These Sloppy Janes Will Be a New Family Favorite

Time to healthify this cafeteria staple.

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Sloppy Joes might take you back to your middle school cafeteria, sitting around hard plastic tables and munching on lukewarm smiley fries. But even if you haven’t thought about eating Sloppy Joes in, uh, decades, this recipe may convince you to make them for your family.

In this episode of Diabetes Bites, nutritionist Fiorella DiCarlo, RD, CDN, creates a healthy Sloppy Joe that uses lean protein and flavorful veggies to update the classic.

For this Sloppy Jane, you’ll sub chicken for the traditional ground beef. This low-fat swap benefits everyone at the table, but it’s an especially great protein for anyone on a diabetic diet. You’re going to douse it in that classic sloppy joe sauce anyway, so you’ll barely notice the difference.

To give this sandwich a nutrition boost, Fiorella adds tons of red bell peppers and zucchini. These two veggies add fiber and texture (without changing the flavor you expect from a Sloppy Jane). Another great option would be mushrooms, which are one of the few veggies with that meaty, umami flavor.

These changes will make the Sloppy Jane healthier than the original version, but don’t forget the bun: Choose a whole wheat hamburger bun whenever possible. This will increase the fiber and help steady blood sugar levels.

Fun fact: the “Sloppy Joe” got its name from the Key West restaurant that popularized it—not because of its messy texture, like many people believe. It goes by several names throughout the United States: barbeques, loose meat sandwiches, slushburgers, yip yips, wimpies, and more. (We swear we didn’t make any of these up.)

  • 3/4 pound ground chicken (or turkey, or pork)
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • salt, to taste
  • 1 red or green pepper, chopped
  • 3/4 cup diced zucchini
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1/2 cup bottled BBQ sauce (look for a brand with the lowest amount of sugar)
  • 4 toasted 100% whole wheat hamburger buns
1. In a large skillet, cook the ground chicken, onion, garlic, chili powder, paprika, salt, and pepper over medium heat until meat is browned, about 5-6 minutes. 2. Add in the green or red pepper and zucchini and cook over low heat for about 5 minutes, until vegetables are tender. 3. Add the diced tomatoes and BBQ sauce and simmer for 10 minutes. 4. Serve the mixture over half of a toasted bun.

Nutrition Information

Recipe Serves: 8
Nutrition Information Based on a Single Serving
Calories 1266%
Fat 5gr7%
Cholesterol 31mg10%
Sodium 144mg6%
Carbohydrates 13gr10%
Fiber 2gr8%
Sugar 3gr6%
Protein 9gr17%

*Percent Daily Value are based on a 2000 calorie diet. Your daily value may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Dietary Needs

Dairy Free
Dairy Free
Lower Carbohydrate
Lower Cholesterol
Lower Sodium
Lower Sodium
Lower Sugar
Lower Sugar