Today I thought I’d share one of Jillian’s absolute favorite things to eat… for lunch, for dinner, for a snack, whenever! She goes nuts for tuna salad. (Without nuts, of course.)
A girl after my own heart. I grew up eating tuna salad regularly. We’d have it for dinner with mac and cheese and a couple tomato slices. More often, we’d make tuna salad sandwiches for a picnic lunch on beach days.
There’s a bridge not too far from my house that connects Anna Maria Island to Longboat Key, and every time I drive over and look at the shore on the west side I remember being a little girl, out with my family for a Saturday on the water, docking our boat on that small stretch of sand and unpacking our cooler full of tuna salad sandwiches. We’d sit there all salty and sandy on our worn out beach towels, trying not to get sand all over our hands — consequently turning our lunch into true “sand”-wiches — and trying to keep the swarming seagulls from nabbing them out of our hands.
Hot, sticky and salty. Those are some of my favorite memories.
I’ve always loved tuna salad, so I guess it’s natural that I’ve fed it to my daughter so much that she adores it, too. Growing up, Mom made our tuna salad with Miracle Whip, boiled eggs and pickle relish. When Jillian was really little, I didn’t think of it as an option for her, with egg in both the mayo and the tuna salad itself.
That was until I found Vegenaise, an egg-free mayo-like spread that actually tastes closer to Miracle Whip than regular mayonnaise, if you ask me. Which is perfect because we’re totally Miracle Whip people. It’s kind of like Coke and Diet Coke — you’re either a Coke person or a Diet Coke person, you don’t drink both. Same with mayo. It’s either regular mayonnaise for you, or the tangy zip of Miracle Whip! I have managed to convert my husband to Miracle Whip from mayo, so crossovers can happen. Although he is one of those rare oddities that actually can drink a Diet Coke one day and a Coke the next, so he doesn’t really count as your “average person.”
So if I swapped the Miracle Whip out for Vegenaise, the only thing left to do was take out the boiled egg, and voila! A totally allergy-friendly tuna salad for my daughter! She has loved it right from the beginning. And now, at 10 years old, she still squeals with excitement when I say I’m making it. It’s the little things…
Also, at 10 years old, she’s perfectly capable of making it for herself, which is a huge help when it comes time to make her lunch for the next day. Or if it’s snack time and I don’t have anything prepared. Let me tell you, my girl can EAT! She may be tiny, but she packs it away. And low-calorie, low-protein snacks don’t hold her off for long at all.
She could graze on raspberries and celery sticks all day — in fact, she ate exactly that immediately after dinner last night, because our dinner of beefaroni, broccoli and pineapple didn’t fill her up. But something hearty like tuna salad and crackers buys me a good few hours until the “I’m hungry, what time is dinner?” starts up again!
The recipe couldn’t be easier. One serving would be:
1 can of tuna
1 tbsp of Vegenaise
1 tbsp of pickle relish
Double, triple or quadruple the recipe, depending on how much you need to make. I usually make at least two servings at a time, maybe three, and that will be enough for two lunches and a snack.
If Jillian’s making herself a quick afternoon snack, one serving is enough. Her favorite way to eat it is scooped on a saltine. Although tuna salad sandwiches run a close second. She likes them plain — just tuna salad on bread. Her brother, on the other hand, enjoys a slathering of mustard on his tuna salad sandwich.
To each his own!