Paleo & AIP Shepherd’s Pie


I made this over a week ago, hence the pretty fall photo edit, and was in the midst of getting the recipe jotted for the blog…and we all got sick!  Then there was Thanksgiving and a week of recovering, family stuff, and regular day-to-day goings on of the PreciousBelovedBlessing house.  So, here it is!


I love fall.  It’s my favorite time of year and who doesn’t love comfort food?!  I haven’t made Shepherd’s Pie in ages and it doesn’t come to mind when you are thinking either paleo or AIP, but it sounded good one night, so I looked at what I had in the fridge and decided to wing it.


What is paleo or AIP, you might be wondering.  Paleo is a type of diet that uses inspiration from our ancestors for a cleaner, less refined or processed, way of living.  It is free from grains, dairy (in some cases), and refined sugars, and basically anything artificial.  To me, it simply means a cleaner way of living.  AIP stands for Autoimmune Protocol, which is a version of the paleo diet that also eliminates nuts, seeds, definitely dairy, and nightshades, among other things.  I don’t think any one diet or lifestyle is one size fits all.  I eat the way I do to help me manage autoimmune issues such as Celiacs disease, eczema, asthma, and some other things.  I have found certain things I can have and certain things I can’t.


One thing I have never been able to reintroduce are nightshades.  A nightshade is a certain genre of a seed or plant with a make up that can be very irritating to the gut of some people – and I am one of them.  This includes – in this dish for instance – white potatoes and tomatoes.  I have discovered I can have a small amount of good-quality dairy on occasion, but my son (who also has to eat gluten-free) can’t tolerate any, but I had tried a couple of side dish recipes that used just a little fat and a food processor and had whipped up amazing mashed potato-like goodness, so I gave this a try.


I had sweet potatoes in my cupboard, ground beef in my fridge, along with some pureed pumpkin (a great substitute for the traditional tomato), and lots of veggies.  Here is what I came up with.  We all loved it, including my husband who isn’t crazy about sweet potatoes!  The ghee I have reintroduced successfully, but if you are still in the elimination diet phase of AIP use whatever cooking fat you prefer, like lard or coconut oil.




Paleo & AIP Shepherd’s Pie



4 medium sweet potatoes (yams would work as well)

2 Tablespoons ghee (or cooking fat of choice)

1 clove garlic

Dried oregano, thyme, rosemary, and basil to taste (I used probably about a Tablespoon total of the three when mixed)

Sea salt to taste


Bottom Layer:

1 pound ground beef (or other ground meat; Shepherd’s Pie is traditionally made with lamb, which would be good; I just used what I had on hand)

1 small onion

2-3 celery ribs, chopped

2 carrots, chopped (or more if preferred – mine were pretty big)

2 cups sliced kale (spinach or chard would be good too)

2 cloves garlic, minced

Dried oregano, thyme, rosemary, and basil to taste

2 Tablespoons plain pumpkin puree (canned ok, but NOT pumpkin pie filling!)

2 cups stock or broth (preferably homemade)

1 Tablespoon arrowroot starch


To Make:

First, cook the sweet potatoes.  Peel and cube them and place in a large pot of salted water.  Bring to a boil and simmer about 15 minutes, or until easily pierced with a fork.  Drain and set aside.


While the potatoes cook preheat the oven to 400 degrees (F) and grease a large baking dish.  (I used a 9×13” pan – there are only three of us, but I wanted lots of leftovers for the busy upcoming holiday week.)


Next, brown the meat, breaking it up into small pieces, season lightly with salt, and remove from pan with a slotted spoon when finished cooking; set aside.  Into the hot pan add the onion, carrots, and celery and cook a few minutes, until softened and the onion is fragrant.  Add the kale and cook until wilted, mixing well.


While that is cooking add the arrowroot starch to the broth and whisk well to combine.  Add to the pan, along with the garlic, herbs, and pumpkin, stirring well to combine.  Continue cooking until the sauce is thick and bubbly; this may take a few minutes.  Then add the browned meat and pour all into your prepared pan.


Lastly, take your drained sweet potatoes and put in a blender or food processor.  Add the remaining topping ingredients and blend until combined and fluffy.  Taste and adjust the seasoning if need be and then add to the top of the meat mixture.  I did this by spooning dallops over the top before carefully spreading it.  It takes a little time but is worth the effort!


Bake about 45 minutes, or until browned and bubbling.




I hope you had a wonderful holiday and you enjoy this dish.  I’m definitely going to be making it again!


