Saturday, August 15, 2009

Paleo Shepherd's Pie

Now that fall is around the corner, it's time for a Shepherd's pie. I decided parsnips would be front and center despite the sometimes bad rap they get. Why? They have a glycemic index of 97 which is 3 pts shy of sugar! Might as well go stand in front of a speeding train loaded with insulin right? A Paleo diet is supposed to be low glycemic but these aren't so what's up? Well, glycemic index is determined by feeding individuals enough of a given food so that 50 g of carbs are ingested - that's a hell of a lot of parsnips! It's also the only food they ingest - no fats or proteins to slow things down. A reasonable sized serving of parsnips is about 80-90 gm, which is in the recipe below and is only 15 gm carbs. That's WAY below what I need to balance a 5 block meal. I had to chow some fruit on the side. The glycemic load (which takes into account normal serving size) is about 12 for that amount of parsnips (eating ONLY parsnips) or 1/2 what you'll typically see in pasta or potatoes. Ahaaa! This is partially due to substantial fiber in parsnips - about 5 gm in a 80 gm serving. This is 3X mashed potatoes. Now we're starting to get the complete picture. Parsnips have a VERY slight carrot taste and make a great potato substitute. My "kids" liked this shepherd's pie - it's mild and yummy. Give it a try - it's a winner and makes good left overs too. BTW - I used turkey for this one but any lean meat will do - ground round, bison, etc.

Paleo Shepherds' Pie - enough for (4) 5 block meals!
[Protein gms, Fat gms, and Carb grams listed at end of each line)
20 oz Ground Turkey 110 P 35 F
12 oz Parsnnips - pealed and grated - 63 C
8 oz Zucchini - sliced - 8 C
3 oz mushrooms (i used shitake) - sliced - 3 C
1/2 C Red Onion - 5 C
1/2 C Cilantro - negligible C
2 Green Onions - chopped - 4 C
1/2 Cup Celery - sliced - negligible C
1 Slice Bacon - 15F 3P
8 egg whites - 24 P
1 Tbl Spoon Olive Oil - 14 F
1 Teaspoon Onion Salt
1 Teaspoon Celery Salt
1 Tablespoon Seasoning (I used Italian Seasoning. Costco Rustic Tuscan Seasoning would also work well)

About 1 lb of fruit - like apples, pears, etc. to have as desert or on the side to balance out the carbs. Remember this is four 5 block meals. If you're a 2 block person (looking for 14 gm protein), you get 1/10th of the "pie" and about 1.5 oz of fruit (2/20*16 oz). Although, this brings up a different subject... In the book Lights Out: Sugar, Sleep, and Survival by T.S. Wiley, it is suggested that when the days shorten, we should cut our carbs back further because "back in the day", that's what happened, and this helped to deplete stores of fat, cholesterol, etc. Interesting concept - i might try it. What's my point? Maybe being a little shy on carbs as we head towards winter is not such a bad thing.

Preheat oven to 450F.
Peal and grate the parsnips with a cheese grater. Add onion salt and olive oil and set aside.
Slowly cook the bacon slice - remove bacon strip and DO NOT throw out the bacon fat - leave it in the pan.
Pan fry the onions, turkey, Italian Seasoning, and onion salt - do not over cook. We're gonna cook it some more. Pepper to taste.
Prep the zucchini, mushrooms, and celery and saute in the bacon fat - do not over cook.
Combine meat and veggies in one pan and mix thoroughly. Let cool down a couple minutes.

Take 4 egg whites and cilantro and mix them into the meat/veggies.
Take other 4 egg whites and mix with parsnips.
Get an 8X8 metal or pyrex pan and spray bottom with olive oil. Add meat and veggies then cover with parsnip mixture.
Don't smooth tops of parsnips too much - browns better if you don't.

Cook in oven at 450F for about 25 minutes or until top start to brown. I like to put my oven on broil for the last minute so the top is nice and crisp. Sprinkle twith chopped bacon. This dish tastes like "comfort food" - you're gonna like it ;-)

Enjoy! Steve "Paleo"


  1. I tried this recipe last night and it's not bad but not great either. Everything tasted great except for the parsnips. I don't think that I've ever tried parsnips before. The parsnip flavor was not over powering...just in the background. Any ideas for an alternative to the parsnips?

  2. Don't like parsnips!? OK - my first idea on this recipe was celery root but I couldn't find it at the time. Just sub it directly for the parsnips - I'm pretty sure it would taste great. Heck, i might even try it myself soon since i have 3 celery roots sitting in my fridge!

  3. I tried this recipe with boiled mashed turnips (about 4 softball sized) because I couldn't find any parsnips and it turned out great. Thanks a ton!

  4. Good idea Chelsea! Thanks for sharing! Steve

  5. Tried this last night and it was DELICIOUS! Thanks!!


  6. I just tried this! However I boiled and mashed my parsnips, and mashed an apple in with them too... I'm not entirely sure why I did that, I just had an apple lying around, but it sure was delicious!!

  7. We made this tonight and it was tasty! Although we're not really strictly Paleo so we cheated and added a little bit of butter & cheese on top at the end. And a little salt & pepper. But overall good!

  8. Was good, I liked the flavor of the parsnips. Cheated and added some cheese, though. Would recommend a little bit of salt as we got it out and the one thing missing was just a little salt to bring all the flavors together.

  9. try cauliflower. you can puree it with some almond flour and pour it on top to form a crust. cauliflower is also a great mashed potato sub.

  10. I made this tonight for my boyfriend who is doing paleo and he loved it. He is a picky eater and doesnt like mushrooms but loved this dish. I followed exactly as written but didn't have onion salt so used garlic salt.....really good! Thank you for posting this wonderful dish!