I’m really excited to share today’s recipe with you, for several reasons – primarily because my family loves this meal so much. Since a happy and healthy family is my #1 cooking goal, this one is a big win in my book. It’s also a ‘win’ because Hubs loves (LOVES) sloppy joes, so I made them often especially in the beginning of our marriage. But I never felt good about serving such a highly-processed, sugar-laden food. About a year ago, I began making my own sloppy joe / BBQ sauce using ketchup, maple syrup, some vinegar, spices, etc. I felt a little better about that, but in the back of mind, I knew that commercially available ketchups are loaded with high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and added sugars. Because of that, we all but gave up on ever eating sloppy joes again, especially during and after we did the #Whole30 this past April (2016). So, I’m really pleased that this recipe (which includes no ketchup, maple syrup, HFCS or added sugars beyond a few dates and pure apple juice, which are perfectly #Whole30 acceptable when used in moderation) allows us to one again enjoy this favorite and fun meal without regrets.
The magic is in the BBQ sauce. It’s quick and very easy to make. It’s great for basting chicken, beef, pork or any other standard BBQ sauce application you may have. AND it includes a secret (healthy+beautifying) ingredient.
For the past few months, I’ve been posting a series of #Whole30-compliant, paleo-correct recipes featuring the ingredients identified by a recent HealthGrove study as the best foods for beautiful skin and hair. And Number 13 on the HealthGrove list is that fall favorite – PUMPKIN. Thanks to the miracle of modern technology (i.e. canning), pumpkin is now available year-round. It’s a great source of Vitamin A (in the form of beta carotene), potassium and fiber. (For more detail, check out this nutrition summary from HealthGrove.). And, pumpkin is a great way to add sweetness to a recipe without sugar, HFCS or other sweeteners not approved for #Whole30. Pumpkin is also the “secret ingredient” in this recipe, and I can almost guarantee your family will never guess it’s in the sauce. If you’ve missed any of the previous recipes in this series, check out the list and links below. And as always, if you have #Whole30 questions, need advice or support to complete your #Whole30 or just wanna brush up on the rules and recommendations, I encourage you to check out the Whole30 website and specifically the Whole30 101 pages.
For ground meat –
• 1 lb. lean ground beef, bison or turkey breast (I used 97% lean ground turkey)
• 1+½ tsp. salt
• 1 Tbsp. coconut or avocado oil
For Sweet Smoky BBQ Sauce –
• 6 dates soaked overnight in ½ cup filtered water
• 6 oz. can tomato paste
• ½ cup no-sugar-added applesauce, organic if possible
• ½ cup pure canned pumpkin (NOT canned pumpkin pie mix)
• ½ cup homemade or organic ready-made chicken broth
• ¾ cup 100% pure apple juice
• ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
• 2 tsp. Celtic sea salt
• ½ Tbsp. liquid smoke
• 1 tsp. spicy mustard (NOT Dijon mustard if doing #Whole30)
• ¼ tsp. garlic powder (or 1 whole garlic clove)
• dash ground allspice
For the Sweet Potato Toasts –
• 2 large or 3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled
• 2 Tbsp. coconut or avocado oil, divided
• ¾ tsp. Celtic sea salt, divided
• Sprinkling garlic powder
• Dash ground allspice
• Blender or food processor
• Measuring cups + spoons
• Large frying pan or skillet (preferably nonstick)
• Toaster Oven (helpful but non-essential)
• Small baking pan lined with aluminum foil or parchment paper
1. Prepare BBQ sauce place soaked dates AND soaking water into canister of powerful blender or food processor fitted with S blade, along with all other sauce ingredients. Cover blender or food processor and pulse on LOW setting for about 1 minute. Then blend/process sauce on HIGH setting until the sauce is thoroughly blended and very smooth.
2. Taste sauce to test seasonings and adjust if necessary. Transfer sauce to a large jar or pitcher with lid. Cover and place BBQ sauce in refrigerator. BBQ sauce will keep covered in refrigerator for up to 1 week.
3. Brown ground meat in a 1 Tbsp. oil (not necessary if using higher fat meat, such as 85% lean ground beef) in a large (preferably non-stick) pan or skillet over MEDIUM-HIGH (level 7) heat. Sprinkle the meat with 1.5 tsp. seal salt and stir frequently while browning to break up the meat into smallish pieces or chunks. Drain meat if necessary. When meat has been browned (and drained if necessary), turn off the heat and cover the pan.
