Lighten Up! Chicken and Spinach Meatloaf

More recipes in the spirit of cleaner, lighter and healthier eating. This isn't a real "Temple Food" recipe, it's closer to a "Deceptively Delicious" recipe. Usually meatloaf and comfort foods are not words to describe healthier meals, but anything IS POSSIBLE if you retool your ingredients. I have a few meatloaf recipes in my repertoire that are fairly light but there's always a new way to improve the stats and cut the fats. For this meatloaf, I used ground chicken, chopped spinach, grated carrot and lots of seasonings. This was moist, tender and packed with flavor. So good that I felt that I could indulge in pan frying some polenta fries. Big mistake, while the polenta was delicious, frying, even in a minimal amount of oil made a mess of my kitchen. Oh well...
Top this with a simple tomato sauce or with "doctored-up" ketchup, to which you add garlic powder, onion powder and hot sauce. For side ingredients, consider a salad, side of greens and a lighter starch, such as mashed potatoes with pureed cauliflower, made with skim milk and light butter. Or be daring and make sautéed or baked polenta - from the prepared tube you can get at the grocery. The prepared polenta is a good blank canvas that cooks up quickly. It is fairly bland, so definitely season it well and handle it minimally.

Chicken and Spinach Meatloaf Ingredients:
  • 1 & 1/2 Cups Frozen Chopped Spinach - thawed and excess water squeezed out of the spinach
  • 1 Medium Carrot (about 1/2 cup) - peeled and finely grated
  • 1 Small Onion (about 1 cup) - finely diced
  • 4 Garlic Cloves - finely minced
  • 1/2 Bell Pepper (Red or Green) - finely diced
  • 1 Pound Ground Low-Fat Chicken or Lean Ground Turkey
  • 1 Egg - lightly beaten
  • 2 Tablespoons Dried Italian Seasonings
  • 2 Tablespoons Tomato Paste
  • 1/2 Tablespoon Salt
  • 1 Teaspoon Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • 1/2 to 1 Cup Whole Wheat Bread Crumbs - finely ground; use as much as needed
Directions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 1 pound loaf pan with cooking spray, set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients, the chopped, thawed and dried spinach through the ground chicken. Gently fold the ingredients together to combine.
  3. Mix in the beaten egg, Italian seasonings, tomato paste, salt and ground black pepper. Fold into the ground chicken mixture. Slowly add in the bread crumbs until the mixture will hold together and feels drier to the touch- the mixture will be somewhat sticky, but firm. You may not need the whole cup of bread crumbs.
  4. Put the mixture into the prepared loaf pan and place the loaf pan onto a baking sheet (to catch any spills). Place in the preheated oven and bake for about 1 hour, checking and rotating the loaf pan every 20 minutes. The meatloaf is done with a) an instant read meat thermometer reaches 180 degrees or b) the meatloaf appears browned on the top and when pierced with a knife the juices run clear and it feels firm and dense.
  5. Allow the meatloaf to cool in the pan for at least 20 to 30 minutes before serving so the juices can redistribute into the meatloaf and so it can "set-up".
  6. To serve, turn loaf pan upside down and remove from pan. Slice and top each slice with your favorite tomato sauce concoction or with spicy ketchup. Makes 8 slices/4 generous servings.

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