I Quit Sugar*

*Lies. I have quit seeing chocolate as a food group. However 'I Quit Eating Lots of Processed Sugar and Stopped Adding It To Things' is quite wordy and far less emotive.

My name is Amy and it's been forty hours since I last ate anything with added sugar.

On the weekend, Mr S and I sat down and watched That Sugar Film.

I snarfed down a mini Cherry Ripe before we started watching. Someone on Instagram warned me that I'd probably feel very differently about chocolate afterwards.

At the beginning of the year I started the CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet program. It is a fantastic 'diet' that shouldn't actually be called a diet, it should be just the way we are taught to eat. I decided to give up putting sugar in my coffee (I've never had sugar in my black tea) and to stop snacking on chocolate, which was a post pregnancy and breastfeeding hangover. I was remarkably cranky for about three days and then it was okay. As it stands now if I have a sweetened coffee it tastes like artificial sweetener to me and I cannot drink it.

Chocolate however... we've always been mates.

For those who haven't watched it yet, That Sugar Film is a documentary by Damon Gameau. He's horrified and curious about sugar and wants to experiment by only eating 'healthy' low fat foods for forty days. He is supervised by some hilariously named characters - 'Check Upz' is his mild mannered GP and my favourite. The results are, well, horrifying. Seeing the culture that surrounds sugar in our daily lives and it's role throughout history is one to open anyone's eyes. Hopefully. By the end of watching That Sugar Film I was fairly shocked at the amount of hidden sugars in most packaged foods. What was also a bit eye opening was a few of the foods that are pictured are foods I have in my fridge. Fruit yoghurt, I'm looking at you. Easiyo, I'm coming back to the fold.

I did a bit more poking around online and found this review by Catherine Saxelby that discusses how the foods that Damon Gameau eats in the film aren't necessarily indicative of a healthy diet. I argue that whilst he's eating WAY more packaged foods than the Smyth household does, they are foods that I can imagine a busy family purchasing and eating daily.

Gameau has a nifty little blog post that explains about ceasing to eat added sugars, not naturally occurring sugars. This is a really useful infographic to keep handy to educate yourself about the 'hidden' sugars lurking under a different name.

Sidenote to my sister: Yes, I now realise that rice syrup is just another name for sugar. You were correct.

I talked about the film with my friends, Mr S and I talked more about it and together we decided to see if it would make a difference to our kids and to a lesser extent, ourselves. Now, we haven't thrown anything away. I'm pretty sure Mr S still has a bottle of Vanilla Coke in the fridge (purchased pre film) and I've got about three blocks of chocolate stashed around the kitchen.

The Challenge

I wanted to see if I could happily stop adding sugar to my life in non naturally packaged forms.

It's now been almost two full days and I am cranky, I have a headache and I want to hide in bed with my book. Instead I have been:

  • eating the peaches I canned in a super light syrup in January (BEST IDEA EVER, PAST SELF)
  • snacking on peanuts mixed with sultanas (I know dried fruit is also a sugar, but it's a naturally occurring sugar. I'm watching my sultana quantity.)
  • sulking in front of the heater with my book
  • drinking too much coffee
  • going for an epic walk with a screaming four year old and a happy two year in the raincoat-ed double pram whilst it snowed on the hills around us and rained on me and
  • generally trying to feel smug about having gone two days without added sugar, but actually just feeling a bit shit.

The thing is, I've done this before and I know it doesn't last forever. I can't wait.

So far Millie is still asking for honey toast every morning but she understands about how sugar can affect our bodies and she's okay with peanut butter instead. Actually, that's a Instagram-worthy lie. She is not okay with peanut butter instead, but now understands that if she wants toast, it's peanut butter or Vegemite, or no toast.

The Plan

No major plans here, just more careful meal planning with even less packaged sauces/foods. I'll replace things with lower ingredient options (eg natural peanut butter from the health food shop) when they run out. I'll bake with applesauce or sugarless or just lower amounts of sugar where possible.

Have you watched That Sugar Film? What do you think? Tell me everything.


Easter eggs, lies and a washing machine.

I have a very serious problem.

When I did a load of washing yesterday and washed my dressing gown I was certain that I had emptied the pockets. Whilst Mr S was unsurprised that I thought I'd emptied my pockets and I had not, it brought light to a much more serious problem.

It appears that someone has been in my house, sitting around all evening not only wearing my dressing gown but eating a large quantity of Cadbury solid easter eggs. They have then stashed the evidence in my dressing gown pockets. 

When I took the load of washing out of the machine there was a handful of scrunched up easter egg wrappers, a mangled receipt and a lone tissue. But mostly easter egg wrappers.

I'm certain that this is an attempt to derail my Yummy Stay At Home Mummy Yoga Pant Wearing facade... it makes it seem as though all I do is sit around in my dressing gown eating (my children's) easter eggs.

You and I both know that it's all lies, right?

Chocolate Self Saucing Pudding... more childhood comfort food.

As I have mentioned previously, my Mum didn't bake a lot. But as I've also mentioned too, what she did bake is seriously emblazoned in my heart. With a gaudy red loveheart and 'Mum' tattoo through the middle of it.
The Chocolate Self Saucing Pudding was (when I lived at home, Mum is still very much alive and kicking, HI MUM!) Mum's go-to dessert I think. I remember it making semi-regular appearances for Sunday dinners and special occasions.

