Crunchy nut cottage pie – a delicious Whole30 paleo recipe

I’m on day four of the Whole30 Challenge and I’m feeling cautiously fabulous. By now, according to the challenge timeline, I should want to ‘kill all the things’. But – aside from totally normal fleeting moments of disdain or fury (people who stop at the top of tube escalators, people who say 100 words when they could see 15, that sort of thing), I’ve felt pretty fucking great.

J and I have both noticed we’ve not had our usual peaks and troughs of energy – no 3 o’clock slumps where I’d normally hunt down a biscuit or two with a cup of tea to keep me going. I’ve had a pretty full-on week and have really felt I had the energy to power through it.

I’m wholly prepared for this to come to a sticky end fairly soon . I have a feeling I’ve got off lightly because I wasn’t actually eating a huge amount of the ‘non-compliant’ stuff beforehand – we weren’t that carb-heavy in our everyday eating and I’d been eating more protein / good fats of late.

But stay tuned; it’s entirely possible that by Sunday I’ll have turned into a fire-breathing demon. I think by week 2 we’re going to start missing dairy in particular – J is fairly attached to his coffee machine and the variety of milky drinks it magically conjures up, I love a good cup of tea, and we’re both fairly partial to a sprinkling of parmesan….on top of…well, almost anything, really.

I really wanted to make sure our first week was full of interesting meals and tasty recipes, otherwise we’d never believe we could do it – or that it was something we wanted to stick out. Tonight’s recipe was so yummy I just couldn’t resist sharing it with you!

Crunchy nut cottage pie

Crunchy nut cottage pie2

Fear not – no crunchy nut corn flakes were used in the making of this recipe. I wanted to re-create a hearty, home-cooked classic that fit within the realms of Whole30 / the Paleo lifestyle, but that is just as satisfying and comforting as the ‘real deal’.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I tend to go for a generous (read, enormous) helping of cheese on anything oven baked. Not having the option for that, I wanted to find an alternative topping that added flavour and some interesting texture to a meal that risks feeling a little sloppy.

Cue, my new favourite secret weapon; blitzed up nuts and seeds – it takes this dish from a weeknight staple to a firm favourite.

Crunchy nut cottage pie (serves 4 with veg, or 2 hungry people)


  • 400g lean beef mince
  • 2 large carrots, sliced or diced as you prefer
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 200ml homemade chicken stock (stock cubes are full of additives and non-compliant)
  • Lots of black pepper and a 1/4 teaspoon salt

For the mash

  • 2 medium /3 small sweet potatoes
  • Pinch of cinnamon for the adventurous

For the golden crunchy topping

  • Roughly 10 almonds (skin on is fine)
  • 1 tbsp sunflower seeds
  • 1 tbsp pumpkin seeds


  1. Peel your sweet potatoes, and get them boiling on the hob. Preheat the oven to 200C / Gas mark 6.
  2. Heat the coconut oil on a medium – high heat on the hob, and add the carrots and onions. Cook them for around 5 minutes until they start to soften.
  3. While they’re softening, blitz the nuts and seeds together in a food processor for a couple of minutes on high until you have a nice chunky crumb mixture.
  4. Add the mince, and brown in the pan for 5 minutes until all the pink is gone.
  5. Add in the herbs and spices, chopped garlic and seasoning, along with the bay leaves. Simmer for another 5 minutes.
  6. Once your sweet potatoes are nice and soft, pop your beef mix into an oven dish, mash the sweet potatoes (add a little extra virgin olive oil and a pinch of cinnamon).
  7. Layer the beef mixture into the dish, and spread the sweet potato mash on top, followed by a generous grating of black pepper, then the crunchy topping.
  8. Pop it in the oven for 15 minutes for the nuts to brown, et voila!

I guarantee you this is a filling, tasty dinner that can’t fail to satisfy. Serve with a good portion of greens and you’re good to go.


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