Lentil Sloppy Joes – Prepare a Healthy & Hearty Meal with Pantry Staples

“The deep roots never doubt spring will come.”
― Mary Rubin

If your household is anything like ours, May is an exciting and hectic time. The kids and I are finishing up with school and my husband always has extra training and projects to finish at work. In addition, in the spring our farm chores start to pick up momentum and in the hustle and bustle of life, meal planning and grocery shopping often get pushed to the side. It is times like these that make it necessary to do an inventory of what is available in the house and make some magic happen the kitchen.

Thankfully, I am great at stocking up on pantry staples. There is a running joke in our house that when the zombies attack – the Waldos will not starve. My step-son Lukas loves to tell the story of the time that John and I got home from our honeymoon in Alaska. I declared to everyone that I HAD to go grocery shopping because we had “no food in the house.” Needless to say, four days later (without grocery shopping) I managed to feed our family of four (plus Grandpa) three meals a day (including snacks and dessert). I guess that is one of the benefits of being a teacher – we are always planning ahead. Even when we do not realize that we are.

Another challenge with a whirlwind schedule is making sure that the food we consume has health benefits. When in a time crunch it is easy to grab heavily processed meals that are void of nutrition. That is one of the reasons that I believe in keeping a well-stocked kitchen. I almost always have the ingredients on hand for the recipe that I am going to share with you today.

Sloppy Joes were a childhood favorite in my house, but this “grown up” version is much healthier. The lentils have staying power and are filling and you can serve in a variety of ways. You can serve it on buns, in pita pockets, or open faced on a piece of artesian bread. I like to toast the bread and sprinkle with with dill pickles. If you are trying to watch your bread intake it is fabulous served over romaine leaves or even as a topping for sautéed cabbage or zucchini. I have shared this recipe before and since I have received a lot of feedback on it, I believe it is worthy of sharing again!

Lentil Sloppy Joes

LENTIL SLOPPY JOES

  • 2 cups lentils (If you want to get fancy you can purchase red lentils in bulk at the Marquette co-op)
  • 5 cups of water
  • 1 cup of chopped onion
  • 1 cup of chopped green bell pepper
  • 1 cup of chopped celery
  • 2 cloves of garlic (minced)
  • 6 ounces of tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1 Tablespoon yellow mustard
  • 1 Tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon worcestershiresauce
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes(or more)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • *Optional ~ hot sauce(to taste)

Directions:

  1. Saute the onion, celery, garlic, and bell pepper until soft (5-10 minutes)
  2. Add in the rest of the ingredients and simmer for 60 minutes. Stir often and you may have to add more water as it cooks.
  3. You may want to add more spices/vinegar/mustard based on your taste. Sometimes I like to add extra hot sauce and an extra splash of vinegar right before serving.
  4. Makes Seven Cups. If you do not want such a large batch you can use the same amount of ingredients but reduce the lentils to one cup and only add 2 1/2 cups of water. I like to make a large batch so we have leftovers. Sometimes I freeze in individual containers for grab-and-go lunches.

I hope that your spring plans are in full swing and that you can find solace and healthy comfort in your kitchen. I find that when my calendar gets full it is deeply satisfying to know that I am still managing to feed my family nutritious meals that help fuel our time commitments. So fill out that shopping list with kitchen staples, buy fresh produce and wholesome ingredients, and fill your refrigerator and deep freeze with meals that are simple and satisfying. I hope that you add this recipe to your menu. If you do, please take a  moment and  let me know what you think.

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Black Bean, Lentil, & Quinoa Salad

Black Bean, Lentil, and Quinoa Salad by Produce with Amy“He who is best prepared can best serve his moment of inspiration.”
― Samuel Taylor Coleridge

The topic for last week’s Weight Watchers meeting was Fake It Until You Make It.  In my meetings we discussed what healthy changes we have made to our lifestyle that are now routine. The things that we do automatically – like eating breakfast, drinking water instead of soda, and adding vegetables to our meals to bulk them up. I shared that one of the biggest changes that I made when I joined WW was a weekly shopping trip (sometimes two) to make sure that our house is stocked with fresh fruit and vegetables. Before I joined WW my husband Mike and I would often go on one huge shopping run once or twice a month, and though we love fruit and vegetables, our supply would be depleted. I cannot

The Marquette Food Co-op features a machine to grind your own fresh almond and peanut butter.

The Marquette Food Co-op features a machine to grind your own fresh almond and peanut butter.

imagine how we survived before. Now Mike eats 3-4 pieces of fruit a day and on most days I eat 10-12 servings of fruit and vegetables each day. While fresh produce can be expensive, making sure our house is fully stocked prevents us from scrambling to put meals together and we do not have to rely on expensive take-out.

Another important step in my shopping routine that I practice is meal prep. On the weekends I make soup, dinner entrees, and prep lunches. Yet, even though I try to have a strong plan for the week, sometimes I end up making mistakes. A couple of weeks ago I found that after eating breakfast and lunch that I was still hungry. I realized that I was not eating enough protein at lunch and I had to make some changes.

Mike and I HAD to sample the peanut butter when I got home.

Mike and I HAD to sample the peanut butter when I got home.

Last week I made a layered Greek hummus dip (recipe to be shared soon) and for this week’s lunches I made a protein packed spicy salad with beans, lentils, and quinoa.

Yesterday while shopping I made sure to grind fresh peanut butter at our local food co-op

which I will eat with apples and sprouted Ezekiel bread as a mid-day snack.

The salad recipe is reminiscent of my Confetti Salad. I decided to make a version of it with what I have on hand.

If you have been following my blog you have probably figured out that I like spicy food and this salad can be made to suit your personal taste by controlling the amount of taco seasoning and jalapeno pepper. This salad screams TORTILLA CHIPS. Okay, everything I eat seems to demand tortilla chips – but we all must have our weaknesses and I will make due this week without. This recipe makes eight cups of salad and I packed one cup for my lunch tomorrow. I squeezed a little extra lime and vinegar over the top to give it a little extra zing.
Black Bean, Lentil, and Quinoa Salad by Produce with AmyBLACK BEAN, LENTIL, & QUINOA SALAD

*1 cup of cooked black beans
*1 cup of cooked lentils
*1 cup of cooked quinoa
*1 quart of halved grape tomatoes
*1 chopped green bell pepper
*1 cubed avocado
*1 large clove of minced garlic
*1 seeded and finely chopped jalapeno
*1/2 bunch of chopped cilantro
*1/4 cup of chopped onion
*1/4 cup of lime juice
*2 Tablespoons of raw apple cider vinegar
(or vinegar of your choice)
*1 – 2 Tablespoons of taco seasoning (to taste)

Printable recipe: BLACK BEAN, LENTIL, & QUINOA SALAD

Pin recipe HERE

Check out my other Salad Recipes.

I hope that my recipes help you create healthy routines in your life. Once you start prepping meals ahead for the week you will be hooked. It carves out precious time during the week, saves money, and helps a busy schedule feel more manageable. Make sure that you sign up for email updates of my recipes and let me know which ones are your favorites. Stay tuned for more produce packed dishes. I wish you a productive week!