Tips for Busy Women

A column by Annette Sym, see her cooking and weightloss journey here

Women lead such busy lives these days and wear many hats. I myself have found being a mother, wife and business woman has many challenges but I wouldn’t change my life for anything. If you are like me and need an extra 4 hours in each day then these tips might be for you:

    • Learning the word delegate is a great start. You can’t do everything yourself so find people in your life that can help and support you.
    • Another word you need to own is ‘NO’. You aren’t anyone’s slave so only do what you are happy to do, and if you aren’t then say NO. You must be no. 1 in your life, and yes I know women are meant to be the nurturers in life but you must look after yourself first, before you can look after others. 
    • If you are feeling run down or tired then you should visit a naturopath as you may be low in iron and magnesium. 
    • Keep hydrated throughout the day. Drinking at least 2 litres of water each day will keep your energy levels up, stop you from yawning all day long and will help keep your skin clear and glowing.
    • Don’t have less than 25g of fat each day as going lower could cause side effects. These include your hair becoming brittle and breaking easily as well as your skin becoming dry and flaky.
    • Omit caffeine as it is toxic and addictive. It can also make you edgy and dehydrated when over consumed. Not good for anyone who is stressed or busy.
    • Avoid alcohol as it will only slow you down and could leave you with a headache and mood swings.
    • Make sure you have some down-time every day. Even 30 minutes sitting quietly reading a book or magazine is important. Don’t eat lunch at your desk and try and get some fresh air during the day.
    • Have a day every now and then where you don’t put on makeup, stay in your pajamas for as long as you want and just do nothing.
    •  My final tip would be if you don’t have much time for cooking then make a day every few weeks and cook as many dishes as you can. Put them in single serves or in batches for each night’s meals and freeze them. This way when you don’t have time all you have to do is pull something out of the freezer and you will have a healthy meal to enjoy – it’s a much better idea than grabbing something unhealthy on the way home. You will find that most of my recipes are so easy to make that you really don’t have excuses anymore. 

My mission is to empower people to live a healthier and happier life and to convey the message that healthy and delicious can go hand in hand.  

Annette’s cookbooks SYMPLY TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE 1-7 are sold in all good newsagencies. Visit Annette’s website for more tips and recipes. Annette has also released some Premium Breakfast Shakes which are great for breakfast on the run. Visit and Shake It Til’ You Make It! You can also join Annette’s page at Symply Too Good FACEBOOK.

Spring is in the Air

Get back into a healthier lifestyle - by Annette Sym 

The weather is getting warmer so we can now start thinking about salads, exercise and swimming. During winter most people tend to hibernate, jumping out of bed at 6am when it is dark and cold can stop even the most health conscious person. Longer daylight hours and warmer weather lifts the spirits and so now is the perfect time to get your health and exercise routines back into full swing. Let’s get ready for summer, here are some tips:

1. Try on your favourite summer outfit from last year and see how it fits now. If it is a bit snug or the buttons don’t do up then take this as a sign that you need to shed a few kilos before summer kicks in. Another good idea is to put on your swimmers and take a good hard look at yourself in the mirror. Do you like what you see? If not then do something about it, now!

2. Dust off the barbie and get back to cooking your meat on the grill and serve with interesting salads. Making tasty sauces to pour over steak will give meat a lift and make it much more tempting. Barbequing your meat allows the fats to escape through the grill, a great way to reduce the fat count. If you find it is still too cool for salads then sauté some vegetables on the flat side of the barbeque with some garlic and spices.

3. Spring means crisp apples, tasty oranges, mandarins and strawberries are at their best. Vegetables such as artichokes, snow peas, bokchoy, asparagus and avocados are also in season. Why not make up some homemade dips to take to picnics and barbeques or fruit salads for a healthy snack for the kids. 

Zucchini Slice from Book 1.

4. Spring means it is time to stop having the heavy stodgy winter foods, spring means lighter healthier meals, more fresh fruit and time to get back outside and exercise. This is such a beautiful time of the year so enjoy what spring has to offer and get healthy at the same time. 

