Tasty Yummies: Gluten-free + Vegan Lentil “Meat” Loaf

I found Tasty Yummies over a year ago, right around the time I began Healthful Pursuit. In fact, Beth’s blog was the first to be added to my Google Reader; and later, the first to be posted to my blog roll. What can I say, she’s awesome!

I’ve always been fascinated with Beth’s eye for design (she owns her own design studio), creative gluten-free dishes, and approach to health. Not to mention, she’s an avid yogi… just like I try to be. So, when I was coming up with a list of bloggers I envisioned would hold the fort while I was away doing yoga, it only made sense that she be added to the pack.

And… she made the most amazing recipe for us, exclusive to Healthful Pursuit!

Hello, everyone!! I am super excited to be here as a guest-poster on Healthful Pursuit. Leanne’s blog is one of my absolute favorites and I constantly find myself on here not only for inspiration with meals and recipes, but for the affirmation that making the right choices with my food provides so much more than feeling good and staying healthy.

Just to give you a somewhat brief introduction to me and how I eat, I have been gluten-free for over 7 years now. I found that I had an intolerance after many years of struggling with digestive issues, with no answer. Even though I felt instantly better upon removing gluten from my diet, I still struggled for years with my health, having what I now believe to have been an overall weakened immune system, always catching any type of virus or sickness that would make it’s way around, nothing very serious, just colds, flus, sinus infections, migraines, etc.

Additionally, I constantly felt sluggish and I put on a significant amount of weight over the course of 5 years of eating gluten-free and I just didn’t feel as good as I knew I could and should, considering I had already made such a huge life change by going gluten-free. In March of 2010, I decided to do a 30-day cleanse, removing all of the other usual offenders besides gluten. I took out dairy, caffeine, sugar, alcohol, meat, seafood, processed foods, salt, etc.

After the 30 days, I felt the best I ever had, 20 pounds had literally fallen off of me and I was so full of energy. I had never ever felt that good! I knew I was onto something, so I decided to stick with avoiding processed foods. I decided the only meat that I would buy and eat would come from a local farmer that raises his animals on pasture and in the most humane way possible. And also severely limited my intake of the other “trouble” items for me, sugar, dairy, salt, caffeine and alcohol. I lost another 10 pounds, fairly quickly, making the total weight loss from these small modifications to 30 pounds, in just 2 months!

It was like my body couldn’t wait to get it off!

Fast-forward to now 2 years later and not only have I maintained my healthy eating lifestyle of being gluten-free, I have continued to avoid all processed foods, refined sugars and as of 3 weeks ago, I also permanently removed dairy. Overall, I eat a lot of naturally vegan foods and I maintain a mostly vegetarian diet. We eat meat (all grass-fed from a wonderful local farmer), at most, once a week at home, sometimes as little as once a month, so I like to consider myself a “conscientious omnivore”. In addition to eating as healthy as I possibly can for me, I also have a daily yoga practice, which I have found to be the perfect compliment to my lifestyle, mentally, emotionally and physically.

For the first time ever, I have found a way of living that fits me and my body, it never feels like work or a struggle and I am constantly grateful for all of it.

I started Tasty Yummies just after I did that 30-day cleanse 2 years ago, that allowed me to change the way I look at food. I started posting my recipes so I could share with others the foods and meals that I was eating since so often people were asking me, “if you can’t eat this, that or this – what exactly CAN you eat?” or “Don’t you get bored with eating?”. Those questions always floor me, because oftentimes find myself feeling overwhelmed by all the possibilities, my head spinning not knowing where to even begin some weeks when I am meal planning.

Finding the foods I am intolerant to has been one of the best things that ever happened to me. I finally feel like the best possible version of me. It brings me so much joy to not only experiment and explore finding fun and exciting ways to eat healthy for myself, but to also share those recipes and discoveries with people that I know are finding that same joy themselves.

I was trying to determine what recipe I would share here on Healthful Pursuit, at the time I got the email from Leanne, I had been playing around with trying to perfect a lentil loaf recipe. Until this final recipe that I share with you today, I had come close, but it was hard to keep the loaf together. It would taste absolutely delicious would be a crumbly or mushy mess!

I was beginning to get frustrated and then I remembered how well my lentil burgers held together from pureeing the lentils into a thick and smooth paste, first. I decided to give that a try with this loaf and it was the key to holding it together. That, plus the sturdiness and bindingness of the flax-seed egg and the oats and almond flour, it was a great combination.

If you don’t eat grains of any kind, you could try to exclusively use almond flour (adding in more) instead of including the oats, but I haven’t yet tried that myself.

