Meatloaf, Memories, and Grapenuts

I love meatloaf.  It is one of those quintessentially nostalgic dishes that makes me go all warm and gooey inside.  It reminds me of my childhood, and my Granny. My mom covered it with tomato paste, and baked it until the tomatoes were all caramelized and super sweet—and it always, always came with mashed potatoes.  I love leftover cold meatloaf sandwiches—cheap white bread, thin layer of mayo, and thin sliced red onion.  Smashed up into marinara sauce and it becomes an instant meat sauce.  Sliced and pan fried until brown and crusty, Meatloaf  is a sinful, sinful delight, and a favorite guilty pleasure.  I also love the rock star by the same name, but I digress……

I have often looked for ways to make it healthier, without sacrificing ANY of the taste or texture.  Every healthy incarnation lost something in translation.  Until now.  The secret is GRAPE NUTS.  Yes, Grape Nuts, the unassuming little cereal nuggets.  The inspiration for this idea came in the form of a half-eaten bowl of hot Grape Nuts porridge.  The part I didn’t eat sat on the counter all day while I was at work.  I had to chisel it out when I got home, but I noticed that the inside part was super thick and had the consistency of raw hamburger.  That was years ago, and  I have often wondered if I could parlay this into some sort of meat substitute, but didn’t actually try it until now.  I cut the meat in half in this recipe, and substituted cooked Grape Nuts (left out the brown sugar and butter of course).  The result is a meatloaf that is moist, firm and delicious.  It tastes exactly like the meatloaf of my youth, and has lost none of its texture or substance.  This would make great meatballs also…..

Grape Nuts Meat Loaf
  • 2 Cups Grape Nuts cereal
  • 2 C water
  • 1 T beef bouillon granules
  • 2 pound extra lean ground beef
  • 1 envelope Onion Mushroom Soup Mix
  • 1 small onion, finely minced
  • 3 egg
  • 2 T Worcestershire Sauce
  • 2 small can tomato paste
Preheat oven to 350*
 
Heat first three ingredients in medium sized bowl in microwave for five minutes on high.  Stir.  Spread on a piece of foil that has been sprayed with non stick cooking spray, and allow to cool for ten minutes.  In a large bowl, combine cereal mixture, meat, soup mix, egg and Worcestershire sauce until very well blended.  Place a piece of foil that has been sprayed with non-stick spray on a baking sheet.  Form the meat mixture into 3 loaves (about 4 inches wide by 8 inches long).  Bake in center of oven for 45 minutes.  Remove from oven and spread tomato paste over the loaves.  Place back in the oven and bake another 20 minutes.  Allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving.
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40 Comments on “Meatloaf, Memories, and Grapenuts”

  1. Jodi
    2011/12/12 at 11:21 pm #

    I’ve made meatballs using Grape-Nuts, but never carried through to meatloaf. Fantastic idea! I love meatloaf, but have never been a fan of the tomato slurry on top (I am one of those bizarre people who don’t like anything catsup) I put caramelized onions simmered in butter and comino in the meat loaf and coat the top with a sweet and spicy bbq sauce.

  2. suburbanwifey
    2012/07/08 at 3:11 am #

    Hello from the UK! Thanks for following my blog 🙂 nice to meet you. I’ve come over to take a look at yours and am subscribing, great blog!

    I want to make your meatloaf, it sounds and looks awesome, but I need a bit of advice before I can attempt it – what would I substitute for Grape Nuts cereal in the UK? as I have never heard of it and its not available in the United Kingdom. Can you tell me exactly what it is if you don’t know a substitution for it? I’d love to make your meatloaf 🙂

    • 2012/07/08 at 12:55 pm #

      I googled and found two possibilities: Tesco, Asda, Somerfield and Sainsburys all sell Grape Nuts cereals.
      , and kashi makes a cereal called “seven in the morning” which is supposedly just like grape nuts….of course, I don’t know if kashi brand is available in the uk….

  3. judy broll
    2012/07/13 at 4:42 pm #

    LOVE THIS…will need to try when i do make meatloaf…

  4. 2012/07/13 at 4:53 pm #

    love meatloaf and now that it is healthier will have it more often – we always had scalloped potatoes and corn with our meatloaf

    • Sharon Johnson
      2013/09/12 at 9:24 pm #

      I totally agree with the corn & scalloped potatoes!! It just rounds out the whole ‘comfort food’ of the meal.

  5. Rusha Sams
    2012/07/13 at 5:23 pm #

    Great idea! I never would have thought of this! Thx for sharing!!!!

  6. 2012/07/13 at 5:47 pm #

    What a novel idea!

  7. 2012/07/13 at 6:18 pm #

    It is not possible to consume hot meatloaf without mashed potatoes. It would be like a meatloaf sandwich without ketchup, or huevos rancheros without Tabasco.

  8. Fiendtype
    2012/07/13 at 6:23 pm #

    This sounds really good! I haven’t actually tried meatloaf before, but this makes me want to.

  9. 2012/07/13 at 7:10 pm #

    I lve meatballs too. Thanks for the great idea, I’ll try it! 🙂

  10. Hollin Scott
    2012/07/13 at 7:15 pm #

    Ok Grape Nuts is actually a brilliant idea. Wow!

  11. 2012/07/13 at 8:55 pm #

    Grape Nuts;huh.Butter my butt and call me bread;that is one clever idea.They could work in a lot of different things.Thanks for the post.

