Unconventional Tuna Salad
Confession: I don’t eat raw celery! Cooked is great, but raw celery makes my throat terribly itchy. I kid you not. (Oral allergy syndrome… aka a dietitian’s worst nightmare!).
Long story short, one of my biggest pet peeves is when I’m at a supermarket, cafeteria, salad bar, or a sandwich shop, and all of the pre-made ready-to-eat tuna salad (and chicken salad too, for that matter) is LOADED with raw celery. I mean, come on! Can’t they switch it up once in a while?
I love tuna salad so much. It’s delicious and satisfying. Whether we have it traditionally in a sub, grilled into a sandwich melt, topped over salad greens or as a dip with some crackers/veggies, we really can’t go wrong!
(Side note: if you don’t like tuna, or you have a seafood allergy, you’re vegetarian, you’re vegan, etc., feel free to swap this out for chicken or even chickpeas!).
Tuna is a great pescatarian source of complete protein, and it also gives us a nice dose of heart-healthy omega-3 fats, which are pretty tough to get enough of in the diet without taking supplements.
Did you know that most of us are walking around “functionally low” in omega-3 fatty acids and we don’t even realize it? I was actually one of those people at one point, even with taking an omega-3 fish oil supplement almost everyday according to my blood test a few years ago! We need more of those than we think.
When we don’t get enough omega-3 fats, we’re more prone depression (1, 2), inflammation (3, 4, 5), heart-related issues (6) and so much more! Inflammation is actually an invisible root cause which plays a major contributing role in atherosclerosis (hardening of blood vessels), and omega-3’s are something that can really make a big difference in helping to reducing/preventing atherosclerosis (6, 7). Of course adding in more lifestyle factors will help too!
There are lots of ways to consume omega-3 fats, but animal sources of omega-3’s are considered more bio-available (readily used by the body) compared to their plant-based counterparts including flax seeds, walnuts and chia seeds to name a few. All of these foods are wonderful though, and some is better than none!
Okay, now let’s talk about mayo. Back in 2016,my friend and colleague Johanna Hattendorf of the Spiral Path shared with me this AMAZING avocado-based mayonnaise! I never looked back. I love avocado oil because it’s especially generous in heart-healthy mono-unsaturated fats. These are another kind of essential fat which the body can’t make on its own. Mono-unsaturated fats are different from omega 3’s, which are a type of POLY-unsaturated fat.
***You may notice that canola, soybean, vegetable and corn oils are often the go-to ingredient for most versions of mayo, because these oils are MUCH cheaper than avocado or olive oil. They are primarily omega-6 fats, which are also considered poly-unsaturated and technically essential. The caveat is that most of us on a Standard American Diet tend to get at least 2X the amount of omega-6 fats we need each day (I actually observe this first-hand in my clients’ blood work close to 100% of the time when I test levels omega 3’s & 6’s), so I like to switch it up when I can.***
Anyways, back to my celery predicament/solution…
On a more positive note, I found this REALLY amazing fuji apple cranberry tuna salad delicacy from Whole Foods, and again I never looked back! It was incredible. I never would have imagined that dried cranberries and apples would go with tuna! But it was pretty fantastic and it inspired me to come up with my own version of sweeter, “unconventional” tuna salad (which we have made half a dozen times in the last week trying to perfect before sharing it with you! I’m sure my blood levels of omega-3 fats are now on point. 😉
***Recipe makes 3 to 4 servings.***
– Four 5-oz. cans of tuna
– 1/2 cup mayo of choice
– 2 tablespoons raw honey (trust me, you’ll be pleasantly surprised) – or omit if mayo has added sugar
– 2 to 3 tablespoons fresh cut chives or scallions
– 2 to 4 tablespoons dried cranberries
– Optional: 2 to 4 tablespoons or more of chopped pecans
– Strain liquid out of tuna completely.
– Mix tuna, mayo and honey in a large mixing bowl. Add remaining ingredients and mix well.
– Makes 3 to 4 servings. Enjoy right away or store in sealed Tupperware container for 1 to 2 days in refrigerator.
– Enjoy in a sandwich or over a salad, or with some crackers/veggies or on its own as a snack!
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2. Logan AC. Omega-3 fatty acids and major depression: a primer for the mental health professional. Lipids Health Dis. 2004;3:25. Published 2004 Nov 9. doi:10.1186/1476-511X-3-25
3. Simopoulos AP. Omega-3 fatty acids in inflammation and autoimmune diseases. J Am Coll Nutr. 2002;21(6):495-505.
4. Calder PC. Omega-3 fatty acids and inflammatory processes. Nutrients. 2010;2(3):355–374. doi:10.3390/nu2030355
5. Layé S, Nadjar A, Joffre C, Bazinet RP. New Insights into the Impact of Omega-3 in Microglia. Pharmacological Reviews. 2018;70(1):12-38. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1124/pr.117.014092
6. Kris-Etherton PM, Harris WS, Appel LJ. Fish Consumption, Fish Oil, Omega-3 Fatty Acids, and Cardiovascular Disease. Circulation. 2002;106:2747–2757. doi:10.1161/01.CIR.0000038493.65177.94
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