Bacon-Crusted Meatloaf with Sweet-and-Spicy Tomato Topping & Keys to Success in Dieting (and Life!)

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I feel like I’m dying. I have swimmer’s ear like a 4 year old. I know, I know–don’t the magical powers of the paleo diet combat and cure swimmer’s ear? In short, no. In long, some people use breast milk (which certainly sounded intriguing) but still no. Stupid swimming pool and going underwater and cup-like ears that hold bacteria-laden water inside like the world’s greatest suction. Anyways, it hurts bad enough that I cried, but then again I’m kind of a baby. I found my boyfriend’s hydrocodone in my medicine cabinet. It hasn’t really made a difference–told you it was bad! Maybe I’ll feel better soon (or this blog post will become incomprehensible and hilarious). I want need someone to come take care of me. Why don’t my parents still take the day off work if I’m sick? Just because I’m 22 doesn’t mean I can handle this on my own. I need bone broth, bananas, and a back rub– I’m such a baby when I’m sick. Also, I’m missing syllabus day at school…. Bummer only because I’d rather be doing something fun (for example, jet skiing and eating paleo treats) and not laying in bed on drugs starving and crying simultaneously. Not kidding. I’m an infant.

Subject change. Polite-but-bitchy rant time. If you repeatedly do the same thing expecting different results, you are crazy. And dumb. Shout out to all my friends, family, and readers that try the same diet (or a bunch of different, “promising” new ones) over and over and never succeed–or possibly lose 5 pounds before stuffing their face with KFC (do people still eat that?) and gaining 10 pounds. Keep blaming everyone else or work stress or genetics or $2 margaritas or lack of mental toughness…. or be honest and blame yourself and/or the diet.

Counting calories is f-ing inconvenient along with the fact that calorie counting means I could eat like 10 brownies a day if I plan well (and, boy, on Weight Watchers, I planned freaking well. Not healthy. Crazy and dumb. Stop thinking counting calories is the end all to dieting, you’ll likely fail, see mediocre results, and learn nothing about how to actually eat and feel healthy. Becoming a vegetarian when your favorite food is bacon-wrapped, crab-stuffed steak is also dumb and crazy. I’ve met a handful of healthy herbivores in my life. Most of the healthy ones were cows (literally) and most of the non-healthy ones were cow-sized humans. Why? Because being a vegetarian usually means being a processed-food loving carboholic. If your meals contain 90% bread, pasta, oats, potatoes, cereals, fruit… sorry that you gained 20 pounds “reducing heart disease” and going “vegan” #fullblownhealthbitch.

I should be so excited when I hear someone say they are going to try paleo, but instead I worry. Do you know what you are doing? Are you about to have a terrible experience that will ruin Paleo (or any diet or activity, for that matter) forever for you because you didn’t prepare well? Changing your diet means changing your lifestyle. I don’t care who you are, food defines a part of your life, probably a large part. Read. Study. Prepare. If you wake up Monday morning (because all diets have to start on Mondays, right?) and don’t know what you’re going to eat for breakfast, you might be screwed. If you have oatmeal and toast with peanut butter ready to go, you’re probably definitely screwed. Be ready to put in effort before, during, and after meals.

That sounds daunting, intimidating, and like a huge effort, but think about it this way: if you were going to start a new job, join a team for a sport you’ve hardly played, build a work bench for your garage, adopt a dog for the first time, would you go in unprepared? No. You would read up, buy proper supplies, and make sure you knew exactly what you were getting into. You would prepare for the difficulties. You would plan ahead. You may not know everything, but you respect the thing enough to know it will not be simple. That’s what you have to do to be successful on a diet. I can confidently say I’ve never seen someone succeed on a diet or lifestyle change without intense dedication, constantly growing knowledge, and proper preparation.

