I love eating vegetables, and often choose not to eat meat, but sometimes you really just crave some good ol’ meat and potatoes. This Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie still has ALL the veggies to make it a Whole30 and paleo dinner recipe that will satisfy your whole family– even the picky eaters! As a bonus, this recipe makes a TON of food so you can eat off of it all week!
I really don’t have a special place in my heart for sweet potatoes like many people do. Don’t get me wrong – they are delicious and I love cooking with them, but they just don’t satisfy the part of me that loves potatoes. That is, except for in this recipe.
Sweet potatoes have a ton of added benefits over other potatoes, making them much friendlier for a number of diets. In case you thought that maybe you might not get another science lesson here, think again! (Or, if you just cant right now, click “Jump to Recipe.” I won’t be offended).
Why Sweet Potatoes are Unique
Ready to have your mind blown? You sure?
Sweet potatoes and regular potatoes, say, russets, are not even from the same plant family. DUN DUN DUN DUN!
What does that mean?
Normal potatoes belong to the nightshade family, which is also the plant family housing peppers and tomatoes. There are some people who have an allergy to nightshades, mostly because of a natural pesticide they contain known as glycoalkaloids. Don’t worry – humans domesticated potatoes around 10,000 years ago, meaning they bred out most of the naturally occurring pesticides found in potatoes. That means that most people who eat nightshades today do not have any adverse effects from eating them, although if you’re part of the group of people that nightshades do bother, regular potatoes might give you some issues.
Sweet potatoes are actually related to the plant family Convolvulaceae, which you might know as the morning glory family. They are considered to be root vegetables, more closely related to other root vegetables like carrots. If you’re someone who has a sensitive gut, or has a sensitivity to nightshades, sweet potatoes are a heavenly gift from above – or, more accurately, below the ground.
Sweet Potatoes are often deemed “healthier” than white potatoes
I could honestly give a few resources on this, but I think it’s easiest to just check out this graphic from the Cleveland Clinic:
Despite sweet potatoes having more sugar (which, I know you saw), the added benefits of more fiber, fewer calories, an INCREDIBLE amount of Vitamin A, added calcium and manganese (good for healing wounds), many scientists will agree that sweet potatoes just take the cake. Isn’t that the coolest?
Mentioning the nutritional content of sweet potatoes also leads us down another road– the glycemic index. If you’re unfamiliar with what a glycemic index (GI) is, consider yourself lucky. The GI essentially is a rating on how the sugar in a food is processed by your body, thus affecting your blood sugar levels. The higher the index, the stronger impact is has on your blood sugar levels. The lower the index, the less impact it has on your sugar levels.
Sweet potatoes generally have a lower GI rating than white potatoes, although how the potatoes are prepared affects its rating. For anyone watching their blood sugar levels, sweet potatoes might have as much as half the GI rating of white potatoes, making them a better choice as far as blood sugar levels are concerned.
If you’re not convinced by the science that sweet potatoes aren’t a great thing to add to your diet, maybe this recipe will give you a tasty reason to add them to your plate. This is one of the easiest recipes we make in our house, and it’s such a hit that it’s one of the few we make often.
How to make Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie
One more added benefit to this delicious recipe is that it can be made all year long, mostly due to the fact that many of the ingredients are found at low prices throughout all four seasons. If you are on the Whole30 or are doing a paleo diet, you know that fresh fruits and vegetables can get expensive. Feel free to substitute any of these vegetables for frozen ones if you have them, but honestly I have never had any difficulty finding these ingredients at an affordable price.
What you will need to make this recipe:
- oven-safe casserole dish
- large skillet
- hand mixer (preferred, but not required)
- large pot for potatoes
The ingredients to this shepherd’s pie can easily be added to with what you have in your fridge. I sometimes include more than what I’ve included in this list, but these are my go-to staples for this recipe:
- sweet potatoes
- unsweetened plain almond milk
- ground turkey
- yellow squash
- olive oil
- salt and pepper
This recipe has a few steps to it that can be done over a few days if you’re super busy. I sometimes chop all the vegetables the day before, or even cook the ground turkey with them the day before just to save some time. If you’re okay with taking a few minutes more the day of, more power to ya!
