Gluten-Free Sloppy Joes in a Bowl Recipe
Just because you’re on a gluten-free diet doesn’t mean you have to give up on sloppy joes. Instead of enjoying a traditional sloppy joe served on a crumbly gluten-free bun, I enjoy this healthy version of sloppy joes served in a bowl on top of roasted sweet potatoes and flavorful greens.
Traditional sloppy joes are loose meat sandwiches flavored with onions, tomato sauce or ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, and other seasonings. The juicy, burger-like sandwich becomes a gooey mess when you bite it, and the saucy meat oozes out.
I decided to reinvent the traditional sloppy joe in a health-forward way using only fresh, lean, and clean ingredients.
Unlike traditional sloppy joes made with canned Manwich tomato sauce, which contains high-fructose corn syrup and may or may not contain gluten (it’s not clearly labeled), my health-forward sloppy joes are made with only fresh, unprocessed ingredients.
In fact, I’d say my clean and lean sloppy joes beat your average sloppy joe for the following reasons:
(1) My sloppy joes are served in a bowl on top of a nutrient-dense sweet potato vs. a nutrient-void hamburger bun. While you can find okay gluten-free hamburger buns today, including ones from Canyon Bakehouse and Trader Joe’s, gluten-free buns leave much to be desired.
(2) I use Laura’s Lean 96% lean 4% fat ground beef, which offers a savory, beefy flavor without all the grease and fat typically associated with ground beef. Laura’s Lean cattle live in pastures, graze on natural grasses and grains, and aren’t given prophylactic antibiotics or growth hormones.
(3) The sloppy joe mixture is made with fresh vs. processed ingredients, such as tomato sauce vs. ketchup and maple syrup vs. high-fructose corn syrup. Using clean ingredients ensures these sloppy joes taste fresh and delicious.
(4) My gluten-free sloppy joes offer plenty of space to add flavorful toppings. As you’ll see, I added air-fryer shredded Brussels sprouts for crunch and flavor and creamy avocado slices to add healthy fats.
To make the gluten-free sloppy joe filling, you’ll need the following ingredients (listed in the order they’re used in the recipe):
Onion: A fresh yellow onion adds excellent flavor to the sloppy joe mixture. It also bulks up the recipe, making your beef – and money – go further.
Ground Beef: I use Laura’s Lean 96% lean 4% fat ground beef because it gives the sloppy joes a savory beef flavor without all the grease. Drain the fat before adding the sauce ingredients if using high-fat vs. lean ground beef.
Red Bell Pepper: You could use any color of bell pepper you like, and many sloppy joe recipes call for a green bell pepper instead of red. Like the onions, the bell pepper adds flavor and bulks up the recipe, so your dinner and money go further.
Garlic: Fresh garlic will shine in this recipe. I used two garlic cloves, but you can add more.
Tomato Sauce: The recipe calls for one cup of canned tomato sauce. Other sloppy joe recipes call for ketchup, which is okay, but I don’t love a strong ketchup flavor or the addition of high-fructose corn syrup to my recipe.
Tomato Paste: Use 1/4 cup of tomato paste in this recipe to bring on the intense tomato flavor without adding ketchup.
Maple Syrup: Maple syrup adds sweetness and cuts the acidity of the tomato sauce, offering a more balanced flavor to the final result. You could use honey or granulated sugar instead of maple syrup.
Tamari: I use one tablespoon of gluten-free soy sauce, known as tamari sauce, which is easy to find at the grocery store. You could instead use an equivalent amount of Worcestershire sauce. Only some brands are labeled gluten free, so if you’re struggling to find gluten-free Worcestershire sauce at the grocery store, use a little tamari and call it a day.
Mustard: Mustard adds zesty flavor to the overall sauce. You can use yellow, brown, or Dijon mustard.
Red Wine Vinegar: Red wine vinegar will add punchiness to the sloppy joe mixture. You could use white wine or apple cider vinegar as well.
Salt and Pepper: Add salt and pepper to taste to bring all the flavors together just as you like them.
For the other “bowl” ingredients, you’ll need:
Sweet Potatoes: Sweet potatoes are loaded with fiber, nutrients, and anti-inflammatory properties. However, if you don’t like sweet potatoes, you could use baked potatoes, rice, gluten-free hamburger buns, or bread slices as the canvas of your sloppy joe filling.
Shredded Brussels Sprouts: You can buy shredded Brussels sprouts at the grocery store vs. shredding them yourself. Trader Joe’s, Walmart, Target, and all the major grocery stores carry shredded Brussels sprouts.
Avocados: Avocados are rich in omega-3 fatty acids (healthy fats). They add beauty and a wonderful creamy texture to these sloppy joes in a bowl.
How to Make Gluten-Free Sloppy Joes
Before preparing the sloppy joe filling, start by baking your sweet potatoes. Add the sweet potatoes to a lined baking sheet. Puncture a few holes in the top of the potatoes using a sharp knife, then bake the potatoes at 400º F for about 45 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked through and soft.
Next, I’ll show you how to make the beefy and tangy sloppy joe filling:
(1) Heat 1 tbsp of avocado oil in a large skillet pan over medium-high heat. Add the finely chopped onions and sauté for 2-3 minutes until the onions are soft and translucent.
(2) Add the ground beef and use a meat chopper tool or wooden spatula to break the beef into small pieces. Continue chopping and occasionally stirring the meat until it’s cooked through and no longer pink, then add the bell pepper and garlic and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
(3) Add the tomato sauce, tomato paste, maple syrup, tamari or Worcestershire sauce, mustard, and vinegar. Mix well and simmer over medium heat for about five minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste and simmer until you’re ready to assemble your bowls.
