Growing up, meatloaf was a dinner staple for my family(not to mention my dad’s all time favorite food). As we became more health conscious through the years we switched from ground beef, to lean ground sirloin, to ground turkey, to lean ground turkey. This version takes meatloaf to a whole new level, taking the meat out all together. And while some of you are trying to come up with meatless meals during Lent (or just in life), this is a perfect choice. I was excited that this super healthy protein-filled loaf was still packed with flavor, and dare I say even a little “meaty”. I think even dad would give it his seal of approval.
The beauty of meat (or meatless) loafs or balls or burgers is that you can pack so much flavor in and they’re so easy to make. This one has a few extra steps than an average meatloaf because you saute the veggies first, but it was still easy to throw together. Even though it’s missing the meat, it was still really filling, hearty, and satisfying.
Nutritional Highlights: This loaf has tons of protein and fiber from the lentils and oats, and tons of vitamins and minerals from the vegetables. While your typical meatloaf has saturated animal fats that threaten to clog up your arteries, this one is very low in fat. Plus, it’s both gluten free and vegan…double win! I know I say it like a broken record, but I think we could all benefit from cutting back on our animal protein intake, and by finding tasty, healthy vegetarian recipes like this one, it’s pretty easy to do. This
Lentil Veggie Loaf
adapted from Healthful Pursuit
- 2 tbsp ground flax seeds
- 6 tbsp boiling water
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 small onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup mushrooms, diced
- 2 cups fresh baby spinach, roughly chopped
- 1 tbsp fresh thyme, roughly chopped
- 3/4 cup spicy BBQ sauce (make sure to choose a gluten-free or vegan variety if you follow one of those diets)
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 2 cups cooked green lentils, split into 1 1/2 cups and 1/2 cup (I use pre steamed lentils from Trade Joes–A big time saver!!)
- 1 cup gluten-free rolled oats, split in half
- 1/2 cup almond flour (Confession: I used regular whole wheat flour because I didn’t have almond flour so my version wasn’t quite gluten free)
- Preheat the oven to 375F. Add the ground flax seeds to a small bowl, pour the boiling hot water over and stir to combine well. Set aside and allow it to thicken and cool. (If you aren’t vegan, you could substitute this step with one whole egg).
- Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat, add the onion and garlic and sauté for 5-8 minutes until the onions are tender. Add in the mushrooms and cook another 3 to 5 minutes until the mushrooms are tender, add in the thyme and spinach and cook until the spinach is wilted, about 2 minutes. Add in 1/2 cup of the BBQ sauce, stir to combine and turn off the heat, add salt and pepper to taste, if it needs it.
- Process 1 1/2 cups of the cooked lentils and 1/2 cup of the oats in the food processor until smooth (some whole bits may remain, that’s ok). Spoon the mixture into a large bowl, add in the remaining lentils and oats, plus the flax “egg”, almond flour and vegetable mixture. Stir really well to combine. Then get your hands in there, just like you would with a regular meat loaf or meatballs, and make sure it is mixed and mashed together really well.
- Spoon the mixture into a parchment paper lined 9″ x 5″ loaf pan, (leave a bit of the parchment paper hanging over so you can easily lift the loaf out when it is cooked). Using your hands, you really want to press it in good. Brush on the remaining 1/4 cup of BBQ sauce over the top.
- Bake uncovered for 35 to 40 minutes at 375F. Cool in the pan for about 5, pull the loaf out by grabbing the sides of the parchment paper and lifting up and allow it to cool for another 5 to 10 minutes on a cooking rack. Slice and serve.