Classic sloppy joes made healthy in 30 minutes and under 45g carbs with bun included. A great make ahead for lunch at work or leftovers.
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Healthy Homemade Sloppy Joe Recipe
Normal sloppy joe recipes, even from a can, have added sugar. Scoop it on a bun and you have 60+ (mostly) unhealthy carbs.
To make sloppy joes healthy, I added in some veggies, swapped the sugar for honey, and swapped the bun for a sandwich thin. The result – 45 low glycemic carbs that still give you the original taste of a classic sloppy joe.
The awesome thing about the veggies is that they aren’t noticeable in taste because the overall taste comes from the sauce, but you’re getting those great nutritional boosts.
Add a side salad and you have a complete meal.
Making Sloppy Joe Sauce from Scratch
To make sloppy joe sauce from scratch you need the basic ingredients:
tomato sauce or paste
a sweetener (sugar or honey)
Stir those ingredients in a bowl, then add the mixture to the cooked meat in the skillet and let it cook on medium-high for a few minutes to thicken.
Sloppy Joe Ingredient Substitutions
Ground beef swaps
You can substitute the ground beef for ground pork, ground turkey, or ground chicken. The flavor will change accordingly.
Using the leaner meats like turkey or chicken will make it healthier because there’s less fat, but you will need to add 1 to 2 tablespoons of oil to the skillet before adding the meat so that it doesn’t stick to the pan.
All of these swaps work in taste, texture and carbohydrates as well.
The yellow onion can be swapped for a white onion or shallots.
The red bell pepper can be swapped for yellow or orange bell peppers because they’re all sweet.
Zucchini can easily be swapped with yellow squash or even eggplant.
If you have it on hand and can spare a few carbs, chop 1 to 2 carrots and add it with the other veggies.
Shredded cabbage is an optional ingredient, but you can swap it for iceberg lettuce, coleslaw mix, or shredded brussel sprouts.
Sauce ingredient swaps
The tomato sauce, ketchup, and Worcestershire sauce all call for no-salt or low-sodium because it’s the healthier way to go, but don’t worry about it if sodium intake isn’t a concern for you.
The ketchup also calls for no-sugar, and this is important so that you stay under 45g carbs.
Honey can be replaced with other low glycemic sweeteners like agave or stevia.
Depending on your carb limit, you can try English muffins, bread, or buns, but whichever you choose, make sure it’s 100% whole wheat. This recipe uses 100% whole wheat sandwich thins, but it sandwich thins aren’t your preference, you can use half of a bun and make it an open-faced sandwich.
Healthy Homemade Sloppy Joe Recipe
- Large Skillet
- 1 cup Yellow Onion (chopped)
- 1 cup Red Bell Pepper (chopped)
- 1 cup Zucchini (chopped)
- 1 Tablespoon Oil
- 1 pound Ground Beef (90% lean or leaner)
- 1 can 15-ounce Tomato Sauce (no salt added)
- 2 Tablespoons Ketchup (no salt added, no sugar added)
- 3 Tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce (low sodium)
- 3 Tablespoons Honey
- ¼ teaspoon Salt (optional)
- 6 each 100% Whole Wheat Sandwich Thins
- 1 cup Cabbage (shredded)
- Heat a large skillet on low heat. While it's heating, chop the onion, bell pepper, and zucchini into ¼-inch pieces.
- Increase the heat on the skillet to medium and add the oil, onion, bell pepper and zucchini to the skillet. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring once.
- Add the beef and cook for 7 to 10 minutes, stirring and breaking apart as needed. If using a fattier beef, drain the fat before the next step.
- Meanwhile, in a bowl, add the tomato sauce, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, and honey and stir together. Add the sauce to the skillet when the meat has cooked for 10 minutes. Let the sauce simmer for 3 to 5 minutes.
- Taste, and add salt as desired. Start with ¼ teaspoon.
- Separate the sandwich thins in half and scoop the meat filling onto the bottom halves, then top with (optional cabbage and) the top halves.