As the sloppy joe filling simmers, you can prepare the Brussels sprouts in the air fryer. Combine the shredded Brussels sprouts, oil, and salt in a large bowl. Toss to combine, then add the mixture to your air-fryer basket. Air-fry at 400º for 10-15 minutes, shaking the basket every 3-4 minutes. Cook until the Brussels sprouts start to brown and get crispy in spots.
Assembling Sloppy Joes in a Bowl
To assemble the sloppy joe bowls, place each sweet potato inside a serving bowl. Cut open the center of the potatoes to expose the flesh, and take a fork to break up the flesh to make room for the toppings.
Add a portion of the sloppy joe mixture to each potato, then top each bowl with crispy Brussels sprouts, slices of avocados, and fresh cilantro. Enjoy immediately.
Why I Love This Recipe
I can’t wait for you to try these sloppy joes in a bowl. Here’s why I love them:
Intense Flavor: This recipe offers an intense beef flavor, savory tomato sauce, and a touch of tang and sweetness.
It’s Economical: Enjoy beef but make your money go farther by bulking up the meat with onions and red peppers and serving it with filling baked potatoes and other healthy additions. This recipe is economical and can feed your family of four for less than $20!
It’s Easy: This recipe requires little fuss in the kitchen. Bake the potatoes. Air fry the Brussels sprouts. And sauté all the other ingredients in one pan for easy clean up.
No Mess: Most sloppy joes fall apart when you take a bite, but these sloppy joes in a bowl are enjoyed with a fork, allowing you to dig in without looking like you’re attacking your food.
• large skillet pan
• Air fryer
• standard oven
Gluten-Free Sloppy Joes in a Bowl Recipe
• 4 sweet potatoes
• 1 tbsp avocado oil or other vegetable oil
• 1 yellow onion medium, finely chopped
• 1 lb Laura’s Lean 96% lean 4% fat ground beef
• 1 red bell pepper diced
• 2 garlic cloves minced
• 1 cup tomato sauce
• 1/4 cup tomato paste
• 3 tbsp maple syrup
• 1 tbsp tamari or Worcestershire sauce – see notes
• 1 tsp mustard yellow or brown
• 1 tsp red wine vinegar
• Kosher salt to taste
• Ground pepper to taste
• 1 10-ounce bag of shredded Brussel Sprouts
• 1 tbsp avocado oil or other vegetable oil
• 1 pinch of salt
• 2 avocados sliced
• 2 tbsp cilantro fresh, chopped (optional)
For the Sweet Potatoes:
1. Preheat the oven to 400º F and line a baking sheet with foil. Set aside.
2. Wash and pat dry the sweet potatoes, then poke four holes in the top of each potato using a knife. Place the potatoes on the baking sheet and bake for 45 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked through and soft to the touch.
For the Sloppy Joe Filling:
1. Heat oil in a large skillet pan over medium-high heat. Add onions and sauté for 2-3 minutes until softened and translucent.
2. Add the beef and use a meat chopper tool or wooden spatula to break the meat into small pieces. Continue chopping and occasionally stirring until the beef is cooked and no longer pink. Add the bell pepper and garlic and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
3. Add the tomato sauce, tomato paste, maple syrup, tamari or Worcestershire sauce, mustard, and vinegar. Mix well and simmer over medium heat for about five minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste and simmer until ready to serve.
For the Brussel Sprouts:
1. Combine the shredded Brussels sprouts, oil, and salt in a large bowl. Toss to combine, then add to your air-fryer basket. Air fry at 400º for 10-15 minutes, shaking the basket every 3-4 minutes. Cook until the Brussels sprouts start to brown and get crispy in spots.
Assembling the Bowls:
1. Place each sweet potato in a large bowl. Cut open the center of each potato to expose the flesh. Take a fork to break up the flesh to make room for the sloppy joe mixture.
2. Add a portion of the sloppy joe mixture on top of each potato, then top each bowl with crispy Brussels sprouts, slices of avocados, and fresh cilantro (optional).
Potato Substitutes: You can use sweet potatoes, regular potatoes, rice, or gluten-free hamburger buns as the canvas for serving sloppy joes.
Maple Syrup Substitutes: Maple syrup adds sweetness and cuts the acidity of the tomato sauce. You could use honey instead of maple syrup.
Tamari Substitutes: I use gluten-free soy sauce, known as tamari, although you could also use an equal amount of Worcestershire sauce. Only some Worcestershire brands are labeled gluten free. If you can’t find gluten-free Worcestershire sauce, use tamari and call it a day.
Accepted Mustard Varieties: You can use yellow, brown, or Dijon mustard.
Red Wine Vinegar Alternatives: White wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar can be used instead of red wine vinegar.
Nutrition Details: Nutrition information is approximate and does not include avocados.
Calories: 538kcal | Carbohydrates: 74g | Protein: 33g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Trans Fat: 0.4g | Cholesterol: 70mg | Sodium: 917mg | Potassium: 1961mg | Fiber: 13g | Sugar: 27g | Vitamin A: 34112IU | Vitamin C: 120mg | Calcium: 155mg | Iron: 7mg
Recipe/photo credit: Jenny Levine Finke
Article link: Good For You Gluten-Free Website
For more information about Jennifer Levine Finke, please visit the Good For You Gluten-Free website.
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