5. Instead of doing a spring clean at home do a spring clean of your eating habits. Throw out any bad habits that have caused you problems over winter and look for new ways to shed those unwanted kilos. Your attitude determines your actions, so act now and reap the rewards.

Annette’s cookbooks SYMPLY TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE 1-7 are sold in all good newsagencies. Visit Annette’s website for more tips and recipes. You can also join Annette’s Facebook page

A Healthy Roast for Christmas in July

Enjoy a low fat roast this Christmas in July (or for Christmas later in the year).

By Annette Sym from Symply Too Good

Christmas is a special time of the year so why not celebrate it twice a year and have double the joy. Christmas in Australia is during summer so to experience having an “English” Christmas, July is the perfect time. Here are some tips to making a delicious roast dinner with my healthy spin to it. 

Cooking a low fat roast: 

If you are cooking roast pork then the best choice is a lean loin. If you want crackling remember it is quite high in saturated fats so my suggestion would be to remove all the crackling from the leg or loin, place the crackling on a separate baking tray, rub in a generous amount of cooking salt and cook in a hot oven.The fat should dissolve but if there is any left under the rind then scoop it out. 

Baked Vegetables: 

For delicious low fat baked vegetables par boil, drain then place on a baking tray that has been coated with cooking spray, then spray generously over vegetables and bake in a hot oven for around 40 minutes until golden brown, turning once. Some vegetables I love roasting are carrots, potato, sweet potato, onion, parsnip, beetroot and swede. 

Roast Chicken:

To roast either a whole chicken or turkey breast the low fat way, prick the skin in several places then place the bird on a wire cake rack (that has been coated with cooking spray) and sit rack in a baking tray. 


If you want to eat ham as well then buy a lean leg of ham and cut as much fat off as possible. 

White Sauce:

To make a white sauce to top cauliflower, melt 15g low fat margarine in a small saucepan, add 2 tbsps. plain flour and mix well. Gradually add 1½ cups skim milk using a whisk. Once boiled add in ⅓ cup grated low fat cheese and add a little pepper.


To make a low fat gravy use Gravox low joule gravy mix.

Christmas Snacks

I just love the festive season – with carols, decorating the tree, happy spirits, celebrating your religious faith and time with family. Hopefully, if you have been good, lots of great pressies. There is one gift that you should give to yourself at Christmas time and that is the gift of good health and wellbeing. Be aware of what choices you make over the Christmas period and of what you are putting into your mouth.  Remember, it may seem a good idea at the time, but you know you will be filled with regret if you overindulge on the day. 

If you have any of my recipe books you have all the tools to make the food you need for Christmas such as: baked dinners, salads, potato bakes and Christmas fare. Yes, if you do it my way you can have your Christmas pudding without the guilt at a tenth of the traditional version. Remember all of those nibbles are available all year round, so it is not the last time you will ever get to eat chocolate nuts. Christmas is not just about food and it is only one day of the year, so don't let it be the undoing of all your hard work. 

I wish you a joyous Christmas that is filled with lots of love, laughter and great healthy food.


Annette’s cookbooks SYMPLY TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE 1-7 are sold in all good news agencies.

Visit Annette’s website for more tips and recipes and to download your FREE copy of her Christmas Survival Guide eBook.

Check out her easy to follow 'Chicken with Walnut Cranberry Stuffing' recipe here.  

For some great finger food ideas this Christmas, check out Annette's Fruit Balls and Italian Layered Dip, both perfect for those dinner parties this festive season! 

Bon Appetite - For the Health Conscious

Cooking the French way without the French's love for butter.

By Annette Sym 

French food is very popular in Australia but for those who want to enjoy their French favourites and eat healthier you may need to change things a little or be a bit more careful on what you choose to indulge in. Many French dishes use full-fat creams in their sauces which can really pack on the kilos and are not ideal for heart health. Some dishes that I would suggest you avoid or have only on rare occasions are croissants, Crème Bruleé, Paté or Foie Gras, soft cheeses, and those dangerous pastries such as éclairs.

