By Molly Patrick
Oct 14, 2017,
We get a lot of emails.
Some emails are complaints about my language.
Some emails are questions about how to get into the meal plan classroom.
Some emails are from people wanting to advertise on our website.
Some emails are from people who need help finding a recipe on our blog.
And some emails are love letters filled with gratitude.
I’ve never shared any of those emails because they are personal and usually for our eyes only. But when I saw Carolyn’s email last month, I got a whisper to share it… it needed to do more than live in our inbox.
So I reached out to Carolyn and asked if I could share her story. To my delight she said yes; and so I am sharing her email with you today.
I’m sharing it because I know a lot of people can relate. It is my heartfelt wish that someone in a similar position to where Carolyn was earlier this year will see this and it will give them a sliver of light and hope.
Someone who has lost hope.
Someone who is in pain.
Someone who thinks they are out of options.
Someone who doesn’t know what to do.
Someone who has lost their zest for life.
Someone who thinks getting healthy is totally out of reach.
If you or anyone you know has lost all hope, please read on and know that it is never too late to turn your health and life around.
Sept 1st 2017
Dearest Molly and Team,
My name is Carolyn. I am 45 years old, a wife, and mother of 5 beautiful human beings.
My husband is diabetic. Has been for years. He loves food. All kinds of food. Meat, dairy, eggs, some veggies. He limited his sugar and carbs per his doctor’s orders, but his blood glucose levels kept creeping up. He is the love of my life and I want to grow old with him. I want him to be healthy.
Then there’s me. I weighed 336 pounds a month ago. I suffer from fibromyalgia. I have chronic migraines and arthritis. I am also on medication for depression. Let’s face it, being in constant pain 24/7 is depressing. I couldn’t cook for my family because standing for any length of time would be excruciatingly painful. I no longer enjoyed ANYTHING in my life.
A simple shower had to be planned for and then would require a full day of rest to recover from. Grocery shopping was torture. Walking, standing in line, trying to think felt like ….I don’t even have the words. I would come home in tears and hardly be able to move the rest of the week. Pain meds didn’t really help with the pain and left me feeling more confused and weary.
I couldn’t think of the future, because all I saw in my future was unending pain. Physically, mentally, and emotionally. I wanted to die. Literally. But I couldn’t give in to that desire because I love my family and would never do that to them. My quality of life was a joke. There was no quality.
Then I watched “What The Health” on Netflix. Something profound happened to me. A switch flipped in my brain. I made hamburgers for dinner the next night and I took two bites and couldn’t eat anymore.
I made my whole family sit down and watch “What the Health” with me again. My husband and I decided to switch to a Whole Food Plant Based diet (WFPB). But how does one do that? I can cook green beans and corn. I can bake a potato in the microwave. That was the extent of my vegetable cooking.
One of my daughters went online and came up with a week’s worth of recipes that were WFPB and we gave it a go. They were….ok. Mostly bland soups.
Then I got your Saturday Fuckery in my inbox. Helllloooo Molly! I downloaded the sample plant based meal plan. I bought the ingredients. I batched. It was a struggle but I persevered and I did it. We ate everything and LOVED IT!!! Holy Moly!! WE can do this and it tastes GOOD!!
So my family and I have been WFPB going on five weeks now, using your meal plans as our guide. I am excited about food again. I enjoy cooking again! I feel better now than I have in 10 years. I actually ENJOYED a shower for the first time in years. I can go for walks again and not feel like death. I don’t want to die anymore.
I LOVE my life again! I’m still on antidepressants, but my dose is lower. YAY. I sleep refreshing, rejuvenating sleep again. I don’t wake up tired any more. I feel great and I know it’ll keep getting better as my body heals. I can look to the future and get excited about it again. I have also shed 20 pounds so far. YAY!
My husband’s blood glucose readings are in the normal range, consistently now. He’s also lost some weight. He sleeps better and says he feels great. He has loved everything from the meal plans so far! My children are looking healthier. Their skin and hair glow. Their tempers, and mine, are more controlled. Our emotions aren’t so up and down.
Molly, Team Dirty, I owe you my life. I owe you my family’s life. From the deepest part of my soul, THANK YOU!!
If you ever need anything, for whatever reason. I’m here for you. You literally saved me and mine.
