What I Love | Équilibre Edition

I’m pleased to introduce you to Nic and Pascal – a husband and wife powerhouse duo and generally delightful people.

I can’t remember exactly how I first met them – I had spotted flyers for their business in Studio Bomba, some of my friends had attended their fitness classes, they frequent my market and just generally overlap in the foodie community. But in a way that can only be described as serendipitous, there they were.

Nic and Pascal are always just so wonderful to talk to, grounded and knowledgeable, but not in a way that’s preachy or obnoxious – there’s nothing worse than someone who’s so focused on their message that there’s no room for anything else, and that is decidedly not the van Kans. They know that some times you just need wine, or cake or time out, and that is a truly wonderful thing.

So, team, say hello!

What I Love – Équilibre Edition

Who are you and what do you do?

We are Pascal and Nicole van Kan – a husband and wife team who juggle bringing up our young children with working and building our heart-centred business, Équilibre – Fitness for Foodies.

Pascal is a fully qualified exercise professional with 2 decades of experience in the fitness industry. He is a keen tri-athlete and has a passion for all things bikes (including managing Reid Cycles in Perth).

Nic works for UWA Publishing and has always cultivated her love for good food, cooking, baking and aesthetics. With a little help from Pascal, she is also a reformed exercise-phobic!

Balancing exercise and eating well with the realities of a busy family life is not always easy – we know this! That’s why our aim for Équilibre is to take away the fear and confusion, to inspire clients to be kinder to their bodies and to help them reclaim a sense of equilibrium. We’d like to think that our approach to food and fitness is balanced, down-to-earth and filled with joy.


Why Perth?

Nic has lived in Perth since moving from the UK as a young girl, but Pascal is a relative newcomer. Although Dutch-born, he came from Melbourne around 18 years ago for a brief working holiday and decided never to leave!

Perth is the perfect place to bring up kids and supports the kind of lifestyle we love. We like the fact that we are (somewhat) insulated from the rest of the world, but also feel a sense of pride that Perth seems to be growing up of late – supporting a blossoming food scene and a host of creative entrepreneurs. It’s an exciting place to be!


What (or who) inspires you?

Nic: I find authenticity inspiring. I’m also attracted to people who understand what they’re passionate about and are unafraid to pursue their dreams.

I’m a huge fan of Jude Blereau and her contribution to the world of whole-food cooking. It’s an approach that has always resonated with me, long before organic and ‘clean eating’ (gag!) became trendy. The idea that food needs to have an element of deliciousness and integrity, as well as being a very individual thing makes so much sense to me.

Pascal: It’s pretty simple for me. Getting out and riding my bike always provides inspiration, any time I need it!


Your dream food day?

Would have to begin with a breakfast at Sayers – the Potato Rosti with Poached Egg is a sentimental favourite of ours.

The rest of the day we would happily hand over to Sophie Zalokar at Foragers. Her thoughtful, creative approach to cooking and sourcing the best in local produce would mean that whatever the season, we could be confident that our taste buds would be satisfied and our souls well-nourished. (There’s a reason why we choose to run our Équilibre Retreats at Foragers!)


What ingredient makes everything better?

Can we be cheeky and say a glass of wine?

Otherwise, it would have to be Nic’s salsa verde. Packed with fresh herbs, lemon and a salty hit of capers and anchovy, we make a weekly batch to use on just about everything – salads, eggs, fish, soup. It’s our not-so fashionable version of the green smoothie and it really does make everything better.


What’s the best thing you’ve eaten recently?

Nic: The Emperor with pickled tomato, basil, chilli and fennel at Bread in Common. The flavours were fresh, simple and delicious. Accompanied by a glass of Flowstone Gewürztraminer, it made for a truly enjoyable birthday treat.

Pascal: Nic’s Quince and Hazelnut Crumble Cake – tastes like autumn (based on an old Gourmet Traveller recipe, with a bit of a whole-food makeover.)


Where do you love to go to eat?

Honestly? Although we appreciate good food, we rarely get the chance to ‘go out’ to eat unless you count our local pizza shop, Pizzaca (which is good, by the way!)

These days, you’re more likely to find us hanging out at coffee shops. In fact, our kids have been well-trained in café etiquette from birth!

