Gluten Free, Low-Carb and Near Paleo Meat Loaf

Been cooking a lot lately. So why not do food posts?

Last night’s meal was Gluten Free, Low-Carb and Near paleo Meat Loaf.

It was about 2.5 pounds of grassfed beef, 2 eggs, chopped onion, 1/2 tsp each of salt & pepper, big tbs each of Trader Joe’s organic ketchup and yellow mustard, handful of fresh cranberries, about a half handful of fresh blueberries I had left over, 2 minced cloves of garlic, small handful of dry white rice (the non-paleo part), a few dashes of Worcestershire, and about 1/4 tsp each of thyme, oregano & sage. And a good sprinkle of parsley.

Into the oven initially at 350 with a temperature probe. When internal got to 120 I turned the heat down to 250. Took it out of the oven at about 155 internal. All images can be clicked for hi-res.

Meat Loaf 1
Loaf of Meat

Whilst it was cooking away I prepared the sauce, which was simply lots of beef stock, some butter, a bit of balsamic vinegar, a tiny shake of rosemary (careful!), and…about a tablespoon of the TJ’s organic ketchup, then a tiny bit more to get just a slight tangy taste (it also helped to thicken). I did this reduction slowly, as I had time, so no need for starchy thickening agents like potato starch.

Meat Loaf 2
Meat Loaf

Yep, also did some mashed taters. Here’s the artsy fartsy shot.

Meat Loaf 3
Artsy Fartsy Meat Loaf

Eat well, eat big, and sometimes, eat nothing at all. My eyes were bigger than my stomach this time around. This was a rare three meal day (don’t do the same thing all the time) and I didn’t come even close to finishing that. Leftover city. In fact, it’s gonna be cold meatloaf (love it cold) with fried eggs later this morning.

Thanks to all the Twitter folks who helped with ideas for fillers. Most common suggestion was almond meal. For one, I don’t have any any longer and haven’t used it in a long while. I don’t try to duplicate baking breads, cakes, cookies and such. I don’t plan on getting any, either

I also look at things a bit different in the paleo vs not-paleo category. That is, not as a strict line to follow but more of a spectrum. For example, I have small amounts of ketchup and white rice in there, neither paleo. But the ketchup is good quality organic from TJ’s with no nefarious ingredients, and sugar instead of HFCS. The rice is just starch that will absorb moisture. On the other hand, if I were to have used almond meal, where 1/4 cup of almonds has 4.3 grams of omega-6 PUFAs, and I use two cups of almond meal for 2.5 pounds of beef, and presuming that meal is 2x concentrated compared to whole nuts (it’s probably more, actually), then I’m adding almost 70 grams of omega-6 fats to the dish and that’s quite a lot.

I’ll go with the non-paleo rice. As a parting thought on the issue, nut meals strike me somewhat like fruit juice. Almonds and fruit, both paleo. Concentrate them, not so paleo and likely worse than some neolithic foods, unit per unit, such as white potatoes and white rice.


  1. Jon on January 12, 2012 at 11:48

    Was interested to see where you netted out on this one as I don’t make a lot of meatloaf.
    The blueberries and cranberries are an interesting touch. Fruit meets meat. Yum.

  2. Bay Area Sparky on January 12, 2012 at 10:08

    I don’t really tweet so I missed the filler dialogue.

    As far as your comment about not having to thicken the reduction with potato flour, I will add that I’ve tried potato flour as a thickener and find that rice flour is much superior. It has a much finer grind and disappears into sauces much more than potato. Also it adds a velvety sheen to the sauce. I try not to thicken but when I do… let me put it this way: The Most Interesting Man in the World uses rice flour.

    • Richard Nikoley on January 12, 2012 at 10:16

      I’ll try rice flour. The way I use the potato starch is to make a slurry with cold beef or chicken stock, as applicable.

      • Hugh Anderson on January 12, 2012 at 11:36

        Some may not know this but rice flour is easily made by blending rice in a spice/coffee grinder or a blender for a bigger batch. If you use the same grinder for coffee, grinding rice in it is a good way to clean it of most the coffee smell, and in this dish I imagine coffee-tinged rice flour wouldn’t noticeably impact the final flavor.

