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Comfort foods can be good for you, too

Healthy Comfort Foods 04-07 feature
You can make comfort food recipes healthier by what you add – not what you take away.

Sometimes you just need a hug.

And sometimes you want comfort in what you eat. We all crave comfort foods from time to time, but indulging isn’t healthy because comfort foods often are high in calories and carbohydrates.

Comfort foods don’t have to be off limits

You can make comfort food recipes healthier by what you add – not what you take away.

This meatloaf recipe is chock full of flavor and veggies, and you could add other vegetables, too. The only thing it lacks is extra fat and calories.

Serve this meatloaf recipe with a side of garlic mashed potatoes made with sour cream and fresh herbs and you’ve got a healthy hug on a plate. If you’re looking to cut carbs further, skip the mashed potatoes and substitute another vegetable, or try steaming cauliflower, blend it and prepare in place of the potatoes.

Basic Meatloaf

Prep time: 30 minutes

Total time: 1 hour 30 minutes

Servings: 10


  • 1 large onion, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 large green bell pepper, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 2 large stalks celery, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil or canola oil
  • 5 tablespoons ketchup, divided
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 3/4 cup dry whole-wheat breadcrumbs (See Tip)
  • 2 pounds lean (90-percent or leaner) ground beef


Preheat oven to 375F. Coat a large rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray (or see loaf pan variation).

Pulse onion, bell pepper and celery in a food processor until finely chopped, or finely chop them with a knife.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the vegetables and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and most of the liquid has evaporated, 5 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and let cool for 10 minutes.

Add 2 tablespoons ketchup, Worcestershire, mustard, paprika, garlic powder, salt and pepper to the vegetables; stir to combine. Stir in egg and breadcrumbs. Add ground beef and with clean hands gently knead the vegetable mixture into the meat; do not overmix. Pat the meat mixture into a loaf shape (about 12 by 5 inches) on the prepared baking sheet. Spread the remaining 3 tablespoons ketchup on top.

Bake the meatloaf until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center registers 165F, about 45 minutes. Let rest for 10 minutes before slicing.

Tip: To make your own fresh breadcrumbs, trim crusts from whole-wheat bread. Tear bread into pieces and process in a food processor until coarse crumbs form. To make fine breadcrumbs, process until very fine. To make dry breadcrumbs, spread coarse or fine breadcrumbs on a baking sheet and bake at 250F until dry, about 10 to 15 minutes. One slice of bread makes about 1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs or about 1/3 cup dry breadcrumbs.

Loaf pan variation: If you want a more uniform-shaped loaf you can bake your meatloaf in a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan instead of on a baking sheet. Coat the pan with cooking spray, pat the meatloaf mixture into the pan and cover with the topping. Bake for about 1 hour. Let stand for 10 minutes in the pan before slicing.

Nutrition information

Each serving contains about 209 calories; 12 g fat; 7 g carbohydrates; 20 g protein; 200 mg sodium; 4 g sugar.

Source: eatingwell.com

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3 responses to “Comfort foods can be good for you, too”

  1. Judy Burt

    I am wondering how the meatloaf recipe posted above can only have 66 calories per serving. I use 1 lb of 93/7 ground beef and that alone has 662 calories. Is my calorie counting app off or the recipe?

    1. Nancy

      It is low! I know one serving of meat is roughly the size of a deck of cards. Maybe this explains the low calorie count.

    2. Kirsten Shakal, Shine365 Editor

      Thank you for bringing this to our attention, Judy. The nutrition information came from eatingwell.com, and one of our nutritionists has confirmed that it's not quite accurate. I've updated the post to reflect this. Each serving of this meatloaf contains about 209 calories; 12 g fat; 7 g carbohydrates; 20 g protein; 200 mg sodium; 4 g sugar


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