When I was a child I thought that meatloaf was a a gross hunk of meat loaded with fat, carbs and cholesterol and covered in ketchup; gross. As an adult, I’ve learned that meatloaf is one of the easiest dishes to make and be creative with. It can also be an excellent source of protein AND veggies. Oh, and did I mention it’s comforting and delicious?
In all the meatloaves I’ve made, I’ve somehow managed to never make the same one twice. Partly because I never write down my recipe, and mostly because I tend to take the kitchen-sink approach and use whatever I have around the house. In my more recent experiments I’ve also found that slow-cooking meatloaf results in the most tender melt-in-your-mouth experience ever, and is really a “set it and forget it” meal. Yesterday’s meatloaf was no exception.
Paleo Gluten Free Slow-Cooker Veggie Meatloaf (or just “Awesome” for short)
- 1.5 lbs grass-fed beef
- 1 lb lean ground pork
- 3-4 medium-sized carrots, shredded*
- 1/2 head of cauliflower, shredded*
- 2 cups baby or regular spinach, shredded*
- 3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 3/4 cup almond meal/flour
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 2 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp thyme
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1 tsp basil
- 1 tsp onion powder (or dice a whole sweet onion, I just didn’t have one handy)
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper or chili powder (I used chipotle chili powder)
- 3-4 large dashes of coconut aminos (or if not strict paleo Worcester Sauce still has the best flavor)
- Optional: 1 tbsp leaf lard, melted, OR 6 strips of bacon (which I was unfortunately out of)
- 1 jar Paleo GF tomato sauce of your choosing (this is obviously the easy way, you can also make your own tomato paste concoction.
*I throw all of the veggies into a food processor with a shredding attachment to make it quick and easy.
- In a large bowl mix the veggies with the spices and almond flour until thoroughly coated.
- Add eggs, coconut aminos or Worcester sauce, 2 tbsp of the tomato sauce and lard (if you’re using it); mix well.
- Add meat and mix it all together with your hands. Form into a loaf-shape.
- If you’re using bacon, cut the 6 strips in half and line the bottom of the slow cooker with half. Lay the other half on top of the loaf in strips.
- Place in slow cooker and cook on low 5-6 hours or until middle reads at 160ºF.
- Warm the remaining tomato sauce and top each slice with a spoonful. Enjoy!
I was so happy with how this came out. It just melted together perfectly! My partner went back for seconds and had to stop himself from grabbing thirds. He also had no idea that almost half of the mixture was veggies. Score! Did I mention it’s only 400 calories with 29 grams of protein per serving? Disclaimer: I am not responsible if you eat more than one serving per meal. 😉
Some additional tips:
- If you don’t own a slow cooker, don’t worry! You can either still slow-cook it by placing the loaf in a dutch oven or other oven-safe deep covered dish and placing it in the oven on 200-250ºF until it comes to temperature. Or if you’re in a hurry just throw it in a loaf pan and cook at 350ºF for an hour. If you go for the latter, I recommend coating the top with tomato sauce so it doesn’t dry out.
- This is a perfect freezer meal for work. This recipe makes ~8 servings (unless you go back for seconds and thirds)!
- Missing an ingredient? Improvise! That’s what meatloaf is all about. I especially encourage you to try different veggies. Zucchini, summer squash and mushrooms are a few suggestions.
- Why lard? It might seem silly to buy grass fed beef and lean pork and then add leaf lard to it. Well, aside from adding amazing flavor, leaf lard is actually one of the most healthy oils out there, especially when you’re careful about where you get it (I only buy from small farms, preferably local, who feed their pigs a healthy non-GMO/non-antibiotic diet). This article does a good job of explaining the benefits of leaf lard but I encourage you to do some Googling because there’s a lot of great information out there on why leaf lard is an awesome ingredient. It’s become a staple in my home.
Have your own favorite healthy meatloaf recipe? Share it! Thanks for reading!
I’m past the halfway point on my 90 day challenge and the burpees are starting to get easier, but they’re still pretty terrible. My running is getting better and yesterday I was really reminded how much I prefer running outside to running on a treadmill.
I hadn’t been running outside due to my extreme distaste of the cold. Ok, maybe not “extreme”, I mean I do live in Vermont, but running in minimalist shoes outside hasn’t been a fun experience for me in the past. However, after a very trying week I woke up yesterday craving something new. It was beautiful out! Fresh powder on the ground and the sun was pouring down. I decided to buck up and head out trail running. I popped on my Injinji socks and my Vibrams and downloaded ZombiesRun! to my iphone. I was waiting for Spring to try that game out but this seemed like the perfect time, plus they were having a 50% off sale on it this weekend!
I won’t lie, my feet got cold, but not too cold to stop me. Plus once I got about half a mile in they seemed ok, though when I got home and popped my shoes off my toes were pretty icy. The Zombies game kept me motivated and I ended up running farther than my goal and, what’s more exciting, I ran continuously instead of taking speed-walking breaks like I do on the treadmill. While the game may have helped motivate me, the soft snow and fresh air is really what kept me running and engaged. It was just beautiful out and I was finally able to bring my pup running with me again; we both had a great time! I’m excited for real Spring to hit VT so I can get out there more often.
Lastly, let’s talk meatloaf!
I’ve had many people ask me what I can eat on my elimination diet. Really, I’ve been eating very similar to how I was eating before: smoothies and then a protein and veggies for dinner. The thing I have to be strict about is not adding gluten or dairy to my meal, along with the slew of other allergens that I mentioned in my previous post. I’m also still watching my full nutrition intake and keeping things low-carb since I was doing that before I found out I had a bunch of food allergies.
Meatloaf is definitely a comfort food, but with the millions of meatloaf recipes out there it’s important to remember you CAN make a healthy version of it. I spliced together a few recipes and made this omgyouwillwanttoeatthewholepan meatloaf that’s less than 300 calories per slice and packed with veggies and protein!
- 1 1/2lb Lean Ground Beef (I used local grass-fed beef and highly recommend you try to do the same)
- 2 large carrots shredded
- 1 zucchini shredded
- 1/2 sweet onion, diced
- 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tbsp fresh basil, minced
- 1 tbsp fresh oregano, minced
- 1 large egg
- 2 large egg whites
- 1 jar pasta sauce (try to choose a low-carb version with no or low sugar, or make your own!)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 350ºF.
- Sautée carrots, zucchini, onions, and garlic in olive oil until soft (~10 mins). Set aside to cool, or put in the fridge for a few minutes.
- Beat eggs/egg whites in large bowl. Add veggie mix, all herbs/spices, ground beef and 3/4 of pasta sauce jar. Mix well.
- Form mixture into a loaf (it will be wet and won’t hold shape very well, that’s ok!) and put in large loaf pan. Top with remaining pasta sauce.
- Cook for ~1.5 hours or until thermometer reads at least 165ºF. Let sit for 10 minutes. Enjoy!
Now I’ve made a lot of meatloaf in my day and I have to say in full honesty that this was the most delicious meatloaf I’ve ever made!! It trumped my cheese-filled bacon-wrapped meatloaf…seriously. Granted, my boyfriend (who is not on my diet) fried the leftovers in bacon fat, so obviously the recipe could be improved on if you’re not counting your calories.