Nutrition is a funny thing. There are many misconceptions out there of what is healthy and what isn’t, and I am often surprised by how little people know about how what they eat impacts their body.
Back in the 70s, mothers all around the world, whose traditional role was to take care of the family and nourish the children so that they would grow nice and strong, used to cook plenty of stews and traditional dishes, filled with potatoes, that provided carbohydrates and lard or oils to make sure that it was substantial enough.
Today, unfortunately, children and adults do not play on the streets any more and have a very sedentary lifestyle, which translates in a reduced calorie intake need, so most of the traditional recipes, have therefore become outdated or something that is generally too heavy for most people. Still we love those beautiful dishes and if cooked properly or adjusted to our needs, they are a great way of getting into our body the nutrients that we need to fuel it.
In this case, I have tackled the British all time favourite, Shepherd’s Pie, with a view on keeping it nice and light.
In case you wonder how do I take my decisions when it comes to making a dish less fattening or taxing on your body, I normally try to strip all those elements that are high in sugar or fast digesting starch and I reduce the fats to a minimum. That way, the dish retains most of its flavor and protein together with slow burning carbs, and only good fats in a small amount, to ensure a well balanced meal that will sustain you until your next meal.
One very important part of nutrition is digestion, if anybody is interested, I cam develop the subject more in depth in another post, but just a little clarification, you body digests first the carbs, then the protein and lastly the fats, and it takes your stomach between 1 and 4 hours to do so. The bigger the amount of food, the higher the content of fat, and less you chew your meal, the longer it will take your stomach to do so, and the heavier you will feel. Ideally, we should split our meals in 5 smaller ones, to speed up digestion and make it as easy as possible for your body, and also to distribute your energy levels throughout the day.
Have I bore you enough already?? 😉 So on to the recipe then!!
I took a traditional lamb shepherd’s pie recipe and I swap it for lean beef. Cooking it with lamb would be fine as long as you are not trying to lose weight or maintain it because lamb’s meat has a high fat content. If you choose to cook with lamb, consume in more moderation.
The other important swap is the mashed potato, that I have changed for cauliflower mash. This means that the glycemic impact (ie. your blood sugar levels and the concentration of carbs) is a lot lower, which will make this dish much easier to digest and a hell of a lot less fattening.
Ingredients (serves 4)
350 gr. lean ground beef
150 gr. celeriac chopped in small cubes
3 small red onions
1 clove of garlic
1 tomato, peeled and deseeded
Salt & pepper
1 liter of beef stock
30 gr. of grated gruyere cheese
150 ml. soy milk/milk low in fat
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
First of all, peel and chop finely all the vegetables, poach them in a large pan with the olive oil (onions, celeriac, carrot, garlic & tomato) with a pinch of salt, this is important so they loose their water content quicker. Poach them for around 15 to 20 minutes until soft and caramelized.
Add salt & pepper to your ground beef and incorporate it to the vegetables. Cook for a couple of minutes until it’s well mixed and add the beef stock. Reduce to medium heat and let boil for 30 to 40 minutes (until the water has evaporated).
In the meantime, steam your cauliflower and when it’s done, add a pinch of salt, nutmeg and the milk, and blend it in a food processor until you have a thick uniform mash.
Once your meat is cooked, pour it on an oven proof dish and layer the cauliflower mash on top. Sprinkle with the grated cheese.
Cook in the over at 160C for 35 to 45 minutes and serve with a side of salad, peas or any green of your liking.