Alright you guys, I’m flying my Midwest flag real high right now with this healthy take on classic meatloaf and mashed potatoes – one of my favorite comfort foods.
I can’t tell you guys how excited I would get for my mom’s meatloaf when I was a kid. Let’s be honest, if you grew up in the midwest between 1980 and 2000, meatloaf was probably a staple in your winter dinner rotation – whether you liked it or not. Sure, meatloaf often gets a bad rap, but I have no shame admitting my fondness of it. And when I say “it”, I mean my mom’s; because everyone who actually admits they like meatloaf usually just likes their mom’s and only their mom’s.
It’s not the sexiest dish out there, nor is the name super appetizing. It’s also no secret that it’s not the healthiest choice; but in an effort to preserve that desired comfort from my mom’s classic, here is my healthy version!
To lighten it up, I use 90% lean grass-fed beef. It can be tricky using such lean ground meats because they dry out so easily; but, similar to my Mediterranean Turkey Burgers, one of the keys to keeping these leaner meats from drying out is to use your food processor to essentially mince all of the veggies you’re adding in, which will also release more liquid as they cook (especially the onion, so don’t skip that!). I used arrowroot starch as the binder in place of bread or breadcrumbs, which is similar to cornstarch, but keeps these babies gluten-free.
I am telling you guys, these meatballs basically melt in your mouth!
The last element of my meatloaf makeover was to ditch that traditional ketchup-based topping. Ketchups usually come sweetened with added sugar, and some brands even contain high fructose corn syrup – GROSS. So in an attempt to achieve that same classic flavor, I started with organic tomato sauce, sweetened it naturally with honey and threw in some other flavorings. DELISH!
As you’ve also already noticed, I ditched the “loaf” and went with meatballs because it allows for a great make ahead and freeze option (and sounds better to drop the “loaf” from the name)! But if you’re a traditionalist, by all means, loaf it up.
Either way, throw it over some healthy cauliflower mash and take yourself back to 1989.
- For the Cauli-mash:
- 2 medium cauliflower heads, about 4 - 4.25lbs in total, cut into florets
- 2 - 3 tbsp olive oil
- ¼ tsp garlic powder
- ¼ cup vegetable stock
- 1½ tsp salt, plus more to taste
- 1 tsp pepper, plus more to taste
- For the Meatballs:
- 1 lb lean ground beef (grass-fed recommended)
- ¼ cup diced celery
- ¼ cup chopped red pepper
- ¼ cup chopped green pepper
- ½ cup chopped yellow onion
- 2 medium garlic cloves
- ½ tsp dijon mustard
- 1 egg
- 3 tbsp arrowroot starch/flour
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp pepper
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- For the Glaze:
- ¾ cup tomato sauce
- ¼ cup honey
- ¼ cup gluten-free tamari or soy sauce
- 2½ tsp dijon mustard
- 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- pinch black pepper
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Arrange cauliflower florets on two baking sheets, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper, toss gently to coat. Cover baking sheets with foil and roast in the oven for 35 - 45 minutes, or until fork tender.
- Meanwhile, start the meatballs and glaze. Place the red pepper, green pepper, onion and garlic cloves in a food processor, and pulse until veggies are minced. In a large mixing bowl, add the beef, veggies, mustard, egg, arrowroot starch, salt and pepper, and mix until well combined (using hands is best here). Begin to form into meatballs (slightly larger than golfballs, should yield 15 - 18), and arrange on a baking sheet. Cover lightly with foil and refrigerate until there is about 10 minutes left on the cauliflower. At this point you will start the glaze. Combine all ingredients in a small sauce pan. Bring to a boil, whisking frequently, then reduce to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Glaze will thicken over time. Continue to simmer until ready to use.
- Once cauliflower is done, remove from oven and set aside to cool slightly. Then increase oven temp to 425 degrees.
- Heat olive oil in a large, oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat. In batches, brown the meatballs for about 2 - 3 minutes per side. Once all meatballs are browned, place all meatballs into the skillet and cover with glaze. Place in the oven, uncovered, to continue cooking, about 5 minutes.
- While the meatballs finish cooking, finish the cauli-mash. Add the roasted cauliflower, stock, garlic powder, salt and pepper to a food processor or blender, and run until smooth and creamy, occasionally scraping down the sides. If needed, add more salt and pepper, a pinch at a time, to taste.
- Allow meatballs to cool slightly before serving. Enjoy!
Serving Size: 1/4 of recipe
*Nutritional Information provided is a rough estimate for informational purposes and based on the recipe measurements, specific ingredients used and nutritional data available. Any variance in ingredients or measurements may affect the Nutritional Information accordingly.