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  • Writer's pictureDr. Hansra

Shepherd's pie: lose weight, reduce cardiovascular, and cancer risk the smart and easy way!

Does this shepherd's pie look like it is made with mostly vegetables and lentils? Yes, it is! Traditional shepherd's pie's are made with essentially meat, cheese, and potatoes which produces a tasty but high calorie and relatively nutrient poor dish. Using our recipe you can reduce the amount of calories, reduce your cancer and heart disease risk, boost the nutrient content using cheap and accessible ingredients. Follow our recipe to reap all these health benefits without sacrificing taste or your budget!


Potato topping:

Potatoes, russet (2.5 pounds)

Cauliflower ( 3x 10 oz. bags, frozen. 25 calories, 2 grams of fiber/ 7% per serving, 2 grams of protein) -boost fiber and nutrients, cut calories, low cost!

Greek yogurt, plain ( 150 g small container )

Butter (4 table spoons)

Garlic (minced, 4 table spoons)

Salt ( 2 teaspoons )

Cheese (regular shredded cheddar 226 g or 2 cups + plant based cheese 200 g or 2 cups) -no cholesterol, half the fat, less calories!

"Meat" Filling:

Ground beef (2 pounds)

Black lentils ( 2, 15 oz. cans, 70 calories, 6-8 grams of fiber/23-32%% per serving, 5-8 grams protein, iron 1.6-2.6 mg, 8-15%) -boost fiber and nutrients, cut calories, low cost!

Corn (1 bag, 12 oz. bags, frozen)

Peas and carrot (1 bag, 10 oz. bag, frozen)

Organic Worcestershire sauce (2 tablespoons)

Tomato Paste (3 tablespoons)

Onion (small, chopped)

Salt (1.5 teaspoons)

Pepper (0.5 teaspoons)

Garlic (2 tablespoons)

Optional for added moisture: Beef Stock (8.25 oz. container)


Potato topping:

1. Prepare potatoes topping by peeling potatoes, dicing in chunks to enable faster cooking. Place in boiling water until fork tender.

2. When boiling potatoes are about ready add frozen cauliflower to water to heat up for 5 minutes.

3. Cooking potatoes should take about 20-30 minutes depending on how you cut the potatoes and your stove temperatures.

4. Once potatoes are fork tender drain the water.

5. Add butter, garlic, salt, yogurt to mixture then mash until smooth consistency. Also you can use a hand held blender or food processor (so that no veggies are detected by your kids!).


1. On high heat, add olive oil to sauté, then add onion, garlic, salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce, tomato paste to combine in a homologous mixture.

2. Add beef to spice mixture and mix thoroughly and cook until well done (takes 7-10 minutes depending on stove and cooking temperatures)

3. Add lentils, corn, peas, carrots to mixture and stir for 5 minutes until frozen items are warmed.

Put it all together:

1. Add potato topping to the filling with spatula then add cheese blend on top.

2. Place in a preheated 350 degree oven for 10 minutes to melt cheese.

3. Remove your pie from the oven and set to cool for 10 minutes before serving.

4. Optional: add pepper sauce (my family tradition) or ketchup as a condiment.

5. Enjoy!

What's the bottom line?

Our shepherd's pie cuts saturated fat, cholesterol, and calories while increasing fiber and nutrients without sacrificing taste. This is an example of modifying the diet in subtle ways to achieve great benefits in the long term. If you noticed at each layer we simply cut down on the less healthy ingredient and added a more healthy version in a blended fashion. If you do this in your everyday diet you can significantly improve your health. For example our Shepherd's pie has several relative health benefits:

What's the science?

