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This blog started as a way for me to share my recipes + culinary adventures, tips for vibrant health + happiness, thoughts on the latest developments in nutritional medicine + the low down on the Sydney wholefoods scene and beyond...

Root vegetable gratin and mash - 2 favourite comfort foods



Potatoes and sweet potatoes can be such comfort foods if prepared well. My kids and I love them: (a) oven-roasted cooked in butter; (b) oven- roasted cooked in broth; (c) made into wedges/ chips cooked in coconut oil; (d) made into a creamy gratin; (e) mashed with cream and butter.

Having these 5 easy go-to dishes adds variety and keeps the kids and taste-buds happy!

If you're new to a paleo or ancestral diet and fear that root vegetables are going to tip you over into instant fat gain territory because of their high starch content, you might want to check out one of my earlier blog posts here about the dangers of going too low carb (mistake numero uno). I eat root vegetables (along with above ground vegetables) every day. And with a bit of portion control (this is key for me) I am far from overweight. As Kate Callaghan, my dear friend, colleague and holistic dietician, so succinctly stated in an email to me the other day, we need carbohydrates to:

1. Convert our inactive thyroid hormone (T4) to our active hormone (T3). Without it, we could experience thyroid problems
2. Feed the beneficial bacteria in our gut
3. Avoid too much strain on the adrenals (if you go too low carb you will risk running into cortisol issues)
4. Fuel high intensity exercise

Kate also reminded me that while very low-carb might work for some people (e.g. people with diabetes, obesity, insulin resistance, SIBO and those requiring a ketogenic diet), for most healthy people, it is not helpful and can in fact be harmful. (As a side note- I encourage you to  subscribe to Kate's blog and if you live in NZ you should go see her!)

My potato and sweet potato recipes are loaded with healthy saturated fats which not only taste delicious but serve to:

(A) Slow down the release of sugars found in starchy veggies,
(B) Aid in assimilating the fat soluble vitamins and minerals found in vegetables and
(C) signal to the body that it's full and prevent you from over-eating (that's the leptin hormone doing its job when you eat satiating foods). So now that we are all (hopefully) not fearful of potatoes or sweet potatoes, let's cook!


Starting with the gratin.....don't let the name and its impressive presentation fool you. It only take a few minutes to assemble then less than an hour in the oven and it's done. It's a great one to pull out for dinner parties too as its looks so pretty with all of its layers. I love the sweetness and creaminess of the root veggies combined with the texture and flavour of the crunchy cooked garlic:

Potato and Sweet Potato Gratin:


  • 500g in total of potatoes and sweet potatoes (you can use equal amounts of both or I typically use ¾ sweet potatoes and ¼ potatoes)
  • 250g runny cream (eg Barambah, Elgar, Ivyhome)
  • 4 cloves (20g) garlic, diced
  • Unrefined salt
  • Pepper
  • Dried thyme (I bought mine from OVViO - The Organic Lifestyle Store at Paddington 5 ways).
  • Butter for greasing pie dish


Liberally grease round pie dish with butter.

Peel the root vegetables and slice them thinly. Arrange them in layers in the pie dish, alternating between the potatoes and sweet potatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Pour the cream over the vegetables. Scatter the garlic on top. Add a scattering of thyme leaves.

Bake uncovered for 50 minutes at 150 degrees or until root vegetables are soft (test by inserting a skewer or fork into them).  If the vegetables are browning too much, cover in foil.


Serves 4 as a side.

Mashed potato or mashed sweet potato needs no introduction. Here's how I make it this staple side dish:



  • 3 potatoes or 1 small sweet potato, chopped (approx 440g)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons cream fraiche or cream
  • 1/8 teaspoon unrefined salt
  • Cracked pepper
  • Gruyere or reggiano cheese, grated, to serve (optional)


Steam potato or sweet potato until very soft. Place in jug or canister together with the butter, cream, salt and pepper and blend with hand held blender until well mixed. Season with extra salt or pepper to taste.  If mixture is too thick add more butter or cream or a dash of whole milk. I like mine quite thick. Transfer to serving bowl and top with a handful of grated cheese if desired.

Serves 5-6 as a side