With a history dating to medieval times, meatloaf has been made with everything from animal organs to no meat at all. While classic, American-style meatloaf is made primarily from ground meat, fillers traditionally allowed meat to be stretched during lean times, such as during the Depression. Fillers, such as bread crumbs, also keep the meatloaf from being too dense. It is possible, however, to make juicy, light-textured meatloaf without bread at all.
Bulgur, Not Bread
Adding whole grains, such as bulgur, to meatloaf is a way to add fiber to your diet while enjoying meat. Bulgur, a Mediterranean staple, is wheat kernels that have been boiled, dried and cracked making it very fast to prepare. Add 1 cup of cooked bulgur per pound of ground meat, along with chopped green bell peppers and onion for flavor. You may also add rolled oats for a similar result.
A Gluten-Free Option
Quinoa, a botanical relative to swiss chard and beets, resembles the texture of bulgur when cooked. As a meatloaf filler, it offers a gluten-free, high-fiber option. For a savory meatloaf, add 1 cup cooked quinoa per pound to the ground beef mixture, along with gluten-free Worcestershire sauce, sauteed mushrooms, onions, carrots and celery. Top it off with tomato sauce or ketchup.
Rice is Nice
Rice is another gluten-free filler for meatloaf. Use 3/4 of a cup of cooked rice per pound of meat. Cool the rice before adding it to the meat mixture, and let the type of rice determine the flavors you add. Brown or white rice could dictate the more classic additions of chopped peppers and celery. A more exotic rice, such as black rice, may beg for Asian ingredients, such as ginger and curry powder.
Use leftover mashed potatoes and sauteed vegetables to make a meatloaf and clean out the fridge at the same time. Use about a cup of mashed potatoes and 1/2 cup of sauteed vegetables for 1 1/2 pounds of ground meat. Finely chop the vegetables, press the mashed potatoes through a sieve or mash until smooth. If you do not have leftover vegetables, use shredded or finely chopped raw vegetables, such as onion, celery or carrots.
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