Favourites include Yelo, The Daily, Humblebee, Hobart Street Deli and Voyage. We also really enjoyed a visit to Gordon Street Garage and are keen to try Hylin in West Leederville. The Tenth State is keeping Nic happy since moving in to UWA next door for work.


Where do you love to hang out?

When we’re not at a café, you’re likely to find us at the local park, or riding our bikes (Perry Lakes Reserve is a great spot).

Family outings often involve a weekend farmer’s market. Subi Farmer’s Market has the best atmosphere and arguably the best stalls. Our favourites include Wild Bakery, Macabee Dorper Lamb and Spring Valley Orchard. It’s also worth adding that our daughter is quite taken with Mr Drummond’s crumpets!

We’re big fans of City Beach, too. Whether it’s fish and chips at sunset, a morning walk or simply watching the kids in the playground, it’s one of those special places that always reminds us how lucky we are to live where we do.


What’s your favourite thing right now?

Nic: (can I have more than one?)

– Meditation (i’m so excited to be doing the Mindful in May challenge.)

– My Baker’s Drawer.

– Cooking autumn comfort food in my new French blue cast-iron enameled pot.

Dunn and Walton (organic shopping heaven!)


– Autumn in Perth (perfect training conditions!)

– Wines from the Adelaide hills (in particular pinot noir).

– Thursday night food shows on SBS

What are you looking forward to?

Nic: I’ve just turned 40 so I’m very much looking forward to embracing a new decade, losing the fears and becoming the kind of confident, creative person i’m so inspired by.

Pascal: I’m looking forward to developing new coaching programs for Équilibre and writing for our blog. It still excites me to be able to help clients discover a love for exercise, and gain energy and confidence in the process.

We’re also looking forward to winter and watching the Tour de France (preferably accompanied by some good red wine!)

If you would like to learn more, you can check out the website, Facebook and Instagram (where all images are from), or this from We Love Perth

What I Love | Coogee Beach Fitness Club Edition

There are some people in this world that are just born to do what they do.

To say that the guys you’re about to meet are passionate doesn’t quite cover it; it’s almost too clichéd. But for them, it’s in their blood. They live and breathe this stuff, and you can’t help to be caught up in their infectious joy. Yes, even me, the lover of deep-fried mac and cheese and general slothfulness, comes away from talking to the boys wanting to go for a run.

I’m very pleased to introduce you to Jason and Dylan from Coogee Beach Fitness Club. The boys have been very good friends of mine for a very long time, and I couldn’t be prouder of what they’ve built.

Hell, if my gym had a view like theirs, I might actually go!


Seriously. This is their view.

The team also have some great stuff in the pipeline. Coming up is their 6 week summer body program, of which you can find details here.  If you’re a Yelp member (and you should be), September gives you the opportunity to attend a FREE mobility, muscle tension release and self massage workshop (the details here) AND there’s also 1 month free on memberships for the gym. How good is that?!

What I Love – Coogee Beach Fitness Club Edition


Who are you/what do you do?
We are Jason Lim and Dylan Kvas-Rothwell, Exercise Physiologists (Injury management specialists) who use our knowledge of injuries and rehabilitation to train and coach individuals and athletes through their programs to maximise performance and minimize injury risk so that they can attain their goals as fast as possible. Other than that we are just two friends who want to share our passion for fitness, fun and life with those around us.

Jason and Dylan

Why Perth?
Jason – Perth is and forever will be home. After spending the last few years travelling around Europe, America, South East Asia and Canada, including growing up for a few years in Singapore and spending a year in Canada, you realise how relaxed and comfortable it is to move at your own pace and Perth really allows you to do that. If you want the hustle and bustle you can find if you really want to, but if you wanted to sit back relax and enjoy the beaches and scenery you get that too. As far as things to do in Perth, the city is really picking up its game in terms of culture with art shows, restaurants, bars and food festivals.

Jason Lim

Dylan – The longer I live in Perth the more I want to stay here for life. I most definitely want a few more short and extended travel plans but I am quite certain I will always come back. Our beaches, food (not how much we pay for it though), all round weather and just good people everywhere. There is just such a good spread of everything but at a slower intensity than everywhere else, and that sits pretty well with me.

