This post is sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona.
Have you noticed how most of our holidays are food focused? And, it’s not just holidays, during big moments, both good and bad, we gather around food. I still remember sharing meals with my family as a child.
Our older children who are now adults reminisce about their favorite childhood meals. The meals we share with our kids will have a lasting impact on them. I believe creating healthy meals and enjoying them together will make your family stronger, both physically and relationally.
If you are looking for a meal that will bring a family together, look no further than this Farmers Market Shepherd’s Pie. It’s perfect for helpers!
I bought these beautiful veggies on a recent trip to the farmers market as part of Blue Cross Blue Shield’s Nourishing Arizona campaign. If you want your family to get interested in eating more veggies, a trip to the farmers market is a great start!
I love that this whole meal (except maybe the lentils and spices) are grown locally! My son is slightly obsessed with wanting to become a gardener to grow all our food. We aren’t anywhere close to that but he does a great job of helping pick out fresh produce.
If your kids want to help and are old enough to use a knife, cutting veggies is an easy way for them to help. If not, they can wait until it’s time to mash the sweet potatoes. Even toddlers can help with the measuring after you do the cutting.
You can cook some parts of this Shepherd’s Pie in the Instant Pot. I cooked the potatoes in the Instant Pot while the other ingredients cooked on the stove. If you don’t have an electric pressure cooker, you can bake or boil your potatoes. If baking, just wash your potatoes first, no need to peel them because you’ll be able to scoop the potato out of the skins. If boiling, peel and cut into manageable pieces.
Farmers Market Shepherd’s Pie
This recipe is perfect for potlucks, especially if you don’t know if there will be healthy options.
- 2 cups fresh green beans, ends trimmed and cut into bite sized pieces
- 2 cups sliced carrots
- 1 cup sliced celery
- 4 cloves garlic, divided
- 1 cup onion, diced and divided
- 4 large sweet potatoes or yams
- ¼ cup soy milk or other non-dairy milk
- 1 cup dry lentils + 2 cups water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 Tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 2 Tablespoons gluten-free baking mix (you may substitute flour if you aren’t gluten-free)
- 1 ½ cups soy milk
Cooking the Veggies
Put 1 cup of water into a large skillet. Add your cut green beans, sliced carrots, sliced celery, half the garlic and half the onion. Cover with the lid.
Cook the veggies for 10-15 minutes until they are tender-crisp or to your desired crispness.
Pour the veggies into a colander and let the extra liquid drip off until time to assemble. Use the skillet to make the sauce.
Cooking the Lentils
While the veggies are cooking, start cooking your lentils in a medium saucepan.
Bring 2 cups of water to a boil, then add 1 cup of dry lentils and the remaining garlic and onion. You may season them with salt, pepper and other spices.
The lentils will need to cook for about 15 minutes. Most or all of the water will be absorbed. If not, carefully drain it off.
Cooking the Sweet Potatoes
I like cooking potatoes in the Instant Pot because it’s fast and easy. If you have an Instant Pot, wash the potatoes and place them on the wire rack with one cup of water below. Then cook them on manual for 15 minutes with natural pressure release.
Once done and cooled enough to handle, remove the potatoes from the pot, carefully remove the skin, then mash them with ¼ cup of soy milk and a sprinkle of salt.
Cooking the Sauce
The sauce requires constant attention, don’t start it until you can focus on it. Add 1 teaspoon of salt, garlic powder, onion powder to a bowl. Then add 2 Tablespoons of nutritional yeast and gluten-free baking mix (or flour if you aren’t gluten-free) and mix them together.
Dump that mixture into your skillet. Add 1 ½ cups soy milk and whisk all together. When the mixture starts to clump, alternate using a silicone spatula to smooth it out and scrape the bottom of the skillet, and a whisk to stir it up. You’ll need to keep stirring and scraping until the sauce is thick.
Assembling the Shepherd’s Pie
In a pie pan or 9×9 casserole dish, pour your cooked lentils. I like to take a fork and press them into the bottom to help them stick together a little.
Then, pour in the veggies that have been draining in the colander. Spread them around so they evenly cover the lentil layer.
Pour the sauce over the veggie layer. Give the casserole dish a little shake so that the sauce settles around the veggies.
Carefully scoop out one spoonful of mashed sweet potatoes at a time and plop it on top of the sauce layer. Repeat this until the whole casserole is covered in mashed sweet potatoes. Then you can use a spoon to smooth out the sweet potato layer.
Pop this in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes while everyone gets washed up for dinner.
You can adapt this recipe and make it using your favorite veggies too! Take a look at this infographic from Blue Cross Blue Shield’s Nourishing Arizona campaign for more tips on picking fresh produce.
Creating healthy meals with your family will make a big impact in their future. Eating healthy meals creates a culture where being healthy is a priority. Using real, whole foods and teaching your kids to prepare them will set them up for healthy eating later in life.
It may not be possible to eat every meal together but making it a part of your family’s routine is worth the effort. Years from now, your kids will tell stories about family traditions and the foods they remember eating, let’s make those good memories!