Healthy Shepard’s Pie

Healthy Shepard’s Pie

Like anyone else, I love comfort food. Unfortunately (or fortunately?), my body doesn’t love it and I feel like crap after eating anything that’s too heavy. But instead of wallowing in my food sorrow, I got creative and tried to create something with the same flavors and textures, but with healthier ingredients that our bodies will thrive on.

I was thinking back to my childhood, and one of my favorite dishes  my mom used to make me was Shepard’s pie. Since I don’t eat meat or cheese anymore, that only leaves the potato and pea layer…which doesn’t sound too appetizing.

So in this version, I subbed the ground meat with mushrooms and lentils, so it still has that great meaty texture, but way less fat and way more fiber.  I also created a “cheese” sauce which is cashew based and uses nutritional yeast (superfood) and the sea vegetable agar agar (another superfood).

healthy vegan shepards pie turnips

Potatoes aren’t inherently bad for you, but most of their nutritional value is in the skin, and I don’t really care for skins in mashed potatoes.  So I subbed turnips for the potatoes, which have about half of the calories of potatoes, so it’s not quite so carb heavy.

healthy vegan shepards pie

There’s a lot of multitasking involved in this recipe, so a sous-chef might be a good idea. But I managed to create it solo and served it to a dinner party of 4 non-vegetarians who happily went for seconds, leaving no leftovers.  So I would say my experiment was a success!

If you try this out, I’d love to hear what you think in the comments!

Healthy Shepard’s Pie


For the "potato" layer:

  • 8 cups of chopped turnips 2-4 turnips,depending on size
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 tsp garlic
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • dash black pepper

For the "meat"/veggie layer:

  • 5 cups chopped mushrooms
  • 1 can black lentils drained & rinsed
  • 1 bag frozen peas
  • 1 cup veggie stock
  • 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper

For the "cheese" layer:

  • 2 cups cashews
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1 tbsp agar agar
  • 1/3 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika


  • Soak the cashews in enough water to cover and set aside. Preheat the oven to 325.
  • Peel and chop the turnips. Put them in a steamer and cook for 15 minutes or until they are soft enough to mash up.
  • Finely chop up the mushrooms (you can throw them in a blender for a few seconds, just don't puree them). Add them to a large pan with the veggie stock paprika, salt and pepper and let simmer on medium for about 10 minutes. Turn the heat down to low, add the lentils and cook for another 20 minutes. Add the peas for the last 3-4 minutes. Most of the liquid should be cook off and the mushrooms should have shrunk down quite a bit.
  • Mix the cashews and 1 1/2 cups of water in a food processor until it forms a cream.
  • Mash the turnips in a bowl. Add 1/4 cup of the cashew cream mixture, the nutritional yeast, garlic, salt and pepper and mix well. Set aside.
  • Add the rest of the cashew cream to a pot on low with the other cup of water, the agar agar, nutritional yeast, salt and pepper. Cook for at least 15 minutes, stirring frequently. This should start to thicken up quite a bit, but still be creamy.
  • When everything is cooked, start layering your pie in a casserole dish or bowl with a flat bottom. You will be making 2 layers of each item. Start with half of the turnips, then add the mushrooms/peas, then the cheese sauce, and repeat.
  • Place in the oven and cook for 15 minutes (at 325).
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