The Kind Kitchen – Vegan. Now what? Jason McNamara has been on a principled journey and this book – which one CHEERS reader could win – demystifies and simplifies recipes and foods for anyone following the same path.

Woodstock, Cape Town is a long way from Austin, Texas, where Jason McNamara trained as a chef at the Natural Epicurian School of Culinary Arts – but it’s a great base for fans of this talented vegan food meister.

Like so many people, the pandemic had a huge impact on McNamara’s life. Having started out cooking vegan meals from his home and offering a takeaway service, McNamara had graduated to opening not just one but two vegan restaurants. The Kind Kitchen could be found in both Woodstock and Constantia – but closed their doors due to the multiple lockdowns and curfews.

His journey to veganism had its origins in the practice of Jivamukti yoga in Craighall Park, Johannesburg. The emphasis on respect and compassion for all things saw him continue the evolution from eschewing meat, through vegetarianism to veganism in 2009.

“I was able to transition to a kinder way of living,” he said, believing resolutely in the impact of personal choices on the future of the planet.

Mushrooms are his favourite ingredients to use because of their versatility and flavour as well as texture, something which is highlighted in the book.

It’s obviously geared to folks who have chosen a vegan lifestyle – but is not exclusive. Chef Jay is happy for non-vegans to try his recipes and realise that it doesn’t have to involve only chickpeas and lentils … He has reimagined everything from mac ’n cheese to burgers, bunny chow and even milk tart and cheesecake!

As the book promo blurb states, “Jay Mac has mastered the art of turning mushrooms into chicken, carrots into lox, celeriac into fish and beetroot into burgers, as well as the even darker art of making meat from wheat.”

There is honestly something for everyone, ranging from breakfast to soups and salads, sandwiches, basic stocks, sauces and dressings to snacks and then main meals and sweet stuff. There are tips and tricks about making your own juices and plant-based milks as well as meat substitutes.

It’s been a long journey for chef Jay McNamara and as you turn the pages of his book, he’s helped anyone following in his footsteps to a more environmentally friendly eating plan, finding their way in a really tasty manner.

Gluten-free flapjack stack

This healthier alternative to the tradish’ flapjack happens to be gluten free. In this recipe we show you how to make them using an activated gluten-free flour mix.

Makes 12 – 16 (serves 4)


4 cups (4 × 250 ml) gluten-free flour mix (detailed below)

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp sea salt

1 Tbsp superfood powder

¼ cup (4 Tbsp) coconut sugar

3 cups (750 ml) plant-based milk

4 Tbsp coconut oil, melted

2 medium-sized ripe bananas, peeled and chopped

2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar or lemon juice

Coconut oil or canola oil, for frying

For serving

Chocolate-hazelnut spread or almond butter

Coconut yoghurt

Fresh blueberries or seasonal berries, dried cranberries or goji berries

Mixed nuts, chopped

Hemp seeds or mixed seeds, optional

Edible flowers, optional

1 Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, superfood powder and coconut sugar in a large bowl and stir with a wooden spoon.

2 Place the milk, coconut oil, bananas and apple cider vinegar in a blender and blend to a smooth paste.

3 Pour the milk mixture into the flour in small amounts, stirring to form a thick batter (you may not need all the liquid).

4 Heat some coconut oil in a non-stick pan on a medium heat. Pour or ladle in 1/3 cup batter per flapjack. Cook for 1 minute or until golden, then flip and cook the other side. (Don’t overcrowd the pan, make just two or three at a time.) Continue until all the batter is used, placing the cooked flapjacks on a plate in the oven to keep warm.

5 To serve, spread 3 – 4 flaps with chocolate-hazelnut spread or almond butter and stack them. Top with a tablespoon of yoghurt and scatter over the berries, nuts and seeds. Garnish with edible flowers.

Gluten-free flour mixes

The kind kitchen gluten-free flour mix: Sift together 2 cups (2 × 250 ml) rolled oats, 1 cup (250 ml) rice flour, and 1 cup (250 ml) quinoa flour. Store in an airtight container.

