WelshVegan Fest – May 19 to May 20

It’s been almost a year since I moved to Wales, and I am always excited to find super cool, enviromentally friendly and humane events in Wales, such as the Welsh Vegan Fest!

You all know by now how I love all things Welsh! So this event hits all the marks, I mean Welsh + food + vegan! Don’t mind if I do. The event takes place over two days: the 19th and 20th May, 2018. Standard entry is £3 per day from 10:30A.M to 17:00. VIP tickets are also available for £15 which include early 10:00A.M entry for both days and a goodie bag made up of donations we have received from stallholders and businesses.

OnixJ Welsh Vegan Festival Cardiff
Photo courtesy of Thw Welsh Vegan Festival

There will be over 60 stalls for both days with plenty of hot food for people to choose. But if you are more of a snack kind of person, they are also having sweet treat stalls. Also (the fun doesn’t stop there) there will be vegan friendly cosmetic brands, sustainable clothing and many animal loving, super cool vibes humans around. It is a good chance to meet more people who wont look at you funny when you order the pizza sans the cheese lol.

onyx Ice cream vegan Wales
Photo courtesy of The Wesh Vegan Festival – The Ice Green

Speaking of animal loving humans, all of the proceedings from the event are going to Farplace Animal Rescue (charity) which is based in Weardale but rescues animals from all over the UK, many of which may never be rehomed due to their health.

So are you convinced yet? See you there! Cardiff, Tramshed May 19th – 20th

To buy tickets or to learn more about the event, visit: http://www.welshveganfestival.com



The Festival is organised by Farplace Animal Rescue. We are a UK animal rescue who help specialist cases like FIV+ cats and have helped many such cases in need from across the UK. All the profits from the festival will directly help animals


Eggplant Meatless Balls

Yuum!! yes yuum indeed! Some people are quite fast on making a point on how “humans HAVE/SHOULD eat animals” – Ok! fine it that “tickles your fancy”, I won’t preach if you leave me alone! LOL…  I rather not eat MEATballs and have Meatless balls instead that is my prerogative.

So putting that aside, let me tell you about this meatless balls… These meatless balls are so delicious and satisfying I dare any one (vegetarian, vegan or not) to try.

Here is how I made them!


One big eggplant

5 table spoons of cooked quinoa

1 small onion, diced

1 small red sweet pepper or half a red bell pepper.

Himalayan Pink Salt (crushed)

Panko bread crumbs

Pepper and Garlic Powder

1. First cut the eggplant and set aside with some Himalayan pink salt. This allows the eggplant to release some of its juices which we don’t need. Leave to rest for 10 mins.


2. Combine onion and pepper in a frying pan with a little bit of olive oil. Add eggplant cut into small chunks. Try for them to be the same size (not like measure it with a ruler) but a uniform size will allow them to cook evenly. Add more salt if needed (but taste first) garlic powder and pepper.


3. Once cooked set aside to cool. Then pulse the mix in a food processor until you get a thick paste. Don’t over process or i’ll get too watery.

4. Then add the panko bread crumbs and quinoa. Mix well.


5. Make balls with your hands. You will have to squeeze excess water from them (egg-plant can hold a lot of moisture) then put the formed balls on a baking tray. I added a little bit more of crumbs to the try to prevent sticking.


6. Set the oven to 400 degrees and bake until golden brown.


And there you have it. Easy, healthy eggplant and quinoa meatless balls that you can enjoy on their own or with any other dish.


Let me know what you think if you make them!


Onirigi! LunchBox

So I was looking for new alternatives for my son’s vegetarian lunch boxes and a good friend of mine gave me an idea! Onigiri!

Oni what you say?
O-nigiri (お握り or 御握り; おにぎり?), also known as o-musubi (お結び; おむすび?), nigirimeshi (握り飯; にぎりめし?) or rice ball, is a Japanese food made from white rice formed into triangular or oval shapes and often wrapped in nori (seaweed).

Don’t you just love having “international” friends? So to make this yummy balls you need two key ingredients.

  • Sushi Rice or Japanese Rice
  • Nori (Seaweed)
I had this sushi kit hanging around in my kitchen. You can buy Japanese Rice and Nori at almost any supermarket.

Those are the basics. The onigiri is meant to be filled with fish such as tuna or salmon, but I filled mine with broccoli to be safe with my very “non used to Asian flavours” child. I mean yes he loves won-ton soup and lettuce wraps and other westernized Asian food, but he isn’t too familiar with real Asian flavours. If he likes the broccoli ones perhaps ill venture into a salmon or tilapia (yes not to Japanese I know) I guess you can play around with it to suit your taste buds.

Traditionally, an onigiri is filled with pickled ume (umeboshi), salted salmon, katsuobushi, kombu, tarako, or any other salty or sour ingredient.

