I knew right away, while eating a slice of this lentil loaf for the first time, that it’d be a new staple for us, one of those things that you make a new batch of as soon as you finish the leftovers. That has been the case and then some, I had no idea just how versatile this loaf (and the balsamic glaze) would be. Not only is the lentil loaf the perfect entree for dinner, the star of the show, it’s also incredibly satisfying cold. Burton has been bringing two slices to work everyday, replacing his usual trail mix, and absolutely loving it. I have also made a crumble from the leftovers to use in baked pasta dishes (pictured at the very bottom of this post). It’s all our favorite, most savory things in one place and I can’t imagine a time where I don’t look forward to it. I know that we’ll be making, eating and celebrating with this lentil loaf for a long, long time as it’s packed with things that ensure healthy aging. Shiitake mushrooms are medicinal (and umami!) powerhouses, and we actually used to consume them in tincture form before we started eating handfuls of them daily. They’re great for your immune system, overall heart health by lowering cholesterol levels and reducing inflammation, and have strong cancer fighting properties. Beans/legumes, as I tell everyone constantly, are the biggest dietary indicator of elderly survival. If you want to live a long, healthy life eat more beans. 3 servings/day is our goal and we almost always surpass it. I recommend only using high quality, small brown lentils for this recipe. Now that the bulk bins are open again at grocery stores, you should have luck finding them there otherwise the Palouse Brand ones on amazon are great.
The biggest differences between this lentil loaf and traditional meatloaf nutritionally are, for the same sized portion, this lentil loaf contains 14 grams/over half your daily value of fiber (traditional meatloaf contains less than 1 gram), zero grams of cholesterol of course since it’s only found in animal products, all of your omega 3’s and 6’s for the day (regular meatloaf contains a negligible amount of both) and only 2 grams of saturated fat while beef meatloaf contains 10 grams. 10 grams!! For a serving size of 400 calories. The American Heart Association recommends getting 13 grams of less per day. Good luck with that! Here is a link from Dr. Greger on what causes insulin resistance/type 2 diabetes (saturated fat intake), here’s another great read on how the ketogenic diet makes diabetes worse. With diabetes affecting 1 in 10 people in the US (and climbing), and with 1 out of every 3 dollars spent on healthcare going to it, it’s truly such a shame that people could expand their palates, lower the environmental devastation their diet causes, stop abusing animals and save money all in one easy way and they refuse to do it. They take nutritional advice from doctors who, surprise surprise, very very likely didn’t take even one course in nutrition in med school. Eating animal products assures our society will always be sick, scared and full of violence. Look up the correlation between meat consumption, cortisol levels and anger. It’s no surprise the alt-right are the biggest followers of the carnivore diet.
By the way, haha, I was worried about the less-than-photogenic nature of this loaf and googled pics of traditional meatloaf to see how people possibly frame it to look its best and, wow. I don’t think I’ve ever looked away from anything in disgust quicker, followed by an uproar of laughter over the thought that people actually go out of their way to make it; that with all the combined knowledge of humanity at their fingertips, they return to meatloaf. I’m very thankful to my mom right now that my childhood wasn’t full of that particular inexcusable abomination of food and imagination. People who eat traditional meatloaf must have stockholm syndrome, nostalgic for childhood when they were too dumb to care about anything, and have no respect for themselves, in equal measure. Plant based foods are incredible, they’re sensory explosions of bright colors and textures, full of vitamins and minerals. We’ve evolved to be attracted to them, they nourish, protect and heal us. If you don’t like them, there is something wrong with you/your cooking, not the other way around, and you should absolutely focus on changing that right away.
Absolutely Perfect Lentil Loaf
(makes 2 loaves, each with 3-4 servings)
1 cup dry small brown lentils
3 cups vegetable broth
1 onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
half a bell pepper (or any pepper/chili of choice, nothing too spicy though)
1/2 tsp old bay
2 tbsp fresh oregano (or 2 tsp dry)
2 tbsp fresh thyme (or 2 tsp dry)
2 tbsp fresh parsley
8 oz mushrooms (or 1.5 oz dried, then rehydrated), diced
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
1.5 cups walnuts
1/2 cup sunflower seeds (or sub with more walnuts)
4 tbsp tomato paste
3 tbsp soy sauce ( I use low sodium)
3/4 cup oats ground into flour in the food processor (or sub with all purpose flour)
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
2 tbsp ground flax seed in 3 tbsp water
1/3 cup ketchup (recipe below. I’ve never made this with storebought ketchup, and while I know that’s a common practice, I truly cannot imagine it and recommend making your own. Make extra to freeze too)
1 tsp maple
4 tbsp balsamic vinegar
8 oz can tomato sauce
1 tbsp tomato paste
1/3 cup white vinegar
1/8 cup sugar
splash of soy sauce
pinch of black pepper
1 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp allspice
Simmer all ingredients until thickened, about 5-10 minutes.
Preheat oven for 375
Mix the ground flax and the 3 tbsp water. Set aside
Bring the lentils and vegetable broth to a boil, then simmer about 30 minutes.
Sautee the onions, garlic, mushrooms and pepper until browned and the mushrooms have lost most of their moisture. Add the herbs, old bay. I use the 1 tbsp of white wine vinegar throughout the sauteeing to make sure nothing sticks. Add to a large bowl
Strain and add half the lentils to the bowl with the cooked veg, and pulse the other half in the food processor until broken up but not a paste.
Pulse the walnuts and sunflower seeds, then add to the bowl with the lentils/veg. Stir in the 3/4 cup all purpose flour and the 1/4 cup of nutritional yeast. Mix well
To the ground flax/water mixture, add the tomato paste and soy sauce. Stir well, then add to the lentil mixture until very incorporated.
Separate the mixture into 2 bread pans (4×8 I think is the common size) with parchment paper sticking out the sides so you can easily lift out the loaf. Mix all the glaze ingredients together, then brush with loaves
Bake for 40-45 minutes. Let rest 10 minutes before cutting and serving.