Layered Cake

The PieCaken is back, y’all!

It was huge hit last Christmas, so it’s not surprising that Piecaken is making a return this festive season.

If you are unfamiliar with the stuffed dessert creation, it consists of three different types of pie baked into a cake.

Pastry chefs at David Burke Fabrick in New York were the original masterminds behind the creation and developed the recipe as a Thanksgiving treat.

Their piecaken consisted of a spiced pound-cake with layers of pecan pie and pumpkin pie, topped with upside-down apple pie, slathered in cinnamon buttercream and edged in oat streusel.

Many bakers have been inspired by the masterpiece and have since shared their take on the Piecaken on social media. Take a look at some of them below:

Life is short but sweet for certain. The #piecaken. One of many @zac_young amazing desserts @davidburkefabrick #CheatDayEats

A photo posted by Jessica • Travel & Food (@cheatdayeats) on

Review of Paradox Coffee Roasters – Surfers Paradise

Located in the trendy 4217 precinct, Paradox Coffee Roasters is the reason I’ve been venturing into Surfers Paradise lately. Boasting a mouthwatering selection of sweet treats, amazing coffee, beautiful meals and a kids play area. What more could you ask for? Free parking perhaps? Tick, they’ve thrown in 2 hours free parking for all customers.

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This vibrant bustling cafe serves classic breakfast and lunch dishes with a “posh” twist. Pictured above is the fluffy three egg omelette with field mushrooms, tomato, spinach and a hint of chilli.

Another classic dish that’s worth trying is the bacon and egg bagel pictured below. It’s served with free range Byron Bay bacon, topped with a fried egg, rocket and homemade tomato relish.

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If it’s coffee you’re after, then Paradox will undoubtedly satisfy. My coffee was silky smooth with perfectly balanced flavours.

Prices are a bit higher than normal but they make it up for it with friendly hipster staff and of course, you save on parking! The decor is modern and chic, with a charming sunny patio perfect for weekend brunching and people watching.

– This review originally ran in The Gold Coast Post here:

All photos sourced from

What’s hiding in your Acai?

*Disclaimer – This post is based strictly upon my opinion and research. I suggest that you make the best choice for you and your family based upon your own due diligence and research on this topic**

Just about everyone’s raving about Acai, the Brazilian super berry harvested from the Amazon rainforest. Everyday thousands of Instagram accounts are filled with gorgeous photo’s of Acai smoothies and bowls. Drop into any trendy Gold Coast cafe and you’ll be guaranteed to find a smoothie bowl on the menu. So why all the fuss? And are there any real benefits to eating Acai?


After reading a few academic findings, I’ve discovered Acai contains large amounts of antioxidants, fiber and beneficial fatty acids such as oleic acid. They’re also lower in sugar than most other fruits. These little purple beauties have also been linked to anti-aging, improved heart function, improved skin and eye health, boosting immunity and reducing certain cancer cells.

But that doesn’t mean all Acai products are necessarily good.

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Firstly, there are organic and non-organic Acai berries on the market. Non-organic berries are NOT free from pesticides, harmful waste water and other toxins. To be certified organic, the farmer and the production facility have to apply for Australian Organic Certification. This is a lengthy and costly procedure which can take up to three years. Organic berries are always grown in their natural state without pesticides and are harvested and packaged under strict conditions.


The only brand I trust when buying Acai pure organic berry pulp is Amazonia. Their Pure version is 100% organic Acai berry pulp! They’re also the only Australian owned supplier of organic Acai berry pulp into Australia. You can buy their frozen smoothie packs at most health food stores or online from their website. I use this Acai pulp whenever I’m making Acai smoothies or smoothie bowls at home.

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Many companies have jumped on the Acai bandwagon using clever marketing so that customers will buy their products. Words such as natural may be used instead of organic. Yet some frozen Acai brands are laced with soy lecithin, sugar, water, corn syrup and other chemicals.

