A healthy take on Shepherd’s Pie

4 May 2016 | Jacqui Jones
Shepherds pie

I come from a family of food lovers. Our in-joke at gatherings is to get to the table fast once the food is served – especially dessert – or miss out.

The older generations, while eating reasonable well overall, weren’t especially concerned about what they ate – until my grandfather retired and found his belly was so large he couldn’t do up his shoelaces.

A bushwalk became part of his daily routine. And his diet was up for review. Red meat-dominated meals were regularly replaced with those favouring lean white meats and lots of vegies, which meant a change in several of Nan’s tried and true recipes. The benefits soon became apparent, most notably in Grandad’s shrinking waistline, as well a saving on the grocery bills (veg being cheaper than meat).

Knowing what we do now about the cancer prevention benefits of a healthy diet, especially one rich in fruit, vegetables and fibre that limits red meat, we’re all for healthy family meals.

We do still love our desserts, but now with added fruit.

One of our new family favourites comes from the Cancer Council NSW Eat It To Beat It program recipe collection.

It’s for a healthy shepherd’s pie, replacing Nan’s more meat, less veg version, to boost the healthy, cancer-preventing food content (i.e. extra veg).


Healthy Shepherd’s Pie recipe

Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 45 minutes
Serves: 4
Contains 18 vegetable serves


  • 420g tin chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 medium onion
  • 400g beef mince
  • 2 medium carrots, diced
  • 1 medium zucchini, diced
  • ½ cup of peas
  • ½ cup of corn kernels
  • ½ tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp of reduced-salt soy sauce
  • 2 tsp tomato paste
  • 1 reduced-salt beef stock cube
  • ¾ cup water
  • 1 tsp flour with 2 tbsp water
  • 3 large potatoes, peeled
  • Fresh or dried thyme to taste



  1. Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C fan-forced).
  2. Boil the potatoes until tender.
  3. Meanwhile cook onion, carrot and zucchini in a fry pan with oil. Add the meat. While cooking break up the lumps, add sauces, tomato paste, thyme and pepper. Add the peas and corn.
  4. Dissolve the beef stock cube in water and add to the pan. Stir through, reducing the heat and cook covered for 30 minutes.
  5. Mix flour and water to form a paste. Remove saucepan from heat, stir paste into the mixture and then return to stove to cook for one minute.
  6. Mash the potatoes with a small amount of reduced-fat milk and margarine.
  7. Spoon mince into shallow dish and cover with the potato.
  8. Bake for 30 minutes.
  9. Serve with vegetables of your choice.



Top the mashed potato with 50g of reduced-fat cheese before baking in the oven.


For more meal ideas go to cancercouncil.com.au/recipes