Dylan Kvas-Rothwell

What inspires you?
Jason – my parents for one, they have always lived their lives according to how they wanted, money was a beautiful side product of them following their passions, they made sacrifices where they needed to as responsibilities required, but never at the expense of their own happiness or that of my brother and I. Dylan is another, his outlook on life, always looking to the future with enthusiasm and energy pushes me to do more and be better, couldn’t think of a better person to be in business with. Together they have taught me to be self-reliant, to follow my passions and to find a way to mix work and play together and get the most out life. This outlook has allowed me to work multiple jobs as a ex. phys. whilst travelling the world and eventually led up to opening up Coogee Beach Fitness Club with Dylan.
Dylan – That is a tough one when you ask it so simply. I will come from a ‘who’ perspective first; a lot of people in general inspire me but I have to say that kids inspire me the most. I am lucky enough to work with some of the most inspirational little kids (some with disabilities and some not) and their outlook on life, way of conducting themselves with such a constantly positive outlook no matter what is going on behind the scenes. Jason and Nathan (the business partner) inspire me constantly in different ways. Jason with his ability to constantly balance work and play life so well, he is one of those people that when you spend time with him, you realise he never whinges about anything, EVER, and as far as life balance is concerned he has everything he wants at any given time. He has travelled for years on end, and follows his passion no matter what is necessary. Nathan is from a different side of inspiration, he just wants more with everything he does. He doesn’t want to just do it and be in the top ten, he wants top every time and his dedication to this shows through in everything he does. What inspires me; I am a pretty simple person when it comes down to it. Travel, beach and all round creativity. I read once that observation is the best inspiration as long as you look in the direction you want to go, and I couldn’t agree more.
Tell us about Coogee Beach Fitness Club.
Coogee Beach Fitness Club as the name suggests is a gym located right on Coogee Beach in the new Coogee Beach Surf Club Community Development literally meters away from the ocean! After working for other people at gyms, working the corporate sector and other tiresome and non fulfilling jobs we decided it was time to do what we loved but for ourselves. We aren’t selling new trends or fads, our education has helped us find what we know to be true and what works, but what really matters is that we are a gym that focuses on providing  a great atmosphere, great view and trainers that are dedicated to their clients, not just physically but mentally too. We believe in a holistic approach to health and to us that means being happy is a part of being healthy. Having the beach there doesn’t hurt either!

Classes on the beach

What’s Life Beast? 
Jason – Lifebeast Movement is a fun project started by Dylan, Dr Nathan Bridger (Chiropractor and old friend) and myself to motivate and educate the health inspired. We wanted to get out as much information on how to lead happy, fulfilling healthy lives to other like minded individuals. It’s basically three friends who love what they do, trying to share as much knowledge and joy with each other and those around us whilst having a bit of fun, and through our youtube channel, website, facebook and seminars and workshops. We really hope to help people from a physical, mental and lifestyle perspective of health. At the end of the day whether we reach 1 person or 1 million people if we can help them find what the are looking for in attaining their own personal health then we are doing our job.

