It is still March, National Nutrition Month.  (Even though here in NYC and the rest of the East Coast, it looks like the dead of winter under the spell of Storm Stella!)  I am continuing to focus on healthy, guilt-free substitutes to feed cravings for traditional favorite dishes.  That way we can at least begin dreaming about nice weather and start to work on our summer bodies!

Do you ever crave a warm, hearty, savory sandwich for lunch?  Perhaps you fear the calories OR that heavy, sleepy feeling you experience after eating a giant meatball sub, or a greasy burger on a white bun.  ENTER my new recipe for…….Sloppy Joes! 

I started with Barely Bread’s 100% Grain-Free Savory Roll (flavored with hints of garlic and onion).  I simply sliced and toasted the bread, added about 6 ounces of my Slim Sloppy Joe mix and added a couple slices of bell peppers for crunch.  And, voila:  A filling, hearty, savory, HOT lunch full of protein and vegetables that is good for your mind, body, and digestion!

Here are some the bonus benefits of this recipe’s ingredients versus traditional ones:

Barely Bread: Not only is it gluten-free, grain-free, paleo and have an amazing flavor, the higher protein and good fat content help you feel fuller longer than regular white rolls or sandwich bread.

Ground Chicken:  Lean ground chicken meat has lower calories, fat, and cholesterol than regular red meat.  With all the flavor packed it this recipe, I promise, you will not miss the traditional ingredient. 

Vegetables:  Whenever and wherever you can add veggies (breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, smoothies), just do it.  Not only do they help you meet your vitamin and mineral needs, they are packed with fiber which is great for digestion and helping keep you fuller longer.  (FYI:  Peppers are great sources of Vitamin C, antioxidants, and Vitamin B6.  Spinach is an excellent source of Vitamins A, E, K, B2, B6, iron, magnesium, folate, potassium, and calcium.  It has anti-inflammatory properties, and its chlorophyll content may help increase satiety.  Carrots are an excellent source of Vitamin A and have cardiovascular health, vision health, and antioxidant benefits.)  In this recipe, the vegetables also take up volume, which means instead of eating straight protein, part of your meat serving is made up of low-calorie, high-fiber vegetables, which decreases overall calories and increases feelings of fullness. 

Cayenne Pepper: This packs a punch of flavor without added salt or calories.  PLUS spicy foods may help increase metabolism.

Apple Cider Vinegar:  Acids in ACV can improve digestion and deter growth of harmful bacteria in the digestive tract.  

Maple Syrup:  I use this (and organic mustard) instead of using refined white sugar and/or ketchup and Worcestershire sauce. (Condiments such as these often have added sugar, corn syrup, salt, additives, and preservatives.)  Yes, it is sweet, but it is unrefined and all natural.  It contains more beneficial nutrients, antioxidants and phytochemicals than refined white sugar or corn syrup.  Maple syrup has a lower glycemic index and has anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties.  It is also easier on digestion than refined sugars. 

Slim Sloppy Joes

  • 1 pound organic lean ground chicken
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 medium bell pepper, chopped
  • ½ cup carrots chopped
  • 2 cups spinach leaves, chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small can tomato paste (6 oz)
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp mustard (I used yellow, but feel free to try others!)
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • salt and pepper to taste, as desired



  1. Place olive oil in a pot, and add chopped onions. Cook on the stovetop over medium heat with constant stirring until onions are clear and begin to brown.
  2. Add carrots, followed by bell peppers, and stir up so each is cooked a bit (about 5 minutes total).
  3. Add chicken meat to pot, stirring consistently until it becomes opaque and begins to brown (about 6-8 minutes).
  4. Stir in spinach.
  5. Add tomato paste, mustard, vinegar, and cayenne pepper. Continue to stir until mixture thickens a bit (about 5 minutes).
  6. Add salt and pepper to taste, if desired.
  7. Place on toasted Barely Bread rolls with a few slices of bell pepper. ENJOY!

****  This mixture would also taste great over any noodle of your choice (rice, zucchini, sweet potato, whole wheat), stuffed into a bell pepper or zucchini boat, or in a lettuce, whole grain, or grain-free wrap or tortilla, or on top of a sweet or baked potato. 

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