Sincerely, with love,
October 13th 2017 / Update
Dearest Molly and Team,
It’s been over a month since our last correspondence and I wanted to give you an update! My husband, Tom had his health check up this past week and his Doctor has reduced his blood pressure medication from 5mg to 2.5 mg. He’s no longer taking a weekly injection for diabetes.
He was on three diabetes medications, Trulicity, Metformin, and Actos. Now he is only on Metformin. He has lost 25 pounds so far. His Doctor is quite pleased with his results and is encouraging him to keep up this way of eating. Also, his Erectile Disfunction (ED) is not much of a problem anymore!
As for me, I’m off all my meds, including Zoloft for depression, a prescription muscle relaxer and blood pressure medication. I have asthma, but it is no longer an everyday thing so I haven’t needed to take my asthma meds.
I’ve lost 56 pounds so far, without a struggle. It just seems to melt away. I have way more energy and fewer pain filled days. It also takes me less time to recover from over exerting myself. I have that “glow” people talk about in the facebook group.
My depression has not reared it’s ugly head for sometime now. I can play with my boys and my dogs. My creative side is urging me to start knitting and crocheting again. Yay!
Much love to you and to the TEAM!!!
Image below: Carolyn and her husband Tom.
Carolyn, I am unbelievably happy for you and proud of you for taking your health into your hands and rocking the whole food plant based life! I am your biggest fan.
You can sign up for our life-changing weekly whole food plant based meal plans that Carolyn follows
Do you have a similar story? Talk to me in the comments below.
Today’s recipe, a whole food plant based meatloaf is perfect for someone transitioning to this way of eating. It’s comforting, familiar, hearty, health promoting and delicious.
- 1/3 cup tomato paste (80g)
- 2 tablespoons water
- 2 tablespoons 100% pure maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons yellow mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 cup water (235ml)
- 1/2 cup uncooked steel cut oats, rinsed and drained (100g)
- 2 tablespoons vegan Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 5 slices sprouted grain bread, toasted in the toaster until nice and brown (should produce ~2.5 cups of bread crumbs)
- 4 cups sliced mushrooms (8oz / 250g)
- 1/2 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed well (about 3/4 cup / 140g)
- 3/4 cup chopped pecans (80g)
- 1/2 cup diced yellow onion (65g)
- 1 tablespoon ground flax seeds
- 1/2 tablespoon smoked paprika
- 2 teaspoons garlic granules
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 10 turns cracked black pepper
- 1/4 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk (60ml)
- Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C). Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit the bottom and up the two long sides of a 5" x 9" loaf or cake pan.
- Place all of the Sauce ingredients into a small bowl and whisk until smooth. Set aside for now.
- In a small saucepan, combine the water, steel cut oats, Worcestershire sauce and tomato paste. Bring to a boil, turn the heat to low and cover the saucepan with a lid. Simmer over low heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally so it doesn’t stick. After 15 minutes, remove the lid and set aside to cool.
- Toast the bread, tear into small pieces and place them into your food processor and process until they become soft crumbs. Transfer the crumbs to a large mixing bowl (No need to wash the food processor).
- In the empty food processor, place the mushrooms, pinto beans, pecans, onion, ground flax seeds, smoked paprika, garlic granules, salt and pepper and process until everything is chopped into small pieces but not pureed (10 to 20 seconds). Stop intermittently during this time and scrape down the sides of the food processor and then continue processing.
- Add this mixture to the large mixing bowl that has the breadcrumbs, along with the steel cut oats mixture and the nondairy milk. Mix everything together until well combined.
- Scoop the entire mixture into the lined loaf pan and pack it down with a spoon. Evenly spread the Sauce that you made earlier over the entire loaf and bake for 65 minutes.
- Allow to cool for 15 minutes. When cool enough to handle, lift the meatloaf out of the pan by the parchment paper and set onto a cutting board. Allow to cool for 10 additional minutes and then cut the meatloaf into slices.
Wishing you a happy week. May it be filled with finding a sliver of light and hope, just when you needed it.
Fall in love with plant based cooking
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Thank you, Molly. It brought tears to my eyes. You’re the best.
We are so happy you shared your story. Wishing you continued happiness and health in your journey.
