Toni's Meatless Meatloaf
Updated: Feb 28, 2019
by Jenny (August 4, 2017)
The recipe that started it all. Versatile, healthy, and delicious, let this dish be a vehicle for everything from next-level salads to a pizza topping.
It’s just pure comfort. What I loved about it, more than the taste even, is its versatility. The recipe below is really just a template to build from. You can be super-creative with it. It lends itself well to all kinds of substitutions and insertions. There are just so many things you can do with it!!
Recently I travelled to the west coast for a long weekend to spend some needed time with my old colleague and dear friend, Toni Toledo. Toni and I worked together at Palo Alto Medical Foundation back in the late 90’s/early 2000’s in their weight management program. We were together to celebrate Toni’s 50 incredible years on this planet. I cannot say enough about this girl. She is loved by so many people and she has this incredible clan. Her family is just as amazing as she is. Salt of the earth, supportive, thoughtful. Just great people. My hope is that everyone has a friend that is so incredible that they literally transcend. That is Toni for me. She is a source of energy, like a big drink of water or a great glass of Cabernet, depending on the time of day. I need my fill every so often. Her spirit wraps around me like a fierce hug and keeps me going between visits.
We were chatting and walking and chatting. Mostly about food. And nutrition. And behavior change. And food… As nutrition nerds do. We were walking to grab a fantastic beet salad at Grove (where we ended up eating 3 more times over the next 2 days) on Fillmore. We were talking about my blog and what I wanted it to be, how nutrition has changed, the fact that weight management is harder for patients to achieve and the need for a fundamental shift in the way people live, which remains allusive to most. All of which I will address in future posts.
Somehow, this talk brought us to her mom’s meatless meatloaf. I am not really sure how but yes, meatless meatloaf. Toni shared with me that her mom has been making this stuff since Toni was a child back in the 70’s. “My mom was a true hippie. She made vegetarian food and her own house cleaner back in the day.” Toni said, “She should have been your mom! You are just like her!” True, I love veggies and I make my own house cleaner (more on that later…) I had tried her mom’s loaf earlier. WOW. Yum! It is heavenly! It is super savory and moist. AND it did NOT contain mushrooms! Sad to say, but I am not a fan of the fungus. Which is hard when you love vegetarian food. Most things contain ‘shrooms of some sort. What it did contain is an ample amount of veggies – carrots, celery, onion and a nice source of omega 3 and fiber from walnuts. Plus, eggs and cheese – both are nice sources of protein. It’s just pure comfort. What I loved about it, more than the taste even, is its versatility.
Toni’s mom (God LOVE her) literally makes it for Toni, packages it in individual freezer containers and delivers it to Toni’s house regularly! While, this is nice, most of us don’t have this option. As an aside, my friend realizes full well how lucky she is. So, she takes it out of her freezer, pops it in the microwave for a bit and has a wonderful, homemade, tasty, plant-based protein source at the ready. She eats it for breakfast. She puts it on top of a sweet potato for lunch, she has it as a side with veggies and a salad for dinner. She has it ALL THE TIME and has been eating it since childhood. Lucky girl! Not only is it versatile in terms of what you can do with it, it is versatile in terms of content. The recipe below is really just a template to build from. You can be super-creative with it. It lends itself well to all kinds of substitutions and insertions. There are just so many things you can do with it!! This is what makes it so incredible. When I got home, I immediately made the recipe. We ate it all week-long and it made me so happy!
My week of meatless meatloaf:
With eggs and sautéed kale for breakfast. As a side with chicken and salmon – could be any kind of fish! On top of a sweet potato (thank you Toni!) with Greek yogurt. As a salad toppingOn a bed of sautéed spinach with salsa. As a quick snack topped with cottage cheese. On some whole grain toast topped with beet kraut and a dollop of hummus (trust me on this one).
A couple ways to change up the content:
Replace the celery with fennel and add 3 Tablespoons fresh basil.
Replace 2 of the 4 cups of carrots with a can of rinsed and drained black beans, add 3 Tablespoons chopped, fresh cilantro and 1/4 teaspoon chipotle powder. Replace the walnuts with pumpkin seeds.
As a disclaimer… The first time I made it, I grated all the veggies by hand with a box grater. I DO NOT recommend this. Although it did not take me all that long, the veggies did not get chopped finely enough and my knuckles were a mess! Use a food processor – much easier and I think the consistency of the veggie loaf overall comes out much nicer. Also, pack it down very firmly into the pan. That will help keep it moist and dense.
Much thanks to Minnie Toledo for letting me use this recipe in my blog.
4 cups carrot, shredded
1 large onion, diced
2 cups celery, diced
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
3 eggs or 6 egg whites
Breadcrumbs (3 slices of your choice, crumbled up. Best with breads that have NUBBY goodness like flax seeds, oats, etc)
½ cup walnuts, chopped
¼ cup olive oil
Mix together and add to bread loaf pan. Bake at 350°, covered for 1 hour. Uncover and bake for another 30 minutes until the top darkens up a bit. Makes enough for 2 bread pans. 12, 2” slices.
Per 2” slice: 163 calories, 12g fat, 11g carb, 6g protein, 2g fiber.