Meat loaf - the Nourishing Traditions way

9 October 2009

When I stopped eating meat for all those years, the one thing I missed was meatloaf. Ha! Meatloaf is a frugal favourite for a lot of people. I like it because it's a tasty, cheap meal and I can cook one meatloaf and it will do us for dinners and sandwiches for quite a few days. On the first day I always bake vegetables in the oven alongside the meatloaf, the second day I slice a few pieces off and reheat them, they are served with mashed potato, pumpkin, carrots and silverbeet. The third day it's cold meatloaf with salad.

Everyone has their own favourite recipe, and I have mine, but since I read Nourishing Traditions, I've modified my recipe slightly. Here is the Nourishing Traditions recipe:

2 pounds (1 kilo) of ground beef or any other red meat
½ pound of ground heart (optional) - I don't add this
1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped - I grate the carrot
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
4 tablespoons butter
¼ teaspoon dried chilli flakes
1 teaspoon dried thyme - I use fresh thyme
1 teaspoon cracked pepper
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 ½ cups whole grain bread crumbs - I use three slices whole grain bread
1 cup cream - I use ½ cup milk
1 egg - I add two eggs in with the milk
1 tablespoon fish sauce (optional)
4 tablespoons tomato paste - I don't add this

Saute onions, carrot and celery in butter until soft. Add chilli flakes, thyme, pepper and salt and stir around. [Take off heat and allow to cool] Meanwhile, soak bread crumbs in beaten eggs and milk.
Have a 9 inch Pyrex pan ready. Using your hands, mix meat with vegetables, soaked bread, and fish sauce. Form into a loaf and put in the pan. Spread tomato paste on top and bake in the oven on 350 F (180C) for 1½ hours. I don't cook my meatloaf in a loaf pan. I form it into a loaf and put it into a baking dish. I prefer this method because I think putting it in a loaf pan makes it stew in the juices instead of roasting it.

You don't need to buy the extra lean ground beef for this dish. According to Nourishing Traditions (page 357) The University of Missouri conducted tests on regular, lean and extra lean ground beef. They found that the broiling (grilling) process almost levelled out the cholesterol and fat content of the beef. They started as 28.5 percent for the regular beef and nine percent for the extra lean. The higher fat beef lost mainly fat and cholesterol while the leaner meat lost moisture. In the end the regular beef had only four percent more fat than the leaner beef but the test tasters said the regular beef was juicer and more tender.

If you would like to serve a good gravy with the meatloaf, throw out that gravy mix and do this instead. When you take the meat from the roasting pan, drain off any excess fat in the pan keeping about ½ cup - it needs to cover the bottom of the pan. Add salt and pepper, ½ cup plain (all purpose) flour and stir this all together over a medium heat. Stand at the pan and keep stirring because this can easily burn. What you're trying to do is to develop a deep brown colour in the mix without burning it. When it gets towards the colour you like for your gravy, add homemade stock if you have it (beef or chicken will do) or water if you have no stock. Stir quickly, to prevent lumps forming, until the liquid is thick and lump-free. Turn the gravy right down to a very low heat and serve your meat and vegetables and then pour the hot gravy on top of the meat. This gravy will store in the fridge for one night - use it the next day.

I'm going to be busy today. I have some fundraising baking to do this morning. I'm making a couple of dozen mini quiches to be sold at our stall this morning. If you're in Maleny, please drop buy, we have cakes, slices, plants and books, and all money raised goes to the Maleny Neighbourhood Centre. After I drop off the quiches, I'll come home again to tidy up and after lunch I'll drive Hanno to the doctor. He's been having trouble with his knee for some time and his doctor has referred him on to a specialist. I am keeping my fingers crossed that it's nothing serious.

There is a bit of work to be done over the weekend but I hope to get through it all early so I can spend a bit of time knitting and sewing. There are always things to do when you make the majority of what you use - sometimes you look forward to the tasks, sometimes you don't But overall being busy with life tasks fills my days with interesting work and that is the most anyone can hope for. I'd take interesting work over watching "soapies", shopping and "retirement" any day.

Thank you for your comments here and visits to the forum this week. I love reading your comments, they give me the feeling that I'm not alone and inspire me more than you can know. I hope you have a peaceful weekend.