Ok so this is very simple. You cook the rice as per instructions and you let it cool down for a little. Japanese rice is very starchy and sticky so you will need to wet your hands before you handle the rice with your fingers. Or you can use a plastic bag but I found it easier to handle with my bare hands.

There are different shapes of onigiri. Common shapes include:

  • Triangle: A low triangular prism.
  • Tawara:A round pillar shape.
  • Round: Similar to the shape of Gouda cheese and Kagami mochi.
  • Ball <—- easiest
  • Square: A low Rectangular parallelepiped shape.
I had previously cooked the broccoli, added a little salt and pepper.

So to make rice balls onirigi you take some rice and spoon it into the palm of your hand. Then you make a little ball, and you make a small space in the middle to scoop your filling. Then you add more rice to the top to “close it” and start moulding it with your hands.

20131113-112809.jpgAnd there! it is so simple! you can cut the Nori in any shape you want and simply “stick” it to the rice, it will hold. Add a little water if it doesn’t (just a tiny bit to your fingers)

20131113-112822.jpgMy friend suggested to make salmon onigiri and serve broccoli as a side dish. I guess as an adult you can add other flavours and even some soy sauce on the side. I used the broccoli onigiri  per se as a side to the accompany the faux sushi rolls, fruit and veg I had prepared for my son’s lunch box.

Faux Sushi rolls filled with micro-greens and carrots. Cucumber and pepper salad (no dressing) and yoghurt pretzels with grapes.


I am Not a Vegetarian…(yet) But…

Let me start by defining the two concepts that tend to get mixed up.


A person who does not eat     meat, and sometimes other animal products, esp. for moral, religious, or     health reasons.


A person who does not eat or     use animal products.

I cannot say I am fully vegetarian. I do still consume some meats such as chicken and fish and other derivates such as yogurt and cheese, but I am making a thoughtful and well researched effort to move to a plan-based life… Let me tell you why.

My son is nearly 8 years old. He has never ever wanted to eat red meat. Oh and I tried, I did try for a long time to make him eat spaghetti Bolognese cut into tiny little toddler friendly pieces. I tried with hamburgers and meatballs, but he simply didn’t want to. The very thought of meat made him feel queasy and sick. He was a good eater of all things green. Peas and carrots were his favourites, and from age one he would eat raw garlic, onion and cucumber while I was cooking supper.

So after a while I decided to just let him be. I got criticized by some members of the family “kids need protein” “kids have to eat meat because they are growing” and such. So I went on to educate myself on the subject matter.

I investigated about protein needs and wants and I discovered vegetables and especially leafy greens are full of protein. People used to believe protein was ONLY present in meat, but that is a misconception. As a matter fact Professor T. Colin Campbell, author of the book The China Study  says “There is a mountain of compelling evidence showing that so called “low-quality” plant protein, which allows for slow but steady synthesis of new proteins, is the healthiest type of protein.” Also it has been found that the protein from greens doesn’t have cancer as a side effect, as opposed to red meats.

“Deep-green, leafy vegetables are rich in beta-carotene, vitamins, minerals, protein and fibers. Including leafy greens into your diet will help to boost your metabolic functions, keep you full for a longer time and supply your body with vital nutrients. Broccoli, spinach and romaine lettuce are all examples of protein-rich leafy veggies.” LIVESTRONG.COM

Another source compares the nutrients found on some of these leafy greens against sirloin steak.

Nutrients   present in 100-calorie portions


Sirloin Steak

Romaine Lettuce


Protein 11.2 gm 5.4 gm 7.5 gm 11 gm
Calcium 322 mg 2.4 mg 374 mg 470 mg
Iron 3.5 mg .7 mg 7.7 mg 5.8 mg
Magnesium 74.5 mg 5 mg 60.5 mg 97 mg
Fiber 4.7 g 0 4 g 3.4 g
Phytochemicals Very High 0 Very High Very High
Antioxidants Very High 0 Very High Very High
Folate 257 mcg 3 mcg 969 mcg 60 mcg
B2 .71 mg .04 mg .45 mg .32 mg
Niacin 2.8 mg 1.1 mg 2.2 mg 2.1 mg
Zinc 1.04 mg 1.2 mg 1.2 mg gm .55 mg
Vitamin C 350 mg 0 100 mg 329 mg
Vitamin A 7750 IU 24 IU 10,450 IU 23,407 IU
Vitamin E 26 IU 0 32 IU 34 IU
Cholesterol 0 5.5 mg 0 0
Weight 307 gm 24 gm 550 gm 266 gm
(10.6 oz) (.84 oz) (19 oz) (9.2 oz)

This table is from the forthcoming revised version of Dr. Fuhrman’s book Cholesterol Protection for Life.

Fact: greens provide protein in the form of individual amino acids. These amino acids are easier for the body to utilize than complex proteins. A variety of greens can supply all the protein we need to sustain each of our unique bodies.

