Lentils and carrots bring a sneaky twist to the classic American comfort food. These Healthy Sloppy Joes are so flavorful, you won’t even notice the extra veggies!
How Do You Like Your Sloppy Joes?
I don’t know what it is about sloppy joes.
Maybe it’s because, as a kid, you love any excuse to eat something messy, and, as an adult, you love anything that makes you feel like a kid.
Maybe, it’s just because of the silly name.
Maybe, it’s because they’re so easy.
Whatever the reason, I don’t think I’ve met a person who doesn’t love soppy joes.
I’m a pile-er when it comes to sloppy joes.
I want a pile of meat thicker than the bun, with so much sauce you have to eat your sandwich upside down so it doesn’t soak all the way through the smaller bottom bun.
(Tell me I’m not the only one who uses that trick!)
Yeah, you may as well just give me a bowl of sloppy joe meat and forget the bun all together.
Making Our Recipe For Healthy Sloppy Joes
In recent years, I’ve tried to show restraint when we have sloppy joes. I know all that sticky, sweet sauce really isn’t the healthiest option.
But, these babies? I really don’t feel bad at all getting out a bowl and a big ol’ spoon.
Because we’re making our own sauce and adding nutritious veggies!
Tim was a bit skeptical about throwing veggies into his beloved, meat lover’s meal. But, after one bite, we both agreed that there is absolutely no reason to go back to making sloppy joes the old way.
We found a balance.
Using Meat And Veggies in Sloppy Joes For A Complete Meal
There is still meat in these guys. We use 90% lean ground beef to get rid of some of the greasiness from the sauce. But, it still gives the good beefy flavor and texture that you crave.
To fill out the beef, we’ve added lentils, which are probably the best bean to use as a beef substitute. Lentils give extra vitamins and minerals, as well as fiber. The added fiber makes these sloppy joes more filling than the traditional version.
Carrots give a slightly sweet flavor for the sauce, which means less sugar. And they’re grated, so they blend in nicely.
Making Your Own Sloppy Joe Sauce
On top of all these hidden veggies, making your own sauce, from scratch, gives these sloppy joes an added, healthy edge.
Typical recipes for sloppy joes use ketchup and/or barbecue sauce, which can make the sauce high is sugars and salt. Instead, we’re using tomato paste, vinegar, and spices to make our own barbecue style sloppy joe sauce.
An added benefit of making your sauce from scratch is that you get to choose how sweet and salty your sauce is.
If your family loves the sticky sweet stuff, you can start where there tastes are and slowly dial the sweetness back each time you make it.
Before they realize it, they’ll start to prefer the less sweet versions!
Healthy Sloppy Joes
- 1 lb ground beef (90% lean)
- 1 onion, minced
- 1 carrot, grated
- 1 c cooked lentils
For the Sauce
- 1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
- ½ c white vinegar
- 2 Tbsp sugar
- 2 Tbsp molasses
- 2 tsp mustard powder
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp salt
- ¼ tsp ground cloves
- 1 c water
- In a large frying pan, brown the ground beef over medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes.
- Add the onion and grated carrot. Sauté for 3-5 minutes, until the onion begins to soften.
- Add the lentils and sauce ingredients (except the water). Mix well.
- Add the water and bring the mixture to a simmer. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens to your liking.
This is one of the recipes from the early days of Curious Cuisiniere. We’ve updated our pictures since we first shared it, but we’ve left some originals here, in case you’ve found us in the past and are looking for that old, familiar image.