Courtesy of Dana Angelo White
Traditional meatloaf recipes are famous for fatty meats and heavy sauces, so I set out to make a healthier version of this American favorite. I fondly remember my mother making meatloaf on winter nights when I was kid — so filling, warm and delicious. When I ran the numbers on a meatloaf recipe recently, I discovered it had almost 800 calories and 65 grams of fat per serving!
Traditionally meatloaf is made with ground beef. Fatty cuts such as chuck are popular because fat helps keep the meatloaf moist. There are better ways to do this without all that saturated fat. Switching from high-fat ground beef to a leaner version (90-95 percent lean) will shave off 220 calories and almost 30 grams of fat per serving! Meatloaf mix (a combo of beef, pork and veal) is also a lower-fat option, but won't offer the same reduction in fat.
Contrary to what many beef lovers may say, ground turkey makes a fantastic meatloaf. Try making the switch — even the most loyal meatloaf fan won't be disappointed. Choose lean ground turkey breast meat for the biggest reduction in calories and fat.
Keep your meatloaf moist and add flavor with fresh ingredients such as vegetables, garlic and herbs (steer clear of those meatloaf spice mixes that are often loaded with sodium). Breadcrumbs and egg will help prevent the meatloaf from falling apart. Some recipes call for rolled oats to prevent drying out (and a little extra fiber never hurts).
Chopped vegetables will further preserve moisture and add flavor, vitamins and iron. Choose flavorful veggies such as chopped spinach, eggplant or portobello mushrooms. My husband likes to saute onions in with a splash of balsamic vinegar. Once they cool, he adds them to his turkey meatloaf mixture for a sweet burst of flavor — now I can't have meatloaf without it!
High-calorie toppings such as bacon or canned cream of mushroom soup add tons of fat and sodium; globs of sugary, salty ketchup is also popular. Try a few strips of turkey bacon or canned tomato sauce mixed with a small amount of ketchup and balsamic vinegar or Worcestershire sauce.
Servings and Sides
Keep servings reasonable — a pound of meat will serve four people. Make a large turkey meatloaf and have leftovers in sandwiches or wraps. Try making individual loaves and serve with some healthy and satisfying sides such as steamed or roasted vegetables and a baked sweet potato or lightened-up mashed potatoes.