Guest Post: Clean Cuisine Cottage Pie (A British Food Makeover)

The following is a guest post by Ivy Larson with Clean Cuisine.


Hi everyone! I’m Ivy Larson visiting from Clean Cuisine. I am truly thrilled to be here, as I have always felt a connection to Lisa, her mission, and the 100 Days of Real Food audience. I SO wish there was a website like hers back in 1998.

Like Lisa, I radically changed my diet practically overnight. I did this in 1998 when I was just 22 years old, after being diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, multiple sclerosis (MS). My husband, Andy Larson, M.D., was doing his surgical residency at the time and had never heard of using nutrition to fight a disease like MS. But, after consulting with my neurologist at the University of Miami, who prompted him to do some research, Andy finally agreed I had nothing to lose by giving nutrition a try. And since I desperately wanted to have children, knowing that the powerful disease-modifying MS medications were contraindicated (i.e., not advised) during pregnancy was a huge motivating factor.

But, like Lisa will tell you, it was not easy!

Clean Cuisine Cottage Pie (A British Food Makeover) at 100 Days of #RealFood

Ultimately, it was worth it though. And just like Lisa, changing my plate totally changed my fate. To make a long story short, I too gave up processed foods and made a commitment to eat only nutrient-rich real food. However, since MS is just one of the many inflammatory conditions (such as asthma, fibromyalgia, endometriosis, eczema, heart disease, etc.) affecting millions of people worldwide, I wanted to be sure my real food choices were as anti-inflammatory as possible (including no dairy).

I have since written a number of anti-inflammatory nutrition books with my husband, and (knock on wood!) I have not yet needed to take any of the disease-modifying MS medications, since my MS has been in remission now for over a decade.

My son, Blake Larson (in the photo with me below), has been raised to only eat real food, and I truly believe it has made a tremendous difference in his overall health, as he is rarely sick and has only been on antibiotics once in his 13 years of life. I most definitely cannot attribute Blake’s vibrant good health to genetics either because I used to be sick all the time! I am convinced it is real food with real nutrients that has made all the difference. You can read our family’s full story here.

And so today I wanted to share one of Blake’s favorite “Clean Cuisine” recipes and show you how I go about giving a British food favorite, Cottage Pie, an anti-inflammatory real food makeover.

Real Food Cottage Pie from Harrods in London

Clean Cuisine Cottage Pie (Ivy and Blake Larson in London) at 100 Days of #RealFood

Cottage Pie is such a nostalgic food for me because it reminds me of my childhood and the times I spent in my all-time favorite city, London. I had been to London numerous times growing up and even lived there for a short bit, and so I was super excited to be able to take Blake back this past summer, especially since he is now old enough to appreciate all that the beautiful city has to offer.

As soon as we got off the plane, we headed straight for the Food Emporium at the world famous Harrods department store. If you have ever been to the Food Emporium, you know what a sight it is to see! One of the first items that caught my eye was, of course, my beloved Cottage Pie. As you can see from the photo below, Harrods provided the ingredients list for their Cottage Pie (I so love Harrods!), and since it was made from real food, my son ordered one and gobbled it right up.

However, I found it very interesting (and flattering!) that after he finished his Harrods Cottage Pie, Blake commented that he preferred my “more flavorful recipe” instead. Cottage Pie is not at all a spice-forward dish, so it wasn’t the spice that Blake was missing…it was the vegetables!

Clean Cuisine Cottage Pie (A British Food Makeover) at 100 Days of #RealFood

3 Tips to Boost Flavor, Improve Nutrition, and Reduce Inflammation

The three things I did to my Cottage Pie recipe to boost flavor, improve nutrition, and reduce inflammation were really rather simple and consisted of the following:

1. Add veggies! The #1 biggest diet mistake made by kids and adults is not eating anywhere near enough vegetables. The more veggies you can sneak into your recipes the better. And believe it or not, as long as they are properly prepared, veggies also boost flavor. For the Cottage Pie recipe, I shredded my veggies very, very finely in a food processor and mixed them in with the ground lamb (or beef).

2. Eliminate or reduce dairy. Cow’s milk protein is the leading food allergy in children (1) and has been linked to environmental allergies too.(2) Many with autoimmune issues have a sensitivity to cow’s milk. Although it is pretty hard to find a good substitute for cheese (I don’t even try. I just eat small amounts of the real stuff), milk and cream are easy to substitute, especially in recipes. To maintain nutrition and the delicious, rich and creamy full-fat texture derived from full-fat dairy, I like to use homemade cashew cream, hemp milk, unfiltered almond milk, or pine nut cream, all of which take less than 5 minutes to make. In the Cottage Pie recipe I used cashew cream.

