TUNA FISH – A 70s KITCHEN STAPLE & BEYOND

“I think we should become sandwich people!” I loudly proclaimed one evening.

My proclamation came with strange looks from the men in our house. Both my husband John and my 11-year-old step-son gave me the side-eye that is usually reserved for our backyard chickens. You know the look. When someone is measuring you up, not sure what is coming next.

Our pretty hens know that I love and adore them, but they are always cautious. That is probably sound advice for any farm animal (or husband).

“Sometimes I am just tired of cooking!” I continued.

I knew what they were thinking. I could see it in their eyes. It is not a bad thing either. After all, that is what Vango’s and The Vierling is for. We enjoy dining out (and I enjoy not having to do the dishes).

However, I am the resident cook. It is what I do. My husband John builds and creates endless projects for our homestead and I keep his energy up with delicious meals. We raise most of the food ourselves and this is our point of pride.

Yet, sandwiches are not typically on our meal rotation plan. Lukas is known to love a PB&J (especially when his step mom creates it with Nutella and raspberry jam) and I do not believe that grilled cheese technically counts (because there is cooking involved).

Though, tuna sandwiches sometimes make it into our meal plan. Yes, tuna is a pantry staple in our house. It is simple and has a lot of potential.

Growing up in the 70s I think cans of tuna fish were on my mom’s weekly shopping list. I bet if you are a child of the 70s your mom ate copious amounts of tuna, cottage cheese, and grapefruit. (Though, that’s also probably why my mom had such a beautiful figure). We ate lots of fruit, vegetables, and wholesome home-cooked meals. 

While our family consumed plenty of casseroles (in perfect 70s fashion) we did not eat tuna casserole (with potato chips – was that really a thing) like I have heard other people discuss?

The beach cooler that we hauled to Fortune Lake held many tuna fish sandwiches – on homemade bread with Miracle Whip and my mom’s dill pickles (Grandma Hilda’s recipe that you can find on my blog). Honestly, every time I bite into a tuna sandwich I can feel the sun on my face and smell pina colada suntan oil.

My mom also taught me to love a tuna fish salad. Not on bread, but on a bed of lettuce. She would add chopped bell pepper, onion, celery, a side of tomatoes, cucumbers, and a drizzle of Italian dressing. It was the perfect low-carb meal before we were even taught to fear carbs.

Just like my mom, I add tuna to my regular shopping list. However, the tuna I buy is a little different than the tinned tuna that my mom purchased. I buy the flavored packets of tuna (we are especially fond of the lemon – with or without dill – or the ranch). While John will eat a tuna sandwich (with dill or sweet pickles), Lukas prefers to eat it straight out of the packet. It makes a handy and protein rich addition to his cold lunch (some of the packets even come with a convenient little spoon) and we never go camping without several packs and a box of crackers. This was our go-to lunch this July when we adventured in the wilds of Alaska.

However, I do like to recreate my mom’s tuna salad. I have been thinking that this will be a go-to lunch as we begin the new school year. It will be a low-carb and high protein offering to help push me through the “new normal” of being a high school teacher. Plus, it will help me take advantage of the fresh produce that we still have growing in our summer garden.

TUNA SALAD 

-Two cans of tuna or two packets

-1/4 cup of chopped celery

-1/4 cup of chopped onion

-1/4 cup of chopped bell pepper

-1/4 cup of chopped dill pickles

-4 Tablespoon of mayonnaise

-1 mashed avocado

-¼ cup of fresh chopped dill (a couple teaspoons of dried). You can also use fresh dill or basil

-Juice and zest of one lemon (a couple Tablespoons of concentrated lemon juice if you do not have fresh)

-Salt and pepper to taste

-Drizzle of Italian dressing (or a simple vinegar and oil)

While this tuna salad makes a phenomenal sandwich filler (if you are a sandwich person). I especially enjoy it in a pita pocket, on a bed of greens or stuffed into a tomato or hollowed out cucumber rounds. I also like to use it as a “dip” for cucumber slices. I have even been known to mix in some wafer thin slices of zucchini.

