Shepherd’s pie with cauliflower mash – paleo, SCD & autoimmune paleo

It’s the middle of winter in South Africa and it’s c-c-c-c-cold! Yesterday a gorgeous pink and orange sunrise warned us that there was foul weather afoot, and indeed, tonight the skies opened up and it’s¬†been bucketing down for hours here in Cape Town.

I wanted something hearty and filling for this chilly weather, and I also wanted to use what I had at home since pay day is only tomorrow ūüôā

I combined various recipes that I found for paleo shepherd’s pie, tweaking them based on the ingredients I had, and the result was deeeelicious! K wasn’t crazy about the cauliflower topping but that just meant more for me!

Oh, and apologies for the photo. We were so eager to tuck in that I only remembered to photograph it later… when this was¬†all that was left!

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Shepherd’s pie with cauliflower mash – paleo, SCD & AIP

Paleo/SCD/AIP shepherd’s pie with cauliflower mash

Ingredients

  • Coconut oil
  • 1 medium head cauliflower, broken into florets
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, grated
  • 2 medium or 3 thin sticks of celery, chopped
  • 400g mince (I used ostrich but you could use beef or any other)
  • 2/3 cup red wine or beef stock/broth
  • 1 heaped tsp tamarind paste (or 50g tomato paste if you’re not AIP)
  • 1 tsp fresh rosemary, chopped finely
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme, chopped finely
  • 250g button mushrooms, sliced thickly
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • Ground cinnamon
  • Salt & black pepper

Method

1. Place the cauliflower into a pot and boil until very soft, about 15 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, add onions, celery and carrots to a large pot with a knob of coconut oil. Fry on med-high heat, stirring often, until veg has softened – about 5 to 7 minutes.

3. Add mince and break up with a spoon. Add wine/stock and stir until evaporated/absorbed. Add tamarind paste/tomato paste and stir to incorporate.

3. Add rosemary, thyme, black pepper, salt and a good shake of cinnamon.

4. Add mushrooms and peas (from frozen is fine) and allow to simmer for 8 to 10 minutes. Add a dash of water if the mixture becomes too dry or catches on the bottom of the pot.

5. While the meat simmers, add salt, pepper and a knob of coconut oil to the cauliflower, and mash until soft.

6.  Transfer the meat to an oven proof dish and top with the cauliflower mash. Bake at 180C for 10 minutes and then grill until the mash browns on top, about 5 minutes. Tuck in!

The great thing about this recipe is that you can tweak it based on what you have at home and it’s still bound to be delicious. You can also use sweet potatoes for the mash instead of cauliflower. Give it a whirl and let me know what you think.

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Autoimmune paleo recipe: Butternut and sweet potato soup with carrot, coconut and ginger

It’s been freeeeezing in Cape Town, the perfect weather for soup. But I’m not one to slave over a pot for hours on end – not after SCD anyway! I’m all for quick, easy soups that¬†taste like they’ve been bubbling away for hours…

My sister served us a delicious cauliflower soup yesterday, when she and her husband¬†had the family over for Father’s Day. Feeling inspired, I decided to see what kind of soup I could come up with using ingredients I already had at home, and this was the result.

AIP butternut & sweet potato soup with carrot, coconut and ginger

AIP butternut & sweet potato soup with carrot, coconut and ginger

It’s tasty, filling, easy to make and totally budget friendly ūüôā Plus, K said that it tasted like ‘restaurant quality’, which is high praise considering that a) she hates butternut soups and b) we have amazing¬†restaurants in Cape Town!

This recipe can easily be made SCD-friendly by omitting the sweet potato. Simply add extra butternut.

Butternut and sweet potato soup with coconut and ginger

Yields 3 to 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 500-600g butternut, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 200g sweet potato, peeled and cut into chunks (omit for SCD)
  • 1 medium-large onion, quartered
  • 1 medium-large carrot, sliced into rings
  • 6 or 7 whole garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1-2 tbsp coconut oil
  • Ground cinnamon
  • Dried rosemary
  • Dried mixed herbs
  • Garlic salt
  • Knob of ginger, grated
  • 2-3 bay leaves
  • Salt & a good crack of black pepper
  • 250ml coconut milk or coconut yoghurt

Method

Preheat oven to 200C/390F.

Place all the vegetables (except the ginger) on a roasting tray, drizzle with coconut oil and season with cinnamon, dried rosemary, mixed herbs and garlic salt. Roast for 30 minutes or until soft and lightly browned.

A trick I learnt recently: If you want to know whether your vegetables will taste good after roasting, run your finger along the bottom of the roasting tray after seasoning, and give it a lick. If it tastes good, so will the veg!

A trick I learnt recently: Run your finger along the bottom of the roasting tray after seasoning the veg, and then give your finger a lick. If it tastes good, so will the veg!

Just before the vegetables are ready, place the ginger into a large pot and saute in a little water for 2 or 3 minutes. Add two cups of boiling water, plus the salt, pepper and bay leaves. Add the roast veg along with any juices/seasoning. Bring to a boil.

