Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Low Inflammation Shepherd's Pie

Here it is, my friends... my sweet potato version of shepherd's pie. Sadly, I didn't take a picture before it was served, so I do apologize for that. However, I did get a shot of the last serving before it was eaten.

It's cold. The kids were sick. I was sick. It was only a matter of time before my husband succumbed. I just wanted some warm comfort food, so I tweaked the traditional shepherd's pie recipe I usually make for something with a bit more immune-boosting power, and a little less inflammatory impact on my system.

After doing a pretty rigorous elimination diet recently, I've kept to a pretty clean diet because I felt so good. While I didn't react to nightshades in any overt way, I'm still trying to limit my intake because they may be contributing to my overall inflammatory load. Thus, subbing out sweet potatoes for the well-loved white potato version seemed like a no-brainer. I did use some spices that fall in that nightshade category, but I think that's what made this recipe so tasty. If you're sensitive to nightshades, feel free to play with the spices to fit your needs.

This also has a lot of ginger and garlic which are perfect for this time of year when the colds and flu are rampant. And, if you don't know how awesome sweet potatoes are for you, check out my last blog post here.

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Now I warn you, I don't really measure. I'm one of those types. When I cook, I throw things in and keep tasting as I go so I can add a little more of this or that. I also like a lot of flavor, so I use a lot of certain spices. This recipe is super forgiving, too. Don't stress over it... if you don't like a certain spice, don't use it. If you don't have the same vegetables that I used, throw in something else. This dish always comes out a little differently for me because I use what vegetables I have in the fridge at the time. This time, I didn't have any fresh herbs, but I think adding some fresh cilantro, parsley or green onions before you serve it would be delicious as well as pretty.

So here we go.. I'm going to walk you through how I made it. I promise it's super easy. It looks like a lot of steps, but I've broken it down for you.

Ingredients

STEP ONE:

avocado oil (you can use olive oil, too, but avocado oil works better for the higher temps)

1 onion, chopped

fresh ginger, peeled and grated or minced (I used about 3/4 of an inch)

4 cloves of garlic, minced

carrots- finely chopped, about 1/4 cup

a big pinch of sea salt

1. I used a big enamel-coated, cast iron dutch oven, but you can also make this in a cast iron skillet. I've even seen recipes for cooking the meat mixture in the Instant Pot and transferring it to an oven-safe dish. I don't like to do dishes, so I used the dish I planned on serving it in, but you do you, my friend.

2. Pour in some avocado oil to coat the bottom of the pan. I used a medium heat on my gas range and threw in the onion. While that was starting to cook, I peeled and minced the ginger and garlic and threw that in on top of the onion with a little sea salt. I stirred every once in a while so it cooked evenly, and then I tackled the carrots and threw them in as well. The hubs hates celery, but that'd be a great addition here as well.

STEP TWO:

2 lbs hamburger- I get organic, grass-fed hamburger from Costco, but you could really do any ground meat here. I can't tell you how pork or poultry would turn out, but lamb would work well for sure.

paprika- about 2 teaspoons

cumin- roughly a tablespoon

sea salt- a couple large pinches to taste

allspice- 1/4 of a teaspoon

coconut aminos- 4 or 5 shakes

chicken broth, about 1.5-2 cups

3. Throw that meat in the pot and let it cook. I added the chicken broth here because I simply forgot, so you could add it in at the end of step 1. I used enough to cover the meat about half way up the pan. If you're not sure, always start with less as you can always add more later. This helps keep the meat juicy, but you don't want to create a stew. Some will cook off as you go, too. Adjust the temperature as needed.

STEP THREE:

3 med-large sweet potatoes

1 pot of water

pinch of sea salt

4. Bring a large pot of water to boil. I always add salt to the water, but certainly that's optional.

5. While you're waiting for it to boil and the hamburger is cooking, peel the sweet potatoes.

6. Cut the potatoes in half and then half again, and then throw them in the boiling water.

7. Boil for about 15 minutes (you'll know they're done when a fork easily slides in).

STEP FOUR:

*at some point in here you're going to want to pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees

a couple handfuls of frozen peas, about a cup

2-3 handfuls of greens- I used a spinach/lettuce salad mix, but about any green would work

optional veggies:

broccoli, green beans, shaved cabbage, you get the idea... heartier veggies need more cooking time and may even need to go in with the carrots.

8. Throw these veggies in the hamburger mixture. I like to cover it all at this point to give a little steam help to the frozen peas.

STEP FIVE:

dairy-free, soy-free butter, 2 big tablespoons

sea salt, a few pinches

paprika, a couple shakes.. maybe 1/2 teaspoon

chili powder, maybe 1/4-1/2 teaspoon

almond milk (or milk substitute of your choice), 1/4-1/2 cup as needed

9. Drain the potatoes, and put them back in the same pot. Add the above ingredients except the milk. Begin to mash the potatoes, and then add the milk starting with 1/4 cup. See how the texture looks and add up to 1/2 cup total. I only used a 1/4 cup, but it'll depend on your spuds and how you like your mashed potatoes.

STEP SIX:

optional: dairy-free, soy-free cheese to sprinkle lightly on top (I have kids that needed a little enticing, so I used some).

10. It's assembly time! The hamburger should be at least 95% cooked... it'll cook a little more in the oven- just as long as it's not too pink. It's also your last chance to add anything. Make sure you taste it and add any additional spices as you go. If it's too dry, add some chicken broth. If it's really very brothy, you can always drain some liquid. Don't forget to taste the mashed potatoes, too!

11. Dollop the mashed potatoes on top of the meat mixture, and then smooth it out. Sprinkle on a little of the cheese if you're using it. Stick it in the oven for 15 minutes or so. I used So Delicious cheese and found I needed to broil it for several minutes to get the cheese to melt, so that's an option.

This fed 4 adults and 3 little kids with a little bit left over, and it's one of those dishes that gets better the day after. So, freeze some or plan this for early in the week so you can have leftovers for lunches or a busy weekday meal.

Let me know what you think!

NourishmentErin Collins