Luna Legend is only one year old, but she's already living a life we can only dream of. She goes on the road with dad John Legend and also gets to enjoy the fruits of mom Chrissy Teigen's culinary endeavors. Also, we're pretty sure she is destined to be BFFs with North West. Suffice it to say, that is going to be one cool, well-fed kid.
And lest we think that twelve months is too young to develop taste preferences and favorite foods, Teigen recently shared the recipe for Luna's favorite food ever, "if [we] interested." Oh, we're most definitely interested, Chrissy.
The recipe in question is a healthy turkey meatloaf courtesy of Whole Foods. Made with ground turkey, quinoa, and chia seeds, it basically reads as exactly what you'd imagine would come from a healthy Whole Foods dish, circa 2017. But, if it is good enough for Luna, it's good enough for us. So, armed with a grocery list and a firm belief in the palate of a one-year-old icon, I went to Whole Foods to attempt my own version of Luna's favorite food ever.
I was excited, and not just because it brought me a little bit closer to a VIB (very important baby). I actually love meatloaf. I never ate it growing up, probably because my parents associated it with the kind of bland foods typical of '60s middle American cuisine: grey meats and over-boiled vegetables, with no real flavoring to speak of. It wasn't until I was in high school that my aunt served it to me while I was spending the night at her house (she called my father afterwards to scold him for neglecting that part of my upbringing). Over the years, I've made it a few times myself and discovered, there are plenty of recipes out there that are flavorful, easy to throw together, and good for freezing leftovers.
Once you get over the idea of the Healthy Turkey Meatloaf in question including quinoa and chia seeds, the recipe itself is pretty straight forward. Meat (in this case, turkey or chicken), veggies, usually onion, celery, and carrot (with the addition of spinach), a non-meat to stretch things out (quinoa instead of bread crumbs) and a binder (chia instead of eggs).
Sadly, other parts of the recipe gave me pause. For example, no oil is used at all in browning the vegetables — since it uses raw spinach, there's enough water to keep them from sticking. I wasn't sure if I would need to drain the soaked chia seeds before adding them in, but then I realized that, after soaking chia seeds for just 15 minutes, you get a gel akin to a bunch of tiny fish eyes that you can toss directly in the meatloaf mix. The last step was to make a loaf and top it with either no sugar added barbecue sauce or ketchup.
But which one was Luna's favorite? I had tweeted Chrissy in desperation at the store and scoured the shelves looking for no sugar added options. As it turned out, even at Whole Foods, the source of the recipe, such things can be hard to find. The only barbecue sauce that was free of added sugar was spicy, and I wasn't sure if even a really cool one-year-old would enjoy spicy food just yet. I had more success with the ketchup, but only after standing in the condiment aisle staring blankly at bottle after bottle like I was encountering sauces for the first time ever.
Once home, however, I had not received a reply from Chrissy (it's not like she's busy writing a cookbook or anything), and it was time to loaf the meat. So I split the difference and created two loaves, topping one with barbecue and one with ketchup. After about 30 minutes, I was ready to taste my creations. Would all those substitutions and additions make something that would appeal to adults as well as a toddlers?
The short answer: probably not? It cooked up fine, and held together in a dense, healthy-tasting loaf. It really didn't taste like chia seeds or quinoa, but really didn't taste much like a regular meatloaf, either. I imagine if you are a toddler, and eat a lot of your foods puréed, with veggies added in, this would indeed be a real kick. As an adult, it kind of tasted like I was eating a salad made into a brick. The regular barbecue topping turned out to be the best, and, since I suspect Chrissy might ignore directives to buy no sugar added BBQ sauce, I felt like I hadn't misstepped too much.
When I brought it to work to offer to my coworkers, I got a similarly lukewarm response. But, then again, Chrissy never claimed it was one of her favorite foods. When it comes to meatloaf for the over-five set, Chrissy has a bit more fun: back in 2015, she tweeted that she made a meatloaf with 50% beef, 50% Italian sausage declaring it "hollllllllllllly delicious." The recipe would later appear in her first cookbook. With all do respect to quinoa, that's a meatloaf I'd really like to sink my teeth into.