3. Reduce the meat. Lisa talks about doing this too on page 27 of her newly released 100 Days of Real Food book. Like Lisa, I am not vegetarian, but I do go easy on the animal food. That’s because if you eat too much animal protein, then you inevitably end up pushing the anti-inflammatory, phytonutrient-rich, and antioxidant plant proteins such as beans, nuts, seeds, whole grains, etc. off of your plate. And don’t worry about not getting enough protein by reducing meat! Every single unrefined whole plant food has protein. So as long as you meet your daily calorie quota, protein will not be an issue. I reduce the meat in my cottage pie recipe by mixing the ground beef (or lamb) with lots of minced veggies.

Note: Like Lisa, I too make sure to choose pasture-raised beef, chicken, and lamb. This is especially important if you have an inflammatory issue as pastured animal foods have a considerably more favorable omega-3 to omega-6 ratio.

Ok, enough chit chat. Let’s eat! On with the recipe….finally (wink).

P.S. You will surely have leftovers!

Clean Cuisine Cottage Pie

Today I wanted to share one of Blake's favorite "Clean Cuisine" recipes and show you how I give Cottage Pie an anti-inflammatory real food makeover.
Prep Time: 35 mins
Cook Time: 15 mins
Total Time: 50 mins
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: American
Print Recipe
Servings: 4 people

Ingredients
  

  • ½ cup cashews or substitute 1 cup whole milk if preferred
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt unrefined, plus more to taste
  • 1 ¼ pound potatoes Yukon Gold recommended (organic), unpeeled and cubed (you could also use Russet)
  • 1 leek medium, stalk only, cleaned and sliced into thin rounds
  • ½ yellow onion chopped
  • 4 carrots chopped
  • 4 teaspoons olive oil extra virgin
  • 2 tablespoons thyme
  • 1 ¼ pounds ground lamb pastured (or pastured beef)
  • 2 tablespoons white whole-wheat flour or regular whole wheat
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce such as Annie’s Naturals
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste plus more to taste

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place the cashews and 1 cup water in a high speed blender and process for a few minutes, until smooth and creamy. Add ½ teaspoon salt and process again. Set cashew cream aside. (Can substitute 1 cup whole milk instead of cashew "milk" if desired.)
  • Add potatoes to a large pot of salted water and bring water to a boil. Reduce to a rapid simmer; cook until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Drain and return to pot. Using a potato masher, mash potatoes until mostly lump free; drizzle in the cashew cream a bit at a time, until desired consistency. Season with salt to taste.
  • Place the sliced leek rounds in a food processor and pulse several times to shred. Remove shredded leeks from food processor and set aside. Process the carrots and then the onions in the same manner, keeping all of the vegetables separate.
  • Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the shredded leeks, carrots, and onions. Sauté 5 to 6 minutes until vegetables soften a bit. Season vegetables with salt to taste and add the fresh thyme.
  • Add the ground lamb or beef and use a spatula to fully incorporate the meat in with the vegetables. Cook for about 5 minutes or until meat is no longer pink.
  • Use a fork to whisk in the flour. Season with more salt to taste. Stir in the Worcestershire sauce and tomato paste and cook for about 2 minutes, until all ingredients are fully incorporated.
  • Spread the meat mixture on the bottom of a 9-inch square casserole dish or on the bottom of individual ramekins. Spoon the potatoes over the meat and smooth with the back of a spoon. Brush the potatoes lightly with oil; bake for about 15 minutes or until potatoes are just lightly browned on top. Remove from oven and let sit 15 minutes before serving.

Notes

I like to leave the skins on my potatoes for added nutrition and fiber.
To enhance nutrition and also make the cashews easier to blend, you can soak them in water for up to 2 hours and then rinse and drain before making the cashew cream. Leftover cashew cream can be stored in a mason jar in the refrigerator for three days.
I always serve a BIG but simple salad on the side drizzled with good extra virgin olive oil and a bit of unrefined sea salt. Buttery soft mache lettuce is my son’s favorite.
Potatoes are one food I always buy organic when possible. The potatoes in the Harrods photo were probably Yukon Gold, but I used Russet potatoes in my recipe because they were the only organic option. Either potato will be okay.
Lisa recommends organic ingredients when feasible.
oday I wanted to share one of Blake's favorite "Clean Cuisine" recipes and show you how I give Cottage Pie an anti-inflammatory real food makeover.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Hope you enjoy the recipe! And Lisa, thank you so much for the opportunity to share my story and Clean Cuisine with the 100 Days of Real Food community.

References:

1. A. Host, “Frequency of Cow’s Milk Allergy in Childhood,” Annals of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology 89, no. 6, suppl. 1 (2002): 33–37.

