Meatloaf Burgers with Extra Sharp Cheddar

Years ago, when I set out to lose 135 lbs, my sister turned me on to Hungry Girl. It’s an e-newsletter you can sign up to receive daily that gives you tips, tricks, recipes, and product reviews about all things “healthy.” It was fun at first, to get the latest news about what products Quaker was pushing to the health-minded community, how I could slim down a Bloomin’ Onion at Outback Steakhouse in the comforts of my own kitchen, and what Weight Watchers menu item had been added to the Applebee’s roster.

Hungry Girl felt like a Rick Steve’s insider guidebook to weight loss territory. The best ways to travel to Thinness, USA on a budget, and how to eat and live as the locals do. The thing is, it isn’t that.

I have lots of thoughts about moderation and mindfulness. You might know those by now. One piece of advice I have about losing weight is to not get wrapped up with “light” products. At one time or another during the process of losing a million pounds, I flirted with light breads, sugar-free fat free everything, 100-calorie packs, and just about everything with buzz words like diet, light, lite, and skinny. Their implication of lightness in product manifests itself as lightness of satisfaction.

It made it easier to meet calorie or point quotas, when I could use a low carb, 100 calorie tortilla in place of the real 250 calorie version. You think you can still have an ice cream sundae when your ingredients are churned five hundred times over, whipped, fat free, and artificially sweetened.

The problem here is that when you stop trying to get skinny, when you’re finally the person who doesn’t need to perform a magic trick to make a favorite meal, when Fiber One isn’t the only bread crumb mixture you use, you will not know how to be “normal.” I use that word, knowing it’s different for everyone, knowing full well that there is no one definition, nor do I want there to be one. But be honest with me here, we know what we think of as normal eating. Aside from the whats, the whens, and the hows, it’s the style of eating that involves an ease of mind and body. The one without hesitation and regret and panic when the options your mom puts on the table are anything but light.

You must learn to live as the person you want to be. This means finding a way of balancing what you love to eat, with what makes you feel good, with what you have available to you. It involves flexibility.

I used to eat two large bowls of Jello pudding each night (partially frozen). It was two full packages of Jello Sugar-Free Fat Free pudding mixed with skim milk. Roughly 500 calories for a treat. Did I know that for 500 calories I could have had two homemade chocolate chip cookies, a glass of milk, and a square of dark chocolate? Maybe.

I had a go ’round with light english muffins. Used them to make one hell of a slimmed down sausage, egg, and cheese breakfast sandwich.

When you grow accustomed to eating the light version of everything, you don’t know how to start eating the real versions of things once the weight is gone. You’ve filled a jar with two dollars in pennies rather than two dollar bills. And when you’re in a situation where your light options aren’t available,and you must eat a sandwich at a deli, your sandwich is a whole lot more than the one you make at home with Sandwich Thins, Laughing Cow, and Fat Free Mayo. This experience, for me, was a sad one. I wanted to be able to go to Ben and Jerry’s and not feel slightly sad that the kid sized cup I ordered was calorically equivalent to the massive bowl of sugar free slow churned I scoop at home. It’s not fun to lament that real food is more expensive to your caloric budget than the knock-off versions.

The problem with all of these extremes- of eating and exercising, is that you’re not learning to live long term. You’re not discovering balance in the process of losing weight. And we both know that though we’re able to create an at-home version of a burrito that’s 300 calories, burritos are 800 for a reason. They are delicious and should be eaten in their full glory- without sacrificing cheese, without having to go low carb on the tortilla, without having to measure the rice and beans as though your life depends on it. We don’t need to process the food to make it smaller and more compact, to make it fit into our hungry bellies. The joy that comes from arriving at a place of moderation and balance and wholeness is worth taking the long, natural route. Just trust me on this one.

And now, a recipe. One of my favorite meals in this world is meatloaf. Simple and nostalgic. It tastes like home and warmth and being six. This is my traditional meatloaf recipe. Turning it into patties makes a burger that is rich and juicy.

Meatloaf Burgers: (makes 4 big patties)


1 lb lean ground beef (I use either 90% lean ground sirloin or ground bison)
½ cup fresh bread crumbs (I finely grind one slice of whatever bread I have in the house in my food processor)
2 TBSP grated Parmesan cheese
1 TBSP Italian seasoning (just a blend of marjoram, thyme, rosemary, sage, oregano, and basil)
½ tsp ground black pepper
¼ tsp salt
3 TBSP ketchup
1 TBSP Dijon mustard
2 TBSP Worcestershire sauce

In a small bowl, combine dry ingredients: the fresh bread crumbs, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, and parmesan cheese. Whisk.

