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

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.
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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

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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!

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.


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)”

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  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:

    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:

    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

    And awww, thanks so much Angela!

  8. Your rationale for avoiding dairy is not supported by science (see 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!

  11. What’s the difference between cottage pie and shepherds pie? It sounds similar to the shepherds pie that I’m used to. Sounds delicious!

  12. Made this tonight (without the leek because I had none) and it was really good! I had to add some water to the meat mixture as it was getting dry- but that may have been because it was very lean meat. I also added peas just because my kids love them in cottage pie. Loved the flavour- definitely will make again and try with leek when I can find them! :)

  13. LOVE cottage pie! Can’t wait to give this recipe a try!
    Quick question, how did you get your son to start eating salads? I’m not a big salad person, I prefer my veggies cooked but would like the option of serving salads with a dish like this but my 8 year old girls won’t eat salad. Any suggestions?

    Also, like the sweet potato suggestion as well. My girls LOVE sweet potato and hate mashed potato. Do you think I can use cashew cream for the sweet potato as well?

    Lastly, what are some of the uses for cashew cream? Can i use it like peanut butter?

    Thanks again for sharing the recipe!

  14. Oh Kristen, you should definitely check out the work by my neurologist, Dr. David Perlmutter—he is a mainstream MD but HIGHLY supportive of nutrition. Also, if you ever get an exacerbation be sure to ask for intravenous glutathione (it is a natural but VERY potent antioxidant and it does AMAZING things for MS, Parkinsons, etc.) Dr. Perlmutter was the one who initially told me about it. There is also a patented ORAL version now available if you can’t find the intravenous version.

    And yes! Kimberly and Tawnia, you can definitely leave out the leek—but I would just add a bit more onion (1/2 cup should work!)

    Thank you so much for weighing in Annie!;)

    Oh my gosh Katie, I am totally CRAZY for cashew cream! I discovered it a few years back at an amazing raw foods restaurant in NYC (Pure Food & Wine–a MUST-eat destination if you are ever I the city, btw) Even though I am definitely not “raw”, I have discovered some pretty amazing culinary tricks from the raw food world, such as the cashew cream (pine nut cream and macadamia cream are also super good!), pureed dates as a “real food” and nutritious sweetener, nut cheese (Dr. Cow is the BEST!) and so much more….

    1. I saw something by the company Bulletproof(bulletproof coffee,etc.) with regards to that supplement. We are over in the UK for two years and I just saw a neurologist on Monday. I was having trouble, but they are not sure it is an exacerbation yet. An MRI will show if it is or not. My doctor here was excellent. He was not forcing me on meds like some of the US doctors. Thank you!

  15. Looks awesome, Ivy! For a veg version, do you think white beans could replace the meat? Isn’t cashew cream the best? I’ve been doing all sorts of things with it lately. For those who haven’t tried it, it may sound a bit odd, but it’s very dairy-like (and delish!).

  16. Kristen it was probably a suet type pastry. Really flakey and delicious. Very common in England and hard to find over here.

  17. hi america, as an English reader, I just wanted to add a couple of points.
    In ordinary family homes IE Not Harrods!! vegetables are added in large amounts. They are either whizzed through the food processor as you have, or just cut into small dice and cooked off with the meat. Potatoes are mashed generally without cream, sometimes a splash of milk (usually skimmed). In this blog you quote yukon gold potatoes as the probably source for the mash, however, we do not grow those over here in commercial quantities. its more likely to be king Edwards or Estima much dry fluffier potatoes which mashes easily. If kristen could give a bit more of a description regarding the pie Ill see if I can find a recipe. regards from over here.

  18. Can I leave out the Leek or will it taste different? I can’t wait to make this soon. It sounds so yummy and I haven’t had anything like it before. Love tying new recipes.

  19. Thank you for sharing your story. I too have MS and changed my diet. I am having a hard time giving up dairy. I have just moved to the UK(England to be exact) and will try this recipe out. I would love other recipes if you have them to share.

    1. Yum, sounds like a delicious recipe!
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  20. Hi Kristen! Oh it truly is an amazing city—my absolute favorite. I lived there for a bit (way before I was into “Clean eating” lol!) but, I never recall having the type of “pie” you describe. Do you know what exactly they called it?

  21. I just went to London last month and absolutely fell in love with the city!! We are lunch one day at Borough Market and I had THE best “pie,” but it was more of a regular pot pie with chicken and a super delicious flaky crust. Different from any American pit put I’ve had. I’ve scored the internet to find any recipe remotely similar but without any success :( Do you know and have you had the type of pie I’m describing? If so, would you happen to have a recipe? I have been craving it ever since I got home!

  22. Cottage pie is one of my (and my kids!) favorite dishes that my British husband makes. We have also made it with organic ground turkey, sweet potatoes, and lots of veggies. Delicious! I do love your idea of adding leeks. Will try that next time!