But in the beginning, particularly if you have been quite addicted, definitely take the odd substitute and have a couple of Jols or something.

Jen: Are protein balls okay?
Emma: I think so. But I also make some great protein balls that have chocolate protein powder and raspberries in them. The kids love them in school lunches.

I had to interrupt our interview at this point, because the instant I heard about these protein balls, I just had to have the recipe. (That magic word ‘chocolate’ did the trick) Especially knowing what a good cook Emma the Guru is…

Here’s how to make them:

Ingredients for Emma the Guru's protein balls

Ingredients for Emma the Guru’s protein balls


The Muesli (of course..) -2 cups
Fresh raspberries – 1 cup
Tahini – 3 to 4 tablespoons
Protein powder – 2 to 3 tablespoons (like Donna Aston’s Protein Supreme chocolate flavour)
Cocoa – a tablespooon
Sweetener – optional



If you’re a really big sweet tooth (like me) you may also want to throw in a spoonful of a sweetener like Stevia. Emma says you mix the whole lot up in a big bowl. The tahini makes everything stick, so you can then roll it up into small balls and place on a tray in the fridge to set.

It’s messy to make and you’ll start to feel like a mud wrestler, but on the upside, you get to lick your fingers.

A yummy mess

A yummy mess

Finger-licking good

Finger-licking good








Now back to the interview.

Jen: I’ve given up so much. Why aren’t I losing weight? What am I doing wrong? Too much alcohol? Too many protein bars?
Emma: I firmly believe that over time, you will absolutely lose weight. You will see it happen. It may just be a slower progression for some.

Jen: Well I suppose I have lost half a kilo.
Emma: Well half a kilo is good! And you really haven’t had to put yourself out too much to lose it.

Jen: What else could I do to help?
Emma: The other thing would be to cut out processed carbs. Anything white really. Processed breads, any processed foods. And generally the ONE LINE RULE cuts out loads of processed foods anyway. But if you do want to accelerate your weight loss a little bit, just cut out processed foods and anything white – potato, rice, pastry and definitely avoid pasta.

Jen: Generally speaking, what is your diet? Do you eat The Muesli for breakfast all the time?
Emma: I do! I eat The Muesli every day.

Jen: What about morning tea?
Emma: No. I find myself sitting at my desk and find myself thinking, “God, I’m starving!” but by then it’s one o’clock in the afternoon and time for lunch. And that is the first time I’ve thought about food because The Muesli seriously fills me up. I might think to have a cup of tea, but I really never eat anything till lunchtime.

Jen: So what do you have for lunch?
Emma: Lunch for me would be something from the fridge – mix up a whole lot of rocket with tuna or salmon and avocado. Or leftovers. I’m a big fan of leftovers. But I think if you’re modifying your diet and avoiding processed foods, then as long as you have a serve of protein and a big serve of salad, you’ll be fine and you will eventually lose weight. And cook a bit extra for dinner – like a bit of extra chicken of fillet and then you can eat that for lunch the next day.

Jen: How important is exercise?
Emma: Oh, I ‘m a big believer in exercise – as much for your mind as anything else. But while exercise helps, I think we lose sight of the fact that losing weight and keeping your body the way you want it is 95% about what you put into your mouth. So yes, I exercise most days – walking and pilates – but first and foremost, I watch what goes into my mouth.

Jen: I love snacks though. So any tips for that problem?
Emma: Well the protein balls we just talked about are good. Or some cheese. And blinis. (small pancakes)  Make these with rolled oats or oat bran – I even grind up some of The Muesli – mix that with some egg and yoghurt, salt and pepper and make little blinis. These are divine with smoked salmon, cream cheese and capers.

Jen: What advice can you give me to keep going and stick with this sugar free mission?
Emma: It always depends on just how bad your addiction is. You’ve just got to keep telling yourself that it is an addiction and that it is something inflicted on us by a food industry that will keep on doing it. Everywhere you go, we have sweet treats on shelves in shops, shoved in our faces. It is tough. But the health benefits are massive and you will feel so much better.

