The Unique Ingredient That Made Meatloaf Elvis Presley's Favorite Food

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While genuinely iconic for his look, voice, and stage presence, Elvis Presley was also famous for his appetite. The star's favorite sandwich — a deep-fried concoction featuring peanut butter, banana, and bacon – is strongly associated with the singer, and is still referred to as 'the Elvis.' The King was also partial to America's favorite dinner, meatloaf – though his preferred version contained a rather unusual ingredient: wheat germ.

Elvis loved the dishes he grew up with — "good ol' Southern food" including fried chicken, mac and cheese, and mashed potatoes, according to Graceland archivist, Angie Marchese (via Express). But meatloaf was a particular favorite. In fact, the singer was such a fan that, at one point, he requested the hearty dish for dinner every single day for six whole months, according to his ex-wife Priscilla Presley.

The other ingredients for Elvis' Sunday meatloaf, which is featured in the "Presley Family Cookbook," sound more like a modern best basic meatloaf recipe. It includes a pound of ground beef, salt, pepper, minced garlic, chopped onion, celery, eggs, and bread, and is topped with tomato juice before being baked at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for exactly 35 minutes. The wheat germ, which used to be a more popular ingredient than it perhaps is today, was historically commonly used in cooking as a filler to help the meat go further. But it also adds depth of flavor to the much-loved dish.

Wheat germ adds sweet toasty flavor to Elvis' favorite meatloaf

Wheat germ is the germ (or embryo) of a wheat kernel and the part that helps the plant to reproduce and grow new plants. And although it's often removed from refined wheat products, such as flour, to help extend shelf life, it's rich in nutrients such as vitamin B and is a good source of fiber and plant protein.

When used to cook dishes like Elvis' favorite meatloaf, which the star ate accompanied by mashed potatoes and an assortment of vegetables, wheat germ can be used instead of regular breadcrumbs as a binder to help hold the meat together. But it also has the added advantage of adding a slightly sweet note to the richly savory dish. It brings a nutty, lightly toasted flavor that works beautifully when mixed in with ground beef and other ingredients.

There are many ingredients that will seriously upgrade homemade meatloaf, but if you want to recreate the King's recipe and can't get hold of wheat germ, then oat bran or ground flax could be used as a substitute. However, if you do want to try incorporating the ingredient in the dish and in your diet generally, there are plenty of other creative ways it can be used in the kitchen.

More ways to use wheat germ in everyday dishes

As well as being a key ingredient in Elvis' meatloaf, wheat germ works well in meatballs instead of regular breadcrumbs, or as a breading to coat chicken or fish. But it's also a surprisingly versatile ingredient that can be used in a variety of different everyday dishes, both savory and sweet.

Try using wheat germ to replace ¼ cup of your regular flour when baking bread, muffins, or cookies to add extra flavor. Wheat germ makes a tasty and nutritional addition to many breakfast favorites, too. Try mixing it into your usual cereal or oatmeal, or sprinkling it onto some creamy Greek yogurt or Skyr. You could incorporate it when making pancakes, or try adding it to fruity smoothies to boost both texture and taste.

You can use wheat germ in lots of savory dishes, as its natural delicate sweetness provides great balance to all kinds of casseroles, soups, and stews. But it works equally well in many sweet dishes, too. Try using it as a topping for fruit pies, or even sprinkled onto ice cream or sundaes to add a welcome nutty flavor and create a dessert fit for a King.