In another small bowl, stir together the wet ingredients: the ketchup, Dijon mustard, and Worcestershire sauce.

Now pour dry ingredients and wet ingredients into the large bowl with the ground beef.

Mix with your hands until well combined. Be careful not to overwork the meat, or it may become tough.

Form into 4 patties and place on a baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes at 400°.

Top with extra sharp aged cheddar cheese. The better the cheese quality, the better the burger.

Nutrition Info for 1 burger patty (not including bun and cheese):

Calories 214.8 Total Fat 8.2 g       Saturated Fat 3.5 g       Polyunsaturated Fat 0.3 g       Monounsaturated Fat 0.2 g Cholesterol 67.4 mg Sodium 314.9 mg Potassium 14.1 mg Total Carbohydrate 8.7 g       Dietary Fiber 1.3 g       Sugars 4.1 g Protein 26.5 g



42 thoughts on “Meatloaf Burgers with Extra Sharp Cheddar

  1. Hangry Pants

    I used to read Hungry Girl, I think before I even read my first “food blog.” At first I also liked the tips and fun products, but then it really started bothering me. First, it made me feel like a cow for eating something that had calories/fat. Second, it started to seem like a competition – see how much “food” you can eat for the least amount of calories.

    I much prefer cookies, milk and dark chocolate. :)

    1. Can You Stay for Dinner

      Agreed- it becomes something where you’re like- I can have 72 fat free cookies or one good cookie…umm…72 it is! I also don’t like how every other email is like “Dieter BEWARE!” or “The Scary Side of Restaurants!!”

  2. Shanna, like Banana

    I loved the analogy of a jar of pennies compared to dollars. Well done!

    This past weekend I bought a bag of Trader Joe’s PB filled pretzels because they are freaking delicious. 11 of those suckers are 150 calories. That may not seem bad, but usually you want to eat 111 ;) But instead of finding a low-cal substitute that would not meet my craving, I am simply going to portion size them out and make them last awhile. This works for me.

    And yes burritos are best when they creep towards 1000 calories and by golly, I do eat them that way!

  3. runrantrealize

    Yum, this, as always, looks amazing.

    It can be so hard to forgo the low-everything diet for one of moderation. For me it has been all about reasonable portion sizes and the realization that if i use real butter I eat less because I am full faster.

    I browned half a block of butter for last night’s dinner (it was the boyfeiend’s birthday), and while we have a fridge full of leftovers, and. I feed him twice as much as I feed myself, I made a point if really enjoying my food, because the truth is, no matter whT you try there is nothing quite so good as the taste of real butter in food, and I know I would rather eat less and enjoy the butter, than never get to enjoy a brown butter sauce again.

    1. runrantrealize

      And…. I just realized how atrocious my spelling/grammar was in my comment. I blame my inability to properly type on my ipad keyboard. Sorry if you had to spend half an hour desiphering what I said….

  4. Mo

    I absolutely, 100% agree. My mom started losing weight a few years ago, and at that point I was getting interested in cooking so I decided to foray into “healthy” cooking. This meant consulting Hungry Girl for EVERYTHING. Since I was making this food for my mom, I was also eating it (might as well, right?). And I can’t remember a single instance where I actually felt satisfied while I was eating Hungry Girl foods. Hate to break it to you, Lisa Lillien, but I can tell the difference between fried chicken and chicken tenders coated in Egg Beaters and Fiber One. But I kept at it because I was trying to be supportive of my mom and I had no idea what kind of crap I was actually ingesting. And then I realized that a) we were spending WAY too much money on Cool Whip and Fiber One b) I was eating more processed foods than vegetables c) I prefer REAL food, that doesn’t taste just “acceptable” but actually tastes GOOD and, you know, like food. ;)

    It’s not that I won’t opt for something lower in fat or whatever occasionally, but now I make sure that it was made that way in a way that didn’t require scientists in lab coats, and that it’s actually made of substance instead of just… air!

    Your burgers look amazing, and it’s the perfect example of how one can be satisfied on a normal serving of normal food, even if it’s something that’s not the lowest in calories, fat or whatever people are worrying about these days. :)

    Great post!

  5. Liane

    Many years ago I joined WW and ate everything low fat (or as I started calling it “low fun”) and I started breaking out in hives and rashes… only to find out that the non-food items that make up 95% of the ingredients in the low fat foods were the cause.
    Nowadays you won’t find anything in my house that is low-fat, low-carb, low-whatever, instead you’ll find real foods… and if they just happen to make a chocolate cake, or a goat cheese and pecan salad… so be it :)
    It’s way more fun that way!

