Celery Root, Cottage Pie, And How Carbs May Hinder Vitamin A Detox

Celery root, also known as celeriac, is my favorite substitute for mashed potatoes! It makes a perfect topping for one of the ultimate comfort foods, Cottage Pie.

Celery Root, Cottage Pie, And How Carbs May Hinder Vitamin A Detox
Cottage Pie (Photo by Judy Barnes Baker)

Celery Root Puree

You may have encountered puréed celery root as a side dish in a fancy restaurant, but it is not well known to home cooks. Think of it as mashed potatoes with a pedigree. This recipe is based on the one in my book, Nourished, but this new version is easier and the taste and texture are even better. Celery root has advantages over potatoes because it is lower in carbs and it is not a Nightshade. It also has advantages over cauliflower because it is high in B-complex vitamins such as pyridoxine, pantothenic acid, niacin, riboflavin, and thiamin, and low in sulfurous compounds. (See Notes, below, for why that may or may not be important to you.) There are more recipes using celery root in the book.


  • 4 cups diced celery root (about 1½ pounds after trimming roots and tops)
  • 1 clove garlic or ⅓ teaspoon of garlic powder, optional, see Notes below.
  • 2 tablespoons powdered egg white, aka egg white protein powder
  • ½ teaspoon of cream of tartar or 1 teaspoon of lemon juice, optional, to prevent formation of di-sulfates when used for Cottage Pie*
  • 1 tablespoons oil (like macadamia oil) or ghee/butter
  • Salt and pepper

Wash the celery root well, peel it, and cut it into cubes. Place celery root and garlic clove (if using) in a medium pan. Cover with water and cook, covered, until very tender, about 20 to 25 minutes. Rinse and drain. Blot dry on paper towels, pressing out the liquid.

Purée the celery root and garlic (if using) in a food processor until smooth.

Add the egg white powder, garlic powder (if using) and the oil or butter to the processor bowl; scrape down the bowl with a spatula and process until the mixture has the consistency of mashed potatoes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve at once or return to the pan and cook and stir over low heat briefly to reheat. Correct the seasoning and serve, topped with a more oil, ghee/butter, or gravy.

Servings: 4 to 6

Nutrition data for each of 6 servings:
Calories: 69; Fat: 2.6g; Protein: 3.1g; Carbs: 9.9g; Fiber: 1.8g; Net Carbs: 8.1g; Vit. A RAE: 0 (RAE stands for Retinol Activity Equivalent.)

Cottage Pie

Use lamb instead of beef and it becomes Shepherd’s Pie.


  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 2½ teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil or other good fat
  • 4 or 5 mushrooms, cut into chunks
  • 1 cup beef bone broth
  • 1½ teaspoon dried rosemary leaves*
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1½ teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of arrowroot powder or tapioca flour
  • Celery Root Puree for topping (Made by recipe above or one of the options listed below.**)


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Heat oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add meat and cook until no longer pink, breaking it up with a wooden spoon and stirring frequently, about 5 minutes.

Add diced celery, onion powder, mushrooms, rosemary, thyme, salt, and pepper to the pan. Cook until the vegetables soften, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add bone broth and simmer for about 15 minutes.

Mix arrowroot or tapioca with a little water until smooth and stir in. Cook for a few minutes more until thickened.  (Don’t overcook if using arrowroot or it may become watery.)

To Assemble And Bake:

Use a slotted spoon to transfer the meat mixture to an 8- x 8-inch or 2 quart baking dish, leaving the fat and liquid behind in the pan. Spread meat mixture to cover the bottom of the pan.

Evenly spread the celery root puree over the meat mixture. (If using frozen mashed cauliflower, cook according to package directions and use instead.) Use a fork to make a rough surface on the top of the puree to facilitate browning. Spray lightly with cooking oil or drizzle with a little oil.

Bake until topping starts to brown, about 30 minutes. Place under the broiler if necessary for additional browning.

Note: It will be very hot, so let it cool briefly before serving.

Servings: 4 to 6

Nutrition data for 1 of 6 servings:
Calories: 224; Fat: 110g; Protein: 18.6g; Carbs: 11.8; Fiber: 2.3g; Net Carbs: 9.5g; vitamin A RAE: 0 

Carb count and RAE if made with Bird’s Eye cauliflower puree:
Carbs:  10.6g; Fiber: 2.1g; Net Carbs: 8.5g; vitamin A RAE: trace 

**Variations Made With Cauliflower:

For a quick Cottage Pie made with cauliflower in place of celery root, use two 12-ounce packages of frozen, mashed cauliflower. (We like Bird’s Eye brand, but there are others.)

Or you can use the recipe on my blog for low-carb Cauliflower Faux “Mashed Potatoes” here. You can substitute 2 tablespoons of egg white powder for the 2 whole eggs as in the celery root recipe above. (The carb count will be a little lower with cauliflower.)

