I loved a tangy, tomato-ey, messy, Sloppy Joe as a child. It was always our Farmers Market Day tradition. Growing up, our local farmers market had a prepared food stand where the farmers wives produced some authentic home cookin’: Pierogis drowning in brown onions and butter, potato pancakes perfectly fried w/ a dollop of applesauce and sour cream, and my favorite, Sloppy Joes (well, we actually called them wimpies.) On chilly fall afternoons my mom would take me and my siblings to the market and while she shopped and chatted w/ the local farmers we would eat Sloppy Joes and caramel apples. To this day my mouth waters when I think of those Joes.
Once in awhile an old school “Joe” does the trick, but I updated this classic to make it both healthier (that is my JOB after all) and, in my opinion, more delicious. Adding smoked paprika gives it that little kick that updates a classic in the best way.
But what about that easy can of plain ol’ “regular” Sloppy Joe ‘stuff’ you ask?
Here is the ingredient list… you tell me what’s wrong with it:
Tomato paste (water, tomato paste), high fructose corn syrup, distilled vinegar, corn syrup, less than 2% of: salt, sugar, dehydrated onions, dehydrated red & green bell peppers, chile pepper, tomato fiber, spices, guar gum, xanthan gum, dehydrated garlic, carob gum, natural flavors.
It could almost… almost pass the “once in awhile food” test, if it weren’t for that pesky high fructose corn syrup. Sorry, that makes it a “Never food.”
This re-due is easy, but the best part is all the added veggies; zucchini, green pepper, onion, jalapeno… not only do these veggies add the obvious fiber and nutrients but they also help to bulk the recipe so you get more bang for your buck.
I made this version with organic, grass-fed, local ground beef. It would work with ground chicken or ground turkey, crumbled tofu, whatever floats your Sloppy Joe boat. The key here is to add the veggies so the quantity of animal protein you are consuming is less.
Without further adieu I give you…
- 1 pound of organic grass-fed ground beef
- 2 teaspoons of olive oil
- 1 zucchini, chopped
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1 large green pepper, small dice
- 1 jalapeno, small dice (w/seeds for more heat; w/out seeds for less)
- 5 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 2 tablespoons of organic tomato paste
- ¾ cup of organic crushed tomatoes, fire roasted (I like Muir Glen Organic)
- 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon of dijon mustard
- ½ teaspoon of smoked paprika
- 1 tablespoon of hot sauce
- a sprinkle of stevia or sweetener of your choice
- a handful of cilantro, chopped
- 4 whole grain buns, super high quality
- Brown ground beef in hot saute pan for 4-5 minutes, drain fat and set beef aside.
- Saute onions in olive oil for 3 minutes, add zucchini, green pepper, garlic and jalapeno.
- Continue cooking for 5 minutes until tender.
- Add beef back to pan, stir to combine.
- Add tomato paste, allow to brown on bottom of the pan a bit then stir into mixture.
- Add crushed tomato, vinegar, mustard, smoked paprika, frank’s red hot, and stevia.
- Bring to a simmer over low heat, cook for 15 minutes.
- Pile onto buns, sprinkle with cilantro.
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