I hate change.
My oldest daughter, Jade, just turned four, and is ready for everything from brushing her own teeth and hair to joining the growing allegiance of toddlers engaged in taking over the world (AKA, preschool).
While this should be a time of happiness and freedom for me, I feel anxiety and sadness at the idea of my first-born being away from me for more than one hour at a time. I’m definitely not what you’d call outgoing or social…quite the opposite actually, so my desire for routine is significant, and I want my babies to stay babies!
Obviously, these psychological issues of mine need resolving, and the first step for me is pushing through my emotional baggage and readying her for what will be a fun and exciting time of new friends and memories.
One of the preschool requirements is that she pack a lunch, so, of course, my contribution to this upheaval is to be prepared with one of my darling’s culinary favorites: meatloaf.
Ordinarily, meatloaf is one big slab of a meal, but I thought it would be fun to make it more child-friendly (and lunch-packable) by creating tiny, handheld sliders. I also add in a good dose of vegetables and oats for a filling and all-around nutritious meal.
In lieu of ketchup, catsup, or whatever that dastardly stuff is called, I mix together a bit of tomato sauce, cayenne, yellow mustard, and molasses, for a slightly spicy, delicious, HFCS-free alternative that will please kids and adults alike!
- 2 t. olive oil
- ½ c. onion, chopped fine
- ¼ c. green pepper, chopped
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- ½ c. mushrooms, chopped
- ½ c. zucchini, chopped
- ¼ c. carrot, grated
- 1 T. tomato paste
- ½ t. thyme, dried
- ½ t. basil, dried
- ½ t. sea salt
- ¼ t. black pepper
- 1 lb. ground beef
- ½ c. quick oats (or rolled oats that have been pulsed a few times in a food processor)
- 1½ t. soy sauce
- 2 T. milk of your choice (I use rice)
- 2 T. fresh parsley, chopped
- ½ c. tomato sauce
- 2 t. yellow mustard
- 2 t. molasses
- pinch cayenne
- pinch sea salt
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Heat the oil in a pan.
- Add in the onions and green peppers, and saute for about 3 minutes.
- Add in the garlic, mushrooms, and zucchini, and saute for 5-6 minutes until the mushrooms and zucchini have released their juices and the juice has evaporated a bit.
- Stir in the grated carrot, tomato paste, thyme, basil, salt, and pepper.
- Remove the pan from the heat and let cool for a minute or two.
- In a bowl, add the ground beef, oats, soy sauce, milk, and parsley.
- Add in the vegetable mix, and, using your hands, gently mix everything together until well-combined. Try to avoid too much mixing, as this will make the meat a bit tougher.
- Divide the meat equally among 12 well-oiled muffin cups.
- Mix together the ingredients for the topping (tomato sauce, mustard, molasses, salt, and cayenne).
- Spread about a tablespoon of the topping onto the tops of each slider (if you have extra, just divide it equally among the 12 sliders).
- Bake the sliders for 30 minutes.
- Cool and gently remove with a fork.
Inspired by this recipe
Though I calculate the nutritional stats for readers, they are often quite interesting to me as well. For instance, each slider has less than two grams of sugar, almost 13 grams of protein, and less than six grams of carbs (qualifying it as low carb).
Despite the fact that I’ll be as nervous as a cat in a room full of rocking chairs on Jade’s first day, I’ll rest easy knowing that she’s munching on a healthy lunch that she enjoys!
Do you have children in school? Are you averse to change in your life?