Other gluten-free flour mixes: Combine 2 cups (2 × 250 ml) chickpea flour, 1 cup (250 ml) brown rice flour, 1 cup (250 ml) teff flour. For a more textured flour, use 2 cups (2 × 250 ml) dry rolled oats, 1 cup (250 ml) rice flour and 1 cup (250 ml) tapioca flour. Store in an airtight container.

Activated gluten-free flour mix: Activating the enzymes in raw quinoa or raw oats by soaking makes them easier to digest. The process takes time, so get going the night before. Soak 2 cups (2 × 250 ml) rolled oats and 1 cup (250 ml) quinoa in water overnight (± 8 – 12 hours), or in lukewarm water for at least 2 hours. Drain, then blend with 3 cups (750 ml) plant-based milk, 4 Tbsp melted coconut oil, 2 bananas, roughly chopped, and 2 Tbsp apple-cider vinegar. Pour into a large bowl and add 1 cup (250 ml) rice flour, 2 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp salt, 3 – 4 Tbsp coconut sugar and 1 Tbsp maca powder (or other superfood powder). Whisk well.

Cauli-power nachos

If you’re looking for a wholesome appetiser with the appeal of “junk food”, this is a definite “winner winner, no chicken in this dinner” kinda meal!

Serves 4 – 6


2 fresh jalapeño peppers

500 g cauliflower florets

200 g whole walnuts

¼ cup (60 ml) oil (canola, olive, sunflower, or a blend)

1 clove garlic, crushed

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp salt

2 Tbsp lime juice (fresh or bottled)

½ tsp garlic powder or onion powder

½ tsp cayenne pepper, or to taste


1 packet (250 g) nacho chips

1 – 2 cups Easy-Peasy Cheesy Sauce

2 cups grated vegan cheddar

Pineapple pico de gallo and/or chunky guacamole, for serving.

1 Cauli-meat mix: Char the whole jalapeños with a cook’s blow­torch, or over the open flame of a gas stove, or under the oven’s grill element. They should be just blackened, but not burnt. Cut in half and remove the seeds if you prefer less heat.

2 Place the jalapeños and the remaining ingredients into a blender or food processor and pulse to coarse crumbs, adding a little more oil if needed. (You may need to do this in batches.) Place on a baking tray and bake in a preheated oven at 200°C for 15 minutes, then stir to combine and bake for a further 15 minutes, until it resembles the colour and texture of browned beef mince. Remove from the oven.


Scatter the nacho chips in a large ovenproof dish.

Spread the cauli-meat over the nachos, pour over the cheese sauce, top with grated cheddar, and return to the oven for 5 – 8 minutes, until the grated cheese is melted. Serve straight away, with pico de gallo and/or guacamole on the side, for dipping.


For a more intense taste, use 2 – 3 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce instead of jalapeños.

No time to make cheese sauce? Make a cheat’s version by placing 1 cup grated vegan cheddar in a pot with ½ cup (125 ml) water or vegetable stock. Heat slowly, whisking, until well combined.

“Meaty balls” in marinara sauce 

When I was growing up, my stepfather, Kevin, did much of the family cooking as his job afforded him the time, most afternoons, to begin the dinner prep. I learnt a lot about cooking from sitting on the side-line and critiquing all his hard work, LOL! But as the saying goes, “Karma has no deadline!”, so now, years later, my food gets critiqued on a daily basis … However, this recipe, from “Kev’s Collection” should silence even your most hardened critics.