Team Dirty Girl
Carolyn’s story was so fantastic it brought tears of joy to my eyes. Loved it. Thank you and her for sharing.
Thanks for reading Carolyn’s inspiring story. We are super happy that you loved it as much as we did.
Team Dirty Girl
What an incredible story and so well written.
Carolyn, what an amazing, inspirational story!! Congrats on the great progress you and your husband have made in such a short time!!
Thank you for sharing such a personal story. Inspiring isn’t even a strong enough word. My heart is full for you and your family.
To Carolyn + The Dirty Team: Keep being the light!
So much love + gratitude,
Thank you for your kind words, Carrie!
I love that you are in our community. And I adore your jewelry.
Oh my – thank you so much, Molly ???? That makes my heart full. I cherish the tribe you and Luanne have created. Proud to be a member. Xxcc
Beautiful! And congratulations, Carolyn! I wish I could get my father to this WOE… if I lived near him I’d batch for him.
A tip for anyone who hasn’t made the meatloaf before: consider making it in a cake pan (gotta use those suckers for something, right?) and doubling the sauce for it!
8×10? Like a normal flat cake pan? Does it cook better?
Love your recipes and your attitude! In your recipe note it says the meatloaf will firm up as it cooks. I’m pretty sure it should read the meatloaf will firm up as it cools. It might be confusing to those who are newer to cooking their own food.
Thank you Sally, I just updated the recipe 🙂
Good lookin’ out!
Well done Carolyn and Family….I’m counting on you to send updates every six months or so. It’s one thing to become a smaller version of yourself….quite another to change a whole family’s lifestyle and health.
Wishing you continued health, joy, and success on your journey.
That looks awesome
I,m making this tonight. Can you use 100% whole wheat bread?
Absolutely! 100% whole wheat bread will work just fine.
Team Dirty Girl
Thank you. It’s all I have right now.Making it with mashed potatoes and broccoli. Can’t wait! Let you know how it turned out.
Ok, I made the meatloaf. . This meatloaf was very good. My husband enjoyed it and he is not a vegan. I may have over processed it a bit. I am thinking of joining your food planner. Hopefully if I join my kitchen will only be a mess once a week. Was a bit messy to make. But was really good.
Wow, you are so devoted! I can see how hard you work on this blog. Thanks!
Has anyone made this, frozen it, and reheated it? If so, wondering if it worked okay?
Haven’t tried to freeze and reheat it, maybe someone else will reply if they have. You could try asking in our private FB group. I think it would freeze just fine, though. Let us know if you try it.
Team Dirty Girl
I just want to reply that I’ve frozen the meatloaf and reheated it for sandwiches and it came out great.
Team Dirty Girl
What can I sub for the pecans? TIA
Hi Lorraine, if you’re able to use another nut, I would sub with walnuts, but almonds, pistachios or any other nut would work. If you cannot use nuts, I would suggest using a seed, perhaps sunflower or hemp.
Team Dirty Girl
Also, cashews are NOT nuts, but a fruit but are mistaken for nuts. Great for people with nut allergies: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cashew
Hi Eloise, I’m wondering if you meant to leave this comment on another recipe as the meatloaf does not call for cashews. It seems that botanical specifics get super lost in the culinary world. Nuts and fruits and drupes, oh my! Thanks for stopping by. ~Karen
This meatloaf is really good. My carnivorous hubby actually liked it as well. It’s easy to make and most of the ingredients are in my pantry already. Molly, your recipes make my transition to WFPB eating a piece of cake!
What can I substitute for the mushrooms?
I searched our private Facebook group to see if there were any good ideas for substituting the mushrooms in this recipe but only a few possible suggestions and nothing definitive that someone tried and reported back that they loved. Mushrooms are a key ingredient in this loaf. If texture/flavor is the aversion for you, you might find this recipe to be ok because they are chopped small and the flavor is definitely not mushroom-y. However, if it’s an allergy you might try subbing cooked green or brown lentils, or a mixture of lentils + upping the pinto beans.
Team Dirty Girl
I made this tonight using the whole can of pintos and 3 cups of cooked lentils, to replace the mushrooms. It worked great for both taste and texture, and held together well to slice. And was enthusiastically praised by my omnivore husband.
Sounds delish! So glad you and your hubby enjoyed it.
