A “Clean” Meatloaf Recipe (+ using real food as medicine)

This is a guest post by Ivy Larson with Clean Cuisine.

Hi everyone! My name is Ivy Larson with Clean Cuisine. I am a mom to an 18-year old son and author of four nutrition books. I am so grateful to Lisa for having me share my clean meatloaf recipe from my newest book (just released!), Clean Cuisine Cookbook. In addition to sharing the recipe, I also wanted to briefly touch on my story of how I have used anti-inflammatory real food as medicine to manage my multiple sclerosis (MS) symptoms for over twenty years now.Ivy Larson's Clean Cuisine Cookbook

Anti-Inflammatory Real Rood Can Be Good for Many!

I know the vast majority of 100 Days of Real Food readers probably do not have MS (thank goodness!), so I didn’t want to make the focus of this blog post all about MS. Having said that, if you happen to have an autoimmune disease or any type of inflammatory disease (including eczema, fibromyalgia, asthma, arthritis, heart disease, etc.), the recommendations here, and in the Clean Cuisine Cookbook, will absolutely be relevant to you and your family.

How I Used Real Food as Medicine to Manage the Symptoms of MS

I was diagnosed with MS, the most common disabling neurologic disease of young people, in 1998 when I was just 22-years old. I was very lucky that my neurologist at the University of Miami suggested that an anti-inflammatory diet and lifestyle could help slow the progression of the disease because hearing that gave me tremendous hope. I was wearing a catheter and barely able to walk up the stairs at the time, but my neurologist told me that changing my diet, taking certain supplements, exercising moderately, and managing stress could all potentially slow the progression of my disease. It was the first time I had heard of an “anti-inflammatory lifestyle”.

I have to admit, it was initially a bit of a stretch to wrap my head around the idea that simple lifestyle changes could, in fact, slow the progression of a disease that often leaves people unable to walk. Along with my now-husband, Andy Larson, M.D. (whom I met in school when I was just 13 years old!), I researched and adopted a holistic lifestyle approach to treating my MS right from the beginning. I modified my diet and lifestyle almost immediately. Although we cannot definitively prove it, we believe the anti-inflammatory diet and lifestyle I follow is the reason I have never needed to take any of the disease-modifying MS medications in the twenty years since my diagnosis.

Clean Cuisine Defined

Clean eating means different things to different people. Our definition of what it means to eat clean is simple…

Clean Cuisine Defined: Clean Cuisine is a plant-rich diet based on a wide variety of anti-inflammatory whole foods in their most natural and nutrient-rich state.

Clean Cuisine is designed to do 3 things:

  1. Reduce systemic (whole-body) inflammation
  2. Optimize nutrition
  3. Support a healthy gut microbiome

No Fad Diets

It’s important to point out that the anti-inflammatory diet I follow does not fit into any of the popular diet categories (such as vegan, paleo, keto, low-carb, etc.), and it’s not influenced whatsoever by food politics. Because my health condition was so severe, my husband and I did not trust “diet” books or trendy women’s magazines for nutrition advice when we started our research—we went straight to medical journals.

Because we chose not to be influenced by fad diets, we started with a blank slate that allowed us to create an anti-inflammatory lifestyle that was influenced only by human-based research studies published in peer-reviewed medical journals.Coincidentally, a just-published study in The Lancet attributes 11 million deaths and 255 million disability-adjusted life years to 14 dietary risk factors that are specifically addressed with the Clean Cuisine way of eating.

The results of the study showed diets high in sodium, sweetened beverages, trans fats, processed meats, and red meat and diets low in legumes, polyunsaturated fats, fruits, vegetables, fiber, omega-3’s, nuts, whole grains, and calcium are risk factors for early death and premature disease. These are all elements integral to the Clean Cuisine approach.

The Mediterranean Diet & Clean Cuisine

Of all the popular diets, Clean Cuisine leans closest to the Mediterranean diet. However, if you look at the anti-inflammatory food pyramid (below), from page 21 of our Clean Cuisine Cookbook, you’ll notice some definite differences.

For example, Clean Cuisine does not use canola oil or any type of refined flour or sugar. We also place a much greater emphasis on fruits and vegetables, which form the base of our pyramid. In addition, we omit milk, but do allow for small amounts of high quality, naturally fermented cheese as a “treat.”

Moreover, we specifically incorporate as many anti-inflammatory “superfoods” as possible, such as hemp seeds, flaxseeds, chia seeds, acai, cacao, seaweed, etc.

Every recipe in the Clean Cuisine Cookbook is a cleaned-up version of a classic favorite (such as mac and cheese, lasagna, potato salad, etc.), and every recipe works in one of the following three foods:

  1. Fruits
  2. Vegetables
  3. Superfoods

Every recipe is also gluten-free and dairy-free.