If you’re making everything the day of, the first step is to peel and chop the potatoes so that they can be boiled. Let them boil while you chop the other vegetables and prepare the rest of the shepherd’s pie.
Heat some olive oil in your large skillet over medium heat. Add your chopped carrots to the mixture. Stir so that they do not burn, and add the onion after about 10-15 minutes. Depending on how thickly you cut your carrots, they could take more or less time to cook. Add in your chopped onion, and allow that to cook for about 5-10 minutes, or until translucent.
At this point, I usually start preheating my oven to 350°F at this point so that it’s ready to go when I’m done cooking the vegetables and meat!
I don’t have a pan that fits all the veggies I use for this recipe, so I normally then set aside the carrots and onions into the casserole dish and then again add some olive oil over medium heat. I then add my chopped zucchini and yellow squash, and gently stir so it does not burn. Once those are cooked, I then add those vegetables to those already cooked in the casserole dish and stir them in.
Lastly, put some olive oil in the pan and cook the ground turkey in a pan over medium heat. Add salt and pepper to taste. Once the ground turkey is cooked, add that into your casserole dish with the vegetables and stir it in until all the vegetables and meat are evenly distributed.
By the time all your meat and vegetables have been cooked, your potatoes should be done boiling. Carefully remove them from the pot and drain out the hot water. Then in a large bowl (or, if your large pot is not too awkward), use a hand mixer to mix the boiled sweet potatoes, ghee butter, and almond milk. Add more salt and pepper to taste. Once your creamy mashed potatoes are all set, spoon out the mashed sweet potatoes on top of your mixture. Spread it evenly over the casserole dish.
Place your casserole dish in the oven for about 20 minutes. Once it is removed, allow it to cool for a few minutes before serving. I know it might be tempting to not put the shepherd’s pie in the oven for 20 minutes, but this is one of those recipes where you want all the flavors to come together to really enjoy it.
This recipe travels super well as it has everything you want to have a complete meal, and easily is heated up in hotel microwaves. We often travel with this shepherd’s pie, and love it all year long!
Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie (Whole30, Paleo)
- hand mixer (optional)
- casserole dish
- large pot for boiling potatoes
- large skillet
- 4 large sweet potatoes
- 1 tbsp ghee
- 3/4 cup unsweetened plain almond milk
- 1 lb ground turkey
- 2 medium zuchhini
- 2 medium yellow squash
- 4 medium carrots
- 1 onion
- salt and pepper to taste
- 3 tsp olive oil, separated
- Peel the sweet potatoes and chop them into smaller pieces so they cook faster. About 2 inches in diameter.
- Place sweet potatoes in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil.
- While waiting for the potatoes to boil, chop your other vegetables (onion, carrots, zucchini, yellow squash)
- Preheat your oven to 350°F.
- Heat your skillet over medium heat and add 2 tsp olive oil. Add in carrots and let them cook for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally
- Add in your chopped onions. Cook until translucent. Once both carrots and onions are cooked, add zucchini and yellow squash.
- Once all of the vegetables are cooked, place them in a casserole dish that is oven-safe. Set aside.
- Reheat your skillet over medium heat. Add 1 tsp olive oil and add the ground turkey. Season with salt and pepper, and stir occasionally to prevent burning.
- Once the ground turkey is cooked, stir it into the vegetable mixture that is in the casserole dish.
- Once the potatoes have boiled, drain them and put them in a large bowl.
- Add ghee, almond milk, salt and pepper. Mix using a hand mixer or potato masher until blended.
- Using a spoon or spatula, spread the mashed potatoes over the top of the vegetables and ground turkey in the casserole dish.
- Place the casserole dish in the oven for 20 minutes.
- After 20 minutes, remove the casserole dish and let it to cool before serving.