Okay. I’m convinced. I’m going to stick with this sugar free mission for a bit longer. Especially now I have the recipe for those chocolate protein balls!! I’ve got a whole tray of them in the fridge now. Enough writing – time for a snack!

Chocolate protein balls

Chocolate protein balls

(p.s. For the recipe, Emma the Guru recommends using Donna Aston’s chocolate protein powder called ‘Protein Supreme’ as others on the market are loaded with sugar. Donna’s on-line store is at http://www.donnaaston.com/store/index.php?category=3)


There is no substitute for jam on toast…

Lindt Chocolate balls

Lindt Chocolate balls

This will be my fourth week on the sugar-free ONE LINE RULE diet and I confess, this last week has been the toughest yet. The novelty has worn off and the temptations are becoming harder to keep at bay. A dinner-party with friends on Saturday night saw me knocking back the offer of chocolate Lindt balls on a plate – my favourite EVER chocolate – and that hurt!


(p.s. For newbies to this regime, the ONE LINE RULE diet means no products containing more than five per cent sugar. It’s all about checking the ONE LINE on the nutrition box of any product you might be tempted to eat. Over 5% and it’s OUT.)

Making chocolate

Making chocolate

Then yesterday, Ronnie decided she might become a CHOCOLATIER after finishing school, so she really needed to learn how to make chocolate NOW. With my help. Without me licking my fingers???? Do you know how hard that is??? You could have put me in the Tower of London and strapped me to a torture stretcher and I would have been happier.


My daughter, the chocolatier

My daughter, the chocolatier


Most teenage daughters persecute their mothers by getting smashed and coming home late in the wee hours of a Saturday morning… Not my daughter. No, she wants me to MAKE CHOCOLATE with her. So demanding. AND she is well aware of my anti-sugar campaign. Unbelievable.


The Muesli

The Muesli




Breakfasts are also tough. I love THE MUESLI but I also like variety. So to mix things up, I usually add a dollop of natural yoghurt to my muesli most mornings and sometimes a bit of fresh fruit. Otherwise, here’s a couple of alternative brekkies that hit the spot:


Oats and berries

Oats and berries



(1) Uncle Toby’s Instant Oats with a dozen fresh raspberries. There’s no sugar in the porridge and I’m allowed one serve of fresh fruit a day, so this is fine. The raspberries give the cereal a little sweet kick and you can always buy a box of frozen berries when they aren’t in season.





Vegemite on toast

Vegemite on toast


(2) Good old Vegemite on toast. Always a winner and butter is acceptable so, you feel like you’re sinning but you’re not. Sadly, peanut butter doesn’t cut it – the 7.4% sugar content takes it over the limit… sigh.




So as you know, I’m very much missing my daily sugar fix. I ‘get it’ now when I remember what Emma The Guru said about sugar being an addiction as serious as any drug you can think of. Withdrawal can lead to desperate behaviour…. like this.

Even though I am coping (and enjoying) the breakfast options above, this morning I was particularly missing the concept of JAM on toast. Caving in to nagging from the kids, I’d purchased a whole loaf of WHITE sourdough bread. Now, there’s nothing better than a thick slice of white bread, toasted, dripping with warm butter and raspberry jam. I couldn’t get this image out of my head. I didn’t want Vegemite. But I knew that the EVIL, WICKED jam, beckoning me from the fridge, had to be kept locked up and well away from my sugar-free self. Still, the thought kept nagging at me. There must be another solution. And then I had a light-bulb moment.

There WAS something in the fridge that MIGHT work as a substitute. The ONLY acceptable BELOW five per cent sugar yoghurt I’d been able to find on the market was TAMAR VALLEY and I had a tub of raspberry yoghurt in the fridge. Ah ha!! Surely that would taste like jam? I would scoop the jammy bit out of the yoghurt and put it on my toast!

