As a young cancer patient (and now survivor), there is nothing more important than eating meals packed with health benefits. Trying to keep my cells healthy and strong during chemo was my top priority. One of my favorite winter dishes during chemo (and still today) is my mom’s Lentil Shepherd’s Pie. This easy-to-cook vegetarian recipe is nutritious, delicious, and loaded with veggies and leafy greens. I love cooking with lentils because they are rich in iron, protein, folate (a B vitamin bone marrow needs to make blood cells), and fiber—a chemo patient’s best friend! It’s also the perfect comfort food for those bed days, when you need the comfort of your bed more than anything else.
- 1 cup uncooked brown or green lentils (rinsed and drained)
- 2 cups organic vegetable stock
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 3 shallots, diced
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon olive oil (or avocado oil)
- 1 tablespoon ground turmeric
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
- ¼ cup parsley, chopped
- 1 cup spinach, chiffonade (long, thin strips)
- 2 medium carrots, grated
- ½ sweet potato with skin, grated
- 8 mushrooms, chopped
- 1 ½ cups frozen yellow corn, rinsed
- 1 bell pepper, chopped
- salt & pepper to taste
- 10 yellow potatoes, thoroughly washed, peeled, and quartered
- ½ sweet potato, peeled and cut in half
- 1/8 cup butter (for yellow potatoes only; can be substituted with vegan butter or ghee)
- ( use organic ingredients when possible)
- 3 curly or redbor kale leaves, chiffonade
- 5 dandelion leaves, chiffonade
- 4 rainbow chard leaves, chiffonade
- Place sliced yellow potatoes in a large pot and fill with water until covered. Bring to a low boil on medium-high heat and let cook for 20 minutes until potatoes are soft.
- In a smaller pot, add the sweet potato and fill with water until covered, bring to a boil on med-high heat, and let cook for 10 minutes until soft.
- Once cooked, drain the yellow potatoes. In the same pot, use a large fork or masher to mash the potatoes. Add butter and salt to taste (for creamier potatoes, add more butter).
- Drain and rinse the sweet potatoes and mash with a large fork or masher.
- Preheat oven to 350 F.
- In a large saucepan over medium heat, sauté olive oil, shallots, and half of the diced onion until soft. Add thyme, mushrooms, 4 garlic cloves, turmeric, salt, and pepper. Cook for about 10 minutes, or until mushrooms sweat and most of the liquid has evaporated. Add grated carrots, grated sweet potato, and chopped bell pepper.
- In a small pot, cook lentils in vegetable broth with 1 shallot, 2 thyme leaves, 1 garlic clove, and the other half onion for 10 minutes. The lentils will absorb the nutrients and flavors.
- Remove only the lentils from the pot with a slotted spoon, and add them to the sautéed vegetables. Remove from stove, and add greens of choice. Salt and pepper to taste.
- Transfer mixture to a 9-by-13-inch, oven-safe baking dish. Layer the corn on top, followed by the mashed yellow potatoes. Using a fork, swirl in the mashed sweet potato.
- Bake in the oven for 20 to 30 minutes, or until mashed potatoes are lightly browned. Serve hot.
In order to prevent the growth of bacteria (which can be life-threatening for chemo patients), don’t wait too long before storing your cooked leftovers in the fridge—two hours at most. This is a great dish to store uncooked in the freezer as well.
Montreal-based blogger Lindsay Yarrow was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma at just 27 years old. Describing it as the worst day of her life, Lindsay learned that it is the friendships we nurture that truly lead to happiness. After her diagnosis, Lindsay found joy in yoga, meditation, and cooking. At @mycancerfood, Lindsay shares original healthy recipes, health and wellness tips, and snapshots of her life. “Cancer has made me tougher and even more resilient,” Lindsay says. “I’ve learned to live your life and do what makes you happy, because everything could change on a Monday.”