I’ve found many top brands such as Healthy Care, Swisse, Nature’s Way and Bioglan selling organic Acai capsules and powders containing chemicals. Additives and thickeners such as maltodextrin, cornstarch, sunflower lecithin and silicon dioxide have all been added to their products. Ironically, the packaging would convince you that you are buying a quality healthy product. All it takes is a quick scan of the label to discover what’s inside.


So what about the smoothie bowl from your favourite cafe? A few tips when buying Acai when you’re out and about.

  • Only buy organically certified Acai from a reputable supplier
  • Ensure your Acai smoothie is being made with frozen Acai berry pulp and not from powder
  • Standard smoothie bowls must be made with 2 frozen smoothie packs to ensure you receive that creamy consistency; if it’s too watery you may have only received one pack
  • Smoothie bowls are best when mixed with frozen banana, coconut water and/or apple juice
  • Always check the quality of the other products being used in your smoothie bowl

I recently enquired about the ingredients at a Surfers Paradise cafe and was shocked to discover they were selling superfood smoothie bowls mixed with Coles HomeBrand apple juice. Surely it’s no longer a superfood if its drowned in sugar and chemicals, right?

– This article originally ran in The Gold Coast Post here:

All photos sourced from

Foodie interview with Ronaldo Fulieri, Nutritionist and Chef at The Smoothie Shack

I’m super excited to present Ronaldo’s interview today. Ronaldo’s journey is an amazing and inspiring story beginning in Sao Paulo and ending on the Gold Coast. Ronaldo has an impressive background and is a qualified nutritionist, healthy chef, personal trainer, motivational speaker and author. Of course having Brazilian good looks helps! Read on to find out where Ronaldo likes to hang out during his down time, what he enjoys eating and his recommended Gold Coast spots…

Where are you from originally?
I’m from Brazil, born in the state of Sao Paulo.

How did you end up living on the Gold Coast and how long have you been here?
I came to Australia in 2006 with the goal of staying for one year. I lived in Brisbane for about 8 months and moved to the Gold Coast in December of that year and never left. It’s been almost 10 years now.

Did you always want to be a chef or did you just fall into the industry?
I’ve been working as a qualified nutritionist for 10 years, although food has always been a passion of mine. I’ve always had natural talent in the kitchen and often thought that I could become a chef. When I arrived in Australia, my first job was as a kitchen hand and due to my natural cooking abilities, my head chef and boss at the time decided to train me as a cook. Within the year, I was promoted to head chef and the rest is history.

How and why did you start working at The Smoothie Shack?
I worked as a sales rep for a company called Amazonia, which imports the acai berry. Incidentally, I delivered a box of acai to the owner of Smoothie Shack. I introduced myself and we started talking about his business and how he wanted to develop a new healthy food menu. Naturally, as a nutritionist and chef, I became really interested and convinced him to give me three months to develop his business. We shook hands and have been friends ever since… and that was almost five years ago.

Why did you decide to study nutrition? How has your studies influenced your cooking and your life?
I studied nutrition because of my childhood battle with weight issues. After learning about food and exercise and applying it to my life, I lost a huge amount of weight. Ever since, I’ve loved nutritional science and went to university to pursue a career as a nutritionist. Nutrition has influenced every step of my journey personally and professionally. I’ve always incorporated my knowledge into my cooking and recipes so that I can help others live a better life.


You’ve written two recipe books so far, are there plans for more books in the future? Have you thought about writing a recipe book for kids meals?
Yes, I have plans to write more books for sure; one of them being a cookbook for kids and teenagers. I love teaching kids to eat healthily. However, right now I’m quite busy speaking at various events and filming cooking videos for parents, so the book may only be finished by 2017.

So how popular have your meals been at The Smoothie Shack and what’s the top selling dish?
My meals have been pretty popular and sell very well. The most popular dishes are my thai chicken, quinoa salsa and sweet potato mash and my authentic Brazilian black beans, brown rice, salsa and grilled “picanha” steak. We also sell a huge range of ready to eat take-away meals perfect for busy professionals, mums or families.