It looked like this:

Berry Yoghurt toast...

Berry Yoghurt toast…

One eager, big fat bite.

Munch, munch….. EWWWwwwww!!!

This does NOT taste good. I would NOT recommend trying this for breakfast, or any other meal for that matter. Just so you know. I don’t always get it right.

Who can help with the best advice about monetizing Blogs?

I’ve loved being a Blogger for the past six months and would much rather continue writing in this format than try to find a ‘real’ job. But then there’s that pesky question about making a living, which is quite annoying. Which means I’m going to look at advertising options for the website. BUT – and this is the BIG question – the Blogosphere is still a vast, fast-changing and ever-developing landscape, so I’d like to know what others think about the best way to tackle this. What do YOU think?

Can Blogs earn money?

Can Blogs earn money?

We’ve been looking at many options and I’m still weighing up several possibilities. I may even experiment with a few ideas, before I settle on one particular path. So I hope you’ll bear with me, knowing that whichever way this goes, I will always write truthfully and will not be subjected to the influence of advertisers.

The Muesli - 97% sugar free

The Muesli – 97% sugar free

At the moment, I’m pretty keen on trying a sugar-free experiment in the New Year, so it’s unlikely I’d be looking for sponsorship from confectionary or ice-cream manufacturers… I’m going to try getting fit as well – which could be a huge disaster – but advertising sporting events and healthy living would be another good fit. Conversely, I love sitting on my bum and being entertained, so advertising from the films and entertainment industries would suit too. Film reviews will become more of a focus in 2013. And I’ll always be writing about fashion and beauty products, so those brands and services would always work well.


For anyone interested in advertising on my website, you can contact my website designer, Kelly,on this email address: youguys@catacombcreative.com  for rates and details.

The Australia Grand Prix Run next March

The Australia Grand Prix Run next March

I’m also going to try a more reliable format in 2013, so you know what to expect from this Blog site on particular days of the week. More about that in the near future.

Oh, and just in case you were wondering – I have not been paid for any of the articles written on this website by anyone.

So I’ll keep researching this conundrum and keep you up-to-date with what I learn along the way. If it works, great, I can continue to write what I like and enjoy having a Blogger voice to the outside world.


If not, you might catch me at the local pub pulling beers. Which ain’t such a bad option, now I think about it…


Inspirational Life Changes: EMMA DUMAS – from TV Producer to Food Producer (OR Why a glass of wine is better than a glass of apple juice!!!)


Managing Director and owner of The Muesli, Emma Dumas is a crusader on an anti-sugar campaign. And not just to promote her breakfast cereal. She firmly believes SUGAR is the root of all nutritional evil. After interviewing Emma, I’m pretty much convinced too, so now the Muffin Top journey has ended, I’m going to try another experiment. I’m going to add another test of willpower to my list of New Year’s Resolutions. But more about that later.

Emma Dumas: owner 'The Muesli'

Emma Dumas: owner ‘The Muesli’


Let’s chat with Emma first. This is the third in my series of interviews, under the banner ‘Inspirational Life Changes.’ It’s about people who successfully change careers at some point in their lives and turn to a job that’s quite different, requiring new challenges and skills. With people living longer, it’s a much more common choice, so it’s wonderful to learn from others who have been brave enough to take a leap of faith into another area of expertise and make it work. Their experience can teach and inspire us.



Before The Muesli took over Emma’s life, she was a successful television producer. From a stint in radio, she began working at Channel Nine in 1989. ‘I was in TV production for many years, starting at the Nine Network in Special Projects as a Producer,’ said Emma as we chatted over a coffee. ‘I then started up my own company, Prime Time Productions and left Nine in 1993.’

Working in Special Projects meant Emma was involved in the production of major live events, like Carols by Candlelight, the Logie Awards and the Arias. It’s a job requiring super organisational skills, not to mention a good dose of persuasiveness when trying to convince stars to appear on shows. Emma then produced several highly acclaimed programs with her own company, Prime Time productions with another partner from Nine.

