My dream meatloaf has a surprise ingredient.  

I call this my “official” meatloaf recipe because I've made several variations throughout the years.  

This meatloaf is my family's favorite and the one I cook time and again.   

Due to a few ingredient substitutions and modifications, it has the homey, familiar, comfort-food appeal you expect but is refreshingly new and much healthier than a usual recipe.  

I use venison, which is different. One year after my bowhunter husband brought some ground venison home, I was instantly impressed by how the lean, rich meat complemented the dish.   

Since then, I've used ground bison instead of venison, which is similar and simpler to locate.  

Lean ground beef or turkey (I like a mix of dark and white meat) works too.   

 Lean meat is needed to make the recipe moist and delicious without beef fat.  

 Sautéd mushrooms, finely chopped to blend with the ground meat, add moisture, flavor, and vegetable nutrients, as does finely grated carrot.   

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