I am allergic to mushrooms so I plan on trying to sub with lentils. Thank you for suggestions!!
Pecans. Raw? Roasted?
Hi Marcia, unsalted raw pecans are best but if you’ve got unsalted roasted pecans on hand, they’ll work too.
Team Dirty Girl
Tried this recipe this week and it is great. The loaf keeps its shape and is delicious. My meat eating mother in law was very sceptical about it being called a “meat” loaf, but she liked it very well. Thanks!!
Made this tonight. Smelled great while cooking, but I think that was the sauce on the top. It was okay. Partner said it was “mushy” and couldn’t get past that. All I could taste was the steel cut oats mixture. Tasted better and had a better texture along the sides and, when eaten with mashed potatoes, it was okay. Eaten by itself . . . not so much. I really want to love these recipes, but have not had much luck with them.
What an amazing journey Carolyn. Thanks so much for sharing!. May you all be blessed with continued good health and lots of love!!
I have to say this is one of my favorites recipes. I made it this past Friday and mistakenly added 2 tsp of ground ginger which I thought was garlic granules. I added the garlic powder still as well as all the other ingredients. I thought it was even tastier than in the past (although we’ve always enjoyed this recipe) so just wanted to share. I also always double the sauce as others have suggested, bake in an 8 inch square pan, and process the mixture in 2 batches since my cuisinart is only 7 cups.
Thank you Molly for providing this website and emails!
Hello. I made the meatloaf today. I read about the dish having to firm up and thought it was because mushrooms have so much liquid in them. I processed the mushrooms separately then slowly dried them out in a frying pan. The duxelles made the dish firm but creamy. I have been a vegan for many years and this was then the best meatloaf I have ever eaten. The only other alteration I made was to remove the maple syrup and toss in a few other flavours for the sauce. This was a personal thing as we Australians generally don’t like much sugar in savoury dishes. Thank you . I was going to send a photo but couldn’t work out how. Forgive me, I am 71!
Hi Faye! Great idea on drying the mushrooms a bit. Thanks for stopping back to let us know you loved the recipe. Not sure if you saw this recipe from last weekend, but if you have leftover meatloaf, it’s a great way to change it up a bit. ~Karen
I absolutely love your recipes and come here often the only drawback I have is there isn’t any carb info listed and since I’m a type 1 diabetic I often need that for my insulin pump at mealtime. With less complex recipes I can estimate pretty well. Anyway any ideas or recommendations for this?
Hi Autumn, thanks for the love. Because our recipes use whole foods, it’s doable to enter them into a nutrient calculator, such as Cronometer, that will tell you macro and micronutrient composition of the recipes. We do not provide these calculations for recipes or meal plans – Molly has written about why in the past. It’s to do with keeping the focus away from dieting and instead, eating for health. Of course, that doesn’t help you so much. The other suggestion I have is joining our private Facebook group. We have meal plan subscribers who are type 1 diabetics and use the meal plans. It’s easy to search the group for keywords (T1 or type 1) and pull up relevant posts and comments that will be helpful to you. ~Karen
Thank you so much for the suggestions. I am in the FB group and will look t the cronometer app for my phone. I really appreciate the suggestions! ♥
Sure, glad to help! ~Karen
Hi, Love this recipe. Shared my meatloaf with friends and they loved it too. They’re all meat eaters and said they’d have no problem serving this to their families. Do you have the nutritional information for this recipe? Thanks!
Hi Sue! Thanks for sharing the love on the meatloaf recipe! We don’t provide nutritional information for our recipes to keep the focus of what we do away from dieting but you can easily plug it into one of the freely available nutrient trackers out there (Cronometer is one that I’ve used) and you’ll get a fairly accurate idea since it’s made from whole foods. ~Karen
can you assemble this and place in the fridge for a few hours before you bake it?
Hi Tiffany, Yep, letting this sit in the fridge for a few hours before baking would work just fine. ~Karen
Is there anything that can be substituted for the bread?
Hi Nancy, We’ve never tried this recipe without bread. If gluten is the problem, gluten-free bread should work just fine. ~Karen
Meatloaf used to be a cheap meal to cook, this one sounds expen$ive!
