Novel Vegetable Recipes: Cauliflower Shepherd’s Pie

Today we are going to delve into sex psychology. Specifically, sex differences as they relate to food counselling.

As someone who coaches people through implementing dietary change, I never cease to be amazed at how drastic sex differences can be with our relationship to food. You really come to appreciate the need for using entirely different language depending on whether you are dealing with a male or a female client.

For example, when I suggest to my female clients that one of the keys to getting lean is avoiding sugar, I get dirtier looks than if I tell them to shave their heads. Whereas telling a guy to cut out sweets is generally met with little more than, “makes sense”. Conversely, discussing the importance of beer avoidance with some of my male clients can be more painful than having a “birds and the bees” talk with my grandmother.

Needless to say, there are certain stereotypes that hold a remarkable amount of truth to them. And one of the toughest stereotypes to overcome is that idea that vegetables are only a side dish.

Well, let me refine this last comment somewhat. One of the toughest stereotypes to overcome, IN MEN, is that vegetables are only a side dish.

If I had to summarize the typical conversation I have with my clients about the need to eat more vegetables, it would go down something like this:

Me: A great way to start eating more vegetables is to make one of your meals a salad…

Female client: Hey, no problem, I can do that. (This is followed by… )

How many cups of lettuce should I use for my salad?
Do you think yellow peppers are better for me than red peppers?
If I have my salad for dinner do I need to avoid carrots because of their sugar content?
Is low-fat Italian dressing better than low-fat Ranch?
Is a tomato considered a vegetable?

And so on and so forth…

Whereas for a male client:

Me: A great way to start eating more vegetables is to make one of your meals a salad…

Male client: Hahaha… wait, are you being serious right now? Dude, a salad is not a meal.

(Insert a good 5 minutes of protesting, followed by…)

How many servings of vegetables are there in Catalina dressing?

True story (at least the question about the Catalina dressing part). When it comes to convincing people to eat more vegetables, it is always way tougher working with males than females.

This is because, as a group, men base their food selection on only two criteria:

  1. Does it taste good?
  2. Is it convenient?

And for too many men, vegetables don’t taste great unless they accompanying a plate of chicken wings and can be dipped in blue cheese dressing.

Therefore, instead of pushing salads as a means to an end, I’ve had way more success just ripping off a standard male meal and “healthying it up”. And in the grand scheme of food, what is more quintessential man than Shepherd’s Pie?

Ground meat, corn and potatoes.

If the sound of those ingredients doesn’t excite your inner Caveman, than nothing will. Unfortunately, what is good for your inner Caveman isn’t necessarily so great for your waistline. Most people already eat too many grains and starches, so I’ll need to get rid of those if I’m to devise a physique friendly version.


My solution: swap out the potato for cauliflower and the corn for mushrooms & onions.

Bodybuilder’s Shepherd’s


1 lbs lean ground beef
2 head cauliflower
2 cups mushrooms
1 large onion
1 cup cottage cheese
1 cup black beans (optional)


Heat oven to 350 degrees.

1. Brown ground beef in a frying pan, then drain fat.
2. Bring 5-6 cups water to a boil in a large pot.
3. Cut cauliflower into flowerettes and place in boiling water.
4. Cook 5-10 minutes or until soft.
5. Thoroughly rinse black beans in a strainer until water runs clear.
6. Remove ground beef from frying pan.
7. Add chopped mushroom and onion, cook until transluscent.
8. Add black beans and ground beef to vegetable mixture.
9. Cook another 2 minutes, season with salt/pepper/chili seasoning if desired.
10. Remove cauliflower and drain the water.
11. Add cottage cheese and mash well.
13. Spread meat mixture in a 9 x 9 pan.
14. Layer cauliflower mixture on top.
15. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.

*Cooking times may vary, check after 20 minutes.

This version of the recipe keeps the vegetables pretty hidden. If you are more vegetable tolerant than most, then I encourage you to add a layer of frozen carrots, beans, or peas mixture as a middle layer. However, even just swapping out the potato for the cauliflower is a huge step forward.

The black beans are included as a cost effective way of increasing the volume of the recipe. For all you carb-a-phobes, you are welcome to leave them out. Personally, I think a little fibre and ultra low-glycemic carbs are good for you, but that’s just personal preference.

So there you have it. A vegetable recipe that:

  1. tastes great
  2. is super easy to make
  3. is loaded with high quality ingredients
  4. won’t get you dirty looks from the boys when you pull it out for lunch

And who ever said eating healthy was difficult?

Till next time, train hard and eat clean!