The Anti-Inflammatory Clean Cuisine Food Pyramid

Ivy Larson and Blake Larson
Me with my 18-year-old son, Blake

Let’s Get Cooking! How to Make a Clean Meatloaf Recipe…

Who doesn’t love a good meatloaf? It’s the ultimate comfort food! This clean Meatloaf recipe appears on page 182 of the Clean Cuisine Cookbook. The recipe is both gluten-free and dairy-free, with no refined sugar. It uses pasture-raised meat, sneaks in LOTS of vegetables, and offers a full serving of whole grains, too! Best of all, nobody will know it’s a “clean” version unless you tell them so!

Here’s an example of how I turned conventional meatloaf into a clean meatloaf recipe with hidden vegetables below:

  • Use pasture-raised ground beef (you can also substitute pasture-raised turkey or lamb)
  • Add in A LOT of vegetables—4 1/2 cups worth!
  • Use homemade ketchup made without refined sugar
  • Add in whole grains
  • Swap a nutrient-dense/anti-inflammatory plant milk for cow’s milk
This clean Meatloaf recipe appears on page 182 of the Clean Cuisine Cookbook.

Clean Meatloaf

Guest blogger Ivy Larson shares a clean meatloaf recipe with hidden veggies.
3 from 1 vote
Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 1 hr 7 mins
Resting Time: 15 mins
Total Time: 1 hr 22 mins
Print Recipe
Servings: 4 people


  • 2 1/2 cups carrots peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 1 onion medium, coarsely chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic peeled
  • 1/4 cup fresh thyme leaves or 1 tablespoon dried
  • 1 cup shiitake mushrooms stemmed
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons Himalayan pink salt divided
  • 11 tablespoons ketchup I use "clean" homemade ketchup
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats old-fashioned, gluten-free
  • 1/2 cup hemp milk  unsweetened, plain
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce gluten-free
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard 
  • 1 large egg pasture-raised
  • 1 pound ground turkey pasture-raised, or lamb or beef
  • fresh parsley chopped, for garnish


  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and set a large pan of water on the bottom oven rack (the steam it creates will help to keep the meatloaf moist). Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. 
  • Put the carrots, onion, garlic, and thyme in a food processor. Process until minced, but be sure to stop before the mixture turns into a paste. Transfer the mixture to a bowl.
  • Place the shiitake mushrooms in the food processor and process until just minced then set aside. 
  • Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion-carrot mixture and cook for about 6 minutes, until the onion begins to soften. Add the mushrooms to the skillet, season with 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, and cook until both the onion and mushrooms are soft, 5 to 6 minutes. Set the cooked vegetable mixture aside to cool.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine 3 tablespoons of the ketchup, the oats, hemp milk, Worcestershire sauce, Dijon mustard, egg, and remaining 2 teaspoons of salt. Use a wooden spoon to mix the ingredients until just combined. Add the cooked vegetables and the turkey to the bowl and mix with clean hands until the ingredients are just combined—do not overmix.  
  • Place the meatloaf mixture on the prepared baking sheet and shape into a mounded rectangular loaf about 9 inches long, 5 inches wide, and 2 1/2 inches tall. Brush the top with the remaining 1/2 cup ketchup and bake for 50 to 55 minutes, until a thermometer inserted in the middle of the meatloaf reads 160 degrees. Remove the meatloaf from the oven and let it rest for at least 15 minutes before serving. Garnish with chopped parsley before serving, if desired. 


We recommend organic ingredients when feasible.
Conventional ketchup is loaded with refined sugar and not the healthiest ingredient to add if you are trying to make a clean meatloaf recipe. However, did you know that ketchup can be made sweetened with "whole food" dates? It's easy to make your own clean ketchup recipe with pureed dates, but Tesse Mae's Organic Ketchup is a truly delicious store-bought alternative if you are not up for making your own!
Nutrition Facts
Nutrition Facts
Clean Meatloaf
Amount Per Serving
Calories 407 Calories from Fat 171
% Daily Value*
Fat 19g29%
Saturated Fat 4g25%
Cholesterol 136mg45%
Sodium 1390mg60%
Potassium 882mg25%
Carbohydrates 27g9%
Fiber 5g21%
Sugar 10g11%
Protein 27g54%
Vitamin A 13720IU274%
Vitamin C 13.8mg17%
Calcium 135mg14%
Iron 3.8mg21%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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5 thoughts on “A “Clean” Meatloaf Recipe (+ using real food as medicine)”

  1. 3 stars
    I will definitely make this again but the thyme was overpowering. I used the dried amount that was called for so I will try this again using fresh thyme or maybe without the thyme.

    1. Hi Angie, using organic milk will not change the flavor of the recipe, however, if you are trying to get the maximum anti-inflammatory benefits I would definitely use a plant milk. If you don’t want to use hemp milk another option is “whole” almond milk (such as Elmherst brand). I’m not a fan of most store-bought almond milks because most of them have very few almonds and a lot of added additional ingredients (including sugar), but Elmherst is not watered down and has a rich and full-bodied flavor. It would be a great substitute for the hemp milk. I hope this helps? –ivy

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