Vegetarian “Meat”loaf

A few weeks ago when I was in Maine with my parents I made these meatballs. I’ve been trying to get my dad to include more plant based protein to help lower his cholesterol but it’s a struggle. So I made these and he didn’t not like them. I call that a win in my book.


That time the process was a bit tedious. Cooking cauliflower and a mix of brown rice and quinoa took too long in an already humid/hot kitchen. The consistency was also a bit off so my meatballs were more like vegetarian patties. But the flavor was still on point.

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This week I was motivated to not go grocery shopping, but I also didn’t have any protein in the house besides some eggs and dried chickpeas. I found some rice cauliflower in my freezer and a bag of quinoa and knew what I was going to make: a simpler meatloaf version of those meatballs.

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Vegetarian “Meat”Balls

Ingredients: 

  • 1 bag cauliflower rice
  • 1 cup dry quinoa  
  • spices  
  • 4 eggs
  • 3/4 - 1 cup oatmeal  

Process: 

  1. Heat the cauliflower in the microwave until thawed. 
  2. Cook quinoa according to package directions (bring 1 cup quinoa to a boil in 2 cups water and then simmer until water dissolved). 
  3. Mix all ingredients in a bowl.
  4. Pour into greased loaf pan.
  5. Bake at 400 degrees until firm and slightly browned.

Recipe adapted from Pinch of Yum.

Why go vegetarian every once and a while?

As a dietitian who works on the neuro floor I take heart health very importantly. There are two main components to heart health.

  1. Low sodium (or low salt).

My primary recommendation is to not add salt to your foods (put away that salt shaker) because it’s already in so many foods as a preservative. Also choose more raw foods and avoid the processed foods (anything in a bag or a box). If you can’t avoid them then look for the low sodium option or rinse your canned beans!

  1. Low fat.

Saturated fat raises cholesterol. This type of fat is found in animal products, high fat dairy, and solid fats (butter or coconut oil). I tell my patients to choose lean protein such as eggs, chicken, and fish more often than higher fat red meat. Even better is choosing beans or vegetarian protein which also has fiber. Adding fiber AND replacing saturated fat is a double win for your heart. Also, cook with oil that is always liquid at room temperature (I say always because coconut oil solidified in the cold and is a saturated fat). When choosing dairy, I’m on the fence. Low fat dairy is more processed and less natural but also lower in saturated fat. There have been studies that show that high fat dairy isn’t as bad for you because it also has calcium, vitamin D and other minerals that are beneficial to your body. So I tell people to look at their diet and choose where they think changes are feasible. For example, if you love cream in your coffee then maybe cut back on red meat or eat more beans. For me, I eat mostly vegetarian protein but enjoy my cheese and ice cream when it comes around.