Cauliflower Sloppy Joes

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Cauliflower Sloppy Joes

Hey all, Happy Monday to you! I am going to start off this post asking you to bear with me today as I get a bit off topic. Of course, you can always just feel free to just skip ahead to the recipe, while I rant. I have just had so much on my mind these past few weeks as I work my way through this elimination diet, as well as the several other transitional journeys I have found myself embarking on.

Something that has been weighing heavily on me is the idea of identifying yourself with certain traits or the things that you think make you, who you are. What we think people see when they look at us. Our ego. We all have many traits that we identify with. Maybe it’s your job or career path, maybe you are always the funny one in a group, maybe it’s you identifying with being quiet and shy or eating a certain way – whatever. With my diagnosis late last year of IgA Nephropathy, an autoimmune form of kidney disease and now being in the first rounds of this elimination diet, these together have caused me to challenge much of what I have always identified with.

Although I have had the restriction of gluten on my diet for over 10 years, I have still always identified with being a non-picky eater. For the most part I would try anything once (as long as it was safe), I was continuously up for checking out new restaurants and I was always happy to go with the flow of whatever food situation I was in, hanging with vegans, being around paleo folks and so on. I had gotten into a nice routine of knowing what was safe for me and how to communicate what I needed in a very clear and quiet way. Without passing judgement, I always truly felt bad for those that have a laundry list of restrictions (self imposed or otherwise), where going out to a restaurant or someone’s home becomes a hassle and every meal, a massive challenge. I have always been so grateful that beside the many, fairly simple, self-imposed restrictions I’ve put on my diet and of course, gluten – I would never ruin other people’s experience, I felt like I could keep it to myself and I could always find something I could eat, almost anywhere.

Cauliflower Sloppy Joes

This elimination diet for me, which currently is no gluten (duh), meat, dairy, eggs and legumes, will continue to change and evolve as we work towards finding what might be affecting my kidneys. I now find myself having to have full blown interrogative-style conversations with servers at restaurants, grilling them about every single ingredient. Rather than a democracy, I basically  have to tell whoever I am going out to eat with, where we are going, because my options are so limited. I walk the aisles of stores having to rethink what I used to buy and I now have to look at meal planning in a whole new way and sadly my husband is collateral damage to all of this. Though I have certainly been here before and for now, the extremity of the situation for me, is theoretically temporary, I also know for many of you this is normal, every day life! So, I hope you don’t confuse this as a complaint against dietary restrictions, but more I hope you take away the challenge in changing what we know, breaking habits and being forced to look beyond the outward of what we cling to.

Throughout this process, I have also found myself feeling vulnerable and weak, it took me forever to even be able to tell people about my diagnosis. I feel like people expect for me to be the picture of health, I am so careful and mindful about every single thing I consume, I talk a big game about how important it is to know where your food comes from, avoiding processed foods, opting to make things yourself and taking control of your health with your diet. Now somehow, here I am, the one diagnosed with kidney disease and battling a slew of random symptoms from taking a few rounds of pharmaceuticals. I have always prided myself on taking control of my health and avoiding crazy treatments or drugs and those closest to me could see the changes in my health from where it was before, to where it was after years of eating mindfully. So, you can imagine the discouragement I felt with this diagnosis. I truly felt like I had lost a sense of who I was.

Cauliflower Sloppy Joes

With each step of the way the last few weeks, what I have found most important is that while I have felt discouraged and at moments weak, mostly what I have realized is that it isn’t about what people think of me or if I have to be annoying at a restaurant, what matters most is my health, what matters is my ability to use this, just as I did with my discovery of the gluten intolerance, as a stepping stone towards healing. Letting go of what I have always identified with as it is now no longer serving me, has been quite freeing. I have found myself both challenged and empowered to look for my true self without attaching myself to any of the labels, temporary or permanent, that I have always identified with. Life can change in the blink of an eye and what we’ve always known can and most certainly will, change.

As I did in discovering my need to eat gluten-free and as I navigate through this process and eventually (I hope) come to finding answers, I want to first educate myself to understand my health better and then I want to use this knowledge to help others. I have realized in this short journey that what initially prompted me to start this blog and continues to motivate me daily, is knowing that I am helping others in similar situations. So I thank you for allowing me to do so and for sharing my site and my recipes with others that you know would benefit from it. It truly means the world to me.

I would love to hear from you guys in the comments, have you found yourself forced to re-examine what you have always identified with? Was there a struggle as you searched to find your true self amidst your ego construct?

Cauliflower Sloppy Joes

OK, phew that maybe got a little weird, but I feel better! So, let’s talk about these Cauliflower Sloppy Joes real quick. This is a fun, vegan-friendly-take on a classic dish I grew up eating and it will pretty much blow your mind. These Sloppy Joes are totally plant-based, so they are a wonderful option for vegan eaters, but they are also free of most common allergens, no gluten or grains (if you opt for no bun or a grain-free bun), no soy, no fake means, no nuts, no eggs or dairy. (Nightshade avoiders, I am sorry, I can’t get you all ;)). These sloppy joes are fun to eat, you’ll literally feel like a kid again and the flavor is seriously off the charts. An updated, healthy version of classic comfort food. If you don’t want to mess with rolls or bread, try this incredible cauliflower sloppy joe goodness served on top of a veggie loaded salad, over your favorite grain or grain alternative and it is also great served in lettuce or swiss chard wraps.

I served these Cauliflower Sloppy Joes on the beautiful gluten-free, vegan, gum-free sourdough rolls from Bread Srsly. (you can save 10% by using exclusive coupon code “tastyyummies”) These rolls have been my saving grace on this elimination diet. A nice way to have something a little different, but no eggs, no gums and free of the guilt and all of the crap I want to avoid, but with all the flavor and texture of a regular roll! I have been enjoying avocado toasts in the mornings and making epic veggie burgers and sandwiches.

Give these Cauliflower Sloppy Joes a shot, they are even meat-eating hubby approved (which can certainly be a challenge at times, in itself).

Cauliflower Sloppy Joes

[print_this]Cauliflower Sloppy Joes {gluten-free + vegan}
serves 4-6

  • 1 tablespoon Terra Delyssa Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 small onion (or 1/2 of a large), diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 medium head cauliflower, cut into florets, large stems removed
  • 1 24-ounce jar of organic strained tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup organic tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce*
  • 1-2 teaspoons harissa, sriracha or other hot sauce (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon liquid smoke (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon stoneground or wholegrain mustard
  • 1 tablespoon coconut sugar (brown sugar or any other sugar of your choice)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 4-6 gluten-free, vegan rolls (I used these) – save 10% using coupon code “Tasty2016”

Roughly, finely chop the cauliflower florets, make as chunky (or not), as you’d like. You are looking for small bits, so I find removing large, rough stems, to keep the texture “meaty”. Set aside.

Heat olive oil in large sauté pan over a medium heat. Add diced onion, red bell pepper and garlic, sauté for 5 to 8 minutes.

Add the cauliflower, strained tomatoes, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, liquid smoke (if using), mustard, coconut sugar, salt and pepper to the sauté pan. Lower the heat, leave uncovered and simmer for 40 –45 minutes. Stirring often. You may find you want to add a little water if it seems too thick.

Once the sauce is thick and the cauliflower bits are tender with a subtle bite, it’s ready. Serve on gluten-free/vegan hamburger rolls. I serve with lettuce, avocado and pickles. Maybe for a special treat, some potato chips on the side.

*NOTE: be careful, many Worcestershire sauces contain gluten and most are not vegan. Many that are naturally gluten-free contain anchovies, and many of the vegan brands contain gluten and/or soy. I used this brand because it doesn’t contain soy or gluten, but vegans be aware, it does contain anchovies. This brand and this brand are both vegan and gluten-free, but they do contain soy.  If you can’t find a sauce you like, opt for gluten-free tamari or coconut aminos.



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23 Responses

  1. Taza says:

    Thanks for your courage and your reveal. Judgment of others is never appropriate but is always done until we know better. I think many of us are learning similar lessons. Blessings on your journey of healing & thank you again for sharing your vulnerability & truth!

    • Taza says:

      …and i didn’t mean to imply that you are judgmental! I think the gist of your message was that dis-identification with the ego can be scary but liberating. And one of the things that keeps the ego in place is judgement/comparison/identification with separate-ness. 🙂

  2. nadia says:

    my heart goes out to you. it can quite dizzying all of a sudden having to refigure your “identity”. food is something that can bring us joy– we connect with other people, we relax with it… when you have to Think of everything going into your mouth as a science experiment…and make it enjoyable…at first,,it is so daunting. as of last week I was told-no gluten, no sugar, no dairy–fish only. the first person I thought to run to for help was you :)) when I read the article above–I wanted you to know how much you have already helped me following your site. reading the article,,made me realize,,i am not alone, and not to become a drama queen. there is help out there.
    are there any food links that you could suggest to visit ?
    off to check if tomatoes have sugar :)) and make your sloppy joes,,thank you

    • Beth @ Tasty Yummies says:

      Thanks Nadia. Yes food is definitely a major source of joy and one of the major things that binds us all together. I am so happy to know that my site has already helped you and hearing that seriously brings me so much joy, you have no idea. Thanks for your comment and taking the time to read. Much appreciated and much love to you on your own journey.

  3. Give me ALL of this. Sloppy joe’s are just the best.

  4. Brittany says:

    Gah, I’m so sorry that you’re having to deal with these health issues and additional food restrictions. I can only imagine how limiting it must feel. Here’s hoping that following this protocol will only be temporary and that your kidneys will heal. I love that through Tasty-Yummies you’re able to make the best out of not so fun situation and help others who may be experiencing something similar.

