Meatless Monday: Lentil Sloppy Joes

*This post has been revised; Aaron pointed out that the original post inferred that we are meat-banning extremists... oops. Hopefully the revision makes more sense :)

Lately, Aaron and I have been trying to eat vegetarian dishes as much as possible, mainly because of the increase in meat prices and because it's healthier. Overall, it is cheaper and healthier to moderate the amount of meat in out diet. Now I must be clear by explaining that I grew up on a farm where my family raised animals and so we knew exactly what they ate and how they were butchered. So after leaving home it has been a personal struggle for me to eat commercialized meat, but I'm getting there, slowly but surely.

I've been looking for ways to substitute grains and legumes for meat, and here is one such creation. I thought that maybe lentils would be a good substitute for sloppy joes since they are a similar size and texture to ground beef. Turns out that I was right! I also created the sauce from a few different recipes on www.allrecipes.com and it is delicious!

Fill up on Folate and Fiber
Lentils are packed full of folate (commonly known as folic acid)– just one cup of cooked lentils provides you with almost 90% of your daily recommended intake! And why is folate so important? You’ve probably heard about this vital vitamin in regards to pregnancy, as it is critical in the prevention of birth defects. Folate also functions to support red blood cell production and help prevent anemia. 

Besides folic acid, lentils also have a TON of fiber (Aaron will attest to this fact). That same cup of lentils has 63% of your daily recommended amount of fiber. Crazy! 

Packed with Protein
That same one cup of lentils also supplies... Drum roll, please... 18 grams of protein! Making it the third-highest level of protein, by weight, of any legume or nut.

Plus, unlike meat, lentils are virtually fat-free! 

If that weren't enough, lentils supply you with more than one-third of your daily recommended amount of iron. For women this is epic; finding foods that supply that much iron is nearly impossible. Believe me, I have done my research.

The color/variety of lentil you use should depend on how you will be using them.
Green and brown lentils retain their shape after cooking; so if you are substituting lentils for ground beef a green or brown lentil would be the best choice. 

How to Cook Lentils:

The bonus of using lentils is that they don't have to soak before cooking, yay! This makes cooking lentils as easy as 1-2-3.

  1. Rinse and drain lentils.
  2. Place in pot and cover with water or broth.
  3. Boil for 2-3 minutes, and then reduce the heat and simmer until tender (this could take anywhere from 10 minutes to 1 hour depending on the variety, age, and desired texture).

Lentil Sloppy Joes
Aaron Rating ********** (7 out of 10)

1 cup of lentils (green or brown)*
4 cups of water or broth (I used organic beef broth)
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 green pepper, chopped
1/4 cup onion, chopped
1 tsp vinegar
2 Tbsp water
1/2 cup ketchup
2 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp mustard
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp salt

Pepper, to taste

  1. Rinse lentils, place in pan, and cover with water or broth. Boil for 2-3 minutes and then let simmer until tender (mine took about 25 minutes).
  2. Heat olive oil over medium heat; add green pepper and onion, cook until soft. 
  3. Add rest of ingredients. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. 
  4. When lentils are done cooking, drain and add to sauce. Cover and let the juices soak into the lentils for an additional 10-15 minutes. Serve on bread or buns.
*If you are not ready to venture into the meatless world alone you can make a mixture of lentils and ground beef, or use 100% meat. Either way it is delicious :)


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