Archives for December 2011

Shepherd’s Pie With a Twist!

I have a few meals that I have found that my family really enjoys, that are also gluten and dairy free AND full of nutrients. I thought that over the next few weeks I would share our family favorites! This first one is a great variation on the traditional shepherd’s pie, and I have adapted it from alive magazine’s March 2011 issue (recipe credited to Marilyn Smith). To put a healthy spin on this dish, sweet potatoes are substituted for the traditional white potatoes (My husband prefers the texture of white potatoes so I do a mixture of both). I absolutely LOVE the flavor of fresh rosemary in this dish, and I’ll point out some of the health benefits of this amazing evergreen herb following the recipe.

shepherd's pie

3 large sweet potatoes
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1 lb organic or free range ground beef or ground turkey
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp fresh rosemary, minced
1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
1/4 cup organic, low sodium ketchup (or just make your own and avoid the processed sugar by combining crushed tomatoes or tomato paste, some garlic powder, a dash of apple cider vinegar, and some honey to add a bit of natural sweetness).
1 Tbsp gluten free soy sauce
2 cups vegetables of your choice (sauteed, frozen, or leftover cooked – whatever you have on hand).

1. Peel and boil sweet potatoes in water in a covered pot until tender.
2. Mash and set aside
3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
4. Heat large frying pan over medium heat (remember to avoid non-stick – cast iron is ideal!) Add oil and onion, and saute until the onion is soft. Add ground meat, and cook until no longer pink. If using fresh veggies, add them now and cook until desired tenderness is reached.
5. Add garlic, rosemary, and pepper and saute for 2 minutes.
6. Add ketchup and soy sauce and stir until well combined.
7. If using frozen or precooked veggies, add them now and stir well to combine.
8. Pour this into a rectangular glass baking dish, and top with your mashed sweet potatoes. Sprinkle a little extra pepper and rosemary on the top.
9. Bake for 20-30 minutes, and serve!
Makes 6 servings.

Here are some facts about the lovely sweet potato…
According to Wikipedia, sweet potatoes are rich in complex carbohydrates, dietary fiber, beta carotene (a vitamin A equivalent nutrient), vitamin C, and vitamin B6. Pink, yellow and green varieties are high in carotene, the precursor of vitamin A. They may be beneficial for diabetics, as preliminary studies have shown that sweet potato helps to stabilize blood sugar levels and to lower insulin resistance.
And some really interesting facts…
In South America, the juice of red sweet potatoes is combined with lime juice to make a dye for cloth. By varying the proportions of the juices, every shade from pink to black can be obtained. Cool right?
Also, researchers at North Carolina State University are breeding sweet potato varieties that would be grown primarily for biofuel production.
(All information from Wikipedia)

Rosemary has quite a lot going for it as well! This perennial herb is high in iron, calcium and vitamin B6, and has a reputation for helping memory function. Rosemary contains the antioxidants carnosic acid and rosmarinic acid, and other bioactive compounds including camphor, caffeic acid, ursolic acid, betulinic acid, rosmaridiphenol, and rosmanol. Some of these may be useful in preventing or treating cancers, strokes and Alzheimer’s Disease (Wikipedia). I should mention that if you are pregnant or breastfeeding you can eat small amounts of rosemary (like the amount in the shepherd’s pie), but don’t go crazy with it.
Why not try to incorporate fresh rosemary into some of the other dishes that you make? Sprinkle it on your mashed potatoes, on your meats, on your foccocia bread before you bake it- delicious.

Here is a picture of Karis (18 months) thoroughly enjoying her shepherd’s pie – she had four helpings!!!