If we choose to eat meat then fine, but we can survive (and thrive) perfectly well without it.

So the more I investigated the more I came to the conclusion that I don’t need to eat meat. Meat consumption is linked to diabetes, heart disease, cancer, cholesterol and a whole lot of things that frankly I can live without. And that is only on the human health and nutrition side of things.

Then we have animal cruelty. I saw the documentary Vegucated, 2011 in which we the public are exposed to a series of images that show us what goes on inside the farms behind closed doors. Piglets get castrated without anesthetics, chicken get their beaks cut and are shoved around like lifeless cardboard (while alive) and cattle gets treated in ways that are far for humane. It is the most horrendous thing I have ever seen.

When you ask my little boy why he doesn’t eat meat, he will say “I don’t want to kill animals to eat them”. The first time he told me this was about a year ago, he was 6 years old. I had never spoken to him about killing animals and I was still unaware of the Vegucated documentary, he got to this conclusion on his own at age 6. It made me think, it inspired me and it made me believe in humanity again.

Then when I try to explain my point of view to my parents I get the “An animal is an animal and we (humans) have to eat”… it fills me with rage and sadness, but unfortunately is the way the majority think. Many rather turn their heads away from the issue and live blissfully not knowing what goes into their bellies and the processes these animals had to endure to end up in our plates.

My body will not be a tomb for other creatures.” ― Leonardo da Vinci.

So in conclusion, I am not saying everyone should live a plant-based life. I am not saying you are cruel and evil if you decide to eat meat everyday of your life. All I am saying is my son and I have made the decision (and he did it before me, I am just following his tiny and inspiring footsteps) to eat less meat.


Oh may I also say my son is a strong, lean, happy, healthy 7 year old who has never had any health or weight issues, he is an average kid, he just doesn’t eat hotdogs, nor burgers or pepperoni or tacos.




Monster PBJ Food Review

So, I have been absent from the blog world.., but I am back! And I am back this time with a

Monster Truck at the Menil. Houston.

great review.

Let’s talk about food. Houston has been

seeing a proliferation of food trucks

popping out everywhere. Some love them,

some hate them. But there is one thing for

sure; they are here to stay (at least for a

season or two)

I heard a lot of buzz within the foodie community in Houston about a new food truck close

to everyone’s heart. Those little treats from childhood that remain  alive in your memory

all the way into adulthood. Peanut Butter & Jam Sandwiches!

Yes, there is “a food truck for that”.

also offers drinks and chips

Monster PBJ, a concept from couple and

entrepreneurs Jill & Bill. It combines

delicious local produced jams, nut butters

and breads to create a monsterlicious


Once upon a time, the story goes, Bill

wanted to have a food truck. Jill loved PBJ sandwiches, so good and loving Bill decided to

combine both and bam! Monster PBJ is born! I am sure that gave Bill a few brownie points

*Wink wink*

Monster PBJ  offers from the classic peanut butter and strawberry jam sandwich to the


more couture Cashew butter, blueberry

jam and apples creations, among others.

They add an extra spin to their creations

by grilling in the gooey goodness of their


The result? An awesome combination of flavours delivered in just one bite.

Trust me, grill it! And if you feel daring add on. Peanut butter and strawberry jam is nice

BUT I promise that if you dare to try all the other possible combinations your taste

Mix & Match

buds will be very happy with you.

As you arrived at the very clean and neatly decorated

Monster truck you are greeted by Jake, (Hi Jake!!) self

proclaimed PBJ scientist, who is not only charming, but

an expert on the jam/jelly business. So if you are unsure

of what to try, you can count on him to guide you on the

right direction.

One of the things I love the must about Monster PBJ is

the interactive and participative feel of the experience as you get to “play” chef and create

your own combinations. They offer different sizes for all tummies – Junior, one slice of

bread cut in half; Classic two slices of bread like a regular sandwich and Monster, with 3

slices of bread like the British “double decker” sandwich. They are all-vegetarian, vegan-

friendly and offer gluten-free options.

Monster PBJ’s nut butters include peanut, cashew and almond and Nutella, Honey or

Agave as sweeteners. Is your mouth watering yet? They also have a variety of fresh fruit

that can be added to your treat. They kind of remind me to the famous “Elvis Sandwich”

which includes peanut butter, bananas and jam or honey (and for some, bacon too..eek!)

The purple Monster truck stops at the Menil Collection and the Health Museum on

Thursdays. They also stop at the Firkin and Phoenix on meatless Mondays. For more

information about their whereabouts check out their website at


If you do pay them a visit please let me know! And also let them know you learn about

them at my blog!

Happy eating!!


Jihane Rodriguez

Food truck reviews and suggestions? Send me an email jihaner@hotmail.com

**all photos by Jihane Rodriguez