Even in swanky restaurants like the Meat Market in Palm Beach, I’ve been seeing meatloaf show up on the menu more and more often these days. But for whatever reason, nobody seems to want to make a healthy turkey meatloaf recipe. Actually, I think the meatloaf lovers just assume it’s simply not possible to make a rich-tasting, ultra-moist meatloaf that is also healthy. Never mind one made with turkey instead of meat. And yet ironically, the very thing that makes a healthy turkey meatloaf recipe ultra healthy also happens to be what gives it both lots of flavor and a serious moisture boost…
The Secret to a Deliciously Moist Healthy Turkey Meatloaf Recipe….
It’s the vegetables.
The sauteed shiitakes used in the recipe below contribute incredible moisture and a savory-umami meaty flavor that you just can’t get just from beef, let alone turkey. I also add in a hefty dose of garlic, onions, thyme and carrots.
I’ve come to realize with just about every single recipe you can image that adding in either vegetables or fruit—whether hidden or visible—inevitably adds more flavor. I’m not the only one who has come to this conclusion either. Real chefs have too. Vegetables are the new meat.
So even if you don’t care a thing about whether you make your turkey meatloaf healthy or not, we all want it to taste good! And trust me, adding the veggies does the trick. More veggies = more flavor + fiber + flavonoids. So it’s a win-win for both the clean eating and foodie enthusiasts alike.
A Quick Word About the Other Ingredients…..
- Ketchup: You can’t really use Heinz Ketchup made with high fructose corn syrup in what is supposed to be a healthy turkey meatloaf recipe. Of course you can always make your own homemade ketchup (this is actually easier to do than you might think) sweetened with fiber-rich and whole-food-based date paste, but if you don’t have the time or inclination to do that then Sir Kensington’s is a divine alternative. It’s the only ketchup I have ever tasted that I actually like better than Heinz. It’s organic, it has no high fructose corn syrup and has half the sugar of regular ketchup. You can Sir Kensignton’s ketchup at Whole Foods or online at Vitacost or Amazon.
- Turkey. You can’t make a healthy turkey meatloaf without the absolute healthiest and cleanest turkey either. The number one thing you want to look for when buying the best turkey is that it be pasture-raised. The second thing to look for is that it be organic. But if you had to choose between pasture-raised or organic, it would be best to buy pasture-raised. If you are confused about how to buy the healthiest turkey click HERE.
- Milk: Whole milk definitely adds a very desirable rich texture to any meatloaf recipe. But again, I wouldn’t use dairy milk–whether it is whole or skim milk (read more about why I am not crazy about dairy milk) –in what is supposed to be a healthy turkey meatloaf recipe. But hemp milk is the bomb. Hemp milk is loaded with good fats that give your meatloaf the richness of whole dairy milk along with a number of other health perks (including the anti-inflammatory “super fat’, GLA). You can either buy hemp milk or make your own in less than 5-minutes by mixing 1/4 cup hemp seeds with 1/2 cup water. See the notes in the recipe section below for more details on how to make homemade hemp milk.
Meatloaf: This Way & That…
One of the things I love about making meatloaf is that it only takes about 30-minutes to prepare but one loaf makes enough to last our family for three nights of leftovers. But if you want to mix things up a bit, you can always make the recipe below using organic, pasture-raised ground beef, bison or even lamb.
I also have another healthy meatloaf recipe on the blog that has lots of hidden vegetables, but uses ground beef instead of turkey. But again, you can substitute any meat you like in either of the recipes.
You can also try making mini meatloaf muffins with the recipe below by baking the meatloaf in a muffin tin. This is a great option if you are in a hurry because it cuts the cooking time down by about half. Little meatloaf muffins look cute too (wink).
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- 1 medium onion (peeled and coarsely chopped)
- 3 carrots (peeled and coarsely chopped)
- 6 cloves garlic
- 1/4 cup fresh thyme
- 1 cup shiitake mushrooms (stem removed)
- 2 1/2 teaspoons unrefined sea salt (divided)
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or organic (unrefined red palm oil)
- 1/2 cup gluten-free oats
- 1/2 cup unsweetened store-bought or homemade hemp milk (see notes below for homemade hemp milk)
- 2 tablespoons organic Worcestershire (such as Annie’s Naturals brand)
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons organic ketchup (such as Sir Kensington’s brand orClean Cuisine Homemade Ketchup, divided)
- 1 organic (pasture-raised egg, such as Vital Farms)
- 2 pounds organic (pasture-raised ground turkey)
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and set a large pan of water on the bottom oven rack (supposedly this helps keep the meatloaf moist.) Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Combine the onions, carrots, garlic and thyme in the bowl of a food processor. Process until minced but be sure to stop before the mixture turns into a paste. Transfer onion-carrot mixture to a bowl.
- Add the shiitake mushrooms to the bowl of the food processor. Process until just minced. Set shiitake mushrooms aside.
- Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion-carrot mixture and cook for about 6 minutes, or until onions begin to soften. Add the minced shiitake mushrooms to the skillet, season with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and cook for about 5 or 6 minutes, or until both the onions and shiitakes are soft. Set the sauteed vegetable mixture aside to cool.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the oats, hemp milk, Worcestershire, Dijon mustard, 2 tablespoons of the ketchup, egg and remaining 2 teaspoons of salt. Use your clean hands to mix the ingredients together. Add the sauteed vegetable and the ground turkey and mix until everything is well blended.
- Place the turkey meatloaf on the baking sheet and shape into a rounded rectangle. Brush the top with the remaining 1/2 cup ketchup and bake for 50 to 55 minutes. Remove turkey meatloaf from the oven and let it rest for at least 15 minutes before serving.
Making homemade hemp milk takes less than 5-minutes; simply combine 1/2 cup water and 1/4 cup hemp seeds and process in a high-speed blender (such as a Vitamix) until rich and creamy. That’s all there is to it!
Looking for More Everyday Healthy Dinner Recipes?
If you liked the Healthy Turkey Meatloaf Recipe with Lots of Hidden Vegetables, be sure to check out a full month’s menu of delicious healthy dinner recipes (including weekly shopping lists!) in our Clean Cuisine Dinners digital cookbook.