No-Meatloaf for Diane!

My friend Diane, told me she’s looking for a meat-free loaf recipe that actually tastes good and looks close to the old familiar loaf. I was happy to take up the challenge and began researching loaf recipes on the internet and in my cookbooks. I discovered that lentil loaf was a popular recipe made over and over in similar ways, but yet, they were all a bit different. The technique was the same…cook the lentils, let cool. Cook the filler vegetables till soft, then set them aside to cool. Put everything in a food processor and pulse a few times till mixture holds together but still has texture and bake.

The recipe went together fairly easy and tasted good. Texture was good. Visual was good. The one thing I didn’t like was the strong taste of lentils. Now, I love a good bowl of lentil soup, but lentil loaf was new to me and I’m not sure I’m that big a fan. I was hoping to make tweaks to the recipe and make it taste differently, maybe even better.  So I decided to use bulgur instead of lentils to hopefully give the loaf a firmer texture, pleasing to the pallet without the lentil taste I was kind of leery of. I played with the seasonings until I came up with something very tasty and was very easy to imagine serving this loaf with mashed potatoes, peas and mushroom gravy.

Diane, this recipe is for you. I thank you for sending me on this quest for a tasty loaf recipe.I’ve had challenges in the past baking a no-meat loaf, and so, when I tried this recipe, I was very pleased. The recipe is definitely a mixture of many different recipes I researched but with tweaks added that make it my own.

Enjoy, my friend, and thank you so very much for letting me share this challenge with you. This recipe can be made with bulgur or Lentils. The choice being up to the cook’s personal choice and preference and whoever the finished recipe is intended for.

Bulgar Oatmeal Meatless Loaf

1 carrot, 1 onion, peeled and chopped

1 stalk celery, chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced

Saute above ingredients in pan over medium hear, using water saute, about 5 to 7 minutes, until softened. Set aside and let cool.

1/2 cup bulgur and 1 cup boiling water.

Add boiling water to bulgur in a heat-proof bowl or container with a lid. Let reconstitute for approximately 15 minutes, and set aside until mixture reaches room temperature.

Preheat oven to 375 F

In food processor put in sauted carrots, onions, celery and garlic. Also add in the cooled bulgur and continue adding the following ingredients to the food processor.

1 cup old-fashioned oats, uncooked

1 tsp dried thyme

1 tsp chili powder

3 Tbsp ground flax seed

3 Tbsp nutritional yeast

2 tsp vegan worcestershire sauce

1 Tbsp soy sauce, or Tamari sauce

2 Tbsp black bean paste

2 Tbsp tomato paste

1 Tbsp maple syrup

salt and pepper to taste

Pulse until mixture is combined, but still has texture. Don’t over process or you will get a paste.

Transfer mixture into loaf pan. To save calories and clean-up mess, use parchment paper to line the loaf pan or use a silicone loaf pan.

For the glaze, combine 4 Tbsp tomato paste, 2 Tbsp maple syrup, 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper to taste. Spread over the top of the loaf, reserving some of the sauce to use as a sauce when serving the loaf.

Cover with aluminum foil and bake in oven for 30 minutes,

Remove foil and bake 10 minutes more, Remove from oven and let loaf set for 10 minutes before carefully removing from the pan.Slice with a sharp knife. Great with mashed potatoes and peas and mushroom gravy.

Any leftovers will make a great no-meat loaf sandwich.

Lentils may be used instead of bulgur. Cook 1/2 cup dried lentils until tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. You should end up with 1 cup cooked lentils. Let cool and add to processor in place of bulgur and  proceed with recipe.





An Introduction; How I got to be where I am at today…

I have been in love with food and cooking for a very long time.As a child, I would beg my mother to let me look at her cookbooks. Even before I could read, I would spend so much time looking at page after page of pictures of beautiful food. And when I did learn to read, I would devour every word in every recipe. My favorite types of cookbooks where the wordy ones that told stories and and explained why and how something was cooked using a certain technique, and explained how it was served.

When my mother felt I was old enough to try cooking a recipe, she would read the recipe with me and then offer her support while I tried my hand at it, sometimes the experiment was just as new to her and I could sense her trepidation, and yet she never discouraged my exploration. My mother was not a great cook. And by that, what I mean is she always made us meals, always cooked from scratch and some things she did cook really well. Her roasted chicken was to die for. I’ve never seen  anyone ever been able to cook a chicken like she could; hers was always tender and juicy. Just don’t ask her to give you fried chicken- you would get black crispy nuggets pink on the inside, or you might get soggy, doughy, greasy pieces of something that might have been a chicken…I think she didn’t have the patience or the desire to fuss much about cooking, and a lot of her cooking was in a rush just to get it done. But, she always made sure we were fed, so when I think back on it, I’m glad she took the time to support me in what she thought was my hobby.

I also was a chubby child, who grew to be a chubby teenager, who grew to be an obese adult. So naturally, I also became interested in diet and wellness. My interests in eating and cooking and wellness was always evolving and I began studying the nutrition guidelines set forth by the nutrition experts and trying every kind of diet in vogue for the time. I then discovered alternative medicine and their varying guidelines of nutrition and well being, and I continued to battle the weight issues, and I continued to love the food world and dreamed of being a chef. In my early forties I had my chance to go to culinary school and learned about french cooking in a Le Cordon Bleau school. I enjoyed every moment in those classes and learned so much valuable information, and I had many amazing instructors. But one thing I learned during my externship  was that I didn’t like restaurant cooking. So I knew I would have to look elsewhere for satisfaction in a food career. My other passions are writing, shopping and sharing information, so it made perfect sense for me to start a blog in which I could do all of those things.

When I graduated from my culinary school I weighed 345 pounds. My weight made physical movement very uncomfortable and I also feel it held me back in other areas of my life, not just my culinary career. I also was becoming increasingly unhealthy and would need to soon pay attention to my weight if I wanted to become healthy again. And this is when I began learning about a plant based diet and its health benefits. I read many books and cookbooks on the subject and began to learn about plant based cooking. Admittedly, there were a lot of recipes that were boring or not very good tasting, but there were other recipes that were very tasty and very satisfying and very nutritious. So, I began to research and experiment and see if I could make this work for me. I’ve been successful. Although I’ve had many failed recipes, I’ve made other recipes that worked quite well: I regained my health and lost 125 pounds and am still losing. It’s been slow but positive, and its been a lesson for me in embracing a lifestyle change and making it stick..

In future posts I will be sharing anecdotes, stories, and recipes I develop and recipes that others have written and share with you my results of both. I will also share my thoughts and sometimes my philosophies on food, life, 20151105_161918nutrition and well-being. I am not a doctor or a dietitian, but I have lived long enough to have gained a certain wisdom and I will share with you what has worked for me and what hasn’t worked for me, Hopefully I will present to you food for thought for you to chew on as you continue on your journey through this wonderful gift of life we are given. May you be healthful and happy.