Meatloaf, Lightened Up

I recently ran the numbers on a classic meatloaf recipe and found that it had almost 800 calories and 65 grams of fat per serving! Here are some great ways to lighten up 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! Mom's version may not have been that heavy-duty (fingers crossed), but traditional recipes are famous for fatty meats and heavy sauces.

Here are some ways to lighten up this American favorite.

Main Ingredients

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% 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 sauté 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!

Toppings

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 & 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 Parmesan mashed potatoes.

And while meatloaf may be a mom classic, I read that chefs all over the country are putting meatloaf back on their menus because it’s comforting and affordable. Check out this piece in the San Francisco Chronicle. (Note: The recipes in this article look delicious but are not necessarily Healthy Eats-approved.)

    Healthy recipes to try:
TELL US: What's your secret ingredient to healthy meatloaf?
Keep Reading

Next Up

FN’s Top Recipes, Lightened Up: #2 Paula’s Old-Fashioned Meatloaf

It's no surprise that meatloaf ranks high on Food Network’s Top 50 Recipes of 2009 list -- who doesn't love meatloaf?! And a Paula Deen meatloaf, at that! Ms. Deen isn't known for her low-cal dishes, but we've got some simple tips for slimming this comforting classic.

Stuffing, Lightened Up

Thanksgiving turkey would be lost without stuffing (or dressing) on the side. But sticks of butter and pounds of sausage are not mandatory ingredients. Here are a few ways to slim down this holiday favorite and some creative additions to try.

Lighten Up Your Meat

When you're making burgers, meatballs or other ground-meat dishes, combine equal parts of beef or pork with a leaner meat like turkey or chicken.

Tacos, Lightened Up

Fried shells, fatty meats and piles of high-cal toppings can make tacos a belly buster. But they don't have to be; use our tips to give a make healthier tacos.

Beef Stew, Lightened Up

Love the stick-to-your-ribs goodness of a hearty beef stew, but want to cut back on the fat and sodium? Pass on the salty canned stuff and try these tips and recipes.

Dips, Lightened Up

Blue cheese, artichoke and other cheesy dips can sabotage your waistline before the main course begins. Lighten up these dips with a few tricks; they’ll still taste fantastic.

Tuna Salad, Lightened Up

Tuna is one of my go-to foods at parties or a friend’s luncheon but some folks drench their tuna in mayonnaise. Besides upping the calories, a boatload of mayonnaise drowns out the delicious tuna flavor. Next time you plan on making tuna salad, try some of these exciting ways to flavor and lighten it up.

Eggplant Parmesan, Lightened Up

Growing up in an Italian family, eggplant “parm” was a staple in my house. While it was cheesy, fried and delicious, nowadays I’d rather cut back on some of the calories and fat with these tips and delicious recipes.

Nachos, Lightened Up

Every so often I get a big time craving for spicy, cheesy and crunchy nachos. But when most restaurant orders top 1500 calories and 100 grams of fat, I’d much rather make them myself. Use these tips to indulge wisely.