As mentioned in the first episode of A Cleaner Plate ,I was inspired by a client to create this unique twist on the classic meatloaf. She recently started an elimination diet and was extremely restricted as far as ingredients go. As her personal chef I had to start getting very creative with finding various combinations of the few foods she could eat. In phase 3 of her diet she was allowed beef, sunflower seeds, onions, leeks, celery and eggs, which to me screamed MEATLOAF!
The sunflower seeds really do add a nice crunch to the meatloaf, which typically lacks texture. You can pulse them as fine as you want but for more texture leave them a little chunckier. The sunflower seeds replaced the breadcrumbs so these meatloaves are gluten free and have increased nutritional value due to the seeds. I love a good two for one! I use raw sunflower seeds, they are a great source of essential fatty acids, vitamin E and many essential minerals. There are many variations to this meatloaf as well so you can switch it up when you are in the mood for something a little different. For the protein you can use ground turkey, a meatloaf mix or even bison. You could also try subbing in nuts such as cashews or pine nuts instead of the sunflower seeds. I also added spinach because I put spinach in everything, why not!
Even if you are not a meatloaf fan I highly recommend trying these. I like to portion them out into mini meatloaves for quicker cooking and portion control but you could also make one large meatloaf out of it or even meatballs!! Double the recipe and freeze half for another busy week. Bon appetit!
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped or pulsed in food processor
- 1 medium leek, halved, washed and sliced, white and light green part only
- 1 stalk celery, finally chopped or pulsed in food processor
- 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2-3/4 cup raw sunflower seeds, run through a food processor
- 1 cup frozen spinach, thawed and drained
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp pepper (optional)
- 2 eggs, lightly whisked
- 2 pounds ground beef or turkey or meatloaf mix
- In a medium sauté pan, add 1 TBS oil on medium –high heat. Add onions, leeks and celery and cook about 5 minutes until onions are translucent and leeks are soft.
- Add garlic and sauté 30 seconds. Take off the heat and place mixture into a large bowl to cool.
- Add sunflower seeds, spinach, salt and pepper (if using) and stir well to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning.
- Add eggs to the bowl and mix well.
- Place meat into the bowl and use your hands to mix until JUST combined… DO NOT overmix.
- Form into 6-7 mini meatloaves (about 1 cup each) and place on a parchment lined baking sheet.
- Bake at 400F 20-30 minutes or until the internal temperature registers 165F.