‘Then I had the babies from ’98, so I sold out of Prime Time in 2000, just before the birth of our second, Sophie,’ said Emma. ‘From there, I had about six months off, then Michael Hirsh rang me from Working Dog so I started producing The Panel from 2000 until it ran its course, in about mid 2005.’

It was about that time that Emma’s good friend Donna Aston, (personal trainer for the stars and registered nutritionist) who she’d worked and trained with, sparked an idea. ‘She was saying to me, “My clients are doing my head in. They cannot get their heads around breakfast and get it right.” I’d written recipes for her over the years for several books so I said, ‘Oh don’t worry about it. I’ll prepare something.’ So I mixed up this concoction and started making The Muesli.’ Emma said, smiling.


The Muesli

The Muesli


‘I’d parcel it up in one kilo zip lock bags and started taking in ten or twenty at a time to her gym and they started to sell. It was based on the fact that people just could NOT get an option on a supermarket shelf that was actually healthy. There’s a big perception that all muesli’s are a health food and people are doing the right thing buying it, but they’re really grabbing things that are up to 48 per cent sugar. And that’s before you start thinking about the roasting and toasting and the damage to fats in all the roasted and toasted products.’



I voiced my disappointment, being a lover of the roasted and toasted variety, but Emma insisted NONE of them are any good. ‘Absolutely no good!’ she said sternly. ‘So with all those things in mind, I put The Muesli together. Something that was nutritionally great. Donna loved it. It was high in protein, the fats are all raw, so they’re in their essential form and it just happened to be naturally sugar-free, because I would never have included anything that was sugary – which is dried fruit or honey or anything like that.’

I’ve tried Emma’s muesli and also love it, but could have sworn there were sultanas somewhere in the mix. “No,’ said Emma. ‘That’s how it’s sugar free. Because dried fruit is concentrated sugar. Our muesli is fifty percent nuts and seeds. 36 per cent oats and 14 per cent coconut. And the nutrition panel contains just 1.6 grams per 100grams of sugars, which occur naturally from within those ingredients.’

Proof of it’s taste-good factor comes from it’s popularity. As demand from Donna’s gym clients grew, Emma found it difficult to juggle both her TV production job and being a muesli chef. ‘Well I was working as well, and so I was in a hairnet and gloves in the kitchen at night, mixing my fifty kilos a month in massive vats and chopping it my thermo mix and yes, it was tough. It really was. Particularly when I was doing things like Thank God You’re Here. They were massive days. I’d suddenly get an order and think, ‘Oh my God…’

From supplying just one gym, Emma’s business quickly grew. ‘Basically it’s been a learning process. The fact that our muesli has so little sugar in it appealed to me as a selling point. So down the track, I decided to team up with Heather Brodie, who is a friend, and then we started producing commercially mid 2010.’

Now Emma only uses her own kitchen for family food preparation. ‘We sourced a company called OmniBlend which is a co-packer. So they produce according to our instructions, making a blend exactly to my recipe and package it. It’s all done in a factory that meets all the food standards. Then we launched  a website in early 2011 and it’s been growing ever since then.’

Emma Dumas with her product The Muesli

Emma Dumas with her product The Muesli

When working on the marketing strategy, Emma’s passion for the anti-sugar campaign grew. ‘We use a 99 per cent sugar-free slogan as part of the logo and the sugar thing kept resonating with me. I knew from research just how busy the marketplace was, so I knew there wasn’t any point putting just another muesli onto the shelves, among the dozens that are there already. I realised that the sugar thing was big. I also simultaneously became aware of David Gillespie who has written the book ‘Sweet Poison’ and he is brilliant. Everything he says, I absolutely  subscribe to,’ she said, her voice becoming more emphatic.