  12. Lance
    2012/07/14 at 3:09 am #

    I made your famous meatloaf this evening. Mind you, we don’t have grapenut cereal here in Australia, so I used a close version. Turned out fabulous & complemented with buttered corn on the cobb. See you in November! 🙂

    • 2012/07/14 at 11:55 am #

      Lance, what DO you have in Oz? Another reader was asking hat he could sub in England….I have no idea, but maybe what you use is in Europe…

  13. 2012/07/14 at 8:18 am #

    I sooo have to try this. I love meatloaf and have been in a rut making it the same way for years. Grape nuts? Who’d of thunk it possible that such a wee cereal grain could turn an old standard in to a masterpiece!

    • 2012/07/14 at 11:56 am #

      It makes feel less guilty for eating meatloaf sandwiches for a week after….

  14. messyme
    2012/07/14 at 2:06 pm #

    I use Grape Nuts a lot. I put it in cakes for my diabetic husband that I cook. Helps to slow down sugar absorption. Will try in meatloaf !

  15. 2012/07/14 at 7:48 pm #

    That sounds delicious…I will try it the next time I make meatloaf…and as a diabetic I like the idea of putting it in cakes. Messyme can you post that recipe for the cake. So many wonderful ideas! Blessings Patty

  16. 2012/07/15 at 1:16 am #

    Yum!!

  17. 2012/07/15 at 3:09 pm #

    Grape nuts? I’ll have to give that a try…….Here in New England it is not unheard of to put oatmeal in the meatloaf and top it with a mix of tomato sauce mustard and yes, brown sugar.My husband insist on leftovers as a meatloaf sandwich is a treat to him. loving your blog

    • 2012/07/15 at 3:15 pm #

      You just made me hungry….think I will go have a meatloaf sandwich.

    • Sharon Johnson
      2013/09/12 at 9:29 pm #

      I, too, have used oatmeal for years in meatloaf as my grandmother did. She said it was healthier & she was quite right. I still make the same size meatloaf I did when our kids were home ’cause both my hubby & I love meatloaf sandwiches. They can’t be beat.

  18. 2012/07/16 at 6:02 pm #

    My husband loves meatloaf, so maybe this will be just one more way to his heart!

    • 2012/07/16 at 10:26 pm #

      And to keep his heart healthy…

      • 2012/07/17 at 6:39 am #

        That is always good – want to keep him around for a long time.

  19. 2012/07/17 at 11:33 am #

    I’ve noticed that while Post Grapenuts (the original) has malt in it, some of the store brands do not. Does anybody have a feel for whether or not that would make a difference? I can’t imagine the malt would be noticeable in a meatloaf, but then again…

    • 2012/07/17 at 12:17 pm #

      I don’t think it would matter—the grape nuts are more a function of replacing meat with a similar texture…the flavor of the cereal is pretty much obscured by the meat and seasonings anyway…

      • 2012/07/17 at 12:24 pm #

        It would help me if you could give an idea of the yield when you post a recipe. I, personally, have no ability to estimate that kind of thing. You should see how many containers I dirty until I find one that fits. :<)

      • 2012/07/18 at 11:00 am #

        Yes, I know…that is my big developmental opportunity. I am trying to remember to do that more often…

    • 2012/07/18 at 12:01 pm #

      You should have seen what happened when I last made chili. It was like the I Love Lucy show with the rice.

  20. 2012/07/18 at 12:04 pm #

    I made the meatloaf last night. We both liked it, but I felt like it was slightly on the bland side. I’m not sure what I would add, though. I’ll have to sniff my way through my spice cabinet.

    • 2012/07/18 at 12:11 pm #

      OH, I am sorry….maybe add some zing with more flavoring ingredients: A-1, worschestershire, onion soup mix….I don’t like my meatloaf all bedazzled with vegetables like some people do, but if you do, add some minced onions, peppers, or corn kernels, or all of the above!

    • 2012/09/06 at 10:43 am #

      I think I’ve decided that using Heinz chili sauce (the kind that looks like ketchup, and is sold in a bottle) instead of the tomato paste does the trick.

    • Sharon Johnson
      2013/09/12 at 9:39 pm #

      Mrs. Dash is always good, Pepper Medley is great too as well as a good steak sauce (not much tho) — You don’t want to get too carried away. I always put onions in mine. My daughter doesn’t like them so I use dried onions and reconstituted them prior to use. She didn’t notice. Garlic is a possibility too. I’m with you when it comes to ‘bland’, we’re not fond of that in any form. Tread lightly on the seasoning when you start experimenting ’cause you have to remember that you can’t taste meatloaf as it is cooking.

  21. 2012/07/18 at 1:52 pm #

    No need to apologize. My wife and I like things rather spicier than some people do.There was an incident involving tandoori marinade in meatloaf: it tasted pretty good, but it was dayglo pink.

    There was plenty of Worcestershire sauce in your recipe, but adding A-1 is a good thought. Perhaps mixing a bit of A1 into the tomato paste would be interesting. I’m not one for veggies in my meatloaf, either.

    I meant “sniff my way through my spice cabinet” literally. That’s how I do a lot of my flavoring, but sniffing the spices to see what smells good with the other stuff.

    In any case, I thank you for the recipe.

  22. 2012/07/19 at 10:47 am #

    Hmm. Grapenuts. Who would’ve thought. My mom always used oatmeal flakes, egg and chopped onion to her meatloaf. I do the same but I also add Worcestershire Sauce, Ketchup, tomato sauce and some bottled BBQ sauce. It comes out moist and tasty and ther leftovers make the best sandwiches. I even make it for company.

    Thanks for the Grapenuts version. I’m looking forward to trying it.

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