A naturally sweet, smoky, and spicy tomato sauce is the star of these easy-to-make Lentil Sloppy Joes. What I love is that this recipe is a trifecta of triumph for vegan dishes. That’s because it’s tasty, healthy, and cheap. What else could we want in a recipe? Go ahead and join me as I do a little happy dance. I won’t tell anyone.
We decided to head north for the summer to escape the heat. North for us means North Dakota. You won’t go further than that while staying in the states. We’re just lucky enough to have family there. Although we did get a break from the humidity it was still warm, but we found ways to enjoy life anyways. A little bit of tennis, a little bit of hitting the trails, a little bit of Olympics watching, and a lot of eating.
Seems like every time I return from vacation, it’s time to hit the “Back to Healthy” reset button. Of course, the Olympics didn’t help much either. There’s nothing like two weeks of watching people in peak physical fitness participate in grueling competition to make you realize what a slacker you are.
It’s true that being vegan can keep you slim in a seemingly effortless way. But even vegans can find themselves smack dab in the middle of some bad habits…especially after vacations.
I have a feeling my cholesterol levels are just fine. It’s my jeans that I’m worried about. And even though “jean season” is quite a ways out still, I’m ready to get back on track.
When I was a kid, Sloppy Joes meant greasy hamburger meat mixed with tomato sauce and spices. If we wanted to go upscale, we’d buy a can of Manwich mix. That didn’t happen all that often and not because my mom was reading labels and worried about ingredients. And it wasn’t so much that she was an evangelist for making it better from scratch. It’s just that the can of Manwich cost twice as much as the tomato sauce. Saving money was important for our small-town, rural family.
You could read between the lines and see that we were poor. That means I grew up with a mother whose eyes were keenly focused on saving money. So when I told her I was vegan, one of the first things she commented on was the cost. She, like many people I’ve met, have a misguided stigma about vegan lifestyles being synonymous with expensive.
Did I just say that my Mom was misguided? I’m sure glad she doesn’t own a computer!
I can understand how the whole vegan expensive lifestyle gambit got started. Vegans have this reputation for sipping soy masala chai lattes and munching on organic buckwheat granola with steamed quinoa and organic fruit. Sounds delicious, doesn’t it? But it causes most people to wonder, who can afford to eat like that?
The good news is there are lots of vegan dishes that are not only tasty, but affordable too. This one happens to be one of my favorites, Lentil Sloppy Joes. Here’s the breakdown of the cost:
- Bag of dry lentils — $1.00
- 1 small can tomato paste — $.70
- carrots — $1.00
- Brown rice — $1.00
- Onion — $.30
- Red Pepper — $1.00
- Corn Meal — $1.00
- Package of buns — $1.50
- 3 cups lentils cooked
- ½ cup carrots chopped
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 1 medium onion chopped
- ½ cup sweet pepper yellow or red, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 cup brown rice cooked
- ½ cup tomato paste
- 1 15 oz diced tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 tablespoon smoke sauce
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- ½ cup corn meal
Place carrots in a small microwave safe container with enough water to cover and cook for 2 minutes. Let them sit for a bit until the carrots become tender.
Add onions, carrots, peppers, garlic and oil in a medium-sized pan and sauté over medium heat until everything is tender and onions are translucent. (I use a pan instead of a skillet so I can make this all in one pot).
Add cooked lentils, diced tomatoes, and tomato paste. Stir well. Add spices and stir so all the ingredients get to know each other a little better. Continue to keep the party simmering over medium heat.
Add cornmeal, stir some more and allow to sit over low heat for 10 minutes or so.
Now for the final step. Take 1 cup of the lentil mixture and the 1 cup of cooked brown rice and either place it in a food processor or put it in a small bowl and use an immersion blender. Pulse until the mixture is the consistency of paste. Add this to back to the lentil mix, stir it in a bit, and you're done.