You can't take yourself too seriously when you're eating a sloppy Joe sandwich. It's officially fun food, loved by kids and adults.
While it's typically not considered healthful, with fatty meat, salt and sugar in spades, a few swaps can turn the sandwich into a good-for-you meal that is just as joyful.
In the accompanying recipe, there's ground beef, but it is lean, and once browned it is mixed with lots of finely chopped, sauteed mushrooms whose meaty taste and texture allow them to blend in with the beef, adding vegetable nutrition. There's plenty of red bell pepper upping the produce ante, too.
The mouthwatering sauce gets its sweetness from molasses, rather than refined sugar, which adds a distinctive deep flavor and valuable minerals
Served on whole-grain buns, the sloppy Joe makes for a meal that allows the cook to use a single skillet. Remember to bring extra napkins to the table.
Beef and Mushroom Sloppy Joes
Yield: 4 servings
12 ounces lean ground beef (90 percent lean or higher) 1 tablespoon olive oil 1 medium onion, diced 1 medium red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and diced 3 cloves garlic, minced 8 ounces sliced white button mushrooms, stemmed, cleaned and finely chopped One 15-ounce can no-salt-added tomato sauce 1 tablespoon tomato paste 1 1/2 tablespoons molasses 1 tablespoon chili powder 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar 1 teaspoon powdered mustard 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 4 whole-wheat hamburger buns
Brown beef in a very large skillet over medium-high heat, breaking it up with a spoon as it cooks, for 3 to 4 minutes. Use slotted spoon to transfer meat to plate.
Add oil to pan (medium-high heat); once oil shimmers, stir in the onion and peppers; cook for 5 or 6 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions have picked up a little color and peppers have softened. Stir in the garlic; cook for 1 minute, then add the mushrooms and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring once or twice, or until they release their moisture and begin to brown.
Reduce heat to medium. Return beef to skillet, then stir in tomato sauce, tomato paste, molasses, chili powder, vinegar, powdered mustard, salt and pepper, until well blended. Cook for 5 to 10 minutes, until mixture thickens and most of its liquid has evaporated.
To serve, pile about 3/4 cup of the mixture onto each split hamburger bun. Serve warm.
Nutrition information per serving: 410 calories, 27 g protein, 47 g carbohydrates, 15 g fat, 5 g saturated fat, 55 mg cholesterol, 520 mg sodium, 8 g dietary fiber, 17 g sugar.