I just can't help but look at ingredients and try to find new and unexpected ways to use them.
So when I started thinking about ways to give meatloaf a healthy makeover, I wondered whether I could use kamut cereal in place of high-carb, low-nutrition breadcrumbs?
The answer turned out to be a very delicious yes!
Kamut is one of the so-called ancient grains that have become popular alternatives to wheat. It has 20 to 40 percent more protein and is higher in good fats, vitamins and minerals than wheat. Plus, it can be tolerated by some with sensitivities to regular wheat.
In this recipe, kamut serves as a flavorful bulking and moistening agent to the meatloaf instead of the more traditional breadcrumbs.
But I didn't stop with kamut. I also wanted to try something a little risky with this hearty, stick-to-your-ribs favorite. I wanted to reduce the amount of meat used in order to cut fat and calories, so I used chopped cremini mushrooms to replace some of the meat.
Why mushrooms? They actually have a meaty flavor all their own. And trust me, no one will ever know that this recipe has less meat. You can even use more mushrooms and less meat than I did. It's a great way to stretch your meatloaf and your dollars, but not your waistline.
I also tinkered with the blend of meats. I opted for lean ground turkey and lean ground beef. The result is a full-flavored, meaty meatloaf that tastes substantial and has just 2 grams of fat and 133 calories per serving. Ready for the comparison? Regular meatloaf can pack 45 grams of fat and 720 calories.
Start to finish: 45 minutes (15 minutes active)
6 ounces cremini mushrooms
1 cup puffed kamut cereal
1/3 cup fat-free, reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 egg white, lightly beaten
1 garlic clove, peeled and minced
4 tablespoons low-sugar ketchup, divided
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
8 ounces 96-percent lean ground beef
4 ounces 99-percent fat-free ground turkey breast
Heat oven to 375 F.
Place the mushrooms in a food processor, then pulse until they are finely chopped. Scrape mushrooms into a large mixing bowl. Add the kamut and broth to processor, then process until kamut is coarsely crushed.
To bowl of mushrooms, add crushed kamut to the broth, with the egg white, garlic, 2 tablespoons of ketchup, salt and pepper. Stir until well-mixed. Add the ground beef and ground turkey, then use your hands to mix well.
Spread meat mixture evenly in a nonstick loaf pan. Spread remaining 2 tablespoons ketchup evenly on top.
Bake in preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until meatloaf reaches 165 F. Remove from oven and carefully pour off excess liquid from pan, using a spatula to hold meatloaf in pan while pouring. Let meatloaf stand for 5 minutes. Slice into 4 servings.
Nutrition information per serving: 133 calories; 3 g fat (18 percent of total calories, 1 g saturated); 44 mg cholesterol; 6 g carbohydrate; 22 g protein; 1 g fiber; 269 mg sodium.
Rocco DiSpirito is author of the "Now Eat This!" and "Now Eat This! Diet" cookbooks.