Dylan, Nathan and Jason between Life Beast shoots

Your dream food day?
Jason – a lot of gluttonous food that a health professional should not say so I’ll leave it at that 😛
Dylan – alot of good food, the beach, and my favorite people that just happened to be scattered around the world at the moment.
(Editors note: Both of the boys loved these cookies, so don’t worry – they’re not infallible!)
What’s the best thing you ate recently?
Jason – Chicken wrapped in bacon stuffed with cheese, onion and garlic. Side of sweet potato mash and veggies. A few of my favourite things put together and I even made it myself!
Dylan – Savoury : I lost my mind when I had Fried Chicken pancakes with added bacon from Mary Street Bakery in Mt Lawley (Katsu style fried chicken on pancakes) or any meat from Lapa in Subi. Sweet: Also from Mary street bakery. Asked for a cold malt chocolate milkshake and got them to throw a shot of coffee in for a bit of a boost. I had two of them before breakfast came out they were that good.
Where do you love to go to eat? 
Jason – Anywhere around the City, Mt Lawley, friends places. For me if I’m looking for a good meal, as important as the food is, the company is more important. Being around friends and family the people I care about to share those experiences and memories with, nothing else can compare. Especially when we find our own little secret place.
Dylan – I am definitely more of a breakfast person and I notice I am around Mt Lawley a lot more recently. Other than that, we are down towards South Fremantle so I make my way through there a fair bit if I feel like something a little more healthy.
Where do you love to hang out?
Jason – I guess the above statement kind of applies here too anywhere around friends and family, but also love being here at the gym its like having my own playground, I also work at a bar (Canton if you want to come say hi) too on the weekends and I really enjoy that, it’s where I get to have a bit of a creative outlet, I’m not usually creative or artistic but for some reason I get cocktails and flavours, go figure.
Dylan – As long as there are good people around, I am down for anywhere. If I can get those people to the beach or at least near a beach then I am even happier.
What’s your favourite thing right now?
Jason – sleep, not getting much of it these days, not that im complaining but every time I get a chance to nap its one of my favourite things to do 😛
Dylan – Day naps in the sun with some music in my ears. THE BEST, and I am pretty sure that will never change.
What are you looking forward to?
Jason – Well, I have a birthday tonight in the City so i guess im looking forward to that. Oh and Dylan and I plus some other friends are taking a weekend away at the end of the month. Can’t wait for that, will be nice to just relax and switch off for a bit.
Dylan – A small Bali weekend away to reset. But the major one is planning a trip to South Africa to visit some incredible people who we met in Europe in 2012. They have the whole thing planned; all I have to do is arrive at the airport and hop in the car.
All images via Facebook, website and instagram

What I Love – Pure Glow Edition

Man has invented many brilliant things in his time upon this earth.

The wheel is a good one. As is the ability to refrigerate food. The telephone. Penicillin. All excellent things for the advancement of humanity. My personal favourite (aside from the internets and elasticated waistbands) is the deep fryer. Is there anything it can’t do? Mac and cheese, chips, a whole turkey. Mars bars, doughnuts, even Coke.

While my diet isn’t entirely deep fried, I’ve been so busy lately that an unforgivable amount of what I’m eating is take-away or quick fixes, and I feel like crap. Surprise! It turns out your mum wasn’t lying – you are what you eat. Damnit mum, I hate it when you’re right.

My system needed a bit of recovery time. Enter: Pure Glow Cleanse.

Annett has long been one of my favourite customers on a Saturday morning when I’m slinging crumpets. When she suggested that the cure to my woes may be some time out from my beloved fries, I looked at her fabulous glowing skin and demanded that she sign me up immediately.

While I don’t believe in ‘detoxing’ in the traditional sense – my liver and kidneys function perfectly well, thus have no need for detoxing – I was keen to kind of hit the reset button for my body, giving it time out from the heavily processed foods I’d been bombarding it with.

And you know what? My skin cleared up, I wasn’t as hungry as I thought I’d be, and I felt better, pure and simple.

So today, I’m talking to the fabulous Annette! Say hi, team!

What I Love – Pure Glow Cleanse Edition

Who are you/what do you do?
My name is Annette & I’m the co-founder of Pure Glow Cleanse and editor of Wellness WA (the latter is currently taking a little nap!). My business partner Jacqueline Forth and I launched Perth’s first juice cleanse delivery business in April 2013 and have been busy getting the people of Perth nourished, detoxed and glowing ever since! I also moonlight at lululemon, selling yoga gear & hitting up yoga classes with my amazing colleagues (best retail job ever!)
Why Perth?
Perth is such an amazing place to be right now. It’s really undergoing a huge transformation and has been for the last couple of years. It’s such an exciting time to start up a business, as there are so many fantastic ideas that exist in the Eastern states and overseas which haven’t quite made it to us yet – so for entrepreneurs there is no time like the present to take a leap of faith and just go for it.
What inspires you?
Goal setting, farmers markets, yoga, dreams of travelling to Portland.
Image 11
How did Pure Glow come about?
Both Jacqueline and I wanted a cold-pressed juice company in Perth, and at the time there was nothing available. I’d been waiting for about 4 years for a juice cleanse delivery business to start up here and when she emailed me out of the blue asking if I thought it would be a good idea to start this business, I said yes instantly! From there it’s been a very crazy journey full of challenges, highs, & lots and lots of green juice!
Your dream food day?
Ha! What a great question. My dream food day would start with our Glowing Greens smoothie, I’d then head to Subiaco Farmers Market and enjoy 3 x organic crumpets with honey from Mr Drummond’s Foods (!!!), after this I’d pat some pups and have a snack of Cheezy Chipotle Kale Chips, which at $9 for a small packet is a very pricy addiction to have unfortunately.
Lunch is a Garden Goodness burger at Grill’d, washed down wish a Little Creatures cider, and I’d then go and lie down for an afternoon food-induced-nap for a few hours.
Post-nap it’s time for some Cadbury Furry Friends & then out to dinner at Meeka in Subiaco. If I could teleport anywhere in the world, dinner would be at Millennium Restaurant in San Francisco, consistenly rated the No. 1 vegetarian dining place in America.
Dessert is either apple crumble, churros, or artisan icecream. Then home to bed to most likely have vivid, food-induced dreams!
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What’s the best thing you ate recently?
Probably some yummy pumpkin soup or banana bread made by a lovely friend of mine.
Where do you love to go to eat?
Meeka, Subi Farmers Markets, Lanna Thai, Aisuru. Anywhere with great vegetarian and vegan options.
Where do you love to hang out?
Can I say at home?! I’m usually working 7 days a week so try and get to farmers markets when I can. I also really like Double Double small bar.
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What’s your favourite thing right now?

