Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Shepherd's Pie & Exercise while Sick

You know how I was just saying that the good thing about paying a lot for Crossfit is that it makes me not want to miss a workout??  Well that plan gets slightly derailed when you get sick!!

I hate colds!  They’re never bad enough to really stay home from work (well this time it came on Friday afternoon, so lucky me had my whole weekend to get through the “worst”), but you also feel just fatigued enough to not want to do anything else. 

I’m also not going to push myself and risk getting sicker just for the sake of burning calories, but still…it’s just aggravating. 

I made it to Crossfit last night, and luckily the workout was on the “milder” side, but I’m still extra tired today…AND missed out on a fun dinner with some of my favorite local bloggers at the new Hawthorne in Boston…double bummer! 

So, how sick is too sick to workout??  I can usually just tell by my body but you hear all sorts of things…

Things I’ve heard:

  • if it’s only above the neck it should be okay to workout.  As in, if your only congested in your nose, not your chest. 
  • Lots of strength training is bad because when you work your muscles you make small tears in them, then your immune system kicks in to repair.  If your sick, then this takes your immune system away from your illness and onto your muscles.
  • “sweat it out”

I’m sure there’s more, but those are the main ones that come to mind.  How do you decide?? 

Even though I’m sure I missed a fabulous dinner out tonight, I still had a delicious meal at home!

I made this version of Shepherds pie almost exactly 3 years ago!!  I still remember how much I liked it and have been meaning to make it since then.  I can’t believe it’s taken me THREE YEARS to re-make this dish!


It’s made with ground turkey and the topping is mashed sweet potatoes!



Sweet Potato & Turkey Shepherds Pie
adapted from 

  • 1 lb sweet potatoes (about 3 med size)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 lb lean ground turkey
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2-3 carrots, diced
  • 1 bulb fennel, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cup beef stock
  • 3/4 cup frozen peas (not necessary to thaw)
  • 2 tsp fresh thyme
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup water (or beef stock)
  • salt/pepper to taste

Cook sweet potatoes however you want.  I peeled, chopped, and boiled them.  You could also steam, or roast them whole then remove the flesh from the skin.  Mash the cooked sweet potatoes with 1T butter, and a little salt and pepper if desired.

Pre-heat oven to 350

In a large skillet heat olive oil over medium heat then add turkey.   Break apart the turkey and cook until the meat is cooked through.  Add the onion, carrots, celery, and fennel.  Sauté for 1 minute.  Then add the 1 1/2 cups beef broth.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for about 10-12 minutes to cook the vegetables.  Add peas and thyme. 

Combine the flour, Worcestershire sauce, and 1/4 cup broth in a small bowl.  Mix until there are no more lumps from the flour.  Bring the heat back up to med, and slowly pour in the flour mixture while stirring the pan.  Bring back to a boil and cook for another 1-2 minutes until sauce thickens.  It does not need to be very thick.  Add salt and pepper to taste. 

Pour mixture into a medium size casserole dish.  Preferable one that is deep.  My pan was about 10”x7.5” and 2” deep.  I wouldn’t of had enough sweet potatoes for anything bigger. 

Spread the sweet potatoes over the filling.  Bake for 20 minutes. 



I enjoyed mine served over a bed of baby spinach for some extra greens!IMG_3063

I love the sort of sweet/salty combo going on here.  Delicious healthy comfort food.


Also had an Emergen-C spritzer with dinner ;)



  1. FunandFearlessinBeantownJanuary 18, 2012 at 10:15 PM

    Feel better soon!

  2. oh no! I hope you feel much, much better! That Sherpards pie- yum yum. Sweet potatoes are one of my favorite foods. So good and comforting.

  3. Hope you're feeling better! Green veggies should help :)

  4. Emily @ A Cambridge StoryJanuary 19, 2012 at 8:00 AM

    Aw, feel better soon. I had to miss Hawthorne too and was really disappointed! As for workouts when I'm  sick, I agree it's hard to know! I give myself a break if my body is really tired/achey, which - to me - is a different feeling than a runny nose, etc. Also, when my morning workout could be sleep, I often go with the sleep to help speed recovery! 

  5. I make my own version of sweet potato shepherd's pie with ground turkey,'s a great take on the traditional!

  6. I missed Hawthorne too, but I know a bunch of people want to go back, so we should plan another gathering!

    I find that I always get sick when I finally give myself a moment to relax... so I'm usually sick on weekends, when I have time off, etc. It's nice to have the time to recover but it ruins any plans I've made.

  7. What an incredible idea! I love sweet potatoes on everything :) I definitely believe in listening to your body and if the thought of working out makes me feel even worse, I won't do it and will just rest. Otherwise, I try... UNLESS I'm a huge sniffly mess because there's nothing worse than working out next to someone who's sneezing and coughing at the gym!

  8. hope you're feeling better soon!  looks like a delicious shepards pie, especially on top of that spinach :)