Growing up I loved Sloppy Joes…maybe even a bit more so than I loved Taco Bell (Sorry, Bell). I mean, every kid loves The Sloppy Joe, right? They taste good, and they’re sloppy. Done deal. So why would I even suggest messing with such a good thing?
Did you eat Sloppy Joe’s as a kid? If so, tell us about it in the comments below.
Well a few years ago my family and I decided to eat much less meat, and really to only eat a specific type of meat if we did. We wanted to avoid meats raised on industrial farms that often inject the animals with an amalgam of harmful chemicals, and usually confine the animals in uncomfortably cramped spaces. As you may guess, these kinds of meats, though much healthier for the body and sustainable for farming, cost significantly more. But we had already decided to eat much less of it which helped defer the cost. We also began to keep a look out for good, healthy, and easy meat substitutes. And thanks to our vegan friends, Summer and Cory, we found one for the Sloppy Joe!
Instead of ground beef, we use a product called Tempeh that contains little fat, but much protein. Tempeh is a veritable mess of crazy healthy ingredients that you can eat a hundred different ways! The kind we buy from Trader Joe's is made from soybeans, water, brown rice, barley, and millet. Now, I know what you’re thinking…and no, we don’t feed it to our neighbor’s rabbit…or bird. But we do feed it to their dog who frequently makes fun of vegans. He thinks it’s his dog food. Sucker.
Here’s how we make the Sloppy Joes!
1. In a large skillet on medium heat, brown the Tempeh in a frying pan on the stove, like you would the ground beef (we typically use 1 lb of it for a family of six).
2. Add your favorite sloppy joe mix to the pan and stir until desired temperature is reached.
3. Serve on whole wheat buns (to make sure you are eating whole wheat buns, read the ingredient list on the package. The first ingredient should begin with “Whole…” or “100% Whole…” If it says “Enriched,” it is not truly whole wheat).
A note on the sloppy joe mix: I intentionally left this part open for you to decide which kind of sloppy joe mix to use. We originally tried to make our own mix from fresh tomatoes and other ingredients, but our kids didn’t like it because we were messing with the Sloppy Joe too much. It was tough to fool them that these were, in fact, Sloppy Joes – the same thing they had eaten just a month earlier. They didn’t even taste the same, so they didn’t buy it. So we, instead, used the Tempeh with our old family favorite Sloppy Joe mix from the grocery store, and they were hooked! We consider this a happy medium, even though store bought mix isn’t as healthy as homemade mix (but it is less expensive, and not unhealthy).
You can serve the Sloppy Joes with sweet potato fries (which I will post about on Wednesday or Friday), and some red grapes – a great summer dish!
Oh, and be sure to lather on the mix if your family likes them extra sloppy! If you don’t like them extra sloppy, well then…what’s wrong with you!?