Light and Healthy Shepherds Pie

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Happy New Year!

If you’re anything like me, currently you’re only wearing pants that have already been worn 20 times before and you refuse to wash and dry them, because that means they will conform back to their original “shape” and snap you out of your “yeah, I didn’t put on any holiday weight” delusion.

I think over the years I’ve done every fad, crash diet known to man.  Atkins…South Beach…..almost all of them make you learn how to survive off a strict diet of hamburger, chicken, bacon, and whipped cream.  Tragically, no booze.

Only a mild exaggeration….

My favorite “fad” diet is Dukan.  If you’re going to do a fad diet, do this one.  It is possible to be successful on this, however, I think it’s hard to maintain on a long-term basis.  If anything, I would go back to it as an emergency “I need to wear a bikini in two weeks” diet.  You will drop the weight and fast.

In 2013 I have a number of goals, but one of them is to focus more on general fitness and wellness, and worry less about the scale.   I plan to  quit my overpriced gym where I only use a fraction of the resources available on my tight time schedule, and I’m going to turn my small, but comfortable basement (that previously had no purpose) into an effective home gym that I can use when it’s convenient for me.  I’m also using the Couch to 5K app to teach myself how to run longer distances, with the goal of running my first 5K sometime in 2013.

As far as a diet, I’m taking the advice of a good friend (who has also tried every diet fad known to man) and I’m going with the one thing that ever worked for her – keeping an eye on daily calories.  Over the years I’ve learned that, while I can do them for a short period of time, diets built on huge restrictions just aren’t for me.  I want to be able to eat pasta, and drink wine, and have an occasional piece of chocolate.  I just need to learn how to do it all in moderation.

So here we go: I’m going to give counting calories a shot.  It may be an old school method, but with cool new apps like Lose It! and MyFitnessPal, it’s incredibly easy to keep track of your calories and the apps keep you motivated and up to date on your progress.

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it before, but I LOVE technology….It’s really kind of amazing.

Keeping all of that in mind, I still vow to provide you with delicious recipes.  My hopes are to provide you with lightened up versions of your favorites, but still occasionally hit you with some full-blown, full-fat, delicious, mouth-party food.

So let’s get started!

I LOVE Shepherd’s Pie.  What’s not to love? Meat and veggies topped off with creamy mashed potato crust.  Maybe it fulfills some sort of rugged Irish instinct in me.  Unfortunately, Shepherd’s Pie isn’t exactly the healthiest of foods and normally racks up almost 700 calories a serving and 40 grams of fat.  This lightened version is still full of flavor and comfort, but has only 13 grams of fat and is only 410 calories a serving!

Start by adjusting an oven rack to the upper-middle position of the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Combine the carrots, onions, oil, and 1/2 tsp of salt in a 12-inch skillet.  Cook and cover over medium-low heat until they’ve softened, about 8 to 10 minutes.  Uncover, increase the heat to medium, and add the beef to the skillet, breaking up with a wooden spoon.  Cook until the meat is almost cooked through but still slightly pink, about 5 to 6 minutes.

Stir in the flour, tomato paste, and 1/2 tsp of pepper, and cook for 1 minute.

Gradually, whisk in the broth, beef, Worcestershire, and thyme.  Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium-low heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 20 to 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring the potatoes and 1/2 tsp of salt to a simmer in a large saucepan over high heat.  Cook the potatoes until they are tender, about 15 to 20 minutes, then drain and return them to the saucepan.  Mash the potatoes with the buttermilk until smooth, then season with salt and pepper to taste.

Once the beef mixture has thickened, remove the dish from the heat and stir in the peas and corn, season with salt and pepper to taste, and transfer to a 2-quart casserole dish.

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Spread the potatoes over the filling with a rubber spatula, starting from the perimeter and working your way towards the center.  It’s important to spread the potatoes to the very edge of the casserole dish to prevent the filling up from bubbling up and out of the dish.

Bake the pie until heated through, about 15 minutes, then turn on the broiler and heat until the top is golden brown, about 3 to 5 minutes.

Transfer to a wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes until serving.

Consume, guilt free!

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Here’s to a happy, healthy, 2013!


  • 2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 1 onion, minced (about 1 cup)
  • 1 tsp canola oil
  • salt
  • 1 1/2 pounds 90% lean ground beef
  • 5 tablespoons tomato paste
  • pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 3/4 cup mild beer
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tsp minced fresh thyme
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 cup frozen corn

Potato Topping

  • 1 1/2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes (3 to 4), peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • salt
  • 1 cup low-fat buttermilk
  • pepper

Yields 6 servings

Original Recipe, Beef and Vegetable Shepherd’s Pie, America’s Test Kitchen Light and Healthy 2010

Nutritional Info!

Per Serving:

  • Calories: 410
  • Fat: 13g
  • Saturated Fat: 5g
  • Cholesterol: 75mg
  • carbohydrates: 42g
  • Protein: 30g
  • Fiber: 5g
  • Sodium: 580mg

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Categories: Life, Light and Healthy, Meat, Recipes

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2 Comments on “Light and Healthy Shepherds Pie”

  1. Luda
    January 8, 2013 at 12:35 am #

    I love love love Shepherd’s pie!! Btw, your pictures look so awesome! I try to take pics with my iPad and they never look that good!

    • January 8, 2013 at 9:53 am #

      Hi Luda! Thanks! For being low-cal, this was actually really tasty and not as greasy and heavy as S.P. can sometimes be. Also, I bit the bullet and bought a real camera last year…A Nikon D3200 🙂

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