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Sloppy Joes
Ellie Krieger's Sloppy Joes recipe. / Renee Comet / USA Weekend

Sloppy Joes are the perfect meal for the busy cook. Everyone loves them, they are budget-friendly, and they can be made in 30 minutes or less in one skillet, so cleanup is a breeze.

The key to this healthier version is using a mix of lean ground beef and beans; it provides the heartiness you expect, without all the saturated fat and calories. My “sloppy” sauce has less sodium than the typical recipe, and sweetening it with molasses, instead of refined sugar, provides a deeper, richer flavor. Bring on the buns!

Scrumptious Sloppy Joes

• 1 pound lean or extra-lean (90% lean or higher) ground beef
• 1 medium onion, diced (about 1˝ cups)
• 4 cloves garlic, minced (about 4 tsps.)
• 1 jalapeńo pepper, seeded and minced
• 1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and diced (about 1 cup)
• One 15.5-ounce can small red or pinto beans, preferably low-sodium, drained and rinsed
• 1˝ cups no-salt-added tomato sauce
• 2 Tbs. tomato paste
• 1 Tb. red wine vinegar
• 1 Tb. unsulfured molasses
• 1 Tb. Worcestershire sauce
• 1 tsp. dry mustard
• ľ tsp. salt
• Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
• 8 whole-wheat burger buns

Brown the meat and onion in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat for 5 minutes, breaking up the meat into crumbles as it cooks. Pour out the drippings; discard.

Add the garlic, jalapeńo and bell pepper and cook 5 minutes more, stirring occasionally. Stir in the rest of the ingredients, reduce heat to low, and simmer for another 5 minutes.

Scoop a portion of the mixture onto each bun and serve.

Yield: 8 servings

Per serving (1 sandwich): 265 calories, 40g carbohydrates, 20g protein, 4.5g fat (1g saturated), 8g fiber,30mg cholesterol, 535mg sodium

Contributing editor and registered dietitian Ellie Krieger is best known as the host of Food Network’s Healthy Appetite. Her most recent cookbook is Comfort Food Fix: Feel Good Favorites Made Healthy.

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Ellie Krieger is host of the The Food Network’s hit show “Healthy Appetite,” which airs on The Cooking Channel. The author of three cookbooks, her latest is Comfort Food Fix: Feel Good Favorites Made Healthy. A registered dietitian, Ellie has helped out with First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign and has teamed up with New York City SchoolFood initiative, where she created healthy, delicious menu items for students citywide.