Meatloaf: The ultimate comfort food goes low-cal

Temperatures have finally fallen below zero here in Vermont and the wind chill is literally numbing my mind. Weather like this makes me want to stay inside and cook up hearty comfort-food recipes. Meatloaf, one of my ultimate comfort foods, fits the bill perfectly.

Our Meatloaf (recipe below) was inspired by a delicious, but high-fat, high-sodium version. To make it healthier, but just as tasty, we added richly flavored dried mushrooms and whole-grain bulgur to increase fiber, vitamins and minerals and decrease the saturated fat.

Here's how our madeover version stacks up against the less-healthy original:

Traditional Meatloaf

  • Calories: 342
  • Fat: 15 g
  • Saturated Fat: 6 g
  • Sodium: 1,200 mg
  • Fiber: 2 g

EatingWell's Meatloaf

  • Calories: 313
  • Fat: 10 g
  • Saturated Fat: 3 g
  • Sodium: 467 mg
  • Fiber: 6 g

Once you've tried our classic meatloaf recipe you may want to experiment with some of our other favorites:

Blue Ribbon Meatloaf: In revisiting this classic, we put the meat back in the "loaf" by using ultra-lean ground beef and turkey. With fresh whole-wheat breadcrumbs and beer-simmered sweet onions, you'll never notice the missing fat.

Black Rice Curried Meatloaf: This one is baked with store-bought chutney on top and includes black rice. The rice stands in for some of the meat, making it healthier and gives it a great texture. If you can't find black rice, try it with easier-to-find long-grain brown.

Turkey Mini Meatloaves: A great option when you're pressed for time, these bake quickly and are ready (start to finish) in just 45 minutes. They include shredded zucchini in the mix, which keeps them moist and adds nutrients.

EatingWell's Meatloaf
This loaf is free-form, rather than baked in a loaf pan, which means more delicious browned crust. This recipe is large enough to feed a big group or, even better, have leftovers for a cold sandwich the next day.

1 cup dried mushrooms, such as shiitake, porcini or chanterelle
1 cup bulgur (see Ingredient Note, below)
1 cup boiling water
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
1/2 cup nonfat evaporated milk
1/2 cup ketchup
1 large egg
2 large egg whites
1 1/2 pounds 90%-lean ground beef
1 cup fine dry breadcrumbs
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt

1. Place mushrooms in a small bowl and cover with warm water; let stand for 30 minutes. Combine bulgur with the boiling water in another small bowl and let soak until the bulgur is tender and the water has been absorbed, about 30 minutes. Remove the mushrooms from the liquid; trim stems and coarsely chop caps.
2. Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray.
3. Heat oil in a small skillet over medium-low heat and add onion, celery and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Add Worcestershire and cook for 3 minutes, scraping the pan well as the mixture becomes sticky. Add tomatoes, evaporated milk and ketchup; stir to combine. Continue cooking until the mixture is very thick, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool.
4. Whisk egg and egg whites in a large bowl. Add beef, breadcrumbs, the soaked bulgur, the mushrooms and the tomato mixture. Stir in parsley, thyme and salt. Mix gently but thoroughly with your hands.
5. Mound the meatloaf mixture into a free-form loaf on the prepared baking sheet. Bake until the internal temperature reaches 165°F, 50 to 60 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

Makes 10 servings.

NUTRITION INFORMATION: Per serving: 313 calories; 10 g fat (3 g sat, 4 g mono); 66 mg cholesterol; 32 g carbohydrate; 24 g protein; 6 g fiber; 467 mg sodium; 488 mg potassium. Nutrition bonus: Iron (34% daily value), Zinc (26% dv), Selenium (25% dv).

Ingredient note: Bulgur is made by parboiling, drying and coarsely grinding or cracking wheat berries. It simply needs a quick soak in hot water for most uses. Look for it in the natural-foods section of large supermarkets, near other grains, or online at,

By Jessie Price

EatingWell food editor Jessie Price's professional background in food started when she worked in restaurant kitchens in the summers during college. She started out testing recipes for EatingWell and then joined the staff here full-time in 2004 when she moved to Vermont from San Francisco.

Related Links from EatingWell: