Hidden Veggie Sloppy Joes are packed with vegetable packed but taste like a traditional sloppy joe. The perfect weeknight meal to satisfy the whole family. With no ketchup or added sugar, it’s a meal you can feel great serving. These healthy sloppy joes are a 30 minute meal that mom can feel good about serving to picky eaters.
This post was originally posted on Jan 3, 2017 and has since been updated.
Healthier Sloppy Joes
One of my favorite hidden veggie recipes, these Healthier Sloppy Joes taste just like the original but are secretly packed with veggies.
They have zero processed ingredients, and use maple syrup as the sweetener rather than a more traditional ketchup and brown sugar combo. Feel free to substitute in honey.
Since we follow baby led weaning, I used a baby-safe sweetener when serving to anyone under the age of 1.
Tips for making these hidden veggie sloppy joes
- In general, we prefer beef in our ‘joes’, but ground chicken or turkey would work just as well.
- We use maple syrup mostly because I got used to using it in place of honey when my boys were babies. Feel free to use your favorite natural sweetener.
- If you want to speed up the process, even more, use tomato sauce in place of the crushed tomatoes. Even better, try hidden veggie pasta sauce.
- These are most successful served on soft rolls in my house, but I’ve also served it over a baked sweet potato or rice.
- If you’re short on time, add your veggies into a food processor and pulse a few times to chop without having to actually chop.
- Skip the chopping and try using a vegetable puree.
If you think your kiddos will notice the hidden veg and object, feel free to peel the zucchini first, leaving the soft interior and leaving out the green.
Make sure you still chop it into very small cubes so that the texture isn’t noticeable when mixed with the ground meat. I wouldn’t suggest grating it as the texture might get funky.
If you’d like to keep the time down, add the veggies into a food processor to make a small dice and then cook.
Like hidden veggie recipes? Try this: Over 100 Hidden Veggie Recipes Your Kids Will Love!
How to make healthy sloppy joe sauce:
The sugar free sloppy joe sauce comes together easily. Add all of the ingredients to the pan, mix and simmer until you’re ready to eat.
You won’t find weird processed ingredients here. In fact, the only ingredients in this healthy sloppy joe sauce are:
- Tomato paste to give you that thick, ketchup-y texture
- Maple syrup to add some sweetness
- Worchestershire sauce and apple cider vinegar for easy flavor
- And canned tomatoes to make it saucy.
It’s a win-win : your kids will love this tasty weeknight dinner, and you’ll love that they’re eating veggies happily. You can serve this plain, on a soft roll, or even over pasta or zoodles. I always enjoy mine with a slice of American cheese since it’s how I ate them as a kid.
If you want to get even MORE veggies in, you could easily sub the canned tomatoes for about 2 cups of my hidden veggie spaghetti sauce!
Hidden Veggie Sloppy Joe Recipe
These healthy sloppy joes are perfect for busy weeknights and a meal even your pickiest eater won’t object to. Tasting just like a classic kid friendly dinner, this recipe is packed with hidden veggies that will please the whole family.
Secretly Veggie Sloppy Joes
- 1-1.5 lbs ground beef*
- .5 medium onion minced
- 2-3 cloves garlic* minced
- 5-6 button mushrooms minced
- .5 large zucchini minced
- 1 bell pepper minced
- 3 TBS tomato paste
- 2 TBS Worchestershire
- 2 TBS maple syrup
- 1 TBS apple cider vinegar
- 14 oz can crushed tomatoes
Brown the meat and set aside.
Remove the excess fat, leaving about 2 tablespoons and cook the onion and pepper over medium heat for 3-4 minutes.
Add in zucchini and mushrooms, cook another 3-4 minutes before adding in garlic and cooking another minute.
Stir in cooked meat and the rest of the ingredients.
Simmer on medium for at least 15 minutes, or reduce to low and cook until ready to eat.
- This mixture freezes very well – I recommend freezing in single portions for quick meals and defrosting!
- You could use another meat, I just prefer beef sloppy joes! Turkey or chicken would make this even healthier, though.
- We use a lot of garlic in our house – here I used 5 or 6 large cloves, but feel free to keep it to 1-3.
Looking for more easy ways to encourage your kids to eat more fruits and vegetables? Grab your FREE copy of Eat the Rainbow – 10 fun and easy fruit and vegetable snacks that will take less than 1 minute. Your kids will be begging to eat these fun fruits and vegetables.
Okay, so tell me – what are some of your favorite ways to sneak in veggies? Anyone else love the movie, Billy Madison? Let me know in the comments!
If you enjoyed this post, you may also like these!
Got a picky eater?
My kids eat their veggies every day without complaining. Want my secret?
Grab the Outsmart your Picky Eater cheat sheets to get the inside scoop on how to add veggies to food your kids already love.