Main Dishes

Veggie-Loaded Chicken Meatloaf

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As a kid, Sunday night was meatloaf and roast chicken night. It was my favorite meal of the week, and to this day, I love a good roast dinner where gravy smothers every bite on my plate.  As much as I love that meatloaf recipe which was passed down from my grandmother, it has a few not-so-healthy ingredients I consider very typical of her generation – i.e. half a packet of dry onion soup mix along with a few other sodium laden additions.  It is bitter sweet for me to let go of recipes like this, as I have to admit, that damn onion soup mix does taste great! But I know it’s not good for me, so I’ve long ago broken up with those types of processed foods, despite the memories they invoke, and taken a healthier path.

My own personal meatloaf recipe relies on fresh onion, along with a bunch of other raw veggies.  In fact, there is a full serving of vegetables in every portion of this meatloaf! And the taste is so great, I’m sure my grandmother would totally approve if she were here to taste it!

The trick to incorporating raw vegetables into a meatloaf, is to get them really finely minced.  I use a food processor to get the job done.  I have tried hand-chopping and even grating the veggies, but both result in a dice that is too large, so that the vegetables don’t fully cook.  Not good.

Another discovery I have made in making countless different meatloaves, is that a little bit of the old-fashioned processed stuff is sort of required in order for the meatloaf to really taste right.  So I caved and added a tablespoon of ketchup to mine.  Not such a bad thing, considering this loaf feeds 4-6.  In the end, you are consuming just 1/4 tbsp of ketchup at the very most.

Finally, last meatloaf tip, do NOT bake it in any kind of loaf pan or muffin cups.  Yes I know those mini meatloaves in the muffin cups are fun, and the loaf pan is classic, but both result in a soggy mess! The meat needs to let out moisture as it cooks, so bake it on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.  Believe me, it will be the best meatloaf you’ve ever tasted.

I served this alongside some mashed potatoes and cauliflower, a recipe I got from Oh She Glows.  Ditto on the mushroom gravy I poured over the whole thing.  You can check out more on both those recipes in this post. The whole thing was delicious, comforting, and reminiscent of my childhood with the added bonus of being a whole lot healthier. I think a new Sunday night tradition just began!

Ingredients

(Serves 4-6)                       Prep Time: 20 minutes      Cooking time: 55 minutes

  • 2 tbsp ground flax seed mixed with 3 tbsp water
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup milk (I used almond milk)
  • 1 tbsp ketchup
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1 medium onion, cut in 4 pieces
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 lb ground chicken

Directions

  1. Mix the flax seed with the water and set aside.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set the oven to 350 degrees.
  3. Mix the breadcrumbs, milk, ketchup, Dijon, and Worcestershire sauce in a large bowl.
  4. Put the carrots in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped.  Then add the onion, parsley and garlic.  Continue processing until you have a finely chopped mixture.
  5. Add the vegetable mixture, ground chicken, and flax seed mixture in the bowl with the breadcrumb mixture.  Use your hands to gently incorporate everything.
  6. Turn the meat mixture out onto the prepared baking sheet and use your hands to shape it into a loaf.  I like to pat down the top so it is flat, but you can make whatever shape you want. Place the meatloaf in the oven for 55 minutes, or until a thermometer inserted in the center of the loaf reads 160 degrees.

** I served my meatloaf with gravy, so I did not bother to make a glaze.  If you don’t want to make gravy, feel free to make a simple glaze by mixing 2 tbsp ketchup, 1 tbsp Dijon, 1 tsp brown sugar, and 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce.  Brush the mixture over the meatloaf after it has baked for 30 minutes, and continue baking another 25 minutes or until fully cooked.

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The milk softens the breadcrumbs and this makes the loaf nice and tender
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Just roughly chop the veggies so they are a more manageable size for the food processor
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Give the carrots a head start since they are the hardest thing to blend. When they are about this size, add everything else to the food processor. **Note: If you don’t have a heavy-duty food processor, you may want to do the veggies in batches.  Process the carrots until fine, dump them in the bowl with the breadcrumb mixture, and then process the onion, parsley and garlic together.
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You will have a lot of veggies! About the same amount as the meat, maybe even slightly more.  Trust me, it works and tastes fantastic!
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Mmmm if only you could smell how amazing this is!!!

 

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Perfect cozy Sunday night dinner!
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