  1. My family love meatloaf also. I do mine with 50/50 of mince and sausage meat and add a good dollop of sweet chilli sauce to the other seasonings. Favourite is cold meatloaf with a salad and homemade chutney.
    Wishing you a wonderful weekend and hoping Hanno's knee heals well

  2. Thanks for the meatloaf recipe - I've never made meatloaf - there always seems to be too much, well, meat!
    I hope everything goes well with Hanno. Good luck with the fundraising.

  3. I have always loved meatloaf too. That is very interesting about the fat in ground beef! I will have to try your gravy, sounds good.

  4. Oh meatloaf is one of my favorites! I just posted my own recipe on my blog- yours looks good too! :D There are some ingredients here that I never used, I didn't know you could use bread crumbs. We always used oatmeal, but now I know what to do with stale bread! :D I don't use a bread pan either... the fat comes out of the beef much better in a casserole dish and then I can just scoop it out. Another good, cheap gravy that I use for roast and meatloaf is:
    1/2 c. ketchup
    1/2 c. water
    2 T. beef buillon
    2 T. natural brown sugar or maple syrup
    Mix that all together and pour over top. :D I hope your fundraiser goes well! I would come, but I'm on the other side of the world. :D Have a spectacular day!

  5. I'm guessing that the heart is included to increase the iron content and prevent wastage of offal. Can't understand the cream, though. Can't really understand cooking the onion beforehand either; it would probably improve the flavour slightly, but at a distinct expense in time.

    You might already have encountered Aberdeen Sausage, Rhonda -- it uses rolled oats in place of the breadcrumbs.

  6. Morning Rhonda,
    I think I'll try that yummy meatloaf as I have my hubby home from hospital recovering after having some tumours removed and skin grafts.Your photo makes it look very appettising.
    I wish Hanno good luck and I hope it's not something serious. That's one of the problems with getting older. We always hope for the best.
    Have a lovely day and I hope your fundraising goes well.


  7. How funny
    I just sat down to stop by and see how your doing.
    I have a meat loaf in the oven.
    A little different style.

    half beef/pork sage sausage
    and more sage

    Your page loaded real slowly your getting a lot of bog down. I have a very fast connection. Perhaps something is up with your blog.

  8. Hi Rhonda,

    Thanks very much for another great recipe to try. I'll be looking though your blog on the weekend to write down some of your other recipes. Mid next week I'm going home to the family farm to look after my dad - he had a hip replacement yesterday. I'm looking forward to spending the week with him and cooking and cleaning and chatting and looking after him. I don't get to spend enough time with him but when I do go home I like to bake him things because he enjoys it so. I've made him your walnut cake and the lemon cake and sent you the photos if you remember :)

    For when he's resting and I'm organised with the cooking, I plan on doing some hand craft, I think some stitchery which I've started as christmas presents. I'm greatful for some time to slow down and do it.

    At first I was a little worried that I'll have no internet or mobile signal and to be honest, I am sure I will miss it, but it will be nice to have a break from it.

    Thank you for everything you share and for your lovely ideas. I hope you feel like you've helped look after my dad too :)

    I hope hanno is okay with his knee, do let us know.

    Take care,
    Chantel from Ashfield

  9. Hi Rhonda,

    I have waxed lyrical about your blog in the comments before, so I find it quite hard to have to disagree with your recommendation of "Nourishing Traditions". I requested the book through library interloan, and the first bit I read was "Feeding Babies". I feel very strongly that her advice in that chapter is irresponsible at best, and downright dangerous at worst.

    I won't go into the details or this comment will get far too long, but to name a few, stating that the quality of breast milk "greatly" depends on diet is false (unless you are literally starving), "breastfeeding should ideally be continued for six months to a year" is also false, recommending homemade raw milk(!!) formula over commercial formula is dangerous!

    Those readers of your blog with babies who are thinking of following the recommendations in this book, please check out the World Health Organisation and La Leche League recommendations on these issues, before you make a decision. These organisations base their advice on huge volumes of research, which runs contrary to Sally Fallon's advice.

    Rhonda, you are a source of wisdom to many, and I would ask you to please check out what I'm saying before continuing to recommend this book.

    My own background (should you wish to know it): Registered Nurse with experience in a Special Care Baby Unit, post graduate training as Plunket Nurse (not sure of Aussie equivalent, community based nurse seeing children from 0-5 years, but mostly as babies), and La Leche League Leader.