‘I fully believe from everything that I have read, not just from him, but other research as well, that sugar is THE biggest health crisis the world will ever know. And the sugar industry – BIG sugar world-wide is SO powerful. The vested interests in keeping sugar in everything are so huge that they’re very, very good at information generation – information that creates confusion and clouds the issue and covers up what is happening.’

Emma then went into a detailed explanation about how sugar works. To summarise:

SUGAR = 2 MOLECULES (fructose and glucose)

FRUCTOSE is the ‘natural’ sugar everyone talks about.

Emma is not a fan of FRUCTOSE. ‘There are lots of foods that are labelled Only Natural Sugars and you can be guaranteed that they’re chock full of fructose. Sadly it’s the fructose that’s causing all the problems. Glucose is the basic building block of all energy. So our bodies utilise the tiny simple glucose cell for all of its energy.’

But apparently our bodies have not evolved in a way that enables us to process fructose. ‘The only area in your body that’s capable of doing anything with it – is your liver. So what it does, is to turn it immediately into fat,’ said Emma. ‘So fatty liver disease is something being diagnosed more and more and its because the fructose half of sugar. David Gillespie says that if you drink a glass of apple juice, the fructose in that glass of apple juice is circulating in your blood as fat, before you’ve even finished drinking that glass.’

And then Emma told me something I hadn’t known before. While other food types have corresponding hormones to let our bodies know when we’ve eaten enough, sugar doesn’t. Which means you can keep eating sugary stuff WITHOUT feeling full. ‘ It ALSO suppresses existing hormones, so not only will you take in more fructose, but you can keep taking in other stuff as well.’

Ouch. That sounds pretty bad… In effect, sugar can actually increase our appetite? ‘Yes,’ said Emma firmly. ‘It’s the single most addictive substance freely available.’

With that in mind, I ask Emma if her children are allowed lollies. And if so, do they actually eat them, given they must have heard her stance on sugar?  ‘They do,’ she said. ‘Because I’m not a complete Nazi. But they’re very conscious of it. Although the 12-year-old is totally bored by me. But they take it on board and they do understand it and they probably do restrict themselves quite willingly without me needing to do much about it.’

Before you read the next part of the interview, take a look at this picture. A banquet of lollies to choose from that most people would find hard to resist… Is your mouth watering yet? Now read on.

Sugar and spice and all things nice...

Sugar and spice and all things nice…

Jen: And do you have a strict diet yourself?
Emma: I do. I lost about nine kilos in 2005 with Donna when I first began this. And I’ve kept it off. I basically cut out all processed foods – anything white – bread, potato and sugar. But I was never a massive sweet tooth. I’d eat a bowl of chips before chocolate.

Jen: How long since you’ve had a pig out on lollies?
Emma: Well, I used to eat dark chocolate, and I loved that but then I realised even that has too much sugar for what I want to do. I have to take this seriously, so sugar is the thing I completely restrict so it’s been a long, long time since I’ve had a lolly.

Jen: What, a year? (can you hear my incredulous tone?)
Emma, Oh no! It would be since 2005.

Jen: REALLY???????
Emma: Oh yes.

Emma: No.

Jen: You’re a freak.

There was a long pause, as I sat there stunned. How could ANYONE not eat ONE lolly for SEVEN years??? I mean, revisit that photo above. How could anyone say NO to that? But it’s a good thing, right? So how has Emma managed this – what is her SECRET to such amazing self-discipline?

Emma says it was probably easier for her than most, as she didn’t really have a sweet tooth to begin with. ‘I’d have a dim sim over a lolly any day. But it’s hard for most people because sugar IS the single most addictive substance. And if you are a sweet tooth, then you probably are addicted.’

That would be me… But Emma assures me there’s hope. ‘You can wean yourself off it,’ she said. ‘You will literally though, have withdrawal problems. Headaches and that kind of thing. And you can avoid chocolate and lollies, but the problem with our food source – the way that society is now – is that so many of the foods available for us that are on the supermarket shelves rare LOADED with sugar.’

