For a while now, we've been playing around with meat-free dinners in hopes of cutting down our meat consumption. Since we started buying grass-fed beef and free-range chickens our meat budget has been harder to meet. Haha, pun intended. But it has been worth the change (even my husband thinks so). It is amazing how the meat that we buy now actually tastes like... well, meat. Beef tastes like beef; chicken tastes like chicken... ect. We used to buy our ground beef at Walmart until one horrible eye-opening night when my thoughts on meat changed forever...
I had already watched Food Inc. so I was aware of the dangers of the meat industry. And I was going to start making changes to our meat purchases. I really was... really. But one night I opened up a package of ground beef from Walmart. It smelled fine but it looked strange, sort of an off color. I went ahead and cooked it anyway and didn't think twice about it. I noticed as I cooked it that it was very crumbly. So I tasted it. And had my husband taste it. It did NOT taste like hamburger. At all.
So I threw it out.
To this day, I have no idea what was in that package of meat.
Immediately, we stopped buying meat from unknown sources and started visiting our local meat market. We were shocked at the difference in taste quality. If you normally purchase meat from a grocer that sells pre-packaged "fresh" meat, you probably don't even realize what you are missing out on as far as taste goes. We didn't.
Better meat is more costly, however. Since we decided it was worth the extra money to have better quality meat (and that it is safer), we decided to cut costs in other ways. Like eating less meat products.
Bringing it back around...
I found a mock meatloaf recipe and tweaked it a little. It turned out GREAT!!! The whole family loved it. Here's my recipe:
2 Tbs. olive oil
2 Tbs. water
2 Tbs. tomato paste
1/2 med red onion, shredded
4-5 cloves of garlic, shredded (I use a small hand-held grater)
1 roasted red pepper (from a jar), diced
2 cups fresh spinach leaves, chopped
1/4 cup shredded carrot
3/4 cup cooked oatmeal (save some from breakfast in the morning, or you could use quick cooking oats)
1 1/2 cups cooked lentils (I cooked mine with beef broth. You could also use mushroom broth.)
1/4 cup asiago or Parmesan
2 oz. feta, crumbled
4 oz. falafel mix (I used a third of a 12 oz. package)
3 Tbs. whole wheat flour
2 Tbs. ketchup
2 Tbs. barbecue sauce
In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, oil, water, tomato paste, grated onion and garlic. Stir in the next eight ingredients and mix. Add just enough flour to make the mixture hold together.
Form into a loaf and place in a shallow baking pan. Bake at 350* for about 30 minutes. Make sure the internal temperature reaches 150*. For the last five minutes of cooking, spread the ketchup and barbecue sauce over the top and return to oven. Allow to cool 5 minutes before slicing.
*Tip- I used a butter knife to butter the loaf pan, just like you would a piece of bread.