I have transformed several French recipes in my cookbooks so here are some tips to reduce the fats in your French cooking:

1.Replace cream in sauces with light evaporated milk and a little cornflour.

2. Avoid soft cheeses such as brie and camembert as they are very high in fat. Replace with low fat tasty cheese.

3. Choose the leanest cuts of meat where possible.

4. To make Pommes Frits use cooking spray and bake in the oven instead of deep frying.

5. Dishes such as Beef Bourguignon and Coq au Vin will be healthier if you use lean cuts of meat.

6. Use low fat margarine in pastry which can halve the fat count for recipes such as fruit tarts/tartin and quiches. A great low fat pastry is ¾ cup plain flour, ½ cup SR flour, 1 egg white, 1 tsp skim milk, 45g low-fat margarine, flour to roll out pastry, cooking spray. Method: sift both flours into a large bowl, then melt margarine and add to milk. Whisk in egg white then pour in flour and combine. Place on a well-floured surface and roll out to fit your pie plate that has been coated with cooking spray. Add filling then bake until set in centre (around 1hr).

7. Ratatouille is a great side dish to serve with most meats/seafood and luckily there are no actual rats in the recipe LOL. Use cooking spray when cooking vegetables to lower fat count.

8. Crepes are low in fat but it is the fillings that can be the problem so be smart with your choices.

9. Omelettes are an easy meal and for a zero fat count use only egg whites. Avoid adding too much cheese, fatty meats and butter when cooking an omelette. Instead add spinach, tomato, mushrooms and shallots.

10. When making Quiche Lorraine use skim or light milk instead of cream and low fat cheese, with lean bacon (bacon short cuts).

Annette’s cookbooks SYMPLY TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE 1-7 are sold in all good newsagents or visit for more recipes and tips.  You can also join Annette’s page on FACEBOOK.

Healthy Foods and Christmas Fun

December 2012

By Annette Sym

Food Shopping Over the Holidays

I know Christmas only comes once a year, but how many people give up on their healthy regime at this time of year and then have trouble starting it up again?

Over the next few weeks we will be bringing food into our homes that wouldn’t normally be there and the best way to avoid overeating at Christmas time is to start where it all begins, our food shopping trolleys.

You’ll find a number of my healthy treats in the AGFG Recipe section.  This year fill your cart with ingredients for thematically coloured and totally tasty Mexican Dip as an appetiser and Christmas Cake for dessert. 

I believe that you can’t do much damage in one day, but if you have leftovers they are there to taunt you the next day… and the next.  Let’s be honest, how strong can you be?  This is often where the real damage can be done. A little of everything is good for you, and there is no need to be deprived, just don't overindulge. 

Those packets of sweets and Christmas delights are put into your trolley, transferred to the pantry or fridge, and remain there hard to resist.  If you make good food choices in the first place, you won't be tempted to blow all the hard work you’ve put in all year round.

My suggestion is to only buy one bag (preferably small) of the treats that are a must for Christmas day. Don’t buy the bulk packs, as you want to avoid leftovers at all cost. Small bags of treats means that you may not get the opportunity to go back time and time again as everyone else will beat you to it.

Remember also that all the Christmas food on offer such as chocolate, nuts, cashews, fruit cake and puddings, etcetera are readily available 365 days of the year.  If you want you can eat 'treat foods' all year round so don’t use the Christmas excuse that you 'don’t want to miss out on this once a year experience'.

Here are the fat counts of some Christmas foods

so you can now make the right choices:


100g TURKEY BREAST baked lean - 3.0g

100g PORK leg, roasted with fat - 14.0g

100g PORK leg, roasted lean - 3.5g

30g CRACKLING - 8.5g

50g LEG HAM - 3.5g

100g CHICKEN boneless with no skin - 2.0g




1 MINCE PIE homemade - 10.0g




Moving More Than Your Fork

on the 25th

Being active on Christmas day is easy if you have the right Christmas presents to get you motivated. Be it a brand new bike, gym equipment or pool toys, everyone can enjoy some form of activity in the afternoon and work off all that Christmas fare.