I’ve heard many people tell me how they would do anything to lose body fat, want to have more energy, need to clear up digestive issues, then turn around and say the paleo diet is scary, too regimented, and takes a lot of effort they just don’t have the time and/or willpower for. I think calorie counting is scary and regimented (and it sucks because results are sub-par). To imagine having to write in a journal every single thing I consume and think of eating my food like paying bills out of my calorie “bank”, that sounds miserable and destined for a screw up. The Paleo diet is loose in its rules when you really get down to it. Eat anything you want except the stuff we started introducing 10,000+ years ago (hey, your 150,000 year old ancestors would think that was young!). Sorry you can’t have Twinkies, but here is EVERY animal, fruit, vegetable and nut in the world! Eat enough to sustain yourself (and lucky for you paleo foods won’t leave you hungry and filled with cravings). Meat, nuts, seeds, fruit, eggs, fish, lots of vegetables, healthy oils–and, if you can tolerate it, maybe you even let yourself have high-quality dairy, or a piece of 85% dark chocolate and a glass of red wine every once in a while! There is tons of room for variety and deliciousness and if you look for it, there is endless advice, knowledge (aka Google), and support whenever you need it (just ask me!, duh).

Whatever it is. The new job. The dog. The work bench. The new sport. Or, a new diet…. Dedicate yourself. Sit down with books, the internet, your knowledgeable friends and LEARN. Take notes. Ask questions. Don’t let fear of failure stop you. Be realistic, but aim high and try as hard as you can (I had a professor that wrote this on every assignment he gave: ‘This has your name on it. Don’t let it suck!’). And, as my elementary school principal said every morning on the announcements, attitude is everything.

“Ability is what you’re capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it.” -Lou Holtz

Good luck in your paleo (and other life) journeys. Now, enjoy this awesome meatloaf recipe!

loaf

Bacon-Crusted Meatloaf with Sweet-and-Spicy Tomato Topping

Prep time: 20 min
Cook time: 60 mins

Ingredients:

For the Meatloaf,

  • 1 lb grass-fed ground beef (I use 90/10)
  • 1 lb ground pork (85% ground pork or bulk mild Italian sausage are both good)
  • 2 small zucchinis (finely shredded)
  • 1/2 medium onion (finely shredded)
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tbsp garlic powder
  • 2 tbsp onion powder
  • salt & peper, to taste
  • 4-7 slices of bacon (amount needed depends on wideness of slices)

For the Sauce,

  • 2 tbsp bacon fat
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 6 oz can tomato paste
  • 1/3 c apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 c beef or beef-flavored broth (I prefer this) *note: read the ingredients!!! get something without sugar!
  • 1-2 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1-2 tbsp apple butter (optional, but a good choice)
  • 1/2-1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp hot sauce
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/2-1 tsp cayenne pepper or ground chipotle pepper

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400.
  2. Take your finely shredded zucchini and onion (I used the food processor attachment to do the shredding) and place them in a cheesecloth. Wring out excess water–so that your meatloaf is not super watery and mushy.
  3. In a bowl, mix together ground meats, zucchini and onion, egg, and all the spices. Get in there with your hands and make sure everything gets evenly distributed. Embrace the feeling (reminds me of this)
  4. Put the meat into a loaf pan.
  5. Lay your bacon in one layer across the loaf. Try not to overlap or let the bacon hang down the sides (this will lessen the crispness of your bacon!). You can either lay them vertically down the meatloaf, or cut them in half and lay them them horizontally across the meatloaf (I did this).
  6. Put this baby in the oven for 55 minutes.
  7. While your meat is a-cookin’, get your sauce ready. In a skillet, heat the 2 tbsp of bacon fat over medium heat and add your minced onions. *Note: to mince, I pulse my onion in the food processor 4-5 times. If you want onion pieces in your sauce, you can dice or shred it instead.
  8. Cook onions until they begin to brown (3-4 mins) and then add your garlic.
  9. Cook for about 30 more seconds and add all the rest of the ingredients and stir until well combined.
  10. Let the sauce simmer for the rest of the time the meat is cooking. *Do a mini taste test because I’ve found sometimes I want more spice (chipotle), more sweet (tomato or maple syrup), or more salt.
  11. At 55 minutes, turn your broiler on high and move the meat to a higher shelf in the oven. Let the bacon crisp up for 3-5 minutes.
  12. Remove from the oven and drain excess water/fat that has accumulated in the loaf pan.
  13. Top with the sweet and spicy tomato sauce, serve with greens and mashed cauliflower, and devour!
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