Meatloaf, Lightened Up

by in Healthy Recipes, Healthy Tips, Meal Makeovers, February 16, 2009

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!

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.)

TELL US: What’s your secret ingredient to healthy meatloaf?

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  6. Dirk Iden says:

    Voice of America (blog)

  7. Teena says:

    Here’s more evidence that it’s not about trying to encourage the population to be more health conscious, the fact of the matter is…IT’S ABOUT KEEPING THE TOBACCO COMPANIES AND THE CANCER SOCIETIES OPEN FOR BUSINESS WITH AS MANY CUSTOMERS AS THEY CAN POSSIBLY GET! Just follow the money trail!

  8. jerry says:

    i would love to try your reciepies,the taco burger sounds great trying to lower my cholosteral and having a very hard time…thanks alot jerry…

  9. Doris Stephens says:

    Hi Di,
    I would love to try your turkey recipes. I just bought some fresh ground turkey and some turkey burgers at Trader Joe's and am hunting for recipes.
    Thanks very much,
    Doris Stephens

  10. chris says:

    would love your recipe

  11. Sharon says:

    Meatloaf, including turkey loaf freezes well. I prefer freezing in Reynolds Handivac bags (no freezer burn) but they stopped selling the bags in stores. I have also shaped meatloaves into individual loaves, wrapped them individually and gathered in a bag, to pull out and reheat for two. I freeze meatloaf for 3-6 months and it keeps well. Super food to make ahead and freeze!

  12. shirley says:

    give some to a needed neighbor or make spagitti , make taco's, or a salad .

  13. Debbie says:

    I freeze everything! I even put some mashed potatoes in a container with a slice of meatloaf. If sealed tight it will stay a few months. I send it to work with my boyfrend. It's a complete meal. Just make sure there is plenty of sauce so it isn't dry when you re-heat it. I may add a little sauce and/or water before heating it up in the microwave.

  14. Shirley says:

    What Veggies do you put in it ?


  15. Shirley says:

    Thanks for that information that sounds great

  16. helen says:

    They do have nutrition stats. I went to Mom's Healthy Meatloaf and there they were.

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