Joyous Blog

Not Your Mama's Meatloaf

I remember when I was a kid and my mom made something for me I didn't like (which wasn't very often), I wouldn't be given something else. Even if liver and onions were on the menu!! And ya, I can still remember that disgusting smell. On the other hand, if my brother didn't like it, he would just stuff it behind the fridge in secret like he did for most of his veggies where they laid to rest and rot (true story, LOL). 

The options for my brother and I were: eat what was made for us or don't eat.

It may seem harsh, but it was effective. Everything else Ma McCarthy made was amazing by the way, except for liver (barfarama). 

Now that I'm a parent, I really appreciate this (not what my brother did, but rather what my mom did NOT do) because I really can't imagine making a separate dinner for Vienna each time she doesn't like what we are eating.

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This is why I love the fact that this recipe feeds both her and Walker and I – and everyone loves it! Now of course there are meals that Vienna isn't a fan of or that she's just not ready to eat (for example, spicy Indian food, which of course, I adore!) but I've found that she just needs totry something a couple of times before she likes it, especially if it's a new flavour. 

The recipe I'm sharing with you today is from a wonderful cookbook by Leah Garrad-Cole called It All Begins with Food!

I'm proud to share that I wrote the forward for her book, so I've had the chance to make many of her recipes and thoroughly review it. I really love the philosophy behind her book – eat real food, whole food, healthy food, darn tasty food!

These little loaves from her book are called "Not Your Mama's Meatloaf". If you grew up feeling forced to eat your mama's meatloaf, don't worry, you'll have no trouble eating this one! The only change I made was instead of ground beef, I used ground organic chicken. 

These mini meatloaves have such a wonderful combination of flavours from cloves to ginger to basil. They are nice, moist and they are so damn tasty, it's hard not to eat 10 of them :)

If you're feeding little ones who don't have a lot of teeth, these meatloaves are nice and soft making it easy for the young ones to eat it too – the perfect size for finger food!

Here's the recipe:

  • 2 tsp coconut oil plus extra to grease the pan
  • 1 small onion, finely minced
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 lb ground organic chicken*
  • 1 small sweet potato, peeled and grated
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup almond meal
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp tamari
  • 1 tbsp ground flaxseeds
  • 1 tbsp finely minced fresh basil
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp tamari
  • 1 tsp pure maple syrup
  1. Preheat oven to 400F and grease the cups of a 24-cup mini muffin pan. Be a little heavy-handed to ensure your meatloaves don't stick.
  2. For the meatloaves, in a skillet over medium heat, saute the onion in the coconut oil for approx. 5 minutes, stirring frequently until transparent.
  3. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute more.
  4. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.
  5. Add all the other meatloaf ingredients and mix to combine. You may find that using your hands is the most efficient way of doing this. Let stand for 10 minutes to allow the flaxseeds to absorb some moisture.
  6. Now you have no real choice but to get messy. Using your hands, put globs of the mixture in the cups of the muffin pan gently pressing it in to fill the cups. Fill so that the chicken just rounds over the top of each cup.
  7. For the glaze, in a small bowl mix together the tomato paste, tamari and maple syrup.
  8. Using a pastry brush, brush the glaze over each meatloaf muffin. Be careful not to get the glaze on the pan itself or else it will burn and really stick.
  9. Bake in the oven for approximately 20 minutes, until the loaves are cooked through.
  10. Allow to sit for 10 minutes. Run a butter knife around the edge of each meatloaf to loosen it from the pan. Serve warm. Store in the fridge for a couple of days or freeze in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Reheat in oven for approx. 15 minutes.


*The original recipe calls for ground beef.
**I love the glaze so much I often double that part of the recipe.

Makes 2 dozen meatloaves.

As I mentioned in the recipe, I often double the ingredients for the glaze because it's so darn tasty!!

Be sure to check out my instagram because you can win a copy of my book and Leah's book until this Friday November 10th, 2017-- good luck!!

When I make this recipe I normally serve it with some rosemary sweet potato wedges and my kale salad with creamy dressing. Both of which everyone in the McJordan family LOVES!

Have a great rest of your week!

Joy xo

andrea   •   November 8, 2017

This looks delicious! And I definitely want to check out this cookbook! Do you have a recommendation for substituting almond meal? We have an allergy in my family.

Joy McCarthy   •   November 8, 2017

You could use brown rice flour. Enjoy!

Marta   •   November 8, 2017

What is almond meal? Like almond flour?

Joy McCarthy   •   November 8, 2017

Yes exactly. Sometimes it will be called ground almonds, almond meal or almond flour on a package but it's all the same thing :)

Carly   •   November 9, 2017

Thanks Joy for this recipe! Wondering if I could use a regular size muffin pan instead of the minis?

Rachel Molenda   •   November 9, 2017

Hey Carly, Yes – definitely! It will just make less loaves but that's totally okay :) Rachel - Joyous Health Team

marlene   •   February 13, 2018

hello, would one have to increase the baking time?

sabrina   •   November 9, 2017

Joy, this recipe looks delish! If I omitted the tamari do you think it would taste ok?! Does tamari give it a tangy flavour?

Rachel Molenda   •   November 10, 2017

Hey Sabrina, That's perfectly fine! It gives it more of an asian-inspired flavour but very subtly. It will likely taste like your traditional meatloaf if you leave out the tamari :) Rachel - Joyous Health Team

Katie   •   November 9, 2017

Hi Joy! Love your recipes. Question...I try to avoid soy products. Would using coconut aminos in place of tamari be okay?