    Marjon (NZ)

  10. thanks for your recipe, Courtney

    Chantel, I hope your dad recovers quickly. I'm sure he'll enjoy having you there. And yes, I do remember the cake photo. :- )

    Marjon, thanks for your input, I appreciate it. I haven't read the Feeding Babies section as I have no babies to feed at the moment. But knowing your considered and expert opinion will, I am sure, help young mothers choose the best option for their babies.

  11. Despite buying ground beef most weeks, I've never attempted meatloaf before so maybe this weekend might be the time to have a go.

    Give my best to Hanno - hopefully the knee will be ok and just need some rest and physio?

    Have a great weekend Rhonda

  12. Thanks Rhonda, "considered" opinion maybe, but "expert" I think belongs to the World Health Organisation and La Leche League.

    I wasn't sure whether to put in my background as I don't want to come across as a know-all, more to show that my strong opinion is based on a reasonable amount of experience :o)


  13. Rhonda - what a beautiful looking meatloaf. Many thanks for your recipe and method. Fish sauce will give such a flavour boost.

    I hope Hanno's knee can be sorted out in a kind manner. Care and love to you each and both from a very wet, windy and chilly Wellington,

    Michelle (Zebbycat is sleeping under his quilt tonight)

  14. Cookie: Adding the cream makes the meatloaf a bit lighter in texture, I find. I've just started doing this during the last year and I like the results.

    I also add tomato sauce or chopped tomatoes into my loaves. It's just personal preference. I think I'll try making a gravy next time. I usually just throw the juices away.

    Rhonda Jean, thanks so much for setting up the forum. It's a great source of information and there are a lot of amazing people there. Very talented and knowledgable ones, willing to share their knowledge. I love that. I do have to limited my time spent there though. It can eat up my time very easily!

  15. I love meatloaf and your photo looks so good Rhonda..adding some spice is great. And the next day cold meatloaf sanwiches are a treat!
    The best to Hanno..

  16. Hello Rhonda. Someone mentioned she found your download slow. No problem with my connection so it probably isn't you.
    Now I know what to do with the mince in the fridge. Was intending to make bol sauce, but that always leads to too many carbs (with pasta) before going to bed, so your meat loaf it will be! Thanks.

  17. I'm glad you posted this. I love meatloaf and for some reason I never make it. I think I'll buy some mince today and give it a go for tonight.

  18. I don't make meatloaf all that often, but it is one of my favorite cold weather meals. I use ground turkey instead of ground beef, usually. I basically just throw everything together and add a little catsup, then bake it for 45 minutes or so until it's done. It's so easy and always popular around my house. Your recipe sounds very good.

  19. Gosh, that's a blast from the past - I haven't made Meatloaf since I was married first time round - back in the 1970s. I have a very fussy husband now so I'm not sure if he'd try it, but I could make a small one for myself . . .

    I hope that Hanno's knee gets sorted soon.

  20. Mmm. We just had meatloaf a day ago. It always goes down well. I am reading nourishing traditions again and am remembering so much information I had already forgotten about.

  21. What is fish sauce? Is that what here in the US we call seafood cocktail sauce - catsup, horseradish, lemon juice & maybe a little minced onion?

  22. Jean, fish sauce is a south east asian ingredient that is made by fermenting fish. I know the cocktail sauce you mean, it's not that. This is a clear amber coloured sauce.

  23. I always shape my loaf on a broiler [grill] pan so the fat drops away. My kids are very fat-phobic!

  24. I made this last night for my kids. It's very rare that a new recipe gets the seal of approval from all 5 of us, but this one did!

  25. Nice texture, nice flavor, very moist. I halved the recipe (added a Tbsp of ketchup to the mix) & made my loaf just as wide as yours but flatter (wanted it to cook faster). Started at 375 for 30 min, wasn't fast enough so cooked last 20 min or so at 400. Turned out great. Still had 8 servings of meat. Plus, it was a great way to use some of a "yucky" loaf of bread in the freezer (never make bread that calls for 4 tsp. baking soda :p) Bread blended into the flavor of the loaf! Thanks!

  26. I add rolled oats instead of breadcrumbs to meatloaf to get a different texture as done by my mother in law.