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Covert Paleofication - Imperfectly Paleo Chicken and Mushroom Pie

It's tough persuading the rest of the family to board the paleo train when it involves leaving behind so much they love and know. Goodbye to lifelong buddies - icecream, cheese, conventional cakes, cookies, cereal - need I go on?

I was met with fierce and frightened opposition at the merest hint of simply going dairy-free by the sweet toothed 6 year old in particular. The irony being I genuinely believe her eczema-prone skin would benefit from this dietary shift.

Hey ho, sometimes the best approach is by stealth rather than brute force. So as the main food purchaser and distributor in the household I try to make the healthier choice wherever possible without consultation. I regularly substitute and tweak recipes to paleo-ify them as much as possible (within the confines of sneaking under their radar of detection).

My husband's running joke is my physical inability to include the full amount of sugar in any baking recipe - ever. It was one step too far when I baked broccoli and courgette muffins using one mashed banana as the sole sweetening agent for a batch of a dozen.

Tonight i have been tasked with reinventing the remains of last night's whole slow cooked chicken. I have opted for including it in an easy stir fry for me with kale, broccoli, cabbage (ie whatever veg needs consuming most imminently) with the tried and trusted combo of ginger and chilli. I always aim to make double to economise on cooking time.

The following recipe is a paleo compromise for my family, who would not be appeased by such simple/spicy/fibrous fair. I have come up with the following: Chicken and Mushroom Pie, to be served with a side of broccoli, which is the children's favourite green.

The topping is half and half sweet potato and white potato mashed (i have even made ying yang style pies with half topped orange, half white, but so pointlessly time consuming in cooking 2 batches of mash and washing 2 pans!) I have tried to do only sweet potato (4yr old affectionately calls it 'orange potato' and actually prefers it to its less nutritious sibling) but there were too many complaints and requests for 'white potato mash like granny does it'!

The filling has plenty of healthful goodies hidden inside - wilted spinach, carrots, chopped cabbage, onions, mushrooms and (non-paleo) peas, which again the children love and I don't see any harm in moderation.

This will be popped in the oven for half hour and can be optionally popped under the grill to give a crunchy crispy topping.

Makes 1 large pie enough to serve 2 adults and 2 children

2 medium sweet potatoes or equivalent in volume
2 medium white potatoes or equivalent in volume
knob of butter
splash of milk (I tried coconut/ almond milk but they didnt like the taste!)
pinch of salt

1 tsp olive oil (or ghee, coconut oil)
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and diced
6-8 mushrooms sliced
handful of baby spinach leaves
1 pint chicken stock (i used the stock from yesterday's slow cooked chicken)
2 tbsp plain flour
salt and pepper to taste
Approx 2 cups cooked chicken roughly chopped into bite size chunks (I had about half a big roast chicken but honestly accuracy doesn't matter)
1/4 cup frozen peas

1. Peel potatoes, cut into even size pieces, cover with water, add big pinch of salt and boil until soft enough to mash. usually around 15mins depending on size of pieces.
2. Drain and mash the potatoes with a knob of butter and splash of milk, more or less depending on how you like your mash.
3. Heat 1tbsp olive oil in a saucepan. when hot, add onions and carrots, cook until lightly golden.
4. Add the plain flour stirring constantly for a minute then add the stock, stirring until well combined and thickened, with no lumps.
5. Add mushrooms and chicken, cook for a few minutes.
6. Add peas and spinach, continue to cook for a minute or so until spinach just wilts (do not overcook). 
7. Remove from heat. pour mixture into a casserole/ pie dish, ensure evenly distributed.

8. Top with mash and make it look pretty.

9. This one hasn't yet been baked but pop in pre-heated oven 150 degrees celsius for half hour - plus an extra 10-15mins longer if it's been in fridge.

Paleo Substitute Notes:
- Arrowroot can be used to thicken the stock instead of plain flour. I use this like a conventional cornflour thickener so it goes in AFTER the stock and needs to be firstly mixed with a little water to make a paste. You will not need as much arrowroot as plain flour.
- Milk and butter easily replaced with coconut oil/ ghee/ coconut milk.