What is the one dish or food that you remember being a staple in your house growing up? It could be something that you still love to this day or something that you would rather not even look at let alone eat it and despised as a kid and still do today. A food that triggers a particular moment where you step into a time warp and instantly travel to a place where you can see yourself and this dish sitting at a table with family, restaurant or gathering. Food can bring back all sorts of emotions and memories in an instant that you have long forgotten. It can be something as simple as a particular aroma coming from a restaurant or in a store, seeing a picture in a magazine or making an old recipe that your grandmother used to make.
I recently saw a recipe for sloppy Joes and Just saying the words alone triggered some fun memories of this staple dish I had as a child. We did not have a lot of money growing up so this was a simple and inexpensive meal to make for my brother, sister and myself. It was certainly delicious and one of our favorite meals that required a drop cloth when eaten. This sloppy joe mixture only had 2 ingredients, ground beef and a can of Manwhich sloppy joe mix and took only about a half hour to make. Spoon fulls were piled on hamburger buns that quickly got soggy and with every bite I took all the Joe mix would come out the other end and much of it ended up all over my face and hands. Sloppy joes are not complete without a side of Ore-Ida tater tots or crinkle french fries lathered in ketchup. Yet we did have some sort of veggie on the side, usually canned green beans or corn. I always slipped some of my soggy bun with a bit of sloppy joe sauce on it to our dog under the table.
Now, when I had kids, I continued this family staple and they loved this messy meal as much as I did. Nothing like coming home and whipping up some sloppy joes on hamburger buns after work and picking up the kids from football and cheerleading practice at night. It was quick, easy and inexpensive. Oh course this has to go with a side of fries hot out of the oven after 15 minutes and frozen broccoli with cheese sauce heated in the microwave on high for 5 minutes. Plus an added bonus is there won’t be an extra dirty a dish in the sink as it is simply heated up right in the plastic packages they come in.
So, over the years I have learned a lot more about health and the food we eat, I pay attention to labels and what is in food. Have you ever seen the ingredients on the back of a Manwhich can? Next time you are in the store take a look. It’s not what I would call a healthy food choice. It contains HFCS and other added ingredients that probably should not be considered food. Also, let’s not forget that the traditional sloppy joes are made with ground beef, a big NO NO. Therefore, how can I still enjoy this comfort food? Is there a way to make it healthy and have it still taste good?
Well, I veganized this fun and messy dish without the added meat and Manwich in a can. I used green lentils which are super cheap to buy, organic canned tomatoes and tomato sauce, added onion, peppers and seasoning. I also made my version of some tasty potato tarts made in my waffle iron from shredded potatoes and some seasoning. And instead of the microwaved cheese broccoli I steamed some flowerets with a little seasoning and nutritional yeast to give them that “cheesy” flavor. This dish only took me about 45 minutes to make and it is much healthier than the childhood version of sloppy joes. Yet it is bursting with so much flavor that you will never miss the unhealthy version. Oh and the dirty dishes well, maybe 2 or 3 pans and a couple of plates. Still pressed for time? You can always double the ingredients and make a big batch ahead of time for dinners during the week.
Some benefits of lentils are:
Lentil Sloppy Joes
Yields: about 6 sandwiches depending how much stuff you stuff on a bun
Time: 45 minutes (only about 15 minutes more than the original version)
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