Lentil Sloppy Joe Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
- 3-4 sweet potatoes
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup red lentils
- 2 cups water
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 yellow onion, diced
- 1 green bell pepper, diced
- 5 tablespoons tomato paste
- 4 tablespoons coconut sugar
- 3 teaspoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoon mustard powder
- 3 teaspoons vegan Worcestershire sauce (sub regular Worcestershire)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- tabasco (or other hot sauce, to taste)
- Greek yogurt, optional
Preheat your oven to 450.
Use a fork to poke holes into your sweet potatoes. Wrap them in paper towels and microwave them on high for 5-7 minutes, this will help soften them and reduce baking time.
After microwaving the potatoes, coat the skins with a layer of olive oil and place them directly onto the oven rack. Bake for 20-25 minutes, depending on how big the potatoes are.
While the potatoes are baking, heat pot with lentils and water over medium heat with a lid slightly ajar. Simmer the lentils like this for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat a pan over medium-low heat and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 3 garlic cloves, diced yellow onion and diced green pepper. Sauté for 5-7 minutes, until the onion is translucent.
Add your tomato paste, coconut sugar, chili powder, mustard powder, vegan Worcestershire sauce, salt, red pepper flakes, pepper, and tabasco to the pan. Stir until everything is evenly coated. Reduce heat to low, and set aside until your lentils have cooked for 20 minutes.
When your lentils have cooked, there should still be a little water in the pot, add your pan ingredients into your lentils and mix well. Taste, and add more spices or hot sauce to taste.
When your potatoes are done, slice them open, pour a heaping serving of lentil sloppy joe mix, and top with desired toppings.
There is this cultural narrative that I’m exhausted of hearing. It comes up every year around this time when people are resolving to “get healthy” or to get in shape.” It’s this idea that the only way to be a healthy human (and especially woman) is to be a small, delicate person who lives by the 80/20 rule and considers a glass of wine or some french fries to be the 20 percent. You know, the kind of person who smiles while holding a two minute plank. Yeah, I’m tired of this.
I’m tired of it for a few reasons. Number one is because I’m not and never will be a dainty, delicate woman. Not even if I eat 1200 calories and run 2-7 miles a day. (I’ve tried it, it doesn’t work.) And I’m not alone. There are probably millions of people with bodies that carry muscle and fat in a way that will never allow them to look like a “super fit/healthy person.” AND THAT IS FINE. I want to give the middle finger to everything that promotes the idea that there is one way that healthy looks. I’d rather us all find a way to look like a healthy version of ourselves, with all of our “flaws,” and learn to love that. There is nothing wrong with your body.
The second thing I hate about this narrative is this 80/20 rule that everyone lives by. I know that the heart of this rule is good. It allows for *some* balance, and makes “cheat days” acceptable or whatever. And some people can adhere by that without any mental ramifications. But I for one am not one of those people. Even this – the most lenient of diet rules – will mess me up mentally. I will spend too much of my mental space deciding what my “cheat days” should consist of and then feeling guilty for them when they happen. Any rule or diet that gets put in place will envelop my mental space. I will obsess. And to me, that is less healthy then eating some french fries or drinking wine or whatever. There are so many more important and healthy things to do with our brains than to constantly consider our caloric or dietary intake. You deserve a life that is bigger than that.
That’s why I created the idea of celebrating health-ier. It means that we do a little better all the time, and instead of feeling guilty for our “failures” we celebrate our successes. We forgive ourselves, and we keep on living our lives. Because I think that true health strikes a balance between physical and MENTAL health. And obsessing over your diet choices or body image isn’t mentally healthy. (I highly suggest reading Intuitive Eating if you haven’t already – it really helped me develop this idea.) Health doesn’t have to look like salads, grilled chicken and steamed broccoli 80 percent of the time. It can look more like a Lentil Sloppy Joe Stuffed Sweet Potato. It’s more exciting this way.
The last thing I hate about this narrative is the idea that everyone likes/values/experiences exercise in the same way. I LOVE exercising (most of the time), and I need it in order to stay mentally healthy and nice to myself. But I also don’t torture myself with it. I don’t run anymore because I hate that shit. It makes me miserable. And I don’t really go to the gym that often, because I’ve found that I don’t do as much or enjoy myself as much as if I am going to a class. I really like spin classes and barre classes. That’s my thing. But it doesn’t need to be yours. In fact it took me years and years to even begin to enjoy exercise. So it’s totally fine if you dread it. I don’t think it’s necessary to go to the gym to be a healthy person. But I do think it requires *movement* – whatever that means to you. Dance in the kitchen, walk around your hood, or ride your bike around town – whatever it is, it’s fine. As a culture I think we should all be moving more (myself included.) But I don’t think we need to torture ourselves into loving exercise. Do what you want, and try to enjoy it.
We are all real humans who have good days and bad days and probably need to be nicer to ourselves on both days. Sure there are people who are perfectly happy and healthy adhering to the 80/20 rule. And there are naturally dainty and small healthy people. I celebrate those people – honestly, it’s rad! But I just want everyone else who doesn’t feel like that to know that there is an incredibly valid place for you in this world. Health doesn’t have one look. Health looks just like you, right now – right in this moment. All you have to do is take small baby steps every day. Celebrate those health-ier successes. Celebrate YOU, because that’s all you’ve got. And it’s incredibly good enough.