When I moved out of home I dutifully wrote it up and put it in my recipe display book, and when I made it tonight I was struggling to find it in my recipe binder. When I did eventually locate it, I had to prise the pages apart because they were stuck together with what appeared to a mix of cocoa and brown sugar. Oops.

Ye olde faithful display book, resplendent with stains.

I've adapted the recipe a little bit over time to suit my tastes more. This of course means a bit more sugar and cocoa.

It's a wonderful pudding to put in the oven as you're serving dinner, and it just burbles away merrily with no intervention needed from you until it's allotted time is served in the oven. Then you serve it to your guests, or just yourself. Mr S takes his with ice cream, I take mine with lots and lots of the sauce.

Chocolate Self Saucing Pudding

Mum's Chocolate Self Saucing Pudding

1 cup plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp cocoa
3/4 cup raw sugar
1/2 cup milk
3 tsp vanilla essence
30g melted butter
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup extra cocoa... I usually use about 1/2 cup cocoa here...
1 3/4 cups hot water... I use 2 cups.


  1. Preheat your oven to 180oC.
  2. Sift flour and cocoa. Add sugar. (my recipe says sift the sugar. Doesn't work. Just stir it through.)
  3. Make a well in the centre of the mix, stir in milk, vanilla and melted butter.
  4. Beat until smooth.
  5. Pour into a lightly greased dish.
  6. Sift brown sugar and extra cocoa together. (Again with the sugar sifting. Just pat it on top.)
  7. Holding a spoon close to the surface, pour the hot water over the top of the pudding.
  8. Cover and bake for 50 minutes.

Serves 4 or one Amy and one Mr S, twice.

What's your favourite pudding? Tell me! I'm a hungry hungry hippo!

Mrs Smyth... makes Double Baked Melted Centre Brownies.

On my list was 'Bake weekly.' It's no secret that in his house we are massive fans of anything home baked. Mr S bakes once a year - my birthday cake. I make his, he makes mine, it's how we've always rolled. Other than that, the baking's up to me.

I love baking brownies. So simple and so delicious. This recipe has taken me through many variations, my favourite still being additions of dried cranberries, white and dark chocolate. However, Casa Smyth was short on white chocolate and dried cranberries, so it was two kinds of dark chocolate instead. I know, dreadful.

I did a bit of a pictorial of my process for you. This also coincided with my '24 hours with' documentation for Sarah over at Dear Baby G.

We started with this...
I started after Millie self settled in the cot for the first time in weeks. EMPTY HANDS? WHAT NOW? I toddled around the kitchen getting everything out and measured in record time, because honestly? A baby that suddenly self settles again makes me uneasy and overjoyed. In equal measures. And makes me work at lightning speed in case she wakes up before her allotted 40 minutes.

I love learning about baking and I've always wondered why this recipe calls for eggs first. Can anyone enlighten me about this?

This is my best kitchen friend, my Willow Blue Kitchenaid. 
I love baking from a trusted recipe. This brownie recipe lives in my display book that I made when I moved out of home. It's full of family recipes and some that Mr S & I cut out and thought they'd be nice. I have an entire bookshelf of cookbooks and really, I mostly cook from this one. I've been baking these brownies since I was about 13 and Mum tells me that it's from a No Frills Cocoa packet. Way to give me glamorous designs on this Mum. I'd like to think it's at least from a Bourneville Cocoa packet...

64% & 72% chocolate. Choppity chop chop chop.
Ingredients together and I'm humming away, with one eye on the time. The kitchen and our bedroom are at opposite ends of the house, and it's very convenient when you lock yourself in the kitchen to get away from the screaming every now and then don't hear the baby wake up, but I kept an eagle ear out. Radio silence from the bedroom. Brilliant! 

I get the mix into the pans, and I hear the protests of a baby who hates waking up almost as much as she hates going to sleep. I go and retrieve her, we play a peek a boo game through the cot bars and I sing my version of 'Breaking Up Is Hard To Do'... 'Waking Up Is Hard To Do'.

My baby is free range.
I give Millie the empty egg carton that the politely poses with but has no idea why I've given it to her. She's happy enough to sit in the Bumbo while I finish up.

Pans in the oven, timer on, we head to the lounge room. Millie knows just how to pass the time. Pushups anyone? (No. No thankyou.)

I did a thousand you know...

Then, we had these.*

Fancy Brownie Recipe
125g margarine (whatever, I don't do margarine. I used unsalted butter.)
3/4 cup plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup cocoa (I'm pretty sure I always use more than this.)
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup chopped nuts/chocolate/kitchen sink

  1. In a large bowl beat eggs.
  2. Add sugar and butter and beat until smooth.
  3. Add baking powder, salt, sifted cocoa and flour, beating thoroughly until all ingredients are mixed.
  4. Add vanilla and other additions. Mix should be firm, not runny.
  5. Spread mixture into a greased sandwich tray and bake at 1800C for 30-35 minutes.
  6. Allow to cool in the tray. After mix is cool, using a sharp knife cut into slices.
Mr S & I had a cup of tea and brownie as I was writing this. The brownies I baked for 20 minutes are not cooked. Gooey and delicious, yes, but not cooked enough. They're back in the oven and now they're extra fancy brownies... Double Baked Melted Centre Brownies.