I’ve been trying to get out of my food comfort zone as of late.
If you get my newsletters (get them here!), you recently saw that I’ve been tinkering around with some recipes. I hate following recipes, but…I’m culinarily bored, man. And the thought of having to cook dinner each night makes me want to claw my eyes out.
Okay, fine. Not just MY eyes.
Last weekend I pulled a nutter on my husband and was like IF YOU WANT TO EAT THEN YOU NEED TO AT LEAST TELL ME WHAT YOU’RE IN THE MOOD TO EAT SINCE I DO THE SHOPPING AND THE COOKING AND THE THINKING FOR EVERY MEAL AND TONIGHT I AT LEAST WANT A PASS FROM THE THINKING PART. (Apologies for the obnoxious caps, but that’s how I said it in real life.)
To his credit, he drummed up some great ideas (and incidentally, made a delicious lunch the following day).
One of his ideas was Shepherd’s Pie. He even found a yummy recipe that fell into the parameters of what’s nutritionally acceptable in this house (no easy feat). The recipe was a great starting point, but of course I had to Erin it up. There’s something about following a recipe…I just can’t. It makes me feel twitchy and tweaky. I know other people are the exact opposite: cooking without guardrails totally stresses them out.
Here’s what I do: I google recipes to draw inspiration from, but inevitably change some things around - based on my taste, what I deem healthful, and what I have in the house.
Here, I crammed in more spice and more veg. It was delicious. And for sure a new family friendly comfort food staple.
Another thought: This would make a great meal to bring to a mama/family who just had a baby. Comfort food, easy to reheat, easy to eat, packed with loads of nutrients, plus good fats & carbs - great for the breastfeeding mama, without anything that she may have to avoid for her babe (skip the butter and use ghee if she’s off dairy).
Veggie Loaded Healthy Shepherd’s Pie (paleo, gluten free, dairy free options)
For top layer:
4 cups chopped potatoes - peeled or unpeeled, your choice (I used 4 medium sized red potatoes, peeled)
6 cups rough chopped cauliflower (I used half of a very large head of cauliflower - you could use a bag of precut florets - fresh or frozen)
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp coarse ground sea salt
2 Tablespoons bone broth OR grass fed milk or cream
2 Tablespoons grass fed ghee, butter (use olive oil for dairy free option)
For bottom layer:
2 celery ribs, diced
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, diced
1 zucchini, chopped
8 ounce package mushrooms
1 pound ground 100% grass fed beef (could also use ground bison, turkey, chicken, or a combo)
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp coarse ground sea salt
1 Tablespoon tomato paste
Preheat oven to 375.
For top layer:
In a large pot, cover the potatoes in a large pot with salted water. Bring to a boil. Once water is boiling, add the cauliflower. Cover and reduce heat. Continue to boil until veggies are fork tender, about 12 minutes.
When potatoes and cauliflower are done, remove from heat and drain. Transfer to a large bowl and add onion powder, sea salt, broth and ghee. If you like chunky mashed potatoes, use a masher or a large fork to mix everything up. If you prefer smooth, use a beater. I have made it both ways - equally delicious.
**Do not use a Vitamix or other blender to mix. The potatoes will get too gummy.
For bottom layer:
While potatoes boil…in a large fry pan, add celery, onion, garlic and zucchini. Place the beef over the veggies. Begin to cook over medium heat. As the pan heats up, the fat from the beef will help to loosen up the veggies (if you are using a lower fat protein, add some extra ghee or olive oil here). Add the oregano through tomato paste onto the meat. Using your hand, crush up the mushrooms and add them to the pan. Allow to cook until veggies are soft and meat is cooked through, about 10-15 minutes.
Arrange the dish:
Pour meat mixture into a casserole dish. Spread on the potato/cauli mixture. Bake in a preheated oven for 30 minutes, until top is slightly browned and bubbly.
Allow to sit for 10-15 minutes, then serve it up!