I did not eat sloppy joes growing up, and cannot imagine my mother ever having cooked or served one in her life.  Standard weeknight dinners, such as pot roast or tuna casserole, did not grace our tables, as my Italian mother is much more of an elaborate cook.  I’d seen sloppy joes in the school cafeteria, but assumed they only came out of a can.  A while back, I came across a recipe for homemade sloppy joes in Parents magazine, and it actually didn’t look half bad.  Realizing I could use ground turkey in place of beef, and sneak in my favorite veggie enhancers, I decided to give it a go.  Now, it’s one of my favorite quick dinners.

Kid-friendly sloppy joes

Sloppy Joes

Making a few changes to the original recipe, I’ve found these to be quite yummy.  For starters, I use 93% or 99% fat-free ground turkey.  Once the meat is browned, I stir in ½ cup of butternut squash and ½ cup of diced apple.  Both melt right into the mixture, and the apples give it a great crunchy texture.  Instead of green peppers, I’ve found red to be more fitting, and if I don’t have them on hand, I skip them all together.  Finally, I omit the hot sauce, although my husband sprinkles it on his once they’re served.  Piled onto a whole-grain bun with a side of steamed veggies and fresh fruit, dinner is good to go.  Finally, one favorite trick with this recipe: Make extra!  I always make it with three lbs. of ground turkey, and triple the other ingredients.  Before we eat, I divide it into three batches, freeze two batches in quart-sized freezer bags, and use one for that night.  On a busy night in the future, it’ll be a welcomed home-cooked meal to save you the time of cooking.

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