Celery Root (Image credit: Wikipedia)
Celery Root (image from Wikipedia)


Carbs May Hinder Vitamin A Detox

Grant Genereux has continued to analyze the results from his recent survey of people on the vitamin-A elimination diet. https://ggenereux.blog/2020/01/19/understanding-the-detox-setback-condition/

He estimated that about half the people on the diet experienced a setback at about six months into the diet. He speculated that it might be caused by eating vegetables (like cauliflower and onion) that contain hydrogen sulfide and disulfide, chemicals that could interfere with the body’s alcohol dehydrogenase enzyme system, which is needed for eliminating vitamin A. He asked that anyone having such symptoms try cutting out brassicas, members of the cabbage family, and alliums, members of the onion family, that are high in sulfurous compounds to see if it helped.

Carnivore Diet

He further observed that those who were following a carnivore diet were less likely to experience such a setback (a low-A carnivore diet would not include animal foods that are high in vitamin A, like egg yolks, cheese, butter, fish oil, or organ meats). He thinks it is “a beneficial side-effect of eliminating carbs and not consuming other foods that contain aldehydes while on that diet.” He theorized that the B vitamins, especially B1 (thiamine), and B2 (riboflavin), which play an important role in detox, are used up by processing carbohydrates. So, it seems that eating fewer carbs might have an advantage; if you are eating too many, you may not have enough B1 and B2 to keep up with the demands of detoxification.

In either case, you should consider lowering your carbohydrate intake, removing brassicas and alliums from your diet during detox, eating more foods that contain the B vitamins, and/or taking supplements. I’m in favor of anything that speeds up the detox process, so I’m doing all of them (but I am still avoiding mega-doses of supplements, even if it means cutting open capsules and dividing up the powder).

Egg Whites

Egg whites are high in vitamins B1 and B2 (3.7mg or 285% DV of each in 100 grams). The vitamin A in eggs is in the yolks only, but the whites produce hydrogen sulfide when cooked, something we don’t want during detox. Egg white powder, however, is pasteurized, but not cooked. (It can be beaten for meringue, something you can’t do with cooked egg whites.) Using powdered whites also avoids the problem of having a lot of left-over yolks.

But what about the powdered egg whites in my celery root recipe when it is used as part of the Cottage Pie, which requires additional cooking? The cream of tartar or vinegar, listed as an option in the recipe, provides enough acid to prevent the formation of hydrogen sulfide in the egg whites that would result from further cooking. It is well known that adding a little acid when beating egg whites helps keep them stable. This trick uses the same mechanism. Food scientist, Harold McGee, author of “On Food and Cooking,” explains:

“…The sulfur bonds form when the sulfur-hydrogen (S-H) groups on two different protein molecules shed their hydrogens and form a sulfur-sulfur (S-S) connection with each other. The addition of an acid boosts the number of free-floating hydrogen (H) ions in the egg white, which makes it much harder for the S-H groups to shed their own H, and so slows the sulfur bonding down to a crawl….”


Alliums (The Onion Family)

How can we live without onions? Cooking tasty food without onion, garlic, shallots, green onions, or chives is quite a challenge. Only chives and green onions are high in vitamin A, but all alliums contain sulfurous chemicals, which give them their eye-watering, pungent aroma, and may interfere with the detoxification of vitamin A.

How To Reduce The Sulfur In Alliums

Here are some ideas that might be helpful when cutting down on the sulfur in onions and garlic. I’ll consider this list a work-in-progress and invite your input. If you have tried any of these techniques, let us know if it worked. If you have any other ideas or suggestions, please share them in the Comments.

1. Omit onions and related vegetables. You may eventually get used to living without them. Tell yourself that this is not forever, if that helps.

2. Cut them into larger pieces that can be avoided when eating while still imparting some of the flavor to the dish.

3. Crush garlic or chop onion and leave it exposed to the air for 45 minutes to let some of the aromatic compounds dissipate to reduce the sulfurous elements.

4. Use dried onion and garlic instead of fresh. Equivalents for the different forms are given in this article: https://www.healwithfood.org/substitute/garlic-cloves-convert-granulated-powder.php

5. According to several online sites, soaking cut onions in water will remove a lot of the sulfur. Wikihow says to immerse sliced onions in a bowl of water, add 2 tablespoons of fine salt, and let them stand for 5 minutes. Drain, rinse, and drain again before using. https://www.wikihow.com/Remove-the-Strong-Sharp-Taste-or-Smell-from-Onions

TigerChef doesn’t use salt in the soaking water and increases the soaking time to a minimum of 4 hours. https://youtu.be/VOEd9tsvdTI


I’ve had some nasty jabs from the long, sharp needles of dried rosemary, once involving my dentist! I buy crushed or powdered now.

Eureka! Eureka Part 1

What Changed? Eureka Part 2

To Everything There is a Season…Eureka Part 3

© 2020, Judy Barnes Baker

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Judy Barnes Baker

The working title for my first book was, “You’ll Never Know What You Are Missing.” It summed up my goal: to make eating for health synonymous with eating for pleasure. Once you discover the secret, you will find that the very best food for weight management, longevity, the treatment and prevention of disease, and over-all health and happiness is also the most sumptuous, satisfying, and indulgent way of eating the world has to offer. You are invited to the feast. Enjoy!
5 1 vote
Article Rating
Notify of
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
3 years ago

We are always told that when we are consuming meat we should be consuming the best quality that we can source. Grass-fed, free range, pasture raised and organic are just a few things we are told to look for when purchasing our meat.