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Not Your Average Sloppy Joe

Vegetarian Sloppy Joes

Sometimes I take pride in fooling my children.

Often, actually.

Like when I trick them into eating things they previously pronounced to be “disgusting” or when they tell me 34 times they don’t like something, but then BLAM-O! They clean their plates and ask for seconds and have no idea they are eating spinach or something.

It’s an awesome mommy victory.

Vegetarian Sloppy Joes

And, honestly, I need those sometimes. Because there are days that the little boys get the best of me. Like when I ask Andrew to mow the grass and he has 7,623 reasons why not to today, tomorrow, and actually for all of eternity. I mean, let’s just never mow the grass again and hack our way to the door with machetes or something, right?

Or when Evan cries about cereal in the morning. This happens at least twice a week. Cereal is very emotional you know.

Sometimes (but pretty much all the time) when we are in the car and I ask them to, ‘settle down and stop whatever kind of weird machine gun noises they are making and it’s NOT THAT FUNNY and don’t kick my seat again, GAH!,’ they just look at me like I’m crazy and laugh some more. Rude.

Today the math homework got the best of me. FOURTH GRADE math homework, cleverly disguised as advanced calculus. It went something like, “If Janet has 4 monkeys and Marcy has 7 times as many tigers as monkeys, then how many elephants does it take to screw in a light bulb?” It was some brain melting stuff. I actually took a picture of it and sent it to my sister, who teaches the 4th grade. Buuuuut the picture wouldn’t enlarge enough for her to provide us with proper instruction. So I sent it to my brother, who is in high school, so he looks at math all the time. Of course he hasn’t answered me, because that would be too easy.

The moral of this story is that the math homework is still not done and mommy needed a small victory.

I made sloppy joes without meat. My children ate them happily. They had no idea.

vegetarian sloppy joes

Vegetarian Sloppy Joes
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 4-6
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, finely chopped (Note: I used regular old button mushrooms here and they were great! But when I’m substituting for meat I like to use a “meatier” mushroom. Next time I may opt for Baby Bellas instead)
  • 2 cloves garlic, very finely minced
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 (15 ounce) can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed OR 2 cups cooked chickpeas (and I threw in a few leftover black beans, too… go crazy)
  • 1 (14 ounce) can of tomato sauce
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • ¼ cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 6-8 burger buns
  1. In a large, deep skillet over medium heat, heat the olive oil. Cook the onions and bell peppers for about 4 minutes, until they are soft and the onions are translucent.
  2. Add the mushrooms and cook for about 10 minutes, Stir in the garlic, crushed red pepper, and salt, and cook for another minute.
  3. Stir in the chick peas, tomato sauce, soy sauce, brown sugar, and cider vinegar. Bring the mixture up to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer.
  4. Using a potato masher, smash the beans a bit for texture and consistency. You could skip this step, but it was instrumental in convincing my children that these sloppy joes were the real deal.
  5. Continue cooking for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  6. Serve over burger buns.

Just slightly adapted from THIS recipe for Hawaiian Sloppy Joes at Chef Chloe’s blog. She has soooo many great healthy recipes!

vegetarian sloppy joes


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Friday 14th of December 2012

God I HATED those weird-a** math problems! Just detested them. Why tirture kids so much before they're even 13? And I love your veggie sloppy joes!! Mushrooms are an amazing meat substitute, and the added protein from the chickpeas makes it so wholesome! Yum yum.


Saturday 15th of December 2012

I can't do any kind of 7th grade math. It's a lost cause. I suppose the least I can do is fuel the little boys' brains with healthy proteins and vegetables, right?

» Apple, Gouda & Caramelized Onion Stuffed Turkey Burgers

Friday 26th of October 2012

[...] house full of dudes (two small, one grown). And I can only get by with lovely grainy granolas and sloppy joes made with beans for just so long before they start demanding MEAT. It’s just how things [...]

Erin's DC Kitchen

Thursday 25th of October 2012

Yum! Thank you for reminding me about sloppy joes, I really love them and haven't made any in forever.

Sugar Dish

Thursday 25th of October 2012

I forget about them sometimes, too, and then out of the blue my kids will ask for 'em. These were really great!


Tuesday 23rd of October 2012

The teacher in me actually started to try and work that out until I got to the light bulb...hahaha! what a geek! (And 4th grade - year 5ish? - maths can be hard, that's why I stick to 7 year olds!!) I still need to try your veggie burgers - maybe now I'm only cooking to please myself I will finally do it! P.S. I would cry about cereal too - if it's not toast, biscuits or cake I'm not eating it before lunchtime!

Sugar Dish

Tuesday 23rd of October 2012

I was banking on my sister solving that homework problem for me. 4th grade is age 9/10. And the math was soooo complicated. Actually, I think it wasn't complicated, but the picture concept they were asking him for that was supposed to make it more visual and easy was WAY complicated. No more of that. These were just as good as the veggie burgers in a tomato saucy sloppy joe kinda way. And Evan loves cereal. But he cries if he pours too much. And he cries if Andrew tells him that's too much milk. Or if his favorite kind is all gone. Lots of cereal emotions happening, I'm telling you.

Choc Chip Uru

Tuesday 23rd of October 2012

Haha that's genius my friend - my mum used to do that all the time and make me drink milk with egg yolk mixed in! Of course I was only 2 ;)

Cheers Choc Chip Uru

Sugar Dish

Tuesday 23rd of October 2012

Whaaat? Your mom was super sneaky!