“Be conscious of where your food comes from and eat well, but always allow yourself some indulgences.”
Cocobella Ambassador Jay of @jinxdahlia loves animals, adventures, and whipping up impressive plant-based meals. From moreish Mexican and other savoury delights, to some of the most colourful desserts and smoothie bowls Instagram has to offer, she is always mixing things up in the name of variety and searching for new ways to introduce exciting and flavoursome ingredients into her nourishing recipes.
We chatted to Jay about what inspires her culinary creations, enjoy!
Hi Jay, thanks for chatting to us! Your feed is lovely, particularly the casual mix of food and lifestyle imagery. What do you appreciate the most about expressing yourself on a platform like Instagram?
Thank you! As my passions are food, travel and animal welfare, I love that Instagram gives me the opportunity to talk about and showcase this. In turn, I hope that this encourages people to adopt or try living a compassionate lifestyle, starting with what’s on their plate. I also hope that my travel adventures inspire people to get out and see the world. Travelling enriches your life on so many different levels and is so good for your mental health, but it also doesn’t have to mean flying off to another country. An adventure can start close to home and be as simple as getting up early to climb a nearby mountain to catch the sunrise. It’ll do you wonders.
It’s clear from your photos and recipes that you stick to a plant-based diet. What lead you to this lifestyle choice?
It was purely for ethical reasons. I am a huge animal lover and animal welfare advocate and was brought up as a vegetarian. But after educating myself on the dairy industry, I went vegan. Choosing to live a compassionate and cruelty-free lifestyle is wonderful. And although I choose to live this way for the animals (and the planet) it additionally has lead me to live a healthier and sustainable lifestyle.
What is your favourite savoury recipe to cook as a main dish for your family?
Mexican Food! My partner and I love it so much that for the past 6 or so years we have had Mexican for dinner nearly every Monday night! (“Mexican Monday” as we fondly call it). We mix it up every week though, alternating between tacos, burritos, enchiladas, Mexican salad bowls etc., and cook with a huge variety of ingredients such as different legumes, jackfruit, nut mince etc. I think its versatility is why it never gets old. Plus, a very tasty meal is always guaranteed (especially when it’s loaded with guac!).
Do you have a favourite local café in Brisbane? Is there a dish on the menu that you can never say no to?
Vege Rama in West End is one of my favourites for a hearty vegan meal. Their pizzas and raw tacos are amazing! But honestly, their whole menu is fantastic. They also have a great range of delectable desserts.
How about a local market? Do you have a favourite place to pick up the fresh seasonal produce that features in your recipes?
The Rocklea Markets are a favourite to pick up cheap, fresh local produce whilst also supporting the little guys. I also love Market Organics in Rocklea, where I purchase a lot of my specialty ingredients and some local organic produce too. Market Organics also has a cute café inside that serves organic breakfast and lunch meals plus amazing smoothies.
Your photos always have wonderful composition; what goes into making the perfect shot? What camera do you use to achieve this polished aesthetic?
I think everyone says this and also agrees that natural lighting is the way to go for a good photo. I use both my iPhone and my Canon EOS 80D to take pictures and both can achieve equally good photos if the lighting is right!
Do you have an old faithful recipe for those times when friends pop over?
My veggie lasagne is definitely a winner, made with my special cheesy sauce. Guests also always appreciate an interesting salad, so I tend to whip up one of those too.
Could you share your top 5 Instagram accounts when it comes to sourcing inspiration for your own baking?
As inspiration comes to me from a wide variety of things I’ll just shout out the creator of some of the most badass vegan meals around, Mary Mattern of @nomyourself. My partner and I have recreated many of her dishes and they are just so tasty!
In your opinion, what is important to keep in mind when engaging in a healthy and balanced lifestyle?
Be conscious of where your food comes from and eat well, but always allow yourself some indulgences. Also, get outside for adventures as much as possible for a happy and healthy mind!
Thanks, Jay, it’s been a pleasure!