        I also admit to having a similar disinterest in using almond flour (and coconut flour for that matter) in my cooking. I’ve messed around with both but finally decided that paleo baked goods are a path I’d rather not tread.

        And just as a general side note, anyone who likes Mexican food should check out the cookbook Truly Mexican by Roberto Santibanez. Best cookbook of last year in my opinion, and a good 80-90% of the recipes are (unintentionally) full-on paleo. Heck, I think all but one recipe is gluten-free. It’s also designed with the intelligent home cook in mind, with every recipe giving advice on how long a dish in the fridge or frozen for easy batch cooking.

      • Richard Nikoley on January 12, 2012 at 11:52

        Thanks, Hugh. Great gift idea for my wife and her Mexican family.

  3. Jaime on January 12, 2012 at 10:09

    Rather than using rice to substitute for breadcrumbs, whenever I make meatloaf or meatballs I chop up some pistachios and pine nut. Not super fine like a meal, but to the texture of panko crumbs. Works fabulously.

  4. Karen P. on January 12, 2012 at 11:40

    I’m a little confused as to why we need to use fillers at all. I make meatballs, burgers, and meatloaf all the time without any, and they’re fine. The only trade-off is with the meatloaf since it can be a bit crumbly, but if you let it rest for 5-10 minutes, not as much of an issue.

    I found almond meal to be gritty and coconut flour to be pasty. So why bother? Sounds like you figured out a good solution, Richard.

    • Richard Nikoley on January 12, 2012 at 11:54

      Because its a loaf. I already do burgers, and sometimes add herbs, spices and onions too.

      Oops, forgot in the post to mention the half chopped onion.

  5. Mike Gruber on January 12, 2012 at 12:15

    The worcestershire is non-Paleo, too, unless you’ve found a brand with no wheat in it … if so, please post the brand. I’d love to be able to use this, but so far have demurred.

    My wife puts chopped walnuts in her meatloaf to replace the breadcrumbs that many recipes use.

    • Richard Nikoley on January 12, 2012 at 12:18

      Probably. I use the TJs brand. Haven’t looked at the label, yet.

      • Mike Gruber on January 12, 2012 at 19:15

        Well, I went online and looked at the ingredients for Lea & Perrins, and there’s nothing in there but a (very) little sugar and molasses. Total carbs 1g per serving, so there can’t be that much. No wheat. Don’t know why I thought it was non-Paleo … maybe I decided that back when I was still relatively “pure”. Mea culpa. :-)

      • Bay Area Sparky on January 13, 2012 at 17:15

        Maybe it was guilt by association with soy sauce?

  6. BigRob on January 12, 2012 at 12:59

    How about dehydrated potato flakes in place of the rice? Seems like it would accomplish the same as the rice and be grain free. Or not.

    • Richard Nikoley on January 12, 2012 at 13:40

      Good idea, big rob. I wonder if they’d be better at fat uptake rather than just water soluble moisture.

      • BigRob on January 12, 2012 at 16:00

        Potatoes seem to do well in sucking up the fat when you mash them, I am going to have to try this now.

      • jay jay on January 13, 2012 at 10:48

        I’ve been using potato flakes for this purpose for a few years. They work great.

        They also work as a sauce thickener, at least for non-clear, more rustic type sauces. It’s one of the secret ingredients in my super thick tomato sauce.

        Back when I was trying to add more carbs to my diet, I actually tried rice crispies in a meatloaf (unsweetened, of course). I was surprised at how well they worked in making a light or more open consistency in the loaf. The wife thought it was too airy though, and I think she had some mental issues with a “cereal” meatloaf, so that was a one time deal. I always thought that would be a great conversation starter for a dinner party, though….

