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4 ways to make better meatloaf

By Carolyn Malcoun, April 8, 2010 - 12:05pm

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There must be something in the air, because I’ve talked about one of my favorite comfort foods—meatloaf—three times this week. One morning my office-mate and I discussed our common meatloaf craving, then my sister called the next day and asked for my favorite meatloaf recipe, then my friend e-mailed me the day after that wondering if she could substitute something leaner for the ground pork in her favorite meatloaf recipe. (The answer: of course.)

I love making meatloaf, and enjoying the leftovers. Since it’s just my husband and me at home, we get at least two dinners out of one meatloaf, plus enough food for both of us to have a meatloaf sandwich for lunch (yum), making it a great budget-friendly meal.

While meatloaf might get a bad rap for being unhealthy, we’ve lightened up these four meatloaf recipes by swapping vegetables and whole grains for some of the meat and using leaner cuts of meat. Plus our recipe uses a muffin tin for mini-meatloaves and the recipes for a curry-infused loaf elevate this classic beyond traditional recipes and flavors.

What’s your favorite way to jazz up meatloaf?

Meatloaf—The addition of richly flavored dried mushrooms and the whole-grain goodness of bulgur increases the vitamins and minerals and decreases the saturated fat of this meatloaf. The loaf is free-form, rather than baked in a loaf pan, which means more delicious, browned crust. This recipe is large enough to feed a big group or, even better, have leftovers for a cold sandwich the next day.

Mini Meatloaves—Traditional meatloaf is made with ground beef, pork and veal; here we replace the veal with ground turkey for a tender, flavorful and leaner version of the classic. Baking individual portions in muffin tins speeds cooking, standardizes serving size and produces a moist, delicious main dish.

Blue Ribbon Meatloaf—In revisiting this classic, we put the meat back in the “loaf” by using ultra-lean ground beef and turkey. With fresh whole-wheat breadcrumbs and beer-simmered sweet onions, you’ll never notice the missing fat.

Black Rice Curried Meatloaf—Meatloaf need not be boring or dry. This version is moist with cooked rice and plenty of vegetables. Curry powder gives extra flavor to the meatloaf and mango chutney spread on top stands in for the traditional ketchup topping.

What's your favorite way to jazz up meatloaf? Tell us what you think below.

TAGS: Carolyn Malcoun, Healthy Cooking Blog, Budget meals, Dinner, Family meals, Healthy kids, Recipe Makeover

Carolyn Malcoun
A graduate of New England Culinary Institute and University of Wisconsin with a degree in journalism, Carolyn pairs her long-standing love for food with writing as EatingWell's senior food editor. Carolyn’s culinary interest is rooted in her childhood; she grew up making thousands of Christmas cookies every year with her mom and picking leaves off bunches of parsley to make tabbouleh with her dad. Away from the kitchen, Carolyn enjoys seeking out rare craft beers and exploring the outdoors with her husband, 2-year-old daughter and dog.

Carolyn asks: What's your favorite way to jazz up meatloaf?

Tell us what you think:

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