There are a lot of great flavors happening with this lentil loaf, it is hearty and satisfying and almost even a little “meaty”. I wanted to make my own spicy BBQ sauce from scratch for the loaf, which for some reason I have never done before, but it was surprisingly easy and definitely worth it. I am not sure why I haven’t been doing this all along instead of buying expensive organic BBQ sauces to avoid that pesky high fructose corn syrup that is in so many others. It paired so perfectly with this loaf and now I have a big mason jar full of homemade BBQ sauce in the fridge for all kinds of delicious meals. My meat and BBQ loving Southern-boy hubby, not only loved the lentil loaf, but he couldn’t stop raving about my BBQ sauce. He was calling it “Sweet Baby Beth’s BBQ Sauce”, haha. 

I honestly was so excited about finally conquering this lentil loaf that I found myself dancing around the kitchen while taking the photos. I love when that happens. As awful as it feels when you fail at a recipe, and you find yourself so bummed out, there is absolutely NOTHING like that feeling of accomplishment when you figure it out and master it. I live for that feeling!

Gluten-free + Vegan Lentil “Meat” Loaf

Vegan, Gluten free, Dairy free, Refined sugar free, Yeast free, Corn free

There are a lot of great flavors happening with this lentil loaf, it is hearty and satisfying and almost even a little “meaty”.

Yield: 1 – 9″x5″ loaf

Servings: 8

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoon ground flax seeds
  • 6 tablespoon boiling water
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 cup mushrooms, diced
  • 2 cups fresh baby spinach, roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, roughly chopped
  • 3/4 cup spicy vegan BBQ sauce, recipe below
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 cups cooked green lentils, cooled and split into 1 1/2 cups and 1/2 cup
  • 1 cup gluten-free rolled oats, split in half *see note
  • 1/2 cup almond flour

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375F. Add the ground flax seeds to a small bowl, pour the boiling hot water over and stir to combine well. Set aside and allow it to thicken and cool.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat, add the onion and garlic and sauté for 5-8 minutes until the onions are tender. Add in the mushrooms and cook another 3 to 5 minutes until the mushrooms are tender, add in the thyme and spinach and cook until the spinach is wilted, about 2 minutes. Add in 1/2 cup of the BBQ sauce, stir to combine and turn off the heat, add salt and pepper to taste, if it needs it.
  3. Process 1 1/2 cups of the cooked lentils and 1/2 cup of the oats in the food processor until smooth (some whole bits may remain, that’s ok). Spoon the mixture into a large bowl, add in the remaining lentils and oats, plus the flax “egg”, almond flour and vegetable mixture. Stir really well to combine. Then get your hands in there, just like you would with a regular meat loaf or meatballs, and make sure it is mixed and mashed together really well.
  4. Spoon the mixture into a parchment paper lined 9″ x 5″ loaf pan, (leave a bit of the parchment paper hanging over so you can easily lift the loaf out when it is cooked). Using your hands, you really want to press it in good. Brush on the remaining 1/4 cup of BBQ sauce over the top.
  5. Bake uncovered for 35 to 40 minutes at 375F. Cool in the pan for about 5, pull the loaf out by grabbing the sides of the parchment paper and lifting up and allow it to cool for another 5 to 10 minutes on a cooking rack. Slice and serve.

note: If you don’t eat grains of any kind, you could try to exclusively use almond flour (adding in more) instead of including the oats, but I haven’t yet tried that myself.

View nutrition facts

Spicy Vegan BBQ Sauce

Vegan, Gluten free, Dairy free, Refined sugar free, Yeast free, Corn free, Grain free

Make this easy spicy BBQ sauce from scratch and avoid buying expensive organic BBQ sauces filled with high fructose corn syrup.

Yield: 1 qt, 1 L of sauce

Servings: 8, 1/2 cup each

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 3-4 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 teaspoon celery seed
  • 24-ounce jar of strained (or crushed) tomatoes (or a 28-ounce can)
  • 7-ounce jar of tomato paste (or a 6-ounce can)
  • 2 tablespoon Sriracha *see note
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup whole grain mustard
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup blackstrap molasses
  • 2 teaspoon liquid smoke

Directions

  1. Heat olive oil in a medium saucepan over a medium heat. Add the onion sauté for about 5 minutes, until the onion is slightly tender, add the garlic and saute for another minute or two.
  2. Add in the remaining ingredients and stir well to combine, reduce the heat to a medium-low and allow to simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring often.
  3. Taste the sauce and make sure you don’t want more of anything, you may want it more sweet, spicy, sour, salty. I like my BBQ sauce tangy and smoky, so I added another 1/4 cup of vinegar and another teaspoon of liquid smoke.
  4. Remove from the heat, allow to cool for a few minutes, then puree until smooth in the food processor or blender.

note: if you don’t like spicy, you can skip the sriracha, add less or use just a pinch of two of red pepper flakes instead.

View nutrition facts

I hope you enjoy this recipe and take some time to check out some of my other recipes and posts on Tasty Yummies, too! You can also connect with me on Facebook or Twitter. Thanks again Leanne, for having me as a guest on Healthful Pursuit. I hope you are enjoying your adventure and the peace of India right now. I cannot wait to hear all about it.

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