Makes 16 – 20 meatballs

1 cup (250 ml) white quinoa or brown rice

2 cups (500 ml) water

1 cup (250 ml) beef-flavoured soya mince granules

1 cup (250 ml) raw rolled oats

3 – 4 Tbsp nutritional yeast (“nooch”), plus extra for garnish, optional

1 Tbsp Marmite or vegan beef stock

1 Tbsp vegan Worcestershire sauce

2 tsp Dijon mustard

1 Tbsp smoked paprika

2 cups (500 ml) hot vegetable stock

½ cup (125 ml) chickpea flour or cake wheat flour

1 medium red onion, finely chopped

1–2 cloves garlic, crushed or finely chopped

2 tsp dry Italian herbs

3 Tbsp olive oil, divided

Salt and black pepper to taste

4 cups (4 × 250 ml) marinara sauce

1 Tbsp freshly chopped basil, parsley or origanum, plus extra for serving

1 Place the quinoa or brown rice in a pot with 2 cups (500 ml) cold water. Bring to the boil and cook for 10 minutes, then drain and set aside. The grains should be al dente, not fully cooked.

2 Place the soya mince granules, oats, nutritional yeast (“nooch”), Marmite, Worcestershire sauce, mustard and smoked paprika in a large bowl. Add the hot stock and stir to combine. Cover with a plate or cling film and set aside for 20 minutes to allow the soya mince and oats to rehydrate and soak up the flavours.

3 When the soya mixture is ready, sieve in the flour (to prevent lumps), then add the onion, garlic, dry herbs, quinoa or rice, 2 Tbsp oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Using damp hands, mix until everything is well combined. Place in the fridge for at least 1 hour, or up to 24 hours, to firm up.

4 When the mixture is cool, scoop tablespoon-size portions and use wet hands to shape them into balls (roughly the size of a golf ball).

5 Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a non-stick pan and brown the meatballs in batches. Return all the meatballs to the pan and add the marinara sauce and fresh herbs. Bring the sauce to the boil then lower the heat, cover the pan and simmer for 15 minutes, until the meatballs are cooked through. (If necessary, add small amounts of water to the pan, to prevent sticking.) Serve with spaghetti or your choice of pasta.


• Instead of serving with pasta, use the meatballs in sauce to make a kickass sub.

• Replace the homemade marinara sauce with your favourite ready-made pasta sauce.

• Soya mince (textured vegetable protein) comes in a variety of flavours and is both inexpensive and quick to prepare, making it a great standby for busy weeknight meals.

• Ina Paarman liquid beef stock sachets are vegan.

Gluten-free baked cheesecake

What would the world be without cheesecake! Although it takes a bit of time to prepare, this baked cheesecake is sure to be a hit with friends and family.

Makes 1 cheesecake

Gluten-free pastry base

1½ cups (375 ml) spelt flour or rolled oats

2 Tbsp brown sugar

¼ tsp salt

¼ tsp baking powder

2 Tbsp tofu cream cheese

5 – 6 Tbsp (140 g) vegan coconut oil or melted butter, plus extra for greasing

¼ cup iced water

1 For the base, place the flour or oats, sugar, salt and baking powder in a food processor and pulse until combined. Add the tofu cream cheese and pulse a few times. Add the coconut oil or butter and pulse a few more times. With the motor running, slowly pour in the iced water, pulsing until the mixture comes together into a dough.

2 Press the dough into the base of a greased springform pan. Bake in a preheated oven at 180°C for 10 minutes, then remove and set aside to cool before adding the filling.

Tofu cream cheese filling

850 g tofu cream cheese

1 can (400 ml) coconut cream

4 Tbsp Maizena

2 Tbsp lemon juice

1 cup (250 ml) brown sugar

or coconut sugar

2 tsp vanilla extract

Pinch salt

1 For the filling, place the tofu cream cheese in a food processor and beat until smooth. Add the remaining ingredients and beat for 3 – 5 minutes, until the sugar is dissolved.

2 Pour the mixture onto the cooled crust. Place in a preheated oven at 180°C for 45 minutes, then turn off the heat and leave in the oven for a further 30 minutes. Then remove and leave for a few hours to set. (If making ahead, cover the set cheesecake with foil or cling wrap and place in the fridge until required.)

3 To serve, place the cheesecake on a board or plate and release the springform pan. Serve as is, or garnish with fresh blueberries or seasonal berries.


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