1pound lean ground beef (preferably grass-fed; we get ours here)
2 teaspoons all-natural steak seasoning
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
1 medium carrot, finely chopped or grated
1 red pepper, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 (8 ounce) cans unsalted tomato sauce
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
Salt, to taste
4 whole wheat hamburger buns (or 8 mini buns), toasted (Gluten-Free Option: Use GF buns.)
Optional: cheddar cheese slices (Omit this for the Dairy-Free Option.)
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Make It Now:
Heat 1 teaspoon of oil in a large skillet over medium high heat, until shimmery. Add the ground beef* to the pan and begin to break it up while it browns. Sprinkle the brown sugar and steak seasoning evenly over the meat and continue to stir and break it up until it has browned completely. Remove the meat to a paper towel-lined plate to drain the oil.
Wipe out the skillet and place it over medium heat. Add the remaining 2 teaspoons of oil to the pan. When the oil is shimmery, add the carrot, onion, red peppers to the skillet. Cook until veggies are tender, about 4-5 minutes. Stir in the garlic, red wine vinegar, and Worcestershire during the last 30-60 seconds of cook time.
Stir in the cooked meat, tomato sauce, tomato paste, and maple syrup to the veggies until combined. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook the Sloppy Joe mixture 5 minutes longer. Taste and season with salt, if needed. (Freezing instructions begin here.)
Using a large spoon or ice cream scoop, pile meat mixture onto toasted bun bottoms**. Add a slice of cheese, if desired, and top with bun.
Freeze For Later: Follow Steps 1-3 and let the Sloppy Joes mixture cool (see our tips for doing this quickly here). Place in a freezer bag or freezer-safe container. Try to remove as much air as possible and seal tightly before freezing.
Prepare From Frozen: Thaw the meal using one of these safe methods. Warm the meat mixture over medium-low heat on the stove or on Low in the slow cooker, gently stirring until heated through. (Tip: Add chicken or beef broth if it needs more liquid.) Follow Step 4.
*You can substitute ground turkey or ground chicken for the ground beef, if desired.
**To toast the hamburger buns, place them on a sheet pan with the insides facing up. Preheat the oven’s broiler to high and broil them on the top rack for about a minute or until golden brown. Watch closely so they don’t burn!