Since I still have beans in my garden, I blanched up some beans for the bed and added baby spinach and kale, tomatoes, and cucumber slices.

I hope you add this salad to your meal rotation. September can be known to be warm and humid. This recipe will help fill you up without having to turn on the stove or oven.

I hope your September is happy, healthy, and productive. The approaching cold and flu season will definitely have us all on our toes, so make sure you are one step ahead of the curve and eat your vegetables!

It wouldn’t be a blog post without a furbaby photo bomb. This is our King Louie streaking past.

Vegetable Herbed Pasta Salad with Homemade Dressing – Fresh and Versatile

Vegetable Herbed Pasta Salad “I want every day to be a fresh start on expanding what is possible.”
― Oprah Winfrey

It has been a challenging summer on many levels. Not only has the weather been cool in the U.P. of Michigan, but I have been facing many personal stresses. Unfortunately, I have allowed myself to make excuses and have abandoned many of my healthy routines. Instead of waiting for the 1st of August to make changes – my husband and I hit the reset button yesterday. We are starting each morning with a green smoothie, reducing our caffeine to one cup of coffee or green tea, eliminating adult beverages, engaging in more strenuous exercise, and are sticking to clean meals. While we are healthy eaters in the past couple months – I have slipped into cooking unhealthy meals for my husband. This means that I find myself also munching on homemade fries or breakfast potatoes, chips, and other things that have zero nutritional value. Once we eliminate these foods – we do not miss them.

In addition to a healthier lifestyle, I have many blog posts in the works. This post includes a recipe that I shared on my Facebook page in May. It is for a vegetable and pasta salad recipe. Forget dressing your salad with bottled dressing – because homemade dressing is simple to make from your pantry. You can follow my basic recipe and toss in whatever vegetables you have on hand. Roasted or grilled vegetables make a great addition to this salad – zucchini, eggplant, mushrooms, asparagus, and Brussels sprouts are some of my favorites. In the summer I like to grill vegetable kabob and I make a few extra skewers to toss into salads. The flavors in this salad improve as it sits. I portion into individual containers and add a splash of extra vinegar to the top (aged balsamic vinegar adds a lot of flavor). If you are a Weight Watchers member, this salad works perfectly for Simple Start or the Simply Filling Technique since it is made up of Power Foods. For additional points olives are great in this salad and you can add your favorite protein for a complete meal. This week I am going to make a version of this salad and I will swap out the whole wheat pasta with quinoa and brown rice for something different.
Pasta salad

VEGETABLE HERBED PASTA SALAD

*1 package of cooked whole wheat pasta (sometimes I do not use the whole package depending on how much pasta I want in the salad)
*1 quart of halved grape tomatoes
*1 chopped cucumber,
*5 peeled and chopped carrots
*4 ribs of chopped celery
*1 bunch of fresh, chopped parsley
*1/4 of a medium, chopped onion
*2 cloves of minced garlic
*juice and zest of one lemon
*1/4 cup raw apple cider vinegar
*1 teaspoon each of dried dill, oregano, basil (in the summer I use fresh garden herbs and I also add fresh chives)
*pinch of salt and pepper.
*I add 2 teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil to each serving for portion control.

Printable recipe: VEGETABLE HERBED PASTA SALAD   

Pin the recipe HERE.

Make sure that you check out my Salad tab for other recipes.

Today I am working on recipes for an August Green Smoothie Challenge. If you have a favorite recipe, let me know and I will feature it in my post (I will give you credit). You can send me an email at amyslaitinen@gmail.com or message me on my Facebook Page. If you would like, please include biographical information about yourself and even a photo. Thank you! I am looking forward to drinking a month’s worth of green smoothies with my friends. Cheers to our health!
New Year Green Smoothie Challenge