What are your personal top 5 favourite foods or ingredients and why?
Sushi because I simply love Japanese seafood dishes. I find it very unique and pleasant. Of course an acai bowl which is a traditional Brazilian berry frozen and served with fruit. Marinara Pasta as Italian food is a family tradition because I love anything Italian. Scrambled eggs and sourdough toast; I cannot live without eggs, and I could eat scrambled eggs everyday of my life. Brazilian black beans with rice, salsa and “picanha” steak as this reminds me of home and tastes familiar to me.

What are your top 5 places to eat or drink on the Gold Coast? Your personal recommendations? Any secret new places you’re aware of etc.?
Hellenika, The Fish House, Cambus Wallace, Gemmeli and Social Eating House.

What is your regular comfort meal?
Spaghetti Bolognese is my ultimate comfort food


Do you have any guilty pleasures?
Yes, of course. I love pizza and Italian food. I tend to eat it once a week on my days off.

What is your signature dish?
Quinoa salsa is probably the most popular one by demand but I would say my black beans are probably one of my best Brazilian signature dishes.

What is your favourite wine?
Australian Shiraz and Rioja from Spain.

What advice would you give to those wanting to eat healthier? Where do they start and what should they buy?
My first piece of advice is to look for wholesome foods and to limit processed foods. Secondly, I would recommend reducing the amount of animal products or only consuming free range or organic. Thirdly, consulting a nutritionist or health professional can help speed up the process as they can provide you with tons of information. Or investing in a book such as Ronaldo’s Kitchen – The Superpower of Nutrition. I wrote this book specifically for people wanting to learn about the basic principles of nutrition and healthy cooking. You can find Ronaldo’s amazing book, by clicking here.

And lastly, what are the future plans for Ronaldo’s Kitchen?
I guess more recipe books and I’m currently working on a TV show called Ronaldo’s kitchen, which will hopefully be launched in 2016.

So there you have it guys…it just goes to show that determination and a positive attitude can pay off. If you’d like to read more about Ronaldo or check out some of his awesome recipes, please visit his website Ronaldo’s Fulieri. Or if you’d like to visit his cafe and try some of their exciting meals, check out the website The Shack Nobby Beach for more details.

– This interview originally ran in The Gold Coast Post here:

All photos sourced from


Putting the ‘wood’ in wood fired pizzas

If you truly love cheese, you may want to click away now.

Every now and then, you learn a tidbit of information that you can’t unlearn and I’m about to share a home truth about cheese that may just impact your love affair.

It’s like when you found out that a bottle of coke has 15 teaspoons of sugar in it.

Sure, you always knew it wasn’t healthy, but that little fact drives home the point that it’s supremely unhealthy. Now, whenever I’m tempted to slam down a glass of icy cold coke on a hot day, I can’t help but visualise myself spooning 15 teaspoons of sugar into a cup. Talk about a craving killer…

So in that vein, I have a food-related truth bomb to drop about something that is likely sitting in your fridge right now. It might even have its own shelf.

I’m talking, of course, about cheese.

You may have seen the headlines recently about an American brand called ‘Castle Cheese’. It’s making news because the US Food and Drug Administration found that one of its products, ‘100% Parmesan Cheese’, actually contained no Parmesan cheese at all.

Instead, it was a compound of a range of other, cheaper cheeses and an inexpensive filler: wood pulp.

Its technical name is cellulose and it’s a common anti-clumping agent made from wood pulp – although its main use is to make paper.

Apparently, cellulose is a safe additive when it’s used at an acceptable level of 2 to 4 percent, according to Bloomberg News.

But it’s often used in much higher percentages of up to four times that amount. And it’s in just about every cheese known to man!

It’s sneakily hidden on food labels as a benign-sounding ‘anti caking agent’. I checked my Parmesan cheese label as soon as I heard about this story and sure enough, anti caking agent appeared on the label. It’s also in our bag of shredded cheddar cheese.

The only way to avoid it, reports HuffPo, is to shell out for imported, authentic Italian cheese, as it’s made in accordance with strict regulations.

Otherwise, you’ll have to live with the fact that the Parmesan you dust over your pizza shares a common ingredient with the pizza box it came it. It sure puts the ‘wood’ in wood fired pizza!

The Meddler

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