Shepherd’s Pie – healthy make over

It has become popular for recipes, especially those online, to display the nutrition information. Hopefully this will empower the reader to make better health choices, as without this information, people generally underestimate the calories and fat in a dish.

BBC Good Food's Shepherd's Pie

BBC Good Food’s Shepherd’s Pie

Despite it being one of my jobs to estimate the nutritional value of food, I was a little shocked by the nutrition information that had been added to the Shepherd’s Pie recipe I’ve been using for years. One portion weighed in at over 660kcal and 39g of fat (and let’s face it, we usually have a little bit more than our allocated amount!) 660 calories is great for my 102kg rugby player husband who requires over 4000kcal per day, but for most of us, this is too high in saturated fat, calories, and too low on the veg and fibre. Most of us should aim for about 2000kcal, 45g of fat and 75g fibre per day.

So hoping to adopt the culinary equivalent of Laurence Lewellyn-Bowen’s Changing Rooms makeover genius (raised eyebrow), I set about reinventing my favourite shepherd’s pie recipe.

So how did I make the recipe healthier?

  • Reduced saturated fat: swapped lamb mince to lean beef mince, drained the excess fat, left out the butter from the mash.
  • Increase veg and fibre: added an extra carrot, replaced half the stock with a carton of tomatoes, added cooked red lentils (you really don’t even notice they’re in there), used half normal potatoes, half sweet potato for the mash

Result? 33% fewer calories, 70% less fat, 50% more fibre.

Here’s a comparison of the nutritional analyses of the original and made over recipe per portion:

  original healthier
Kcal 660 440
Fat 39 12
Protein 33 32
Fibre 6 9

And do you know what? It was actually rather good! The children and their friend from school finished a plate full each. Sounding a little perplexed, the friend said that she doesn’t usually finish her dinner. Ha! Healthier doesn’t mean less tasty!

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