You Heart What You Eat: Sloppy Mo’ Joes |

You Heart What You Eat: Sloppy Mo’ Joes

Tera Johnson-Swartz is the author of the "You Heart What You Eat" weekly blog series about healthy recipes and tips from decadent desserts to main dishes.

— I’m going to let you in on a little secret. When I first signed up for a CSA (Community Supporting Agriculture) basket, I had no idea more than half of the produce would be those I had never heard of or seen before nor had any idea how to prepare or eat. And so it was during that initiation into the world of heirloom vegetables like fairy eggplants and Chinese cabbage that I had to start getting creative in my cooking; otherwise I’d end up wasting half of what I’d signed up for.

Where I’m from – a.k.a. the Heartland, the MidWest or just plain central Illinois (not Chicago), Sloppy Joes are like a staple in most homes. I grew up eating them and while I changed a lot of my eating habits since I moved from Massachusetts to California then Tennessee and now Colorado, I couldn’t completely alienate my roots. So, I learned to improvise and alter the recipes still holding up to the same yummy taste with a lot healthier ingredients.

My Dad is probably the biggest meat and potatoes man there is – that means greens to him are usually a pale shade of iceberg lettuce covered in shredded cheese and ranch dressing. However, he has eaten my Sloppy Mo’ Joes with great conviction and certainty that there wasn’t a thing different in my recipe. (NOTE: I didn’t exactly tell him I changed anything, so let’s try and keep this under wraps, shall we?)

Below is the recipe for the sauce and meat mixture, however the big difference here is that while it says 2 lbs. meat mixture, you’ll actually only use 1 lb. of ground beef, elk, lamb, turkey or whatever meat option while the other is 1 lb. of good ol’ food processor-friendly, any-vegetable-you’ve-got (that means cabbage, zucchini, carrots, broccoli, eggplant, spinach, lettuce, etc.). The key here in the vegetables you use is that they’re raw when you process them in the food processor, have some sort of a crunchy-like consistency and who’s flavor can be easily overpowered – so in other words, sweet potatoes, arugala or other strongly flavored veggies may not be the best to add to the mix.

Sloppy Mo’ Joes

  • 2 lbs. meat mixture
  • 1 1⁄2 tbl. Worcestershire sauce

  • 1 chopped onion
  • 1 tbl. Brown sugar (or 1⁄2 tbl. Molassess and 1⁄2 tbl. Honey)
  • 2 cloves chopped garlic
  • 1 tbl. Yellow mustard

  • 2 cups organic ketchup
  • 1⁄2 tbs. white vinegar

  • 1⁄4 tsp. chili powder

Heat olive oil over medium heat and toss chopped onion and garlic until softened, add 1 lb. of ground meat of your choice and cook thoroughly. Drain excess oil and return to pan.

Add ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, yellow mustard, vinegar and chili powder. Bring to a boil, reduce heat; simmer uncovered for 10-20 minutes to allow flavors to blend.

Spoon onto a bun or bed of greens of your choice and enjoy!

“You Heart What You Eat” is a weekly blog offering a twist of healthy alternative tips and recipes for some of our most coveted comfort foods. From decadent desserts to main dish favorites, you’ll surely look forward to our next edition. Questions or suggestions you’d like included in one of our future blogs, should be directed to Tera Johnson-Swartz via email at

Tera Johnson-Swartz is a mommy first, but also enjoys working one of her many, many side gigs whether it be freelance writing, music, massage therapy, independent childbirth, lactation or health educating. She is eternally grateful she is able to follow her passion each and every day and loves her supporting husband and their two young children  and couldn’t imagine living a better life outside the city limits of Steamboat Springs.

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