These activities are fun for the whole family: 

•If bikes are under your tree then taking the kids out for a bike ride will be at the top of the list of activities. Teaching your child to ride a bike is not only a great bonding exercise but it is a great way for them to have fun and get fit at the same time. Who says that bikes are just for the kids?  If you don’t already have one, put your order in for a bike if you want to get fit in 2013.

•Grab the new cricket set and have a game after lunch to burn off all that Christmas pudding.  This is a fun group activity and a great way to spend time together, for young and old.

•Throwing the frizbee or new ball in the backyard will get your heart rate up and is a fabulous way to teach children hand-eye coordination.

•If the big pressie is a trampoline then you will have no excuse not to have a bounce around and burn some calories on the 25th.  Just jumping up and down may not seem like much but do that for 15 minutes and you will realise that it is a great workout. I would suggest that you have safety rules such as how many can be on at one time as well.

•Wii activity games are a great way to do a workout without even realising it. Do a session on boxing and you’ll quickly discover that you can have a great workout while having a lot of fun.

•Badminton, tennis or squash rackets can also be a great incentive to include more exercise into your life.  Set up a net in the backyard and get everyone involved.

•I remember buying my daughter a table tennis table one year and we played it all day long. We had round robins and loads of laughter but we also were moving our bodies, which is what being active is all about.  Every generation loves table tennis so put this on your Christmas list.

•If you are lucky enough to live near the ocean or have a pool, get the pool toys out and enjoy the outdoors.

•Instead of having a nap in the afternoon go for a walk and get some fresh air - burn off a few calories. 

Eat Dessert and Enjoy Weightloss

July 2012 

How to Lose Weight Eating Dessert


I am going to make a statement that will make many jump for joy when they hear it.  I believe that including desserts in your diet can help you lose weight.
Yes, that’s right if you have a sweet tooth you will definitely benefit in your weightloss/weight maintenance journey if you include dessert. There is no need to torture yourself with a diet full of restrictions if you just make some simple adjustments.
Having a healthy enjoyable diet that you can commit yourself to for the rest of your life is definitely the way to go!  So if you want to know how then read on. 

In our AGFG Recipe section you'll find guilt free desserts by Annette Sym and many others. 


The Dish on Enjoying Dessert

1.  Desserts make us feel happier and contented. It’s a proven fact that when feeling upset, lonely or depressed smooth creamy textured food can lift your spirit. Feeling happy and content will motivate you to lose extra weight and you may also feel more confident so you are able to continue longer than a day if you know you can have sweets regularly.
2.  I have always found it uplifting to know that I can eat fabulously delicious desserts, all I have to do is open any of my six cookbooks and go to the ‘guilt free’ dessert section and I instantly feel satisfied, content and happy. 
3.  We use desserts to spoil or reward us every now and then, to celebrate a special event or occasion, and to have because we can. Desserts don’t need to be something you choose every day but if you have a liking for dessert then including it in your eating regime on a regular basis is essential for long term success on any weight loss program.
4.  The secret is to make sure you eat a moderate serving and don’t go back for seconds. Desserts can be healthy and easily included in anyone’s eating plan, just remember portion control and good choices are the keys to losing weight with desserts.
5.  I doubt if desserts have caused you to fail on any of your previous diets, there is much more to it than just that. Was your eating plan too restricted, were you always hungry, bored with the food you were eating and lacked the motivation to continue? If you answered yes to any of these questions then try some of my fabulous dessert recipes.

In AGFG Recipes you'll find my Fruit & Nut Cobbler and Lemon Meringue Pie, just a few samples to give you a taster. Discover many more great dessert recipes on the AGFG website and in my cookbooks.  


Book Review - Symply Too Good to be True 6

Book Review: Symply Too Good To Be True 6

With hundreds of columns throughout the country and six cookbooks –over three million sold- to her name, food writer Annette Sym is known nationwide as “Australia’s Weight-loss Queen.”  Her latest book entitled Symply Too Good to be True 6 includes her popular homestyle recipes, a 28 Day Weightloss Masterclass, and other healthy lifestyle information.