Now, and always, hounds. I’m also pretty obsessed with acai smoothies right now!

What are you looking forward to?
Summertime, exciting new business opportunities, turning 30!
If you’re interested in trying a cleanse before summer, you can read about other people’s experiences here, here, here and here.

The devil in the detail

I have a love/hate relationship with people.

They walk slowly and hog the footpath when I’m in a rush. They cause wars and hurt other people for funsies. They’re Delta Goodrem (I hate Delta), or Kony (I’m not comparing the two here), or that guy who kidnapped those girls. People are stupid and frustrating and they drive to slow or hoon-like, and just generally make me want to stay in bed, rather than deal with them.

But then, at the same time, people are remarkable. They perform acts of heroism; they save lives; make my coffee; create good art or are just the kind of people that make your life better, just by being in it.

My real love for people though, lie in their quirks. The little itty things that makes them them. It’s something I got thinking about after reading this story by Sarah Wilson.

I need the volume on an even number. I get a weird amount of joy from measuring ingredients and getting the exact weight I need the first time around. I organise my nail polishes by brand and then colour. Books are by genre. I hate fingerprint smudges on polished surfaces, I’m constantly cleaning the screen on my phone. Towels are straightened. I might have rearranged a whole display of pens in a art supply shop so they were all facing the same way. Collars are either up or down – I used to chase down my school friends if it was half up/down, and I’ve caught myself reaching to fix the collars of strangers on the street, before realising that it’s weird. I even fell catastrophically, struck-by-lightning in love with my last boyfriend while watching him eat ice cream in neat rows. Yes, my OCD extends to other people.

As a kid, we argued the order in which you eat the various things on your plate. My dad and I are ‘save the best for last’ kinds of people, while my mum fears that she’ll run out of room before she gets to the good stuff, and thus miss out. I mean, if I had to put it in order, it’s brussel sprouts, pumpkin, broccoli, peas, mashed potato and then meat. Because I really hate brussel sprouts, and spend the rest of my dinner trying to wash my mouth out with better tasting stuff.

The good news with this dinner is, there’s none of that. Everything is really good, and you don’t have to pick out anything. It’s also ridiculously quick, full of good, filling stuff and can be done in one pot. You’re welcome.


Spanish prawns with spicy lentils

From Delicious Magazine

1 tbs olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 chorizo sausage, chopped
1 tbs harissa
400g can chopped tomatoes
2 x 400g cans brown lentils, rinsed, drained
220g jar roasted red capsicums, drained, sliced
1 cup (250ml) chicken stock or water
500g peeled prawns (tails intact)
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
Crusty bread and mixed salad leaves, to serve

In a large saucepan over medium heat, heat a tablespoon of oil. Add the chorizo and onion, cooking until the chorizo crisps and the onions soften. Add the harissa paste, and cook for a minute, until fragrant. Throw in the lentils, tomatoes, capsicum and stock, bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and simmer for 20 minutes or until thickened.


Add the prawns to the pan, then cover and cook for a further 5 minutes or until the prawns are done.