4. Take BBQ sauce from refrigerator and pour about ¾ of the sauce over ground turkey. Stir well to combine and recover pan or skillet.
NOTE: Store remaining BBQ sauce in refrigerator. You can serve Sloppy Joes with the extra BBQ sauce or keep it for another use.
5. Turn skillet or stove to MEDIUM and cook mixture covered until sauce begins to simmer. Then reduce heat to LOW. Cook mixture on LOW for about 30 minutes while preparing sweet potato toasts.
6.Prepare Sweet Potato Toasts as follows: Slice peeled sweet potato length-wise into 1/8” slices. Cover a small baking pan with aluminum foil or parchment paper. Then pour 1 Tbsp. oil onto pan and sprinkle pan with ¼ tsp. sea salt. Place sweet potato slices in a single layer on pan. Drizzle remaining Tbsp. oil over the sweet potato slices. Then sprinkle slices with remaining 1/2 tsp. salt, garlic powder and dash of ground allspice.
7. If baking sweet potato toasts in full-size oven, preheat to 400°F (204°C) (if you’re using a toaster oven, there’s no need to preheat). Bake sweet potatoes at 400°F (204°C) for about 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, remove toasts from oven and flip each toast over. Return toasts to oven for about 5-10 minutes, again at 400°F (204°C). Check on the toasts often because they get really dark quickly.
N.B. – If you need to cook the Sloppy Joe mixture for longer than 30 minutes (i.e. to attend to other tasks), that’s no problem. Just follow steps 2-5 above, then turn stove or skillet setting lowest heat setting. Then a few minutes before serving, add another 1/2 cup pure (no-sugar-added) apple juice and a pinch more sea salt. Stir well and keep mixture on LOW until serving.
~ Makes 4 dinner-sized servings
As always, I recommend serving these “sandwiches” along side a nice tossed salad of mixed greens, with a little fresh maybe or nuts tossed in, or crisply fried+crumbled #Whole30-compliant bacon. Some sort of cooked green vegetable side also works nicely (if you’re not as salad-crazy as me). I served these along side steamed green beans almandine (as pictured above) and tossed salads. But other great side options include: Crispy Fried Sprouts or Crispy Coconut Roasted Green Beans or your own preferred veggie side are all great options. A final note, if you’re not interested in making the sweet potato toasts, you can also serve the mixture on large romaine lettuce leaf “boats” for an open-faced style sandwich. That’s actually my favorite way to eat these.
Wisdom for the Day:
“⌊God has sent me⌋ to provide for all those who grieve in Zion, to give them crowns instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of ⌊tears of⌋ grief, and clothes of praise instead of a spirit of weakness. They will be called Oaks of Righteousness, the Plantings of the LORD, so that he might display his glory.” ~Isaiah 61:3 (God’s Word Translation) Read more here.
Beauty Resource of the Day:
I often share Tati Westbrook’s videos because I think she’s so adorable and relatable. This Strobing Tutorial is one of my current favs. Strobing is prettier, easier and more natural-looking than that harsh contouring trend of a few years ago. Here Tati demystifies the technique (REALLY important for me and my novice-level makeup skills) and steps you through how-to strobe using a balanced mix of both drug-store and high-end products. Enjoy that summer glow!
Check Out These Great Recipes from the (HealthGrove) Top 30 Foods for Beauty Series:
Super Simple & Sumptuous Sweet Potatoes
Stupid Easy Paleo Cran-Cherry Sauce #WHOLE30 #Vegan #Raw
QUICK & EASY BEAUTIFYING PAPAYA SALAD #WHOLE30 #PALEO #VEGAN
Presto Peachy Lime Vinaigrette #WHOLE30-compliant #Vegan #Paleo #Raw
Split Second Strawberry Vinaigrette #WHOLE30 Compliant (#raw, #paleo & #vegan)
Fix-It-And-Forget-It: Simply Beautiful Southern Greens Crockpot #WHOLE30 Compliant
Quick & Easy Paleo Lemon Garlic Salad Dressing #WHOLE30 Compliant
Chicken Tri-Almandine Casserole
WHOLE30 Stuffed Zucchini 2 Ways
Easy Cheezy Chicken & Broccoli Soup with Crispy Potato Croutons