Recipe of the Month: Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie

My mom comes from an Irish Catholic family, raised by two parents who were both first generation immigrants to the US straight  from Ireland. So we eat lots Shepherd’s Pie in the winter 😉

Usually, we would skin potatoes, mash them up, brown ground beef in a pan with corn, then fill a casserole dish and bake it in the oven for an hour.

Now, who has the time for that? So we’ve cut corners and adjusted the recipe… And now that I’m allergic to whit potatoes, I decided to make my own mini Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie while my family ate our regular Shepherd’s Pie.

Here’s what I used:

  • 2 small sweet potatoes (or 1 large)
  • ~1 cup ground beef
  • ~1/2-3/4 cup corn 

These proportions are all up to you! So if you love ground beef and not corn, adjust as you desire.

Here’s what I did:

The sweet potatoes I buy come pre-washed and wrapped individually to allow for steaming in the microwave in just 5-7 minutes. So I popped those in the microwave while I browned my ground beef in a sauce pan on the stove. I added some pepper here.

When the potatoes were done, I cut them in half and scooped out the insides into a bowl. I rinsed my corn and added that to the bowl. When my beef was cooked, I drained the pan and folded the beef into my bowl of corn and potatoes.

 
I emptied this into a small casserole dish and popped it into the oven for 20 minutes at 350 degrees.

The results? Not bad! It smelled so delicious when I pulled it out of the oven. 

The taste was obviously sweet, but I actually like sweet potatoes, so this isn’t a big difference to me compared to regular Shepherd’s Pie. It’s not buttery and salty like the mashed potatoes we traditionally make are, because the sweet potatoes are soft and wet enough on their own after steaming in the microwave. So, in reality this recipe is slightly healthier in that regard because you’re eliminating butter and salt from the recipe completely.

  
So if you are allergic to white potatoes like me, or just want to try a new, healthier version of Shepherd’s Pie, try it out and let me know what you think!

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Eating My Way Around Food Allergies

It was recently discovered that in the past few years, I’ve developed some bad food allergies. I guess stomachaches, cramps, and headaches have become such a routine part of my life that I hadn’t really considered being allergic to what I was eating. But my environmental allergies have progressed to a pretty severe level that I decided to look into immunotherapy, aka allergy shots.

The doctor and nurses were shocked I hadn’t come in sooner given how the testing went. So now I’m getting shots every week to help build immunity to basically everything God created on this planet – trees, grass, mold, dust, etc. and the food allergies I have developed work in tandem with those allergies to make my immune response way over dramatic. 

I’m allergic to hops. But I can live without beer, given how infrequently I drink and my preference for sweet anyway.

I’m allergic to melon and cantaloupe. But I rarely opt for those fruits over bananas or berries anyway.

I’m allergic to a few types of beans, but not black or kidney, which are the only ones I usually eat anyway.

I’m allergic to white potatoes, but I can deal with switching to exclusively sweet potatoes when I eat them.

But the last few actually upset me. I’m allergic to nuts. All the best ones I love. Peanuts, almonds, walnuts, pistachios … my FAVORITE, my number one choice of snack on the go, the best blends of trail mix… But since I’ve developed a progressing allergy to these nuts, I have to remove them from my diet.

And last but certainly not least, wheat. 

Wheat!

American diet consists highly of wheat, right!? As I’m sitting here considering my options, I’m shocked at how much wheat even I – someone pretty conscientious of her nutritional choices and intake – consume. Forget the junk food I eat when I’m cheating, I now need to find alternatives when I eat any of my normal meals. 

Bread, pasta, granola bars, pretzels, dumplings, crackers, soy sauce, ice cream, prepared bake mixes, cereal, salad dressings, mashed potatoes, macaroni, most Chinese takeout (and New Years is coming 😦 ), pizza, soups…. So many foods have wheat or wheat flour used as its primary ingredient or as a thickener. I had no idea it was in so much.

Now, this wheat allergy is different than a gluten sensitivity, and it isn’t the same as Celiac Disease. This is a common misconception. While ingesting wheat causes me gastrointestinal discomfort – nausea, stomachaches, cramps, etc. – and headaches, it doesn’t make me vomit, it doesn’t affect the lining of my gastrointestinal tract, or any of the other more severe symptoms that Celiac Disease causes.

However, continuing to eat these foods is making me more sensitive to all the other allergies that give me symptoms. And those symptoms are pretty bad – seriously swollen eyes and lips, itchy hives and painful welts literally everywhere, and wheezing. And I’m told I will feel a lot better (bye bye to my daily head and stomach aches!) when I’m not eating these things.

So, from now on I really need to thoroughly read labels and start learning how to cook with some new ingredients: quinoa, different rices, sweet potatoes.

And I also need to learn what some good alternatives are to peanut butter, almond butter, trail mix, bread, etc. etc. etc.

So if any of you have advice or recipes to share, I would be eternally grateful if you’d comment for me!