Add the parsley, and serve with bread.



Steaking out the seasons

It’s coming.

We are transitioning seasons, and I do not like it. Getting dressed in the morning is a nightmare, how much blanket is required, do I want a stew or something grilled? Pick a season, and stick with it, Mother Nature. I will not have this kind of malarkey, not on my watch. The great irony of this, is of course I’m the most indecisive person in The Universe, but that’s a story for another day.

So one day, when I woke up to a bright sunny day during an otherwise miserable week, I wanted to celebrate with a similarly summery feed.

This feast is practically effortless. Marinate steak, cook rice, wrap in lettuce, stuff in mouth. It’s fresh, punchy, easy and incredibly moreish. If you’re organised, marinate the steak overnight, if you’re not, just do it as long as you can. I only managed 45 minutes before I got hungry!

The recipe is by the genius that is David Chang of Momofuku fame. If that name is ringing any bells, it’s because the Sydney arm of his empire, Momokuku Seiobo, was just named the New Restaurant of the Year. So trust me when I say this, the guy knows how to make good food. This is good food made simple.

Chang’s recipe calls for skirt steak that is a little tricky to find to Perth. Gingin Beef do it, or you can ask your local butcher. Otherwise, just a normal piece of rump will do the trick just fine.

Momofuku Steak Ssam

From Momofuku by David Chang

2 cups apple juice
1/2 cup light soy sauce, plus 2 teaspoons
1/2 yellow onion, thinly sliced
5 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon Asian toasted sesame oil
680 grams steak
2 bunches spring onions, thinly sliced (white and greens)
1/2 cup minced fresh ginger
1/4 cup canola/vegetable oil
3/4 teaspoon sherry vinegar
1 cup kimchi (optional)
1 large lettuce, leaves separated and washed
3 cups cooked white rice

Combine the juice, 1/2 cup soy sauce, onion, garlic and sesame oil in a container. Add the steak and turn to coat. Marinate in the fridge for 24 hours, or at room temp for 40 minutes.

Combine spring onions, ginger, oil, vinegar and 2 teaspoons of soy sauce in a bowl. Set aside to let flavours infuse.

Blitz the kimchi into a puree in a food processor, if you’re using it.

Over high heat, place the steak in a pan and grill for 7 minutes or until medium rare. Baste with more marinade for the first few minutes of cooking.

Rest steak for 5 minutes before thinly slicing against the grain.

Serve the steak with the kimchi puree, ginger sauce, rice, and lettuce leaves for wrapping.

Learning to juggle

I take my hat off to multi taskers. I know there’s supposed to be a female genetic requirement for me to be able to juggle several things at once, but I can’t.

First of all, I can’t juggle. It’s far to advanced for my very basic coordination levels. I barely manage patting my head and rubbing my tummy. Second, I have a short attention span, and a goldfish-like short term memory. I get distracted by the second task, then forget the first one all together. Cue things burning, overflowing and just generally going to crap. I’m not kidding, I wanted to add roasted tomatoes to this recipe. Put them in the oven, set about preparing the rest of the meal. Promptly forgot about the tomatoes.

This happened.

I threw out the baking dish.

So when I stumbled upon a recipe that is both delicious and healthy, I couldn’t help but give it a whirl. There is no way to lose with this recipe. It’s steak. It’s salad. It’s yummy. It’s sneakily good for you. It’s easy. It’s fast. IT’S EVERYTHING I COULD EVER ASK FOR. I find straight-up salads so unsatisfying, so if there’s a way you can make one that fills me up, I tip my hat to you. Use it to trick your men folk! Children! Ok, perhaps chorizo isn’t terribly good for you, but given the rest is, I figure it balances out… Right? Guys?

Balsamic Beef & Chickpea Salad

From Donna Hay

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon horseradish cream
2 1/1 tablespoons olive oil
2 chorizo, sliced
800g beef fillet steak
400g can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
100g baby spinach leaveds
1 cup mint leaves

Whisk together the balsamic vinegar, horseradish and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Heat half a tablespoon of olive oil in a large frying pan over high heat. Add the chorizo and cook until golden, a couple of minutes each side. Set aside on kitchen paper.

Season the steak on both sides and cook, turning frequently, for 15 minutes or cooked to your liking. Allow to rest for 10 minutes, then slice.