Allow the vegetables to simmer, covered, for about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat, take out the bay leaves and add the coconut milk/yoghurt. Blend using a stick blender. Add a little extra boiling water if it’s too chunky to blend – I found that I needed another cup or so.

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Add a little extra water if it’s too chunky to blend

Return to the heat for a minute or two before serving.

Slurrrrrrrp! Enjoy ūüôā

 

Nightshades: A trick for replacing tomatoes in recipes

I’ve become one of those people that no one wants to cook for. When I first went dairy and gluten free, it was okay because I could eat everything else, and my family happily cooked chicken and sweet potatoes for me. Then I went SCD, and I took my own food everywhere and my family happily boiled eggs for me.

Now, on the autoimmune paleo diet, my family and my girlfriend have basically thrown their hands in the air. They could deal with no dairy. They could deal with no grains. They could even deal with no sugar. But no nightshades?! NO TOMATO?! *hands fly up into the air. What do we feed you?!

I concede that a diet void of tomatoes is… devastating. It’s not only difficult to cook for, but also difficult to live with. The AIP diet calls for the elimination¬†of all nightshade vegetables – the edible members of the solanaceae family – which include potatoes, tomatoes, bell peppers, hot peppers, chili, paprika, eggplant and various others. See a full list of nightshades as well as an explanation of why they’re problematic for people with autoimmune disease¬†here.

Saying goodbye to nightshades

For the most part, for most people, nightshades aren’t all that hard to give up – except for the tomatoes. Many of us already limit or restrict our intake of potatoes. Lots of people don’t like peppers and they’re pretty easy to avoid too. The same can be said for eggplant. Chilies and paprika is admittedly¬†harder to kick – especially if you like your food to have a bit of kick itself¬†– and also, paprika is found in many pre-made spice mixes.

But here’s the real catch: tomatoes. Just for a moment think of how many tomato-based or tomato-enhanced dishes you eat. Salads, soups, stews, sauces, curries, casseroles, bakes, bolognaises and so much more. Tomatoes are¬†used for colour, flavour, thickness and tang, and they’re used because they’re¬†delicious.

It’s been less than a week but I’ve already found myself up against some pretty tenacious tomatoes. There are some still loitering in my¬†fridge; there were some gorgeous baby ones in¬†my restaurant salad last night, and I had to deftly avoid slurping up some of their seeds with my lunch¬†today (close call!).

When it comes down to it, there’s nothing that easily replaces tomato. It’s not like switching shallots for onions¬†or replacing sweet potato with butternut. NOTHING is like a tomato, which means that one must get creative and think laterally!

The tomato paste bait-and-switch

A few nights ago I decided to make my SCD burgers Рone of my absolute favourite meals. But Рpanic! РI knew that omitting the tomato paste would completely dull the taste of the patties: due to its tartness, tomato paste adds a unique depth of flavour that is very difficult to mimic with anything else.

tamarind-paste

After plenty of Googling, I finally came across the answer: substituting tamarind paste for tomato paste. Who’d have thought?!

And even luckier: I bought a large packet of tamarind paste while I was in Malaysia recently. I’d used it during my cooking course in Kuala Lampur and I was eager to bring it home¬†and try it in my own cooking.

What is tamarind paste – and is it paleo?

Tamarind is a very sticky, tart brown pulp that comes from the pods of the tamarind tree. Often, the seeds – roughly the size of a cherry pit – are left in the paste and you need to remove them before using the paste.

It's suuuuper sticky and sometimes it still has the seeds inside

It’s suuuuper sticky and sometimes it still has the seeds inside

To make the substitution, use roughly half the amount of tamarind paste as you would tomato paste. It’s¬†very¬†tangy with a touch of sweet, just like tomato paste but more intense. Put a little on your finger and give it a taste.

Where to get tamarind paste and what to use instead of it

You’re most likely to find tamarind paste at Asian, Chinese or Indian food suppliers. Or, you can do what I do and Google it, as this will help you to find a supplier in your area or perhaps an online retailer that sells it.

Tamarind paste comes in jars or blocks wrapped in cellophane

Tamarind paste comes in jars or blocks wrapped in cellophane

If you can’t find it, some people use pomegranate molasses instead. Accordingly to Nigella Lawson’s site, you can also mix equal parts of lime juice, white wine or rice vinegar with sugar. I haven’t tried this myself, but it is apparently only effective if just¬†a small quantity is required, as tamarind has a very unique flavour (in the same way, this is why it works well as a substitute for tomato paste, because the latter is usually only used in small amounts).

Recipes using tamarind paste

Tamarind paste is mostly used in Indian and Asian dishes. Here’s an awesome recipe for paleo pad Thai¬†using tamarind paste, taken from Against All Grain – an amazing site if you haven’t checked it out yet. Or you can give it a bash my paleo/SCD¬†burger recipe ūüôā

Give it a try and see what you think!