Hello from beautiful Napa Valley! I spent the better part of the weekend on the Culinary Institute of America with the USA Dry Pea & Lentil Council learning about pulses, cooking in their gorgeous kitchens, and gaining some serious skills in gluten free/grain free baking!
I’m leaving feeling inspired and so very thankful to be chosen as an ambassador for the 2016 International Year of Pulses! That’s right, this year the United Nations declared 2016 as the year of pulse and I’m thrilled to be able to create recipes using some of these powerhouse foods!
Before we get into the recipe, you might be curious about the term ‘pulses’. Basically, pulses are dry peas, lentils, beans and chickpeas and can be eaten a variety of different ways. (Remember these black bean brownies? SO GOOD and you can’t even taste the beans!)
This past weekend I learned that pulses can aid in weight and belly fat loss, heart disease prevention, and reduce your risk for certain types of cancer. Amazing, right? I’m also a huge fan of the nutrition pulses can enhance your diet with. Each serving of pulses can contain up to 10g of plant-based protein, plenty of fiber, folate, iron and potassium.
If you’re interested in learning more, you can take the pulse pledge (which is committing to eating a serving of pulses each week) by visiting PulsePledge.com!
This particular recipe was created due to my insane love for sloppy joes! I know it sounds strange, but the flavor of the sauce is full of comfort for me. It reminds me of my childhood and everytime I eat sloppy joes I’m convinced that I need to make a SJ food truck. Anyone else?
Of course, in true Ambitious Kitchen fashion I’m all about taking a traditional recipe then adding a creative twist, and making it as healthy (but still as tasty) as possible! This week’s challenge: Create a vegetarian sloppy joe recipe with lentils instead of beef and use a homemade sauce from scratch (NO MANWICH)!
The lentils in this recipe add such a nice meat-like texture, and are simply perfect served on spaghetti squash with a little extra sauce. I realize most people probably think of sloppy joes on buns, but I’ve been having a major crush on seasonal squash lately and couldn’t resist throwing it all in the slow cooker together.
Surprisingly, you wouldn’t believe how filling, cheap and easy this meal is. The 15g of plant-based protein and fiber help to keep you full and satisfied while the slow cooker makes prepping this meal less than 10 minutes! I highly recommend this recipe for a weeknight– it makes great leftovers for lunch the next day too!
Happy eating! xo.
More healthy vegetarian recipes to try:
Vegetarian Slow Cooker Lentil Sloppy Joes with Spaghetti Squash
- 1 1/4 cups uncooked green lentils, rinsed and drained
- 1 white onion, finely diced
- 1 red pepper, finely diced
- 1 carrot, thinly sliced (carrot is optional)
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 - (15 oz) can tomato sauce
- 1 - (15 oz) can diced tomatoes
- 1 1/2 cups water, plus more if necessary
- 2 tablespoons organic ketchup
- 1 teaspoon yellow mustard
- 1 teaspoon gluten free soy sauce
- 1 spaghetti squash, washed
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- In a large slow cooker, add in all ingredients except spaghetti squash. Stir to combine.
- Cut the washed spaghetti squash in half around the middle and scoop out the seeds. Place the squash halves face down in the slow cooker right on top of the lentils. Cover and cook on high for 4 hours or until squash is tender and lentils are cooked completely. If the lentils seem dry in any way, just stir in some water until it reaches a nice thick, consistency.
- Remove spaghetti squash and shred inside with a fork. Divide among bowls and add lentil sloppy joe topping. Sprinkle with cheese, if desired. Serves 4-6 depending on how hungry you are. Nutrition information provided is based on recipe evenly divided between 4 people.
What to do if you don't have a slow cooker: I would assume that you could just cook the lentils on the stove top in the sauce instead of on a slow cooker. Saute vegetables with a small amount of olive oil, then add in the remaining ingredients, bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to medium and simmer until lentils are tender -- about 35-45 minutes. Uncover and cook longer if more liquid needs to be absorbed.
To cook spaghetti squash: Cut in half, scoop out seeds, and place on a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 375 degrees F for 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Recipe by: Monique Volz // Photography by: Sarah Fennel
This post is in partnership with the USA Dried Peas and Lentils Council. All opinions and thoughts are my own. Thanks for continuing to support AK and the brands that help make this site possible!