Even though one-third of the creatures living under my roof are Canadian, I’d consider our household distinctly American. We go to the fair. We watch auto racing. And we eat a lot of meat. We’re pretty much your quintessential Americans. As citizens of this fair land (scratch that, only Puppyface and I are citizens, Babyface is a resident), we also enjoy the taste of good ole doctored up pound of ground beef.
The amount of stuff you can do with ground beef is pretty incredible. Even more incredible are the number of products on grocery store shelves that blast across their packaging, “Just add ground beef!” One of the more popular (and more prevalent in my childhood) is Manwich.
I love Manwich (AKA: sloppy joes). They are delicious, sweet, and a little bit spicy, but honestly, I think the “just add ground beef!” way of life is seriously contributing to our country’s health issues. I love meat as much as the next carnivore, but I think, as a country, we eat meat too frequently. The nutrients and minerals in red meat are great for you, but to get the benefits of those you only really need to eat one-three ounce serving of red meat every 7–10 days! I don’t know about you, but the last time I made sloppy joes, I had a lot more than three ounces. And I know most people have it more that 3-4 times a month.
So where do that leave us if we want some sloppy without the cow? Lentils!
When cooked down, lentils have an awesome, meaty texture. They are packed full of fiber and some great nutrients and minerals. Plus, they cut the caloric load of sloppy joes down quite dramatically! One serving of lentil sloppy joes rings in around 220 calories. The beef version? Try 350 calories for a similar-sized serving. The lentils really work perfectly for a ground beef substitute! They work especially well in highly flavored sauce dishes like this. Really, do you even taste the ground beef in sloppy joes? Or do you just taste the sloppy part?
To make this a weeknight-friendly dinner, the base of the sauce is ketchup. Did you know that ketchup is chock-full of sugar and in most cases high fructose corn syrup (AKA: corn sugar)? Yuck! Go ahead and splurge the few extra cents to get yourself a bottle with a nice and clean ingredients list. Your body thanks you.
Oh, one last thing, these guys come together in 20-25 minutes (even faster if you have pre-cooked lentils). Perfect for an American weeknight dinner.
Lentil Sloppy Joes
Makes 4-6 servings
- 1 cup green lentils
- 3 1/2 cups water
- Pinch of kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1 medium green pepper, diced
- 1 clove garlic, diced
- 1 cup ketchup
- 2 tablespoons mustard
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- In a medium sauce pan, combine lentils, water and salt. Bring to a boil over high heat and continue to boil until lentils have absorbed all the water and are tender, about 20-25 minutes. Add more water if necessary to soften lentils.
- With about 10 minutes left cooking for the lentils, heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.
- Add onion and green pepper and cook until tender, 4-5 minutes.
- Add garlic and cook for 2-3 more minutes.
- Stir in remaining ingredients and allow to simmer over low heat for 5-7 minutes. Stir in lentils and serve on buns.