Hi Kat, traditional meatloaf is definitely cheap to cook. The cost disguises the fact that animal agriculture receives subsidies from governments that artificially lower the cost at the expense of our environment and increased health care costs without even even considering the moral implications of the treatment of the animals bred under most-often horrific conditions and killed to meet the need for cheap meat. ~Karen
How big is this loaf?
Hi Kat, this loaf is baked in a standard 9 x 5 loaf pan. When I made it for dinner with guests, it served 4 people and we had leftovers for at least 2 sandwiches (if I recall correctly). We served it with mashed potatoes and greens. ~Karen
Making a double one this weekend will report back! LoooL
wow, made a double batch and I swear I could have batched at east a few days in the time it took me. The whole time I am making the loaf I am thinking gosh I hope this tastes awesome. It was OK, but I won’t make it again. IMO
I made this meatloaf tonight and it was delish. I added a few pointers from comments left above. I pan fried the mushrooms and I added one teaspoon of ginger and used homemade barbeque sauce instead of using tomato paste. This meatloaf will definitely be in my rotation. Molly, no one could have made me believe that eating whole and oil free could taste so good. Keep up the good work.
I was going to post a pic of my loaf but it looks exactly like yours so I didn’t! It tastes good. I forgot to add the plant milk at the end, but it doesn’t seem to have hurt the texture at all. I did add some extra roasted onion that I had on hand so perhaps that added a little extra moisture. I also think I may have had more bread than the recipe intended (my slices were pretty big). Might be a good idea to list how much volume or weight those slices should equal. Mine held together nicely when I put it in the loaf pan but there was little moisture. I would definitely make this again.
Hi Pamela, I need to make this recipe again soon because it is so good. You are right, we really should have a weight on the bread. I’ll see what we can do there. Thanks for stopping by! ~Karen
Could I substitute barley for the oats? Also, could I use different beans? Just realized I’m out of pintos!
Hi Alyssa, Yes, you could use barley but you might have to cook it longer. Different beans would work just fine, too! ~Karen
Has anyone tried this with quick cooking steel cut oats, instead of regular? That’s what I have on hand. Assuming I should reduce the cook time on the oats…. Anyone have success with this that can let me know how long they cooked the “quick cooking” oats?
Hi Lucy! Yes, I’ve used quick cooking steel cut oats for this recipe and they work just fine. You’ll just cut down the cook time. 7-10 minutes should be good. Enjoy! ~Karen
I don’t have pinto beans . Could I use chick peas instead?
Sure, chickpeas or any other bean could work here. Pinto beans usually cook up softer than a chickpea will, but since you are blending in the food processor that should not make a difference.
Let us know if you try them!
YUMMY!!!!! Thanks for sharing your recipe! I’ve heard about your blog a couple of times and will now spend my afternoon reading 🙂
Enjoy the recipes and blog!
Can the mustard be substituted or omitted? My husband and I both detest all forms of mustard. Wish we didn’t because so many WFPB recipes call for it, but we do.
Hi Nancy – You can omit or sub for sure. Our substitution guide recommends horseradish, if you both like that. ~Karen
All I have are old fashioned rolled oats. Can I use those?
Hi JudyB! Yep – old fashioned rolled oats will work just fine! ~Karen
The best meatloaf I’ve made or eaten. the thousand island dressing is great too, and will go with many of my other dishes. Both are keepers. I’ve been plant based for a few months now, I was vegan on/off for a couple of years. I feel the healthiest ever!
This meatloaf recipe is AWSOME! I made this for Christmas Dinner, along with your Smoky Potato Corn Chowder, Potato Salad, and your Banana Walnut Muffins. Everything was delicious. All of your recipes are crazy good!
Yum! We think so, too, Cindy!
So glad you loved it!
Can I use gluten free steel cut oats for this recipe? My meat-eating hubby is actually interested in this recipe. Yay!
Thanks in advance for your time in responding!
Oh yay! We hope he loves it.
We wouldn’t recommend using steel-cut oats in this recipe. They take a lot longer to cook and they don’t really have the binding ability that rolled oats do. If you need to make sure the meatloaf is gluten-free, then it shouldn’t be too hard to find rolled oats with certified gluten-free processing. Bob’s Red Mill makes some that you can purchase online if they’re not in stock at stores in your area.
We hope this helps. Happy eating!