Giving up elevators and Meatloaf

Lent is a time when I like to challenge myself a little bit. I put a fair amount of thought into what I ‘give up’ and this year I settled on… Elevators. I currently work on both the 6th and 12th floors every day so I figured it would be an appropriate inconvenience and also a way to sneak some exercise into my increasingly tight schedule. In my mid-twenties ignorance I had visions of racing my carpool buddy in the elevator to emerge victorious and breathing easy after 12 stories. Ha! Those hope were quickly dashed last week when I needed my inhaler by the 7th floor and finally sat down to my desk, sweaty and dehydrated, 15 minutes later. To add insult to injury, the some wonderful soul painted beautiful murals with inspirational quotes on each platform, probably to encourage the more sedentary of us to take the stairs.

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6th floor inspirational mural

Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on my current level of cynicism, these quotes end after the 6th floor, just when my legs are starting to burn and the more sane folks switch to the elevator. Even without the silent encouragement of the murals, I’ve made it up the final 6 flights and to work each and every day since. Despite a few days of sore glutes I think my time is improving, although I have no more hopes of beating the elevator!

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made it!

What does one eat to fuel an 18-flights-a-day-habit? Meatloaf! When I was younger meatloaf had a reputation. Without ever eating it, I KNEW I didn’t like it. It was more a caricature than real food, appearing on the edge of the lunch lady’s spoon when you least wanted it. Like so many meals I previously considered repulsive, meatloaf has grown on me over the years. In fact, it’s delicious.

Meatloaf is so named because it has a bread-like shape but also a smooth consistency putting it closer to a good meatball than anything else. For this reason, it’s deceptively difficult to replicate under Whole30 guidelines. I’ve seen many recipes which simply leave out the bread… and while this certainly produces a meal that falls within the rules, it’s more like eating an overcooked hamburger than the comfort-food staple. To get around this I added almond flour and more veggies (especially the zucchini) to break up the meat monotony. I won’t promise this is as good as the meatloaf your mom made, but I will say that it comes ridiculously close. To be true to traditional meatloaf I even made a tomato/balsamic glaze, which is the figurative cherry on top of this sundae.

Meatloaf

2lbs ground meat… ground beef is the typical staple but if you have pork, lamb, or bison give it a try
1 egg
1 zucchini
3 carrots
1 small onion
1 bell pepper
3 cloves minced garlic
1 cup almond flour
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp basil
2 tbs clarified butter

Preheat oven to 350*F. In pan over medium heat, melt clarified butter. While it heats up, pulse carrots, onions in food processor and mince zucchini, pepper, and garlic. Add carrots, onions, zucchini, and pepper to pan and cook until peppers are soft (until they don’t crisp when you bite them) about 5-10 minutes. Add garlic and cook for a few more minutes. Remove veggies from heat and let cool for a minute.

Combine veggies with the rest of the ingredients (eggs, meat, almond flour, herbs and spices) in large bowl, mixing gently with hands. Do not squeeze or over pack the meat. Place in a large loaf pan, two small loaf pans, or another pan of your choice. Insert thermometer into center of loaf and place loaf in oven. After 10 minutes, cover with glaze. Cook until center temperature reads 160*F, remove and LET REST at least 15 minutes. Enjoy.

Glaze

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
4 tbs tomato paste
2 tbs water
(2 tsp honey if you aren’t on a Whole30!)

Mix all ingredients in a small bowl until smooth. It might take a little while to dissolve the tomato paste. If glaze is too thick add more water, you’re looking for the consistency of barbeque sauce. After loaf has been cooking for about 10 minutes, use spatula to spread glaze evenly over the top of meatloaf.

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delicious meatloaf with sauteed zucchini hiding in the background

My second favorite thing about meatloaf is that once you have the basics down, you can throw almost anything in it. One of the perfect leftover foods. Some of my favorite variations include adding extra bell pepper, a chipotle chili, extra cumin and some adobo sauce for a southwestern kick

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