April 21, 2009

THE Tuna Salad

So, no surprise here, I am a mom. Mom of three, in fact, and quite proud of it. I also look like a mom of three. Gave birth to all of 'em myself and have the scars, stretch marks and cellulite to prove it. And for the past decade or so, I've been happily convincing myself these are badges of honor.

I am also now a not-quite-single mom who is considering reentry into the dating universe after 15 years. Frankly, unless you've been through this experience yourself, you cannot possibly imagine the sheer terror involved in putting yourself out there again. Dating was hard enough before I looked like this. And I can only imagine the challenges of dating now that I do.

To that end, I've been trying - at least a little, when I have time - to eat more healthfully. Lately that's meant that I've scaled back the late-night binge eating, and I'm trying to stay away from the macaroni & cheese and chicken nuggets. The kids may get McDonald's, but not me! Well, maybe a fry ... or two. But that's it!

Today, in an effort to be healthy, I sat down to make myself a salad. Checked the fridge. No lettuce!! How does one make a salad without lettuce? Oh, sure, there are ways ... but my creativity was stifled for a minute. Just a minute, mind.

And then I came up with it - the Ultimate Tuna Salad. High in protein and veggies. Not a refined carbohydrate in the bowl. Satisfying. Full of flavor and crunch. And I just gobbled it up in about 30 seconds. Hope it's to your taste.

1/2 red pepper, chopped (though my red pepper was admittedly the largest I've ever seen, so you may want more)
2 whole carrots (or about 10 of the minis), chopped
6-8 sweet baby gherkins, chopped
1 can quartered artichoke hearts
1 can hearts of palm, halved or quartered and sliced
2 tsp olive oil
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp dried tarragon (rubbed in the palms)
salt & pepper to taste
1 can chunk light tuna packed in water, drained

Dump it all in a bowl and mix. I would have added a quarter cup or so of pepitas if I'd had them around. Maybe some corn. This would be fun to play around with a bit.

This iteration, though, was definitely good enough for me. The crunch and the soft, the salt and the sweet - it just worked. I want more. My cats are going nuts, as well - though I think that's all about the tuna.

This should probably serve 4. It's going to give me just two meals, though, I can tell that already. And please don't tell me that eating healthfully also includes portion control. That particular rule does not apply today.

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