Have a great day,


A Weekend Indulgence on a Weekday: Artichoke Hearts with Spinach and Cream Cheese


This sounds a little fancier than it may be, but it’s a spinach and artichoke dip.  The recipe comes from one of my favorite cookbooks, The Good Book Cookbook.  It’s described on the back cover as a “’cook’s tour’ of Bible” and recipes have scripture references or stories relating to the recipe.  There is even a section in the back putting together recipes from the book for things like a Passover Dinner, Easter, and even a couple with names like, “King Solomon’s Feast” or “Persian Banquet.”  I’ve never put together one of those but simply put it’s full of Middle Eastern recipes.  Most of them are very simple, cheap to put together, nutritious, and super yummy!  This is probably the recipe from it we make the most, next to the Kibbeh, Lentil Pancakes, Broiled Fish with Honeycomb, or Esau’s Pottage…ok, sounds like there are a few more recipes I need to share!

Anyway, this is SO good and comes together in just a few minutes.  This is doubled from the original recipe because my husband loves it so much there are never any leftovers if we don’t and it’s too good not to have any more the next day!  Halve the recipe if you want and bake in a pie plate, casserole dish, or 8×8” baking dish and bake the same amount of time.  But go on and double it – you’ll be glad you did!

I think as far as spinach-artichoke dip recipes go this one isn’t too bad, considering the bad rap they often get.  The only cheese is the cream cheese and you can substitute your favorite cooking oil for the butter.  Spinach and artichokes are both very good for you as is onion and sometimes that’s our whole meal – the dip and bread or crackers and some veggies or fresh fruit.

This last weekend was the Super Bowl and the plan was to make it then, but we decided last minute to stop on the way home at a little Mexican place we had spotted not far from our new place and so neither of us were hungry for a rich dip later.  So it’s Tuesday night but I still served the tortilla chips I had gotten to serve with it as a treat, but I actually prefer it with some nice gluten-free crackers or bread.  For my grain-free peeps there are plenty of options – I love it on a baked potato, hubby loves it over a hamburger or piece of chicken – there are lots of possibilities. 

The dip itself is gluten-free, but not dairy-free obviously.  I saved up an entire day’s allotment of dairy intake for this, and it was worth it!  Hope you enjoy it too.


The Recipe


24 ounces (3 – 8 ounces each) packages cream cheese at room temperature

½ cup milk

6 scallions or ½ an onion, chopped (the original recipe called for shallots (which I never have around unless a recipe calls for them) or scallions.  The scallions are good but I more often have onion lying around.  I used a yellow onion here but red are good too – and pretty!

2 Tablespoons butter (I use that or coconut oil – make sure your choice is heat-stable.)

24 ounces cooked spinach (frozen may be used), well drained and chopped (I think fresh is easier than frozen – I hate squeezing out the frozen packages…and several times I’ve forgotten to thaw it in the first place!  Maybe it’s just me, but I think it tastes better too.)

24 ounces cooked artichoke hearts (I like the kind marinated in oil and spices – it gives such good flavor to the dip – but for those of you gluten-free, remember to check your labels!  Quarter them, if they aren’t already, and if they’re awfully big I’ll give them just a rough chop so there aren’t huge chunks in the dip.  Also, it can be kind of hard to find jars that double to the 24 ounces but I don’t worry about it.  The spinach too; I don’t measure exactly but just eyeball it.  If you like one more than the other be more generous with one than the other.)

¼ teaspoon dried thyme or ½ teaspoon fresh thyme (these measurements are from the original recipe – I actually use quite a bit more than that – but we like thyme.)

Salt and pepper to taste

(Like it spicy?  Try adding a little cayenne pepper or some red pepper flakes too.)

 Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.  Mash cream cheese and milk together in the bottom of a baking dish (I use a 9×13” cake pan) and set aside.  In a small skillet, sauté scallions or onion in butter or oil until golden.  Then I like to add my chopped fresh spinach and give it a quick sauté, just until it begins to wilt, before resuming the recipe.

In the baking dish, place sautéed onions, spinach, artichoke pieces, thyme, salt, and pepper; toss with cream cheese mixture.

Cover and bake 30 minutes until hot and bubbly.  This can be an appetizer, side, or main dish – depending on your mood.  I like to serve it as a main dish with a lettuce or fruit salad on the side, or – like tonight – as a side with a protein.  Tonight’s selection was an all-natural, gluten-free chicken sausage I had found while shopping.






The Good Book Cookbook, by Naomi Goodman, Robert Marcus, and Susan Woolhander; 1986, 1990, 1995; ISBN – 0-8007-1706-6