Here’s a little secret – you don’t need meat for sloppy joes. These Cauliflower Sloppy Joes are healthy, easy, and FAST.
Ready in 45 minutes
Sometimes I get emails. Emails from folks that say stuff like, “OMG, your life is so wonderful and great and pretty and amazing, how can I make my life be that good?” And then I cringe. Because, while my life is really wonderful and great and pretty and amazing, it breaks my heart that folks get the impression that my life is any more or less wonderful or great or pretty or amazing than their own. It isn’t.
I too have faucets that drip and nails that break and dirty floors and a toddler who tantrums and dusty ceiling fans and an overflowing inbox and poison ivy. Oh my gosh, horrible poison ivy. Right between my toes. It’s the worrrrsssttt. And as grateful as I am for all the good (oh so much good) in my life, sometimes, I feel like it’s okay to throw up the white flag, admit defeat, and cry a little over the not-so-good things.
It doesn’t make you ungrateful. It doesn’t make you unsympathetic. It doesn’t make you any less compassionate. The problems of the world, no matter how horrific, do not negate your very real feelings about your very real problems, no matter how insignificant they are in the grand scheme of things. Emotions are always valid. Period. The truth is, sometimes the little things in life can add up to feel like really big things. And it’s okay to wallow in the weight of that for a bit. Adulting is hard.
I’ve been doing a bit of my own wallowing lately. We’ve had a series of minor, but annoying, home repairs. And my schedule is jam-packed with tight deadlines. And there is a teething toddler in the mix. And did I mention the poison ivy? None of it is big. All of it is fixable. But it has still gotten me in a little bit of an end-of-summer funk. It might sound really strange, but when I find myself feeling not-the-good-kind of funky, I start to pull myself out of the darkness by cleaning up my diet.
For me personally (and I’m sure for a lot of folks—maybe without even realizing it), what I eat plays a huge role in how I feel about myself and the problems of the world (and my life). Everything seems a little bit better when I make sure to fuel my body and my family’s bodies with good, healthy food. It’s like a foundation task that I can check-off. Did I manage to call the plumber today? Nope, but at least I ate that salad for lunch, so I have that going for me.
Of course, that’s not even mentioning the very real physical benefits eating better gets you. More energy. Better brain function. Better sleep, even. Those things are all great, but for me, eating healthy is less about that, and more about me saying, “Hey. I’m important. And no matter what crap falls down on me, I’m going to do this baseline thing to take care of myself.” And there is some serious empowerment in taking that kind of initiative. I believe declaring *you* are important is one of the best things you can do for yourself when you’re overcoming adversity. And I do that by putting some damn cauliflower on my plate.
When I’m in the weeds, it’s even more important than ever to make sure I plan for healthy, easy, and FAST options for dinner. The truth is, if I’m not cooking for the blog or for a client, I almost always make meals that are ready in less than 30 minutes.
If I plan for anything more than that, the chances of me tossing the menu out the window and instead cooking a box of mac and cheese are hiiiiigggghhhhh. I know myself. To keep the promise to myself to eat healthfully when I’m feeling low, I have to plan quick dinners—and these Cauliflower Sloppy Joes are one of those speedy dinners.
I’m gonna let you in on a little secret about sloppy joes: you really don’t need the meat. I mean, it’s fine to use meat if you want, but 99% of the flavor of sloppy joes comes from the sauce—you could put shoe leather in that sauce, and it would still taste delicious on a bun (okay, maybe not, but you get what I’m saying). Because this isn’t a case where meat is really necessary for flavor, I embrace that and take it as an opportunity to add some extra veggies to my diet—in this case, cauliflower.
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 bell pepper, diced
- 4 ounces mushrooms, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 head cauliflower, finely chopped
- ½ cup water
- 1½ cup ketchup
- 3 tablespoons mustard
- 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup or molasses
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon sriracha
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Buns and pickles, for serving
- Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven or soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, pepper, mushrooms, and garlic. Cook until just tender and fragrant, about 3-5 minutes.
- Add the cauliflower and water. Cover and simmer until the cauliflower is tender, about 5-7 minutes.
- Uncover and add the ketchup, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, maple syrup, vinegar, and sriracha. Simmer, uncovered, until thick and bubbly, about 10-15 minutes.