Regular consumption of red meat, processed red meat in particular, is associated with heart disease (1,2,3), diabetes (2), development of some cancers (1,4) and other health issue You don't have to give up your favorite foods but simply cutting down will have big health benefits. Drastically changing your diet to eliminate red meat (or any of your favorite foods) is unrealistic. It is still possible to still enjoy red meat on occasion while significantly enhancing the nutritional content and decreasing calories. This is a major concept: adding beneficial ingredients into your favorite foods to boost the nutrient value and decrease calories to not only lose weight but benefit your overall health. These beneficial ingredients are also known as "functional foods". Adding lentils to beef can lower your risk of heart disease (5-7), high blood pressure (5-7), stroke (5-7), diabetes (5-7), weight gain (7), and cholesterol (7,8). Lentils are also a rich source of Fiber, B vitamins, iron, copper, magnesium, manganese, zinc, and phosphorus (7).

The potato topping in shepherd's pie is predominantly potato based which studies have shown that potato consumption can lead to weight gain (9). Potatoes do contain many nutrients and vitamins however adding additional nutrient boosting vegetables to the "potato topping" is a better strategy. Cruciferous vegetables are a great example of "functional foods" and include broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower. They are an excellent source of phytochemicals, antioxidants, and vitamins that are good for cancer and cardiovascular prevention (10).

Traditional cow's milk cheese is loaded with saturated fat and calories that can result in weight gain with increased regular consumption (11). Cut your calories and fat by adding vegan based cheese to go the extra mi to achieve weight loss.

"You don't have to give up your favorite foods. Simply cut down and add functional foods. This can improve your health without drastic changes to the diet" -Dr. Hansra, MD

Our shepherd's pie recipe is simply an example of a larger concept of adding beneficial ingredients into your favorite foods to boost the nutrient value and decrease calories to not only lose weight but benefit your overall health. We encourage you to find other ways to do this to improve your health without radically changing your diet.


1) Wang X, Lin X, Ouyang YY, Liu J, Zhoa G, Pan A, Hu FB. Red and processed meat consumption and mortality: dose-response meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. Public Health Nutr. 2016 Apr;19(5):893-905.

2) Renata Micha, Georgios Michas, Dariush Mozaffarian. Unprocessed Red and Processed Meats and Risk of Coronary Artery Disease and Type 2 Diabetes - An Updated Review of Evidence. Curr Atheroscler Rep. 2012 Dec: 14(6):515-524.

3) Ashaye A, Gaziano J, Djousse L. Red meat consumption and risk of heart failure in male physicians. Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2011 Dec: 21(12): 941-946.

4) Cross AJ, Leitzmann MF, Gail MH, Hollenbeck AR, Schatzkin, and Sinha R. A Prospective Study of Red and Processed Meat Intake in Relation to Cancer Risk. Plos Med. 2007 Dec; 4(12): e325.

5) Hu FB. Plant-based foods and prevention of cardiovascular disease: an overview. Am J Clin Nutr 2003;78:5445–5515.

6) Orlich MJ, Fraser GE. Vegetarian diets in the Adventist Health Study 2: a review of initial published findings. Am J Clin Nutr 2014;100(Suppl. 1):353S–358S.

7) Polak R, Phillips EM, Campbell A. Legumes: Health BEnefit and Culinary Approaches to Increase Intake. Clin Diabetes. 2015 Oct;33(4):198-205.

8) Bazzano LA, Thompson AM, Tees MT, Nguyen CH, Winham DM. Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2011 Feb; 21(2):94-103.

9) Mozaffarian D, Hao T, Rimm EB, Willett WC, Hu FB. Changes in diet and lifestyle and long-term weight gain in women and men. N Engl J Med. 2011;364(25):2392-2404.

10) Vasanthi HR, Mukherjee S, Das DK. Potential health benefits of broccoli- a chemico-biological overview. Mini Rev Med Chem. 2009;9(6):749-759.

11) Chen M, Pan A, Malik VS, Hu FB. Effects of dairy intake on body weight and fat: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Am J Clin Nutr. 2012;96(4):735-747.


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1 Comment

Amrita Hansra
Amrita Hansra
Jul 11, 2020

This is simply amazing. I would definitely use this recipe. Not only its a much healthier version but its simple to make. Thank you so much for this.

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