Real foods are the best foods. Well… okay I’m gonna say it. Real foods are the only foods. The other things are chemicals and synthetics that we’ve been convinced will satisfy us. So there. Even in the real food category, however, some are better than others. While we could get into a lengthy discussion of nutrition benefits, I have to admit that the real foods that earn my highest praise are often those that are not only nutritious, but the most versatile. Versatile real foods allow the greatest number of variations without too much skill building and are real pantry boons (especially if they are CHEAP).
And so, I return joyfully to my previous post on recalibrating our grocery bill. Things are going pretty well in this department, and the pantry is finally thinning enough that I can see what’s in there and what’s not. I can also feel out what we actually NEED based on how many times I look for something that is already gone. Granted, I am no longer prepared in the event of a nuclear disaster as I was prior to attempting to ease up on the grocery mania, but we still could eat for a while out of that pantry…. Based on my experiments this week, I WILL make sure that I’m always stocked with bulgur and lentils. I’ve continued playing with the lentil-bulgur mix and I’ve discovered a home run that is kid approved (yes, even the picky one). It is also one of those lovely recipes that provides lots of opportunity for the less mature members of the family to participate in the cooking (I am talking about my children here, in case you were wondering if that was a jab at my wonderful and very mature husband). I give you Mini Neatloaves. (Applause)
Mini Neatloaves – Served our family of 4 two dinners with 2 adult lunches left. Inspired by Confetti Mini-Meatloaf on Spark Recipes
- 4c lentil-bulgur mix
- 3c rolled oats
- 1 med onion
- 2 garlic cloves
- 2/3c mushrooms ( I used reconstituted dried)
- 2/3 c diced tomatoes (or tomato sauce – we had leftover pasta sauce to use up)
- 1 small zucchini
- 2 medium carrots
- 2 eggs (I used flax)
- 1 t mustard powder
- 2 t marjoram
- 1T creaminess (milk, mayo, yogurt… whatever.. I needed this because I mixed in the remainder of the leftover lentil-bulgur taco mix and it needed some mellowing)
- 3T Braggs or soy sauce
Preheat oven to 350. Lightly oil two muffin tins – you can also use a loaf pan, but I’m just gonna tell you that’s not as fun. If you’re making flax eggs, prepare them first so they have time to set up. Put lentil-bulgur mix and oats in large bowl. Put veggies in food processor and process until they are no longer distinguishable as individual bits to your pickiest eater (you may not need to be quite as thorough as I was on this front). Add veggie slush to bowl. Add spices and flax eggs and mix. I added about of cup of leftover peas that were in my fridge. (My two still love measuring so they helped a lot on this part). Mix until well combined.
Recruit volunteers to fill muffin tins with neat loaf mix. Bake in oven for about 25-30 minutes (Watch closely as we had little people crises and I’m not sure I got the time exactly right.) If you make a loaf, you will need to cook it longer. If you make one enormous meatball, you’d better make a lot of spaghetti.
I served ours on a bed of orzo (insurance), beet salad with orange dressing, and cucumber slices. We got 100% approval rating and all parties ate more neat loaves than orzo. The younger crowd enjoyed theirs with a little ketchup (don’t judge). Most everyone enjoyed the beets as well (she just doesn’t like beets, even with orange juice in the picture).
Absolutely delish. Oh, and if you’re wondering about the dressing, it was simply an attempt to get my daughter to eat beets. 3T orange juice, 1T olive oil, small squeeze honey, pinch salt. While it didn’t change my daughter’s mind about the beautiful beets that we grew and that she helped harvest from the garden, the rest of us enjoyed it, and found it especially yummy when it slid from our beets into our orzo and onto our cucumber slices. Summer is fabulous. Hope yours is delish as well.