  7. julianne on January 12, 2012 at 13:06

    I’ve been using tapioca starch / flour recently. It works really well for gravy, and coating things (It’s fine like cornflour but comes from a root vegetable)

  8. Diana on January 12, 2012 at 13:14

    Hi Richard-
    Yay! Love Food Porn!
    Love the meatloaf pics! The reduction looks awesome!
    I just made some meatloaf the other day and used 1/3 to 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese and 1 egg per pound of ground beef. (I used 2 lbs beef, 2 eggs, 3/4 cup parmesan). Came out great! In fact I am making Meatza Sat night, inspired by one of your posts, and using that as the base. Let you know how it comes out.
    Nothing beats a good meatloaf. Total comfort food.

    • Richard Nikoley on January 12, 2012 at 13:43

      You go, Diana. Haven’t done a meatza in a while, but it may be time. I like it OK, but the wife unit absolutely loves it.

    • Lute Nikoley on January 12, 2012 at 21:22

      We had meatza Monday for dinner. It was awesome, I ate about 5 slices.

  9. Razwell on January 12, 2012 at 14:37

    I have been trying your recipes lately, Richard. They are EXCELLENT. I particularly like the bacon, egg and onion frittata. I probably have that every other day.

  10. Joe on January 12, 2012 at 18:01

    Looks nice, Richard.

    I’m noticing you’re not using the SVS as much…is it the hassle factor?

  11. Jscott on January 12, 2012 at 19:34

    Ever tried fermented ketchup?

    I do love the food posts.

  12. GiGi Eats Celebrities on January 12, 2012 at 21:41

    I bet that tastes even better DAY # 2

  13. Tale on January 13, 2012 at 09:18

    Why careful with the rosemary? Is it just for aesthetic flavour reasons or is there some primal issue with it that I haven’t heard of before? I love rosemary, and usually season my ribeyes heavily with it plus basil or oregano.

    • Richard Nikoley on January 13, 2012 at 09:27

      I love rosemary, use it often. I need to plant a bush outside because it’ll grow like a weed around here. Fresh is far easier to work with, but I find that with dried, you have to be careful not to overpower a dish, especially a sauce.

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  15. Lisa on January 13, 2012 at 13:49

    lol, just made meat loaf on Sunday as well, and also wondered what to use instead of the breadcrumbs that went in my husbands (non primal) loaf…I took it back to Atkins, and used crushed pork skins. then for the hell of it I wrapped the whole thing in bacon….I didn’t regret any of it.


  16. LXV on January 13, 2012 at 14:35

    I will pop a carrot, an onion, and a few celery sticks or red pepper in the cuisinart and chop them fine. After I squeeze out the juices the vegetable bits make a great filler.

  17. Galina L on January 13, 2012 at 18:55

    I recently used as a bread crumbs finely crashed potato chips made with avocado oil. I normally don’t buy chips because my version of paleo is a low-carb one, but my son asked me to get it for him to try, and half of the package was left after he went back to college. I used that staff during beef patties preparation.

  18. low carb recipes on January 15, 2012 at 14:56

    this meatloaf looks pretty tasty, I have never had one before so i might have to give this a go

  19. Welmoed on January 22, 2012 at 13:57

    Made this last night and it went over quite well! I did add some onion and garlic, because to me, it’s just not meatloaf without them. All I had was frozen cranberries and blueberries, and that seemed to work fine. The rice was still pretty crunchy when the loaf was up to temperature; perhaps I used too much? The sauce was delicious but was pretty thin. Next time I’ll try to add some thickener.

    • Richard Nikoley on January 22, 2012 at 14:07

      Well what the hell. Do you mean I forgot to mention that I used onion and garlic. I did. iguess and edit is called for.

      Thanks for the catch.

  20. Tracy on January 25, 2012 at 21:14

    Mushrooms, chopped very finely, work well as a filler too. Added bonus – they are tasty. Cook them down first, though, so they release their juices, and drain.

  21. Galia on January 30, 2012 at 15:00

    Worcestershire sauce is NOT gluten free since its got wheat in it.

    • Tale on January 30, 2012 at 16:50

      That depends on the manufacturer. Lea & Perrins has it, but there are gluten-free ones that just use a different vinegar — that is, the gluten-free variety is not really all that different from the Lea & Perrins. Just check the ingredients to be sure.

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