‘That’s been my big thing that I’m campaigning about. Because sugar is killing people. It is completely implicated in every single health crisis we have going on. Obesity, Type 2 diabetes, kidney disease, liver disease, heart disease. You name it and sugar is implicated.’

But Emma says it’s a hard battle to fight because so many major corporations have so much money invested in industries that use sugar. ‘For instance, Sixty Minutes ran a piece about the dangers of sugar earlier in the year, but only two weeks later, Channel Nine had a piece on A Current Affair that exonerated sugar. Because of the advertisers. So the vested interests are massive.’

‘We’ve been terrorised for forty years by the slogan ‘Fat Free’ but to make the fat free food bearable, they load it up with sugar to compensate for taste. To make it palatable. And in those 30 to 40 years, the correlations between sugar consumption and the diseases that we’ve talked about are massive, And we’re not getting slimmer – we’re getting fatter a lll the time. You can guarantee the sugar industry has been behind the far-free campaign.’

So what do we do as a community, I ask? ‘I truly believe if people did nothing else but attempt to control their sugar intake by limiting anything that they buy, eat or use in cooking to LESS THAN FIVE GRAMS PER 100 GRAMS OR LESS THAN FIVE PER CENT SUGAR, it would make a difference. If we all did nothing more complex than that, we would see a massive impact.’

Emma calls it THE ONE LINE RULE. ‘And dieticians and nutritionists will jump up and down and say, you can’t put it all down to one thing, but what’s being prescribed and what they’ve been saying for the last forty years hasn’t worked. We’ve just been getting fatter and sicker. So I say, stick to this simple rule. Limit the sugar to this level and there’ll be a huge difference.’

I have a VERY important question that’s bothering me. I can cope with vetting the products I buy at the supermarket. I might even be able to cope with cutting out lollies.


Wine is better for us than apple juice!

Wine is better for us than apple juice!

‘Interestingly, fructose changes it’s structure in wine – in the fermentation process, ‘ said Emma. ‘So wine’s never good in excess, but it’s not as bad as you might think.’

THANK GOD. ‘So…’ I ask optimistically, ‘does that mean wine is better for us than apple juice?’

‘WAY better,’ said Emma definitively. ‘I’d be drinking wine over apple juice any day.’


YAYYYYYYYY. That’s the best news I’ve had all week.

More wine, less apple juice.

To get her message out there, (about sugar, not wine…) Emma wants to start speaking at schools to educate young people from an early age. With a Bachelor of Applied Science behind her, she has the credentials. ‘It’s just common sense,’ she said. ‘I’ve got two daughters at body-image age, and THE ONE LINE RULE resonates really well and really safely with kids at a dangerous age.’


Emma Dumas with her product, The Muesli

Emma Dumas with her product, The Muesli

‘It’s a much safer awareness than worrying about fatty food. Just look at the nutrition box on the labels of food and you’ll easily see whether there’s more than five per cent sugar or not.’

And what about fruit? Emma says one piece of fruit a day is fine. For breakfast though, NO jams or honey on toast. Choose vegemite or avocado instead. Better still, stock up on The Muesli!!

So that’s the challenge I’m going to set myself in the New Year. I’m going to add THE ONE LINE RULE to my resolutions list and see how long I can stick with it. Along the way, I’ll give you tips on which foods to avoid and which ones get a big tick.

Emma says while she misses the people and personalities she worked with in the television industry, she’s loving her running her own business with Heather. They’re extending their range of The Muesli to include a gluten free variety and even have plans to go international.

If you’d like to try The Muesli, here’s a SPECIAL OFFER. If you subscribe to this Blog (and it’s free, so just push the right buttons and you can do it in a minute) then just be one of the first TEN readers to email Emma, and she will send you a FREE 450g pack of The Muesli.

Happy Christmas!


Email Emma Dumas at emma@themuesli.com.au
And to find out where to buy The Muesli, go to the website at http://themuesli.com.au