Interview with "Australia's Weightloss Queen" Annette Sym

The AGFG had the pleasure of interviewing Annette before she flew off to the states for a book tour and lecture series about the prevention of childhood obesity.  Australian born and raised, Annette describes the low-fat, educational style of her cookbooks as a contribution to her culture. She includes dietary notes in her cookbooks for people’s health benefit, friendly lessons aiming to inspire readers. 

The archetypical Australian bronzed beauty is transforming before our eyes as statistics from 2002 indicate 65% of Australian adults are overweight and 20% are clinically diagnosed as obese.  Annette Sym is proud of her own success story, as she was once obese, now living to spread the word of cooking into health and weight management.  As such, her book is endorsed by Diabetes Australia, Dieticians and Doctors, amongst other professionals in the field.

Can Low-fat be Cooking be Gourmet?

As our own specialization at the AGFG is gourmet cooking, we had to ask about the nature of her recipes.  Annette surmised that traditional gourmet cooking doesn’t do anyone any favours when it comes to weight management noting, “Chef’s have done a nasty job on people, cooking with lots of salt, lots of sugar, and lots of butter…  Duck fat should not be in any domestic kitchen.”

Symply Too Good to be True 6 is a 224 page book full of low-fat recipes that she assures can be considered gourmet and that hers is a modern look at “fabulous food that will impress any dinner guest” with simplicity – also an industry trend in many modern culinary hubs.

Having lost 35kgs in 20 months, Annette’s new book includes all-new recipes that have helped her keep the weight off for 18 years.  Every recipe is her own original creation, though she does not identify as a “chef” per se, as she is not trained as such, rather posits in a traditional sense, “What woman isn’t really?” Her husband of 36 years was an award winning Chef in his day and loves trying her latest flavour combinations, such as the Roasted Vegetable and Pine Nut Salad in chilli lime sauce.

Whomever is cooking, Annette’s sixth cookbook has a tone that everyone can relate to.  Her writing builds trust, so essentially when you’re trying out one of her recipes, it’s as if your long time friend just passed it to you on a recipe card.  Only this full colour matte publication offers stunning photos, offering a visual cue as to where you’re going in the kitchen. When designing your own Chicken Pomodoro Parcels, for example, gazing at the picture can be helpful if you’re looking for the perfect way to craft your pastry.

Aiming to inspire all to be fit and fabulous, falling into the “oh wow” category, Annette caters to the basics, including ingredients found in the local supermarket for those who are time poor or money conscious. Her Savoury Pikelets are elegant on display, though the most “fanciful” ingredient is finely grated parmesan cheese.

A Coffee Table Book or Kitchen Bench Staple

She claims Symply is a “fat book that will make you slim.”  It is full of recipes categorized as Starters and Light Meals, Vegetables and Salads, Seafood, Chicken, Meat, Desserts and even Baking.  A recent publicity photo for Symply features Annette eating her own mixed berry baked cheesecake (the recipe can be found in her 3rd cookbook), showing that balance is key in the kitchen and in dietary practice.

As an Australian expert of positive habits, we asked Annette her recommendations for dining out, so that foodies need not fret when it comes to their weight.  She articulated the importance of going in to your favourite restaurant with good intentions:  1.) Order two entrees, perhaps one cold and one warm, and a side salad or 2.) Opt for an entrée and a main, forgoing dessert or 3.) Share dessert or select a skinny cap instead.

Regarding healthy lifestyle, it’s worth noting how eating in and cooking with fresh produce from the local market is always best - definitely worth the effort.  Just as you look at the ingredients listed on the menu when you’re ordering at a restaurant, always look at labels when you’re cooking at home and be really aware of what’s going into the dish you’re preparing for yourself, family and friends to enjoy with confidence.

Author and entrepreneur, Annette Sym launched her sixth cookbook, Symply Too Good to be True 6 on September 9th, 2010.  Having sold over 3 million copies of her cookbooks, Annette is a healthy cooking advocate and weight-loss Queen of Australia.  For more information visit her website

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