Healthy Vegan Sloppy Joes with Coleslaw

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Vegan sloppy joe recipe

Sloppy Joes were a common staple food when I was a kid, as I’m sure it was with many of you as well. Unfortunately, the canned Manwich version is packed to the brim with sodium, preservatives, and high fructose corn syrup. Luckily, there is a simple way to make it a healthy vegan meal! Woot! Woot!

This version of vegan sloppy joes is healthy because it is:


Low Sodium

Made with veggies!

Full of fiber and vitamins!

It can be made into gluten-free sloppy joes simply by using a gluten-free bun, if you wish.

The veggies included in this recipe are useful for both flavor and nutrition. The bell pepper and onion add great flavor and the zucchini is a sneaky veggie added to this recipe to give it a nutritional upgrade. Zucchini is high in fiber, potassium, and anti-inflammatory vitamins. And you won’t even notice it’s there. 

The sloppy joe sauce is simple: just saute the veggies, add the tomato sauce and paste, mix in the seasonings and done! 

The next step is to add the cooked lentils and simmer for a bit. While it simmers, make the coleslaw for a fancy Sloppy Joe topping. Trust me, you will be glad you did!

For the vegan coleslaw, you can use any mix of crunchy veggies you like. I’ve made this recipe with the traditional coleslaw mix of green and purple cabbage with carrots, just carrots, just cabbage, cucumbers, jicama, and even a store bought mix of kale, cabbage, and brussel sprouts (which is my fave – I add it to every salad I eat). 

And remember, it is a SLOPPY JOE, so it’s okay to make a mess. Enjoy!

vegan lentil sloppy joe
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Healthy Vegan Sloppy Joes with Coleslaw

plant based sloppy joes
  • Prep Time5 min
  • Cook Time20 min
  • Total Time25 min
  • Yield4-6 servings


    For the Sloppy Joe

    • 1 cup dry green lentils
    • 2 cups water
    • 1/2 green bell pepper, diced
    • 1/2 red onion, diced
    • 1 small/medium zucchini, diced
    • 15 oz. can tomato sauce, no salt added
    • 1 TBSP tomato paste
    • 1 1/2 TBSP vegan Worcestershire Sauce
    • 1-2 TBSP brown sugar, depending on your taste
    • 1 tsp liquid smoke (optional)
    • 1 tsp garlic powder
    • 1 tsp smoked paprika
    • 1 tsp cumin
    • 1/4-1/2 tsp sea salt, depending on your taste
    • 1/8 tsp black pepper
    • Gluten-free or whole-wheat buns

    For the Vegan Coleslaw

    • 1 package medium firm (~14 oz) tofu
    • 2-3 TBSP maple syrup, depending on taste
    • 2 TBSP apple cider vinegar
    • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
    • Black pepper to taste
    • Sea salt to taste (I use ~1/2 tsp)
    • 1 cup shredded purple cabbage
    • 1 cup shredded green cabbage
    • 2/3 cup shredded carrot




    Bring the water and lentils to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 15 minutes, or until lentils are mostly soft. Rinse with cold water, and set aside.


    In a large pan, saute the diced bell pepper, onion, and zucchini with a bit of water for 3 minutes. Add the tomato sauce, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, and remaining seasonings. Stir to evenly mix.


    Add the cooked lentils to the pan with the Sloppy Joe sauce. Simmer for 10 minutes.

    Prepare the Coleslaw


    Add the coleslaw ingredients, except the cabbage mix, to a high speed blender and blend until smooth and creamy. Depending on your blender and firmness of tofu used, you may need to add a little water to adjust the consistency of the dressing to your liking.


    Mix the desired amount of coleslaw dressing onto your cabbage mix, and stir until evenly coated. Set aside.


    To assemble the Sloppy Joes, scoop a generous helping of the lentil mixture onto a bun, top with coleslaw, and enjoy!

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