Around when the snow sleds are put away and the flowers start to bloom, I realize that I’m not quite ready to put away the cardigans, scarves and other forgiving layers to show off my post-holiday body yet! Cold weather baking always gets me. I’m not into a whole lot of processed foods- particularly processed sweets- but we make our share of sweets at home for sure, and the holidays are always an excuse for a baking free-for-all. So now that it’s already been in the 80’s here in Arkansas, I’ve got to get ready for summer! Time to back off on the sugar and starchy carbs for a while. But that’s not so easy for me! I love a good hearty meal, so I try to find ways to trick myself into thinking I’ve not cut back on anything in my cooking.
I don’t usually crave sloppy joes, but I was trying to figure out what I could do with the 9% fat ground beef I thawed from the night before and I was craving something hearty. I had canned tomatoes and some portabello mushrooms, so I thought I’d try to make a sloppy joe using the mushrooms as the bun. Great success! I really didn’t miss the bun. Using kale chips in place of chips was another story though… they were good, but I did miss the chips! All in the name of bathing suit weather though, right?
Traditional sloppy joes are made with ground beef mixed into a sweetened tomato sauce that’s usually made with ketchup, brown sugar, barbecue sauce, or a mix of these. To sweeten this sauce naturally I used apple cider vinegar to cook down the shallot and garlic, fresh squeezed carrot juice along with the tomatoes, and a handful of dates that both sweetened and thickened the sauce. It turned out good enough to pass as the real deal in my opinion! But you may not be able to trust me on that one, I haven’t had anything sweet in a while… Regardless, it was really tasty.
To counter the lack of richness and depth that low-fat cooking can have, I used sun-dried tomatoes and smoked paprika. Anything sun-dried or smoked adds that hearty flavor that I crave when I’m hangry and watching what I eat.
I have slight OCD when using only part of a can of something in a recipe (can’t do it!), so I used the whole can of diced, roasted tomatoes, which ended up making quite a bit of sauce. I’d say this batch would be enough to stir into about 2 lbs. of ground beef. I poured what I needed into my 8 ounces of browned meat (for 2 servings) and then bagged the rest up in a few portions to keep in the freezer for quick lunches whenever I want. I can even see the kids loving this as pasta sauce with that extra sweetness!
For the portabello “buns,” I wiped them off with a wet paper towel, then hollowed them out carefully with a spoon (plucked the stem out with my hand), then sprayed them on both sides with coconut oil spray, then put them on a pan, top side up, under the broiler for a few minutes until browned and tender. Then turn one upside down on the plate, fill with the meat and sauce, then top with the other. By the way, It’s way too sloppy to pick up and eat this “skinny joe,” so you’ll need a knife and fork!
I hope you give this recipe a try- if you do, post it on Instagram with the hashtag #stoleyourrecipe so I can see it and hear any feedback you have about it! Link to view and print recipe is below photos.