As I’m sure you all have noticed, the weather is definitely acting more like winter lately. Normally I’m very happy to be outside, preferring to spend my lunch break on a long walk than indoors in the cafeteria, but lately it’s been getting brutal! Now, more than any other time of year, it is so important to make it to the gym and raise your body temperature and get your circulation moving. I find that I automatically tense up when I’m walking around in the cold, which makes me feel tired and uninterested in exercising. I motivate myself by remembering that I will feel ten times better after a workout, even if it’s a short run or a gentle yoga class. Plus, exercise is a proven way to raise your mood and reduce anxiety levels – something that you can need more of in the winter, especially if you suffer from Season Affective Disorder (SAD).

In addition to making sure that I get moving every day in some way, I’ve also been making some healthier versions of wintertime comfort food. Because probably the best thing about winter (in my opinion) is how good it feels once you’re warm inside. The other night I trimmed the fat from a Shepard’s Pie recipe with really good results.

Shepard’s Pie


  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
  • 1 pound ground lean ground beef
  • 1 cup beef or chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 2 pounds potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks – I used a combination of sweet potato and russet, which gave it a really nice color, and a slightly sweet taste
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup skim milk
  • salt to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 375° F.
  2. In a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, heat the oil, then add the onion, carrot, and meat. Cook until browned, 8 to 10 minutes.
  3. Add the broth, tomato paste, and herbs. Simmer until the juices thicken, about 10 minutes, then add the peas.
  4. Pour the mixture into a 1 1/2-quart baking dish; set aside.
  5. Meanwhile, bring the potatoes to a boil in salted water. Cook until tender, about 20 minutes; drain.
  6. Mash the potatoes with the butter, milk, and salt.
  7. Spread them over the meat mixture, then crosshatch the top with a fork.
  8. Bake until golden, 30 to 35 minutes.


Do you have a favorite “lean” wintertime comfort food?