Vegan Retreat Recipes From The Drakensberg, South Africa

vegan retreat recipes from the drakensberg, south africa

Earlier this year, I cooked on a movement and meditation retreat out in Lotheni, in the central Drakensberg mountain range. Surrounded by mountains for miles, the Drakensberg is home to magnificent animals like leopards, jackals, eland, baboons and eagles. One can experience all weather seasons within a day and traverse open plains, thick forests and ice cold waterfalls. Green velvet grass carpets the hills while the Milky Way swirls in the sky above. The Berg is where I feel whole, grounded, creative, connected and full of love.

It was the most perfect place for me to have fun in the kitchen and nurture eight beautiful, moving humans for four days! What a gift! All the recipes created on the retreat were 100% vegan, wholefoods and rustic in nature. This was because the cottage in which we all slept didn’t have electricity. The meals were created in a gas oven or on a gas stove. With no blender to go by, sauces were whisked together by hand and ingredients were roughly chopped to form salsas and dressings. Simplifying in this way made the retreat that much more special as it got me out of my comfort zone, drove me to get creative with the meal planning and required me to trust!

During the day, we were immersing ourselves in movement and dance with live music, meditation, basic acrobatics, partner movement work, getting into the mountain, going on hikes, swimming in the icy rivers, eating by the fire, discussing the history of the area and learning about Bushmen art and culture. This retreat was organised by my dear friend, Dave Gardner. Music performed by the legend, Guy Buttery. Pictures and moments all captured by Doug Mostert.

I’ve included a few recipes from the retreat below. Happy cooking!


Chocolate chia seed pudding with pink beetroot coconut yoghurt

Chocolate chia seed pudding with pink beetroot coconut yoghurt


Serves 1

For the Chia Seed Pudding

1 cup unsweetened almond milk

⅓ cup chia seeds

1 banana, mashed

1 Tbsp maple syrup

1 Tbsp cacao powder

Sprinkle vanilla essence   

To Serve

1 Tbsp nut butter

A sprinkle of beetroot powder and seeds

A dollop of coconut yoghurt, mixed with 1 tsp of beetroot powder

Fresh papaya, sliced in half and deseeded


Mix the chia seed ingredients together. Refrigerate for at least four hours, but preferably overnight. Serve chilled with desired toppings, including your favourite nut butter, pink coconut yoghurt and fruit!


Creamy and spiced overnight oats with stewed apples and pears, dried fruit and seeds.

Creamy and spiced overnight oats with stewed apples and pears, dried fruit and seeds.


Serves 3

For the Bircher Oatmeal

2 cups rolled oats

3 cups almond milk + water as needed

2 apples, grated 

2 bananas, mashed

Juice of 1 orange

¼ cup chia seeds

A small knob of ginger

1 Tbsp maple syrup

1 Tbsp cacao nibs (optional)

1 Tbsp nut butter

1-2 tsp cinnamon / apple pie spice mixture

1-2 seeds

A few drops of vanilla essence

 For the Stewed Fruit

4 apples, sliced

A handful of raisins


 To serve

Nut butter and seeds

Banana slices and chopped dried fruit (I used dates and apricots)


To make the bircher oats, mix everything together in a big bowl and place in the fridge overnight.

For the stewed fruit, add the chopped and sliced apples, raisins and cinnamon in a pot on the stove on high heat. Add a bit of water and allow the fruit to cook down. About 5 minutes. Serve with the oatmeal when ready.

Serve with fresh fruit, dried fruit, seeds, nut butter and nut milk of choice.


Buckwheat pancakes served with chickpea and spinach peanut butter curry

Buckwheat pancakes served with chickpea and spinach peanut butter curry


Makes about 12

1 cup buckwheat flour (recommended to grind your own flour from buckwheat groats in a food processor until it forms a fine texture)

3/4 Tbsp flaxseed meal

1 3/4 cups light coconut milk

1 pinch sea salt

1 Tbsp avocado or melted coconut oil (plus a bit more for cooking)

 To serve

I made a sweet rice pudding, avocado chocolate mousse and chickpea and spinach peanut butter curry to go with the pancakes. The guests could choose sweet, savoury or both!


To a blender or mixing bowl, add buckwheat flour, flaxseed meal, coconut milk, salt and avocado oil.

Whisk in mixing bowl to combine. The batter should be pourable but not watery. If too thin, add a bit more buckwheat flour. If too thick, thin with dairy-free milk.

Heat a cast-iron or nonstick skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add a little oil and spread into an even layer. Let the oil heat until hot.

Add about a 1/4 cup batter to the pan. Let cook until the top appears bubbly and the edges are dry. Then carefully flip and cook for 2-3 minutes more on the other side. Turn heat down if cooking too quickly.

Repeat until all crepes are prepared. Keep warm between layers of parchment paper or on a plate under a towel.

Buckwheat pancakes served with sweet black rice pudding, avocado chocolate mousse, curry and fresh banana

Buckwheat pancakes served with sweet black rice pudding, avocado chocolate mousse, curry and fresh banana



1 cup cooked sweet potato, mashed

1/2 cup smooth nut butter of choice

2 Tbsp pure maple syrup

1/4 cup cocoa powder

Handful of chocolate chips (optional)


Preheat the oven the 180 degrees, grease a small cake pan/loaf pan and set aside.

Over the stove top, melt your nut butter with the maple syrup. In a large mixing bowl, add the mashed sweet potato, nut butter, maple syrup and cocoa powder and mix very well. If using choc chips, stir them through.

Pour the mixture into the greased pan and bake for around 20 minutes or until cooked through. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before slicing into piece.

Welcome to Lotheni Nature Reserve.

Welcome to Lotheni Nature Reserve.

To check out my next retreat, The Deeper Retreat, head over to Dave Gardner’s website, to book your spot. The retreat will include myself, Dave, Guy and my good friend, Nathalie Larsen, whom I will be cooking with. We hope you can join us for a magical immersion.

The Deeper Retreat is waiting

The Deeper Retreat is waiting