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Ma, Meatloaf!

This article is a direct street report from our correspondent and has not been edited by the 1st Responder newsroom.

There are few things that connect us with our past more than food. It has the innate ability to bring us back to a certain time or event in our life, both good and bad. When I think about my own past, these memorable meals tend to be the comfort food I grew up with. Coming from a big Italian-American family, I can still smell both of my grandmothers’ tomato sauce bubbling away. The meatballs, braciole and ribs turning it a dark brick red and lending just enough fat to slick the top. Or maybe it's my mother’s meatloaf, studded with carrots and glazed perfectly with ketchup, not fussy but certainly satisfying.

Meatloaf is one of those miraculous dishes that checks all the boxes. It feeds a crowd, reheats well and can also be eaten cold on a sandwich, all while being a relatively good bang for your buck. The traditional version is my favorite, due of course to that nostalgia I was speaking of earlier. But sometimes I like to take these “traditional” recipes and turn them on their head a little bit while still keeping true to their form, in this case a loaf of meat.

By now you may have realized I like to take a healthier approach to my cooking in the firehouse. It's no secret that we tend to gravitate towards high fat, high calorie food as firefighters. But it's killing us, plain and simple. Cardiac-related incidents continue to be the number one killer of firefighters. So why not take familiar flavors and make them a little healthier, even if it's just a little bit.

With meatloaf, the answer was obvious, substitute beef for a leaner meat like turkey. It's important when using these leaner meats to amp up the flavor due to the lower fat content. One thing is for sure, chipotle packs a punch in the flavor department. Mexican ingredients work well when trying to introduce healthier meals into the firehouse because they amplify flavor, not calories. Cilantro, chili powder, jalapeno and lime all add depth to the dish without adding extra fat. And the beauty of meatloaf is that it's a blank canvas, so it takes these flavors on so well.

Give this recipe a shot and remember, cooking should be fun. Adjust the recipe according to your liking.

Stay safe, eat well!

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AJ FUSCOColumnist

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