This article was originally published in April 2016
There’s no reason that this American diner classic can’t offer big flavor when made with lean meats and healthy mix-ins. One of our favorite meat loaves uses ground dark meat turkey, which has the same fat content as the very leanest ground beef.
The meat is one of the most accommodating components of a meat loaf, and it’s an ingredient that is very easy to swap out in recipes. White meat poultry is so lean you’ll want to add plenty of “fillers” like eggs, breadcrumbs and milk, or your loaf will be pretty dense. Dark meat poultry and leanest ground beef are 10 percent fat or less and are terrific in meat loaf recipes that have a boost of moisture from chopped vegetables like carrots, onions and celery. Extra lean ground beef, at about 15 percent fat, is truly versatile, while the rich 30 percent fat content in ground pork or Italian sausage is a succulent addition in small amounts.
Fluffy, high-protein quinoa is an excellent filler — a 21st century update on the oatmeal of the ’70s. You can also go paleo, using just eggs and spices to make a dense and delicious meat loaf; if you don’t happen to follow a paleo diet, its leftovers make terrific sandwiches. Turkey meatloaf with a touch of fennel and Worcestershire sauce is so tasty we offer two versions: a classic loaf, and a fun cupcake that is nicely portable or can be “frosted” with mashed potatoes to put big smiles on the kids’ faces.
Our four recipes for meat loaf include updated versions that suit modern diets.