Rachel Molenda   •   November 10, 2017

Hey Katie, Yes, definitely! If you're using organic fermented tamari, that would typically be okay too because it's easier to break down :) Rachel - Joyous Health Team

Kelly ~ It took me 10 years to lose 10 pounds   •   November 9, 2017

The tiny cupcake tin is a great idea for meatloaf!

Rachel Molenda   •   November 10, 2017

Isn't it?! Makes for easy portable snacks, lunches or dinners :) Rachel - Joyous Health Team

Roberta   •   November 12, 2017

OMG it just became my favorite meatloaf ever!! I was never a big fan of this America's favorite, so I needed to try a new version and TADAH perfect!! I wish I could send you a picture... fyi, I used the ginger only on the glaze and worked fine!

Joy McCarthy   •   November 13, 2017

Glad you love it! Share a photo with me on instagram! @Joyoushealth Can't wait to see what you created :) Enjoy!!

Ludivine   •   November 14, 2017

If I wanted to make these school safe (nut-free) would I be able to sub the almond meal for chickpea flour? Love the mini versions of these!

Rachel Molenda   •   November 14, 2017

Hey Ludivine, Yes that should work! We haven't tried it so we wouldn't be able to guarantee results but let us know if you end up trying it :) Rachel - Joyous Health Team

Jenny   •   November 17, 2017

Would this recipe work with a flax egg?

Rachel Molenda   •   November 17, 2017

Hey Jenny! Yes, it should be fine :) Rachel - Joyous Health Team

Nicki   •   November 17, 2017

Do you have any recommendations for substituting ground chicken? Would a veggie ground round work? Thanks so much!


Hayley   •   November 21, 2017

Can I use ground flaxseeds or whole chia seeds instead of flaxseeds?


Jessica   •   December 5, 2017

Would crushed tomatoes or tomato sauce work instead of paste?

Rachel Molenda   •   December 6, 2017

Hey Jessica, Tomato sauce should work! It may just be a bit more watery and not as thick as the original recipe! Rachel - Joyous Health Team

Sylvia   •   December 27, 2017

Hi Joy! Merry Christmas to you and the family! I have a question about not your mama’s meat loaf meat balls. What if you cannot eat any nuts like almonds or soy like Tamari? How can I replace them? Thank you.

Rachel Molenda   •   December 29, 2017

Hey Sylvia, You can use brown rice flour instead and use coconut aminos instead of tamari :) Rachel - Joyous Health Team

Janine   •   January 18, 2018

I just made this for dinner this evening. I am NOT a fan of meatloaf. As a kid I'd always ask "what's for dinner?" and if the answer was meatloaf I'd hide. No word of a lie. I was reluctant to make these but the title gave me hope. You weren't kidding!! These are FANTASTIC!!! Not my mama's meatloaf. At all! I'm hooked. I just gobbled up nearly half of them. (sorry Boyfriend, make your own dinner!) Your recipes are out of this world. Keep 'em coming! xo

Rachel Molenda   •   January 19, 2018

YAY! So happy to hear that Janine! Aren't they awesome?! We love them around here too and I've personally made them about 5X since they were posted. The glaze really makes it and all of the ingredients in the meat loafs/balls itself. Yum yum! Haha poor boyfriend – maybe he'll get some next time ;) Thanks for the kind words Janine! Rachel - Joyous Health Team

marlene   •   February 13, 2018

Sorry, silly question but is it whole flaxseeds or ground flaxseeds?

Rachel Molenda   •   February 13, 2018

Hey Marlene! Not a silly question at all. The flaxseeds in this recipe are ground :) Sorry, we'll make sure to specify that! Rachel - Joyous Health Team

Rachel Molenda   •   February 13, 2018

Hey Marlene, You shouldn't have to extend the baking time. What's stated on the recipe should work for you but just keep an eye on it :) Rachel - Joyous Health Team

James York   •   March 3, 2018

Just purchased your Joyous Detox book looks very good. I will be purchase some equipment ( food processor/blender) then clean out the cupboards then begin purchasing the foods I should be eating. I noticed you have recipes with chicken but no beef or pork not that I eat much of those 2 items. What would the reasons be behind eliminating beef and pork (additives?).

Rachel Molenda   •   March 5, 2018

Hey James, Awesome! Thanks so much for picking it up :) I really think you're going to enjoy it! Joy doesn't have anything against beef and pork, her and her family just don't eat too much of it and the book is very much a reflection of the way she eats. When she does have either beef or pork, she makes sure it's a high-quality source so if you want to incorporate it from time to time, she would recommend to do the same :) Rachel - Joyous Health Team

Jayne   •   July 23, 2018

thank you ... that's all, just thank you, for sharing all that you have learn to help us get healthy as well. You have a delightful blog and you are making such a difference to my heart and health.

Rachel Molenda   •   July 23, 2018

So happy you're enjoying all things Joyous Health, Jayne! Thanks for stopping by here :) Rachel - Joyous Health Team

Sarah   •   August 6, 2018

I finally got around to trying this recipe. I hate meatloaf but my daughter loves it so it’s a very touchy subject in our house. I LOVE this recipe!! Now when my daughter wants meatloaf for supper I won’t complain so much!

Rachel Molenda   •   August 7, 2018

YAY! We're so happy you enjoyed it Sarah! That makes us super happy to hear that, especially since it won your daughter's heart over! :) Rachel - Joyous Health Team

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