Add the chickpeas to the pan and cook for a couple of minutes until golden.

Toss together the chickpeas, chorizo, spinach and mint. Add balsamic dressing and toss to coat.

Serve with sliced steak on top of salad.

Gettin’ raw

Imagine your favourite ‘I deserve this’ treat, something that you promise yourself to get you through a hard day/workout/sitting through another Sex and the City sequel with your girlfriend. Waffles. And ice cream sundae. A really big, moist, dense slab of chocolate cake with butter cream icing. A burger on a fluffy white bun, with a rich aioli, a side of crunchy, salty chips. A really cold beer.

Now imagine not only not being able to have it, but it making you violently sick, maybe even killing you, if you try to risk eating is anyway.

Welcome to food allergies. And I mean real allergies, not just telling waitresses that I’m allergic to cucumber, even though I just really hate the stuff and don’t want it in my meals.

Growing up, my brother had allergies. Dairy, wheat, sugar. Red apples but not green. Food colourings. Sugar in various forms. Tap water. This, as you could imagine, made life very tricky for my mother. If you thing it’s hard living with food allergies now, imagine doing so 20 years ago! There wasn’t anywhere near the amount of variety there is now. Luckily for my house, J grew out of his allergies with time. Most people are not so lucky.

When gluten-free became the theme for June’s Clandestine Cake Club (we are on page 210 of Scoop magazine! Thanks Renee!), my heart sank. Baking gluten-free isn’t real baking, I thought. Where is the fun in that?

Knowing very little about baking gluten-free, I asked an expert friend (and highly proficient baker) for help choosing a recipe. She sent me one that she’d had great success with. My heart sank a little further. It was not only gluten-free, but almost dairy-free, vegan and raw. What kind of cake is that? Here’s where I need to explain a little bit. The cake is baked, so it’s not raw in a traditional sense, but raw in that it contains nothing processed. No flour, no butter or milk, no eggs or sugar. Nothing that you would traditionally associate with cake at all, actually.

Regardless, I set about making this cake.

Here’s the thing. It was delicious. I’m serious, I wouldn’t lie to you about cake! Really good. Sweet, satisfying and chocolatey. Not only that, but it was thoroughly demolished by the others.

And the 12 other cakes at cake club? All different. All amazing. All cakes that I’d happily order in a café, and wouldn’t know that they weren’t butter laden confections.

Consider me schooled.

Chocolate & Blackberry Cake

From: Green Kitchen Stories

1 1/2 cup walnuts
15 fresh dates
5 tbsp cacao powder (unsweetened)
1 tsp cinnamon
3 tbsp coconut oil or olive oil
4 tbsp apple sauce (unsweetened)
1 cup blackberries (any berries will do)

Chocolate icing:
150g dark chocolate (dairy free or regular)
1/2 avocado
1 tbsp agave syrup (honey is fine also)
1 cup blackberries (for decoration)
a pinch of salt

1) Preheat the oven to 175*c. Blitz walnuts in a food processor until they look like crunchy flour. Add the dates, and process until they are evenly combined with the walnuts.

Add cacao, oil, apple sauce and cinnamon and mix to combine. Carefully combine the blackberries so they don’t break up completely.

2) Press the mixture into a 20cm cake tin and bake for 40-50 minutes. Allow the cake to cool completely on a wire rack.

3) For the icing, melt the chocolate over a pot of simmering water. Mix the melted chocolate into the avocado, agave syrup and salt until a smooth consistency is reached. Pour over the cooled cake, and top with extra blackberries.

Trust me. I know you’re sitting there thinking bleah. I get it. In the interest of full disclosure, I thought it too. But it’s so much better than I expected. I’m not saying swear off the fun stuff (if I ever do say that, shoot me. I’m clearly possessed), but maybe just don’t discount the good stuff.

If you’re interested in perhaps trying to experiment with this kind of food in a way that is real, tasty and completely do-able, check out Carolanne’s Kitchen (the co-instigator of Clandestine Cake Club and our gluten-free inspiration), The Happiness Cocktail by Yaz Trollope and Banana Rawpublic by my gorgeous friend Courtney. If the glow that these women have is any sign of what this kind of eating does to you, well, it can only be a good thing.