When I had to start eating completely gluten-free (Celiac), it was hard enough, as an “eater.” Many favorites had to be cast aside, along with favorite restaurants like Fazoli’s, Authentic Asian restaurants, KFC, and (this one especially stung) Taco John’s. I hated the change it created in my life as well as in the lives of my loved ones. However, far worse was the chaos it created in my life as an avid cook, cookbook/recipe collector, and food blogger. ESPECIALLY given the fact that many of my favorite things to bake were homemade bread, buttermilk biscuits, pies, cakes, pastries…. you get the idea.
It left me feeling like I’d been hit by a train and left on the tracks… craving buttermilk biscuits, at that.
It affected my food blog, cooking, dining out…. everything except my cats, it seems. I actually went for a period of time on the food blog where I simply didn’t post recipes. I found myself eating the same things again and again – things I knew were safe. I found myself in a place where I had allowed this health issue to win – it knocked me down and I was too dazed to get back up.
Over the years, I’ve had my ups and downs with it – you simply cannot have a major upheaval in your life and not, at times, ride the proverbial roller-coaster. However, I ultimately decided that this wasn’t going to get the best of me anymore. I began branching out and developing new recipes which just so happened to be gluten-free.
You want to know a little secret? It has made me a better cook! When I jumped off the roller-coaster, I didn’t just rediscover my love of recipes, cooking, and being creative in the kitchen, I found that the love for each had actually somehow grown. What’s more, I find that I’m even more creative now than I was then. There’s something to be said for a hard-headed determination not to remain on the short end of the stick.
One of the things I had more trouble perfecting than I’d have ever imagined is meatloaf. I’d always used Saltine crackers before and made, if I say so myself, the best darn meatloaf you ever tasted. On the other side of my body deciding gluten was poison, I struggled to find the perfect balance of dried gluten-free breadcrumbs, vegetables, and wet ingredients. I expected the struggle to be real with breads, pastries, pasta, and baked goods, but meatloaf??
I finally found the perfect combination and have had a delicious time trying different sauces (tomato, BBQ…) and even vegetables. Like a lot of you, I am obsessed with the idea of using as many vegetables in cooking as possible. When you chop them up, the possibilities are endless – you can sneak them into so many places. Meatloaves are ideal for this veggie sneakery.
One of my favorite gluten-free meatloaf recipes I’ve come up with is below. This particular meatloaf is far less dense than a lot of meatloaves, which is one of the reasons I love it so much. Feel free to add whatever combination of vegetables you prefer – just try to keep the amount similar. I love the way the vegetables look as much as I love the extra nutrition but there’s another benefit to them. They seem to provide even more moisture, keeping the meatloaf nice and moist. Love that.
I often give the brands I use, on the food blog, not as advertisement but simply to give you all the information you can possibly use. Feel free, of course, to use your favorite brands – or whatever ones you have on hand. With this particular recipe, I cannot say how it will turn out with different brands than I’ve listed simply because I use the same each time.
I might just be the most brand loyal cook ever born!