March’s Healthy Dinner: Multipurpose Meatloaf

This month I tested out a couple different versions of one of my husband’s favorite foods, meatloaf.

He’s a good sport about all my Body Back inspired dinners, but every so often he likes to have something a little more like the foods he ate growing up.

Meatloaf is one of those classic American meals. It’s tasty and kids tend to like it. The problem, though, is that many meatloaf recipes are formulated for high fat meats. You could swap out the high fat ground beef for low fat ground turkey, but that usually results in dry and flavorless dish.

I started with a recipe from Ellie Krieger (she’s a nutritionist and cookbook author, I highly recommend her recipes), and then made a few changes to get to a meatloaf my kids and husband would all love.

You can use turkey, beef, or bison to prepare this meal. It works with meat that has a fat content from 10% to 4%. Here it is…

Multipurpose Meatloaf

Serves 8

3/4 cup oats (regular or quick-cooking)

1/2 cup skim milk

¾ diced onion

2 pounds ground meat of your choice

-1 pound ground turkey breast and 1 pound regular ground turkey

- 2 pounds lean ground beef (90% or leaner)

- 2 pounds ground bison (90% or leaner)

1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper (optional, my kids eat the meatloaf better without it, but it adds a nice flavor component)

1 beaten egg

¼ cup egg whites

2 teaspoons soy sauce

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tsp dried basil, oregano, or thyme (whatever herb you like best)

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste (I use about ¼ tsp)

1/4 cup ketchup

1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large bowl combine the oatmeal, milk, chopped onion, bell pepper, eggs, soy sauce, salt, herbs, and pepper. Mix until well combined and let it sit 5 minutes.

Add meat and mix until just combined. If you overmix the meat, it can get kind of tough.

Mix together ketchup, tomato sauce, and a little more pepper.

Shape the meatloaf according to your preference. I have had good luck with these two shapes:

Meatloaf Muffins: Spray two muffin trays and put about a quarter cup in each. Bake 20 minutes, the carefully drop a half teaspoon of the tomato mixture on each muffin and bake 5-10 more minutes (until the muffins are 160 degrees inside). It’s best to bake these on a cookie sheet or other tray to catch any drips.

One Giant Meatloaf:

Line a 9x13 baking pan with foil and lightly oil. Empty the mixture in and form into a loaf shape, about 5 inches wide and 2 ½ inches high. Bake 45 minutes, the pour tomato mixture on top and bake another 15 minutes. Let it rest at least 10 minutes before cutting.

Recipe Notes:

I love using red peppers in this recipe, but my kids get distracted and end up either picking the peppers out to eat them first, or refusing to eat it at all because its “spicy.” In my family, it’s not really worth the trouble, but I recommend including them if your kids aren’t super picky.

An S-shaped potato masher (not one with small holes) works great for mixing in the meat, especially if you don’t like the feeling of raw meat. It’s also a good way to let your kids help. My son got to help stir, but I didn’t have to worry about raw meat on his little fingers.

This freezes well, especially as muffins. I made a whole recipe and froze some of the leftovers. Now I can pull out a couple muffins at a time to use when my husband travels.

Do not try to bake this in a loaf pan. The juices just stay right on the meatloaf and it gets soggy.

I serve this with baked (or microwaved) sweet potatoes and steamed broccoli. It’s about as close to a ‘meat and potatoes’ meal as I cook.

Nutritional Information

Obviously the nutritional facts will vary based on the meats you use. Here’s the info for the turkey version and the bison version.

Bison Meatloaf

Calories 267

Fat 12.9 g

Saturated 4.5 g

Cholesterol 96.8 mg

Sodium 410 mg

Carbs 12 g

Fiber 1.7 g

Protein 26.7 g

Turkey Meatloaf

Calories 200

Fat 5.8 g

Saturated 1.7 g

Cholesterol 82.1 mg

Sodium 424 mg

Carbs 12 g

Protein 24 g

Nutritional Notes

As you can see, the turkey meatloaf has significantly less fat. This is the version that I make in our regular meal rotation. The higher fat versions are more of a special treat. Both are still healthier than the traditional recipes that use 80/20 ground beef!

I have made this recipe with all ground turkey breast, but it comes out drier and less flavorful and I end up eating more overall to compensate.

The turkey meatloaf with a sweet potato and a large serving of steamed veggies comes in at around 400 calories. It’s a very satisfying meal, that’s kid friendly and husband approved!