Monday, March 7, 2016

Sloppy Sams Recipe- Vegan Sloppy Joes, Refined Sugar Free

 photo IMG_0069_zpsdd984078.jpg
We never had sloppy joes growing up at home. We just had them in our school lunches. A few years back on my blog, I mentioned how I must be one of the few people in the world that actually have fond memories of their school lunches, but I do. I always enjoyed the sloppy joes when they served them, despite their being super messy to eat.

So of course, when I found out there was a vegan version of sloppy joes, called sloppy sams, which are made with lentils, I needed to try it out- since I'm a big fan of making lentil alternatives of meat dishes I love, because that's a perfect way to get my kids to eat lentils. And it's no surprise that I found that sloppy sams are a terrific way to use lentils- and fortunately my kids like them too, since they're sweet and sour and just generally yummy. Not to mention messy, and kids like messy foods, or at least mine do.

I serve my sloppy sams on homemade gluten free bread, but feel free to serve them on any homemade (or even store bought) rolls... or if you don't care, you can even use this as a sauce for rice or pasta or mashed potatoes.
While I use celery and peppers in this recipe, feel free to use whatever vegetables you have lying around your house. The most important thing in this recipe is the sauce, not the specific veggies used.
And, of course, if your family won't eat lentils, feel free to replace the cooked lentils with browned ground beef or chicken or turkey in this recipe. Or stretch the meat by doing it half/half with lentils.

Sloppy Sams Recipe- Vegan Sloppy Joes, Refined Sugar Free

1 tablespoon oil
1 large onion
3 cloves garlic
1/3 cup chopped celery- leaves and stalk
3 red peppers
3 cups cooked red or green lentils
2 cups veggie broth
2 tablespoons molasses
2 tablespoons vinegar (apple cider vinegar or white vinegar)
6 tablespoons date syrup, or 3-5 tablespoons honey or sugar (or to taste)
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1. Saute the onions and garlic in the oil.

2. Chop your veggies and add them to the onions and garlic. Saute until soft.

3. Add everything else.

4. Cook for 15-20 minutes, covered, on low heat, mixing occasionally, until the flavors meld.

5. Serve hot!


Do you have fond or terrible memories of school lunches from growing up? Did you eat sloppy joes growing up, either in school or at home? Do you serve it to your family? Does this vegan version of sloppy sams seem like something you'll try out and that your family would enjoy?


  1. Replies
    1. Cuz otherwise its just lentil bolognese. :-D Sloppy joes are typically made with ketchup instead of tomato sauce, to give it that tangy taste. I recreated it with healthier sweeteners. If you want to use less, feel free!

  2. Gonna try this on potato rolls, yum.

    I have fond memories of school lunches too (the alternative was a butter sandwich). The chicken fried steak...the orange juice...those little boxes the lunch came in with all the little places for food. Sigh. And the milk, which although it came in adorable little cartons, sat out in hot Arizona weather for hours. Yuck.

    1. Hope you like it! Yea- funny how we have those memories of school lunches. Shoes I'm not weird.... Though we never had chicken fried steak at school. Mine wasnt that fancy....

  3. My favorite was the turkey gravy they served. The chunks of turkey in thick grey gravy with mashed potatoes and a roll. Yum! Most of the time I hated school lunches but even now, I think back on that turkey gravy.

    1. Sounds delicious! Ever try to recreate it at home? I've made an awesome turkey gravy with turkey necks...

  4. Funny, I just posted last week about a vegan lentil Sloppy Joe recipe that brings back happy memories of school lunch! Although I enjoyed the flavor of my school's Sloppy Joes, I never liked the texture of ground beef. When I visited my godparents as an adult (we moved away when I was 2, so I've only gotten to see them a few times since) they made lentil Sloppy Joes that were fabulous, but somehow I never got around to looking up a recipe until I got my slow cooker--which is a great way to make them because you can start with uncooked lentils and the flavor of the sauce really soaks in as they cook.

    Interestingly, the recipe I use has NO added sugar and has very different seasoning: smoked paprika, oregano, parsley, chili powder, black pepper. Yours sounds more like baked beans--which are good, too!

    I have fond memories of some of the things that were served in school lunches, but the quality declined noticeably during the Reagan administration, at least in my district. By high school I was eating the school lunch only because my parents had made lunch part of my budget (my allowance had to cover it) and school lunch was cheaper than pizza and easier than packing a lunch. But it was gross. My favorite moment was when I asked the lunchlady to identify the greenish-black muck being served as a side dish, and she snapped, "Vegetable." "What kind of vegetable?" She looked annoyed and enunciated more clearly, "Vetch. Tubble." Maybe she didn't know what plant it had originally been....

    The novelist Anne Lamott wrote a book about how to write, called Bird By Bird, that includes a section advising you to write about school lunches. It's a way of learning about the importance of sensory experiences to evoking memories.

  5. We did not have a school lunch program. I mean, we did have a cafeteria, but most kids would just bring their lunchs. And sloppy joes is something I never tasted. But if I was to make it, I would probably use 1/2 lentils and 1/2 ground beef and serve on hamburger buns. That said, it's not appealing to me, it looks really messy.

  6. I've only been following your blog for about 2 years, but I just knew this would be in rotation in your kitchen already. I cook mine in beef or chicken broth which gives it a nice meaty flavor. I also love to carmelize the onions with carrots, which gives it a sweetness on it's on - although for me molasses is essential in this dish, it gives it that BBQ-ish flavor that I love.

    I was rather fond of school lunches myself, but I'm from a very small town, all the cooks were related to some of the students, and they were pretty good cooks. One of my favorite parts was when we went on field trips and got PB&J sandwiches. Surprisingly, my mom NEVER served (and we never fixed) them at home, so it was the only time I ate them.


Share This