kawarthaCHOW – Comfort Foods

A twist on two classic family foods: Shepherd's Pie and Brownie Bites

Shepherd's Pie
Shepherd's Pie

Getting back into the swing of things now that summer is behind us, I’m thinking about turning off the grill and turning on the oven.

The problem I find with comfort foods is that generally they are high in calories and low in fibre, so I’ve figured out a twist on some of the foods that families love and are easy make-ahead meals.

As a working mom, I find that putting some time in on the weekend getting ready for the week makes for a less stressful weekday.

And I actually get some time to enjoy my children — rather then just shuffling off to the nearest activity and drive-thru.

Here are a couple of ideas that I’d like to share with you. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

P.S. If you don’t tell them what’s in it, they’ll never know.

Shepherd’s Pie



  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 yellow zucchini, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 1 small sweet potato, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp (10 ml) sea salt
  • 2 tsp (10 ml) herbs de provence
  • 1/2 tsp (2 ml) ground pepper
  • 1 cup (250 ml) low-sodium chicken stock

  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 1 small celery root
  • 1/2 cup (118 ml) grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) low-fat yogurt or sour cream
  • 1/4 tsp (1 ml) salt
  • Dash nutmeg
  • Chopped fresh parsley for garnish


To make filling, cook meat, onions, vegetables, and garlic over medium heat until meat is cooked. Stir in herbs de provence, salt, and pepper. Add stock, reduce heat, and keep warm (liquid will reduce),

To make topping, place celery root in a large pot and cover with water by two inches (salt the water if desired). Bring to a boil. Add cauliflower and cook until tender (12-14 minutes). Drain vegetables in a colander and return to pot. Sprinkle 1/4 cup (59 ml) of parmesan over the vegetables. Add yogurt, salt, and nutmeg. Mash with a potato masher until smooth (unlike potatoes, the mash does not get really smooth).

Spread filling in a two quart (2 litre) casserole dish. Place cauliflower mash over top and sprinkle with remaining parmesan cheese. Bake for 25 minutes in a 375° F (190° C) oven.

Note: if you are making this dish ahead of time, the internal temperature should be 180° F (82° C) before serving**

Gluten-free Fudgy Beet Brownie Bites

Brownie Bite (photo: Olga Massov)
Brownie Bite (photo: Olga Massov)

  • 3/4 cup (177 ml) unsweetened cocoa
  • 1/4 cup (59 ml) brown rice flour
  • 1 tsp (5 ml) baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp (2 ml) salt
  • 1/2 tsp (2 ml) ground cinnamon
  • 1 medium red beet, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 2/3 cup (158 ml) low-fat plain yogurt
  • 2/3 cup (158 ml) unrefined cane sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1 tsp (5 ml) pure vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 350° F (150° C). Coat a 24 mini-muffin pan with non-stick spray and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder, rice flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon and set aside.

Put chopped beets in a food processor and pulse until very fine. Measure out 3/4 cup (177 ml).

In a larger mixing bowl, combine the beets, yogurt, sugar, egg , and vanilla. Stir briefly until incorporated. Stir in the dry ingredients.

Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin pan and bake in the centre of the oven for 10 minutes.

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Elaine McCarthy
Elaine McCarthy is the Co-ordinator of the PC Cooking School, located upstairs at the Great Canadian Superstore at Lansdowne Place in Peterborough. Elaine has been cooking professionally for over 20 years and running the cooking school for five years. A mother of two girls, she has a passion for healthy eating and for teaching children about the importance of the food that we consume. Be sure to check our column about the PC Cooking School and facility rental. You can follow Elaine on Twitter at @PlanxtyIrwin.