    I used to LOVE sloppy joe’s when I was little so this cauliflower version sounds delicious!

    • Beth @ Tasty Yummies says:

      Thanks so much girl! I know, although this is all a challenge currently – it is all for the greater good and it’s a rough journey worth taking, if it means I will feel better on the other side. Thanks so much for the well wishes and for the kind words. xoxo

  5. What an awesome idea, these look amazing! And meat-eater approved? I’m sold.

  6. Rachel says:

    Yes, all of this! I started reading this post and it really struck me right in the heart. I did an elimination diet last year and discovered that I am allergic to peanuts, pecans, and have gluten intolerance.

    I used to be the one who would eat absolutely anything. If you cooked it I would try it. It has been REALLY hard to be a person who has to talk to the server about everything I eat. Be the “annoying one” who either can’t have the treats the person at work made me or have to ask them all about the recipe.

    The “safe” restaurants where I know I can eat and the servers help without complaint me make me cry with happiness. I am often afraid of saying that I have a gluten allergy because some people get so grumpy about it, but yes, it’s my health on the line and when I eat gluten, I react for 3-4 days. Thank you for writing this and being another person who makes me feel less alone.

  7. Brita says:

    this recipe is genius! I can’t wait to try it!

  8. Diane says:

    Thanks for sharing; this post really spoke to me. I was diagnosed with a food allergy two years ago and an autoimmune disorder three years ago. I’m on my 3rd elimination diet. It is really frustrating to deal with people’s reactions to my diet that I’m a “picky eater” or I’m “just trying to lose weight”. It is frustrating for people to ask how come I have to go to the doctor’s so much when I eat so healthy/carefully. My husband’s family is a very processed meat and potatoes group, so they don’t understand why I sometimes can’t eat ANYTHING on their dinner table or even “just have a small bite”.
    Luckily, I’m a teacher by trade and also like to cook, so I have tried to deal with some of this by sharing about my life and my diet with others. I was really embarrassed/shy at first. Now, I always bring a dish to share when I go to someone’s house and have gotten lots of traditional eaters to enjoy vegan and gluten-free dishes. My co-workers love to see what I bring in my lunch everyday and will ask for recipes. I try to be creative and see if I can create a vegan version of just about any dish (like these cauliflower sloppy joes that I can’t wait to make this week). I never set out to convince anyone to change their whole diet, but maybe people might just be curious instead of judgmental–they just don’t know how to ask.

    Thanks for the inspiration. I wish you health!

  9. Gaby says:

    Wow, this such a great post, your self awareness and point of view are so inspiring! I hope that you find a balance that helps you feel better soon!

  10. Lorena says:

    Hi Beth! Thanks for sharing yourself so openly with us. I feel like I know you in person already. Blessings, inner peace and good health be with you. We tried this recipe tonight. I cannot digests pepper so I left that out and didn’t having the sauce and smoke liquid handy but they were just fantastic! Used a portobello mushroom as the bun (is hard to find good gf bread in Switzerland where I currently leave) and serve it together with grilled asparagus and sweet potato wedges. I would love to show you the pic! Love your post, your recipes and inspiration. I just shared your blog with my best friend, who might need to try the elimination duet and learn to avoid certain foods from now on given a recent diagnostic. All the best!

  11. Jessica says:

    Very disappointed in this recipe!! It’s taking me HOURS to cook. Seriously, I started cooking at around 4:15pm & I am still waiting for the “meat” (cauliflower) to cook completely. It is now 6:39pm!!!! I had to feed my 1 1/2 year old daughter something else for dinner cause she was hungry & couldnt wait any longer. Will not be making this again :'(

    • Beth @ Tasty Yummies says:

      Sorry to hear this Jessica, just an FYI the cauliflower isn’t meant to be soft, cauliflower doesn’t really get soft, it’s a fibrous veggie it will always have a bit of a bite to it, which is why I say to cook till tender with a bite.

      • Jessica says:

        I understand that cauliflower is not meant to be soft. After at least 1 1/2 hours of cooking the sloppy joe mix on low/med heat, the cauliflower was STILL raw & NOT tender at all. I should have listened to my own instinct when I first read the recipe & pre cooked the cauliflower. Then add it later to the mix & let it cook further with all the other ingredients for maximum flavor & texture. Still dissatisfied & will not be making again.

        • Beth @ Tasty Yummies says:

          I am sorry you are dissatisfied, but I honestly cannot understand how cauliflower is “raw” after 1 1/2 hours of cooking. Makes no sense. I have made this recipe plenty of times and that just isn’t the case. I make cauliflower rice, weekly, and it gets tender with the smallest amount of liquid, within 5 to 10 minutes.
          Maybe the cauliflower you cooked was harvested too young, before it was ready to be and was more fibrous than the usual cauliflower. I have no clue.

  12. Len says:

    I am very interested in meatless good meals.

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