Easy Vegetarian Sloppy Joes

Easy vegetarian sloppy joes with mushrooms, lentils and pumpkin puree for thickness and extra nutrients. This recipe is sponsored by Produce for Kids. See all of my healthy kid-friendly Produce for Kids recipes here.

Did you know that the Sloppy Joe Sandwich was invented by a guy name Joe? Well, you might have guessed that but don’t you want to know more about him? Where did he live? What inspired him to make the sandwich? And, most importantly, was it the sandwich that was sloppy or was it Joe?

Here’s what I’ve found out. The Sloppy Joe was likely invented in the 1930s when a cook named Joe at Floyd Angell’s Café in Sioux City, Iowa added tomato sauce to his Loose Meat Sandwich.

I can’t tell from this story whether Joe or his sandwich were the sloppy one. My initial guess was the sandwich. I hypothesized that Sloppy Joes were sloppier than their predeccessor, the Loose Meat Sandwich, thus the name. But then I actually went and looked at some pictures of Loose Meat Sandwiches and they seem plenty sloppy to me (see here! And here’s a pretty picture of one and it’s still sloppy-lookin’). I’m therefore concluding that Joe himself must have been responsible for the sloppiness. Perhaps it’s his sloppiness that caused him to spill tomato sauce into the Loose Meat mixture, thus creating the sandwich.

I should also note that others claim Sloppy Joes originated at Sloppy Joe’s Bar in Key West, FL. And still others claim they’re from the Sloppy Joe’s Saloon in Havana.

Wherever they originated, Sloppy Joes are a weeknight staple for many families in the U. S. today, including mine. So when Produce for Kids asked me to revamp this classic with some healthy twists I jumped on board to turn this into an easy, healthy meal for any weeknight.

PFK Sloppy Joes (12) edit portrait 600 watermark

The Vegetarian Sloppy Joe recipe that I’ve created has some harvest flare, perfect for the fall season. The harvest ingredient is canned pumpkin (pure pumpkin, not sweetened pie filling). Pumpkin puree doesn’t have a ton of flavor but it does add a lot of nutrients and body to the Sloppy Joe sauce.

To bring more heartiness without meat I used lots of chopped mushrooms and some lentils, which are quick-cooking and full of protein. To round out the vegetable serving there are also some bell peppers and onions in the mix.

I wanted to cut down on the amount of bread you would typically find in a Sloppy Joe’s bun. So I’ve scooped the Sloppy Joe mixture into warmed and folded pita. The Sloppy Joe mixture is sturdy enough to stay mostly in the pita, even when you pick it up to eat it. But do have a fork on hand. They’re still sloppy after all! (And now I’m back to thinking the sandwich’s name is due to its own sloppiness rather than to the man behind it. I guess I’ll never know).

Vegetarian Sloppy Joes


Click here to get the recipe for Healthy Harvest Vegetarian Sloppy Joes that I developed in partnership with Produce for Kids.

Why is my recipe over at the Produce for Kids site? Last year, Produce for Kids and I worked together to come up with family-friendly healthy recipes. I developed 7 recipes for them and photographed those and a whole bunch more. This year we’re teaming up again with another round of healthy recipes to share with you. I’ll be telling you all about these new recipes in the weeks ahead.

Produce for Kids is a healthy family resource that offers meal planning tools and healthy recipes for your family. All of the recipes are approved by a registered dietitian for containing all the nutrients your kids need (and not too much of the things they don’t). All nutritional info for each recipe is given as well.

*Most of the info about the origin of the Sloppy Joe Sandwich comes from How the Sloppy Joe Got Made over at Blue Apron. I also got the name of the original cafe where Sloppy Joes were created from Why Are They Called Sloppy Joes at Wonderopolis.

Disclosure: I was paid by Produce for Kids to develop this recipe, to photograph the recipe, to post about it on my blog and to promote it on social media. All opinions are my own.

3 Responses to “Easy Vegetarian Sloppy Joes”

  1. Kay — June 15, 2015 @ 9:20 am (#)

    This looks good, but there’s a slight issue –  Worcestershire sauce isn’t vegetarian…it’s made with anchovies.  I would still try it, with a slight modification. :)

    • Christine Pittman — June 18, 2015 @ 11:44 am (#)

      Hi Kay, Thanks for letting me know about that. You can get vegan Worcestershire sauce. THere are two brand that I know of, Annie’s and Wizards. Give one of them a try for an easy swap. Thanks for the comment!


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