Jump to Recipe

I was told this week, by my 15 yearold son, that he needs more protein in his diet and hearty meals to feed his strong hunger brought on by grueling basketball practices and weight training. I like to think we’ve aided his growth all along. He’s 6’4″, an anomaly in our family, which I attribute to mostly to a genetic perfect storm, but an entire year breast feeding without formula (strong-armed by lactation nurses in California) and some healthy home cooking along the way, also helped. The new plan forprotein-rich, hearty meals that I can live with will be lots of fish, poultry and even meats, but prepared fairly clean and then add on a hearty element as a side. Like last night, in addition to grilled swordfish with corn salsa, and grilled asparagus, we had thick grilled sourdough made into the Spanish favorite, tomato bread – a meal I totally ripped off from aUS Open chef.

Tonight, Sloppy Joes with a healthy change-up that I’m hoping will go undetected. Thanks to inspiration from America’s Test Kitchen, this favorite savory meat dish becomes turkey-based without losing any of savory meaty flavors.

Sloppy Joes apparently originated in Sioux City, Iowa where a guy named Joe added tomato sauce to the popular “loose meat” sandwiches. Sloppy and loose meat are not lost on me. I’m quite familiar with those sandwiches, Maid-Rites they’re called, having lived in Iowa for three years. Like “pay-per-view” and “noseeums“,” loose meat” was just an unremarkable description that became a name. Sloppy Joe isn’t much better, but at least it’s clear what we’re dealing with.

Turkey is the obvious healthifiing maneuver, except it usually doesn’t pack beef’s satisfying flavor. That’s where pulsated mushrooms pieces and Worcestershire sauce come in, bringing their umami richness to the mix.

sloppy joes for healthy fams

I doubled the original recipe because the mixture reheats beautifully. Smoked paprika adds a ruggedness to the flavor, but it can be omitted if you don’t have or don’t like, simply double the chili powder.

preptime: 30 min serves 6-8

  • 12 oz, white button mushrooms, cleaned, trimmed
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 med onion, minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 1/2 lbs. ground turkey, dark meat
  • 1 15 oz can tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tsp cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp. brown sugar (light or dark)
  • 6-8 hamburger buns
  1. In food processor, pulse mushrooms until into small pieces the size of small peas.
  2. Heat the oil in a large skillet or pot on medium heat. Add onions, cook for 1-2 minutes.
  3. Add mushrooms to the pan. Cook another 5-7 minutes, until most of the water from the mushrooms evaporates.
  4. Stir in garlic, chili powder and paprika and cook until fragrant, about another minute.
  5. Stir in the turkey, breaking up the pieces as it cooks for another 4 minutes or so, until no longer pink.
  6. Add the tomato sauce, ketchup, Worcestershire, vinegar and sugar.
  7. Bring to a simmer and cook another 5 minutes until thickened.
  8. Add salt & pepper. Taste and adjust with any or all seasonings to your liking.


  • Chop onions in food processor or purchases pre-chopped onions.
  • Make ahead, freeze, reheat heat for mealtime.

recipe adapted from America’s Test Kitchen Healthy Family cookbook and provided by your friends at crunchtimefood.com


Leave a Reply