In an extract from her Fast Diet Recipe Book, Mimi Spencer shares a lovely and light recipe for cottage pie without the calories

Any products in this article have been selected editorially however if you buy something we mention, we may earn commission

Mimi Spencer  is an advocate of the 5:2 diet , or ‘intermittent fasting’ which involves eating healthily for five days and ‘fasting’ on around 600 calories a day for two days of the week. The health benefits have proved impressive, as have the incredible tales of weight loss from Mimi herself and other Fast Diet followers.

In her Fast Diet Recipe Book  (RRP £14.99, Amazon ), Mimi Spencer creates delicious recipes that allow you to eat well while watching your calorie intake. For a winter warmer, try this nutritious lightweight cottage pie.

Lightweight Cottage Pie

Calorie count: 243

Serves four

The pleasingly low calorie count here is achieved by swapping the usual topping of buttered potato mash for a lighter celeriac and leek lid, and using less meat than usual. The idea remains the same – a pot of unctuous loveliness to see you through a cold snap.


oil for spraying

250g extra-lean minced beef

1 large onion, diced

2 carrots, peeled and diced

2 celery stalks, finely chopped

1 400g tin chopped tomatoes

2 tbsps tomato purée

1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

1 bay leaf

1 tsp fresh thyme leaves, chopped

salt and pepper

300ml boiling water

2 Oxo cubes

500g celeriac, peeled and cubed

100g half-fat crème fraîche

1 tsp groundnut oil

2 young leeks, trimmed and sliced (pound-coin width)


Preheat oven to 200°C/400°F. Spray a large pan with oil and brown minced beef. Add mirepoix (diced onion, celery and carrot) and allow to soften for 10 minutes. Stir in chopped tomatoes, tomato puree, Worcestershire sauce, bay leaf, thyme, salt and pepper, water and Oxo cubes. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, boil celeriac until very tender, drain and mash with creme fraiche until as smooth as you wish. Heat oil in a pan and gently saute leeks, then add them to the celeriac mash; season well. Pour beef into a shallow ovenproof dish and top with celeriac mixture. Bake for 20-30 minutes,  until top is golden brown.

NB: Using celeriac instead of mashed potato reduces the calories by 75%