Wednesday, 26 September 2012

101 nutritious, easy and tasty meal ideas using canned tuna (well, not quite 101!)

So the second task in the STEPS program has been all about getting more fish into your diet!  For some that will not be an issue, but for others, fish is rarely if ever eaten in the home.  The reasons for not incorporating fish into your regular eating plan may be financial, lack of availability, dislike of flavour, or lack of knowledge or confidence in preparing and cooking fish.

Well, a solution certainly to the financial and availability barriers is canned tuna/salmon.  For some reason these products have, from some, received a 'cat food' stigma, and whilst I may have agreed a few years back when you'd open the can to find just mush, nowadays there are some really great brands that have taken the quality of canned tuna to another level.
I prefer the plain olive oil variety - it doesn't take much to squeeze over a bit of fresh lemon and a shake of cracked pepper, