Cauliflower Sloppy Joes
Cauliflower Sloppy Joes

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.

Cauliflower Sloppy Joes

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. 

Cauliflower Sloppy Joes

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 those veggies with 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.

Cauliflower Sloppy Joes

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.

I like to serve these cauliflower sloppy joes on a big, fluffy whole wheat hamburger bun with lots of pickles and sweet potato fries. I already feel better. Enjoy!

Cauliflower Sloppy Joes

Cauliflower Sloppy Joes

Yield: 6 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes

Here’s a little secret - you don’t need meat for sloppy joes. These Cauliflower Sloppy Joes are healthy, easy, and FAST.


  • 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
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 1/2 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


  1. 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.
  2. Add the cauliflower and water. Cover and simmer until the cauliflower is tender, about 5-7 minutes.
  3. Uncover and add the ketchup, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, maple syrup, vinegar, and sriracha. Simmer, uncovered, until thick and bubbly, about 10-15 minutes.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1 serving
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 338Total Fat: 4gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 952mgCarbohydrates: 78gFiber: 4gSugar: 64gProtein: 4g

At Wholefully, we believe that good nutrition is about much more than just the numbers on the nutrition facts panel. Please use the above information as only a small part of what helps you decide what foods are nourishing for you.


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  1. I have found if you use avocado oil about two tablespoons in a cast iron skillet and lightly brown the cauliflower it has a much better taste. I use it with tomato sauce and hamburger, sometimes just with the tomato sauce and para cheese. It is very versatile vegetable great in replacing mashed potatoes, I wash the cauliflower then bake it until it browns slightly then blend it with sour cream, salt to taste garlic and onion powder and serve as I would mash potatoes.

  2. One of the few things my two year old will consistently eat is homemade sloppy joes. I usually dice carrots and include them (and he even eats the carrots this way!) maybe we’ll try adding cauliflower mixed in next time too.

  3. That is a GREAT GUIDE for a yummy alternative to original sloppy joes! I will FOR SURE be trying cauliflower sloppy joes! Maybe Sloppy Cassies?! Don’t you think you should be able to be part of the name? I am sorry that you have readers who feel they need to criticize your recipes. We ALL read thru multitudes of recipes on the internet and choose the ones that work for us or tweak them to fit our own needs. Geez! Keep up the good work! Reading is optional, right? Holy cow!

  4. Long live all the pickles on a sloppy joe. I LOVE THIS!!! I’m thinking I’ll throw this on buns for the little people and I’ll put mine over a nice hot roasted sweet potato!

  5. WAY too much sugar. Why take a healthy food like cauliflower and mess it up with all that extra sugar? Sloppy Joe’s don’t have to be sugar bombs either way. I’ll do something else with my cauliflower.

    1. Feel free to tweak the recipe to suit your family’s sweetness preference when you make—we really liked them this way! The sweetness helps balances out the tanginess. But you can reduce the amount of sugar and use ketchup that is without sugar and still have great results.

      And I have plenty of great cauliflower recipes if you’re looking for a different one:

  6. I’ve never had sloppy joes! I think I’ll have to try these so my kid can grow up like a real American. :^)

    And yay for pulling ourselves out of funks – long, brisk walks and clean foods have worked wonders for me lately (plus cold and/or contrast showers if you really want to go wild).

  7. I can understand a cauliflower sloppy joe if you do not eat meat, but the bun is not really healthy. It could be healthier with a sprouted grain bun, nut flour bun, or one made with real sour dough. Not trying to be critical. I just get frustrated with products that say they are healthy but they haven’t looked at all the ingredients like is it good fats, natural sweeteners, grains in a digestible form, Seriously, you are probably way ahead of where I was, as far as knowing good nutrition. I wish I knew what I know now when my children were young and I probably have much more to learn. It has been a work in progress for me. First to feed my young family healthier foods, then to help my teenage daughter who has a digestive illness, and now to help myself with diabetes. For me I find I do much better with no grains, at least the way they are usually prepared. When i get off all medications I want to try sour dough with non-GMO grains, especially ancient grains, to see if my body can handle them that way. Keep learning! You are living my dream by living on a mini-farm!

    1. I’m glad you have had such great luck with sprouted grains! You are definitely free to put these sloppy joes (and any others) on a sprouted grain bun if it makes your body happy. 🙂