2. A. M. Collins, “Xenogeneic Antibodies and Atopic Disease,” Lancet 1, no. 8588 (1988): 734–37.

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31 thoughts on “Guest Post: Clean Cuisine Cottage Pie (A British Food Makeover)”

  1. Yaay! So glad at least one child liked it Alison. And, yes I know shredding the veggies separate like that seems like such a waste of a step, but in the past when I have tried to shred different types of veggies all at once they don’t all shred with the same consistency (and so some end up being overly shredded and others not shredded enough.) BUT! If shredding these veggies together worked for you then I think I will try it next time myself ;) Thank you for letting me know!!

  2. Thank you for this recipe! My five year old was not a big fan but my eight year old ate it for lunch and then asked for it again the same day for snack and dinner! I’d call that a success! :) I used the shredding attachment on the food processor and didn’t see the need to keep the veggies seperate as they are all added to the pan at the same time. I used less meat (about a pound).

  3. Hi,
    This sounds really good! I am gluten free so I would prob. just use rice flour which seems to work really well for thickening. We live in SE Asia. We don’t currently have any GF Worcestershire sauce. I just looked up how to make it, but it requires GF soy sauce (liquid aminos). One store here carries it sometimes, but we are running low. So as of right now making our own W (it kills me to spell that word!) sauce isn’t feasible. Any other recommendations for flavor sub? Thanks!

  4. This recipe sounds delicious and I can’t wait to try it. However, curious how flour, of any sort, is included in a “real food” recipe? Isn’t flour considered processed?

  5. Kris, just to help clear up the confusion about what an anti-inflammatory diet is and how it works–all unrefined “whole” plant foods in their natural and unprocessed form are anti-inflammatory UNLESS the person happens to be allergic, in which case the food will be pro-inflammatory to that particular person (Hopefully this makes sense?)

    And Gigi, if you are buying almond milk or making it filtered then it will definitely be too “watery”—however, if you want to make your own almond milk by using raw, soaked almonds and just blending them with some water (but don’t strain the nut milk!), then that should work ok ;)

  6. If you’re looking to reduce/eliminate inflammation you should also consider reducing your intake of whole grains, legumes, and many nuts as they can also be inflammatory.

  7. Thank you so much for the positive feedback Annie! I have actually been giving Blake salad for so long now–he started with a Caesar Salad, which to this day is still his favorite ;) Like Lisa, I am not a fan of store-bought mayo that most Caesar Salad dressing recipes call for (and I am way too nervous to give my son raw eggs) so I have been making him a hemp seed Caesar Salad dressing for years now. He is crazy for it! Here is the link to the recipe: http://www.cleancuisineandmore.com/video-making-a-vegan-caesar-salad-dressing-recipe/

    Tawnia, I am SO happy to know you liked it. I LOVE the idea of adding the peas ;)

    Florida Annie, we don’t publish the nutrition facts on our recipes or in our books out of principle. Here is an article I wrote a while back explaining why: http://www.cleancuisineandmore.com/clean-cuisine-why-no-nutrition-stats/

    Erin, the main difference from what I understand is that one uses ground lamb and the other uses ground beef—but basically they are pretty much the same thing (at least as far as I know!)

    And yes Franki! Homemade hemp milk/ cream would work just fine.

    You are welcome Kari ;) Hope you enjoy!!

    Oooh! I see Lorraine just weighed in ;) thank you so much for clarifying Lorraine!!

    Dr. Pearson, I very much appreciate your honest input and I respect your opinion. However, I could not find the research you referred to in the link you provided? I absolutely always keep an open mind, but because of my medical condition, my husband (Andy Larson, M.D.) have looked into dairy extensively for the last 15 years. According to a study published in the prestigious medical journal Lancet, dairy (not nuts) happen to be the most common food allergy (6.16 A. M. Collins, “Xenogeneic Antibodies and Atopic Disease,” Lancet 1, no. 8588 (1988): 734–37.) You can read more about my thoughts on dairy and why I still eat a little full fat dairy in the form of cheese in the link below

    http://www.cleancuisineandmore.com/clean-cuisine-challenge-day-34-top-10-reasons-why-milk-does-not-do-a-body-good/

    And awww, thanks so much Angela!

  8. Your rationale for avoiding dairy is not supported by science (see http://wp.me/p30zF0-m). If anything dairy fat lowers inflammation. . If we followed your logic in eliminating dairy due to sensitivity and allergies we would never serve nuts because a sizable percentage of children and adults are allergic.

  9. Shepherd’s pie generally uses minced lamb (thus the shepherd) — while Cottage pie generally uses minced beef. This sounds delicious!

  10. Oh my! Cottage pie is one of our absolute favorite meals around here. Especially on a drizzly Fall or Winter evening. Thanks so much for sharing this recipe-I can’t wait to give it a try!

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