I have made my turkey meatloaf recipe constantly over the years. It wasn’t so long ago that this was Little Guy’s favorite, but now, sadly he is going through a phase where he would rather live on chicken nuggets and pizza. This recipe is my adaptation of a recipe from America’s Test Kitchen’s The Best Light Recipe cookbook. However, I recently discovered another recipe for turkey meatloaf that used Quinoa instead of breadcrumbs as a binder. Not only does this make the recipe gluten-free, but loads the meatloaf with healthy whole-grain. I liked the quinoa recipe, but it lacked the flavor and veggies that my turkey meatloaf had. So I combined my well loved recipe with the quinoa, and the result was the best of both.
This meatloaf is packed with everything needed for a healthy meal; lean protein, healthy grains, veggies, lean dairy and lots of flavor. So, even if the little ones eat nothing else, they are still getting a full meal. Little Guy is on board too. At first it was begrudgingly, but he kept eating after his requisite four bites. That’s a major success in my house.
As usual, I disguise the veggies by chopping them up very fine. The carrots (an addition of my own) help lighten the texture, add an additional sweetness to the meatloaf and also add even more veggies to the dish. I use around three carrots for a two pound recipe, and pulse them and onions in a food processor until very fine before sautéing them in a tiny bit of oil until tender. I know that purists out there will argue that chopping the onions in a food processor will make them bitter, but I can’t tell and I don’t have time to Bruniose onions and carrots these days, so the food processor handles the job for me.
I don’t have problems getting my son to eat the green specks of parsley and thyme in this dish because when he was less opinionated I explained that the Italian seasoning on his pizza were magic sprinkles that made everything taste good. Ever since then, when he sees me adding fresh green herbs to things, he just asks if the magic sprinkles are going to make it taste good. I highly recommend this approach! However, if your kid is of the nothing-green ilk, then you can leave the herbs out.
This recipe calls for two pounds of ground turkey and makes either one large loaf or two smaller ones. With all my kids still small, we only need half of this recipe for our family. I always use fresh, never-frozen ground turkey when I make this so I can freeze half and have a freshly baked meatloaf for another night. I do not add the sauce before I freeze it, and thaw it thoroughly before baking. Then when I’m ready to bake it off, I mix up a half recipe of the sauce and bake as normal.
If you are using previously frozen turkey and you still want to make a full recipe of meatloaf and freeze half, just bake it before refreezing (although I think the rule about never refreezing meat is a bit silly if you are careful with the way the meat was thawed and handled). You can also half this recipe and just make up one pound of turkey.
It’s healthy, it tastes good, its gluten-free and full of healthy grains. Your kid will like it, so just make it already. ’nuff said! Enjoy.
Kid Friendly Veggie-Full Quinoa Turkey Meatloaf
Adapted from The Best Light Recipe and this Turkey Quinoa Meatloaf Recipe found on allrecipes.com