Meatloaf may not have the most appetizing name, but it’s a comfort food staple in many households.
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However, most recipes — a hunk of ground red meat mixed together with eggs and breadcrumbs — are comfort your body does not need. Luckily, Cleveland Clinic dietitians say you can swap some of the unhealthy items with healthier options without making your loaf a dry brick.
1. Swap ground red meat for ground turkey or chicken
Ground beef is typically loaded with saturated fat. Diets high in red meat have been linked to heart disease and diabetes, among other conditions. Choosing lean meats will lower your risk and also cut out calories.
2. Mix in tomato paste, sautéed button mushrooms and spinach for moisture
When using a less fatty protein, many people fear their loaf will become dry and unappetizing. Mixing in sautéed veggies and tomato paste can go a long way toward alleviating that concern and keeping your meatloaf juicy.
3. Use whole-wheat crackers or cooked faro for filler
Ditch the refined white breadcrumbs. We talk a lot about the advantages of whole wheat products over refined bread products — from increased nutrient content to reducing your disease risk. The same advice applies to your meatloaf filler.
4. Add flavor and a health boost with herbs and spices
Oregano, rosemary, thyme — these herbs not only make your meatloaf delicious, they also are packed with disease-fighting antioxidants. Pick your favorite herbs, and use them liberally in your loaf. Or give your meatloaf an Indian flavor with turmeric, a spice with anti-inflammatory properties.
5. Control portions size with a muffin pan
You want your serving size to be 4 ounces — about the size of a deck of cards. You can help yourself and your family stick to this portion size by forgoing the loaf pan and using a muffin pan for mini-loaves instead.
The end result: Making the changes above will lower the saturated fat and calories in your meatloaf, minimize the damage done by refined carbohydrates, and add flavor and disease-fighting properties to your favorite recipe.