  6. Christine @ Grub, Sweat and Cheers

    I so agree with the ‘real foods’ comments. I have only one lower fat product in my house – mayo – because I think it tastes just as good as regular. I hate shopping for yogurt because 99% of them are non-fat and taste like rubbish. I have to scour the shelves for one that has 2 or 3% fat in them because that, for me, is where the flavour and joy is. Same with butter. Same with salad dressings. Any item that is chock full of fauxgredients instead of real ones never seems to satisfy.

    I shudder when I think of all the crazy things I used to eat in the name of saving calories and carbs and how very unhappy they made me. Nowadays a salad can make me just as happy as a burger; because the ingredients are real, unprocessed and sometimes, even grown by myself!

  7. D

    These look amazing! My mother in law is on Jenny Craig. Although she has been very successful… I just do not envy her when we are enjoying these beautiful meals and she is warming up her “dinner” in the microwave!

  8. BBx2 - Mandy & jR

    I have been sharing your blog with everyone I can! I absolutely adore it! And for the main reason of loving your attitude towards food and life. I agree – we get so caught up in the “low fat” craze… no one thinks about just eating REAL food. Not food that’s chemically made up to “try” to taste like real food. What’s the point? I’m loving your outlook.. and find myself even guilty of the easy to grab bags of 100 cal packs or mock recipes… but I think I want to WHOLE heartedly start this with myself and my family. Thank you for being such a great inspiration!

    As for these burgers… oh my! Can’t wait to make it!

    -Mandy A

  9. Megan (Braise The Roof)

    I LOVE the analogy of the $2 worth of pennies. This is so true. Back in the day, I was also a big fan of the “diet” food items and I think I felt the need to eat them in huge quantities because they’re not satisfying! Give me a real piece of bread or chocolate any day.

  10. Kim @ Imperfectly Perfect

    This is so true. I remember when I was first losing weight and I thought the lower the calories and fat the better. Fat free bologna became a lunchtime staple until my trainer scolded me for it. I mean, what the heck is fat free bologna really? Oscar Mayer has a catchy jingle and all, but I’m much happier with “real” food now. I wish I was as informed back then, but better late than never at all. I’m a work in progress.

    Your burger looks great! I can’t wait to give it a try!!

  11. morganjanessa

    What a great post! THAT is why I love this blog. I only wish there were a 100 more like this, I wish more woman or people even thought this way. I too was like that, always eating the sugarfree/fat free crap. Now I won’t touch a fat free or lowfat cheese, icecream or whatever. I would much rather enjoy a reasonable amount of the real thing.

    The trick is, like you said, mindfulness and awareness of what you do with the choices you have. Really experiencing the food and the moment, not letting it be something more OR less than that.

  12. Angela

    Great post and great insights. I used to love hungry girl. That was when I also thought Skinny Bitch was the end all. I now know that neither of those diets (?) work for me. I need real food to be truly satisfied and while I still enjoy low calorie products and recipes I also indulge in “normal” meals.

    As my mom would say, its all about moderation. I can have my burger and fries as long as that’s not what I’m eating day in and day out.

  13. Pingback: Weight Reflections of 2010 « Can You Stay for Dinner?

  14. Pingback: Dishing in the New Year « Can You Stay for Dinner?

  15. Linda Erbele

    i have tryed alot of your recipes.ur lasagne,chicken marsala,etc… all very good.i have been going to weight watchersfor about eight months now but i use alot of ur recipes they r fabulous.thanks ,keep yhe recipes coming.

  16. Jessica Grutzius

    Genius! Thank you so much for that post. I hate ‘diet food’ but feel like its been the only talked about option for weight loss. I love the way you talk about food and have found a way to enjoy food in a healthy and balanced way. I hope to be able to adapt this mind set as I set off on yet another weight loss attempt. Thanks for talking about weightloss and healthy eating in a way where food is not the enemy!!!!

    I know you talk about eating lots of veggies, but do you have any other tips on how I can stay fuller and more satisfied throughout the day since I will be drastically reducing my intake of food? A huge obstacle I have is that I always feel so hungry!

  17. Shelley Bourgeois

    Made these tonight. Myself and my husband loved the recipe and will be making it again as well as forwarding to friends. Love reading all of your insights and will continue to try recipes from your blog.

  18. Pingback: 5 Healthy Foods I Love: Part 8 | Can You Stay For Dinner?

  19. themexcellentone

    Something else about eating anything labeled “light” or “diet” is that there is so much artificial stuff added to it to make it taste like the full-fat version of the same thing! I’d much rather eat a smaller portion of the real thing than a larger serving of the “light” version–it would be more satisfying anyhow. :)

    also, I am so going to try making meatloaf burgers…never thought to do it this way!

  20. Pingback: My new philosophy on weight loss | This Oregonian Girl

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.