And What's More, Baby, I Can Cook!!

(song: I Can Cook Too/artists: Comden & Green)

Whether you've known me for fifteen minutes or fifteen years, you know two things about me: I love to eat, and I hate to cook. I mean, I HATE, with a white-hot I've heard it said that I don't cook. Not true - I cook at least five nights a week. I just don't enjoy it. Nor, do I do  it well. I simply cannot relate to people that love to cook. What's to love? Prep, assembly, making a mess, cleaning it up. All for twenty minutes of satisfaction? It's so much work. And the idea of coming up with a new dish every friggin day?!  Plus, I have a crap hole kitchen with next-to-no counter space and no flow. I mean, would you cook here?
My kitchen: Where culinary dreams go to die.

If your answer was yes, feel free to come over ANY time.

But since we are not Oprah, we can't hire a live-in chef, so I HAVE to cook. And since I love being fit, I have to cook healthy fare. So I'm officially in the "acceptance" stage of the seven stages of cooking depression.

I need simple recipes. And I mean S-I-M-P-L-E. Don't give me that "only 20 minutes" crap, if you have to chop and sauté and prep for 45-minutes before you actually start cooking. Twenty minutes must equal twenty minutes, or I'm out.

So, the other night, my hubby tells me he's craving meatloaf. I guess after 11 years of Monday chicken night, a guy gets bored. So I set out to make his meatloaf dreams come true, while staying healthy. I referred to my cookbook collection - my very dusty and rarely used, cookbook collection - and settled on Jessica Seinfeld's Deceptively Delicious and Monica Lynn's 5 Square Low Carb Meals cookbooks. Jessica is known for hiding veggies in her recipes so that kids will eat it but not know it's good for them. Monica is known for sucking all of the enjoyment right out of eating. I kid, sort-of. Monica's company provided the food for the fitness test group I was in last year. Thanks to Monica, I learned a lot about balanced nutrition. I still follow a 5-meal-a-day plan, and I still eat a relatively low-carb/low-sodium diet. It's what works for me, and how I've maintained my weight and size for nearly a year now. So I took a few ideas from Jessica's meatloaf recipe, a few from from Monica's, made some of my own tweaks, and voila!  My first recipe!

You'll notice, there's no added salt, no eggs, no breadcrumbs. You can thank Monica Lynn for that. It's a low-carb, low-sodium, low-fat meal. If you want real meatloaf, go to a diner.

Formerly Fat Mom's healthier-than-regular-meatloaf Italian Meatloaf! 

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.

  • 1 pound very lean turkey {I've used all breast, and it was just fine. Not dry at all. If you want something heartier, try 1/2 pound lean pork, mixed with 1/2 pound of lean turkey}
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1/2 cup carrot puree, or butternut squash puree {I've tried both and had great results. The carrot was a bit more visible and a little harder to get past the 4-year-old...}
  • 2.5 tablespoons of oats {That's right, whole oats. No breadcrumbs for you!} 
  • 2 tablespoons of chopped garlic {I buy it pre-chopped. Feel free to press fresh cloves if you're so inclined.}
  • 2 teaspoons parsley {Again, I hate cooking/prep. It's recommended you chop fresh parsley. That's not for me. I scooped it right out of the spice jar.}
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil {If I sauté my onion in olive oil, I skip this. It's your call.) 
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese {This is your salt. Trust me, it's yummy.}
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning - divided {That means 1 teaspoon now, 1 teaspoon later. Seriously, I just learned that...}
  • 1/2 cup chopped or diced canned tomatoes

In a mixing bowl, combine:
  • Turkey
  • Onion {Optional prep: sauté the onion first. I know I promised no prep, but some people like the onion cooked first. I've made it with raw onion before. It was okay to me, but if you don't want that crunchy texture, sauté the onion in a bit of olive oil first. You might as well throw the garlic in there too...}
  • Carrot puree
  • Oats
  • Garlic
  • Parsley
  • Olive oil
  • Parmesan
  • ONE teaspoon of the Italian seasoning
This time, I cooked the onion first...
  •   Mix it all up, then dump it into a meatloaf pan.

Mmmm, raw meatloaf
  • Bake for 30 minutes at 375 degrees.
  • Remove from oven, then spoon 1/2 cup diced/crushed/chopped tomatoes on top. Sprinkle the remaining teaspoon of Italian seasoning onto the tomatoes.
  • Cook for another 10 minutes at 375, then remove and let it cool. MANGIA!

It should look something like this:

This time, I used the half pork/half turkey breast combo, with butternut squash puree and chopped tomatoes. Went a little canned-goods-crazy at Costco and ended up with 12 cans of organic chopped tomatoes...

This one is all turkey breast, with carrot puree, topped with crushed tomatoes. Go crazy!

Now, if you introduce this to your 4-year-old son that lives on an all-mac-and-cheese diet, he may react like this:
It was bad enough that I made him eat protein, but the broccoli sent him right over the edge.

If your husband thinks he coming home to dry chicken breast (again), but you surprise him with your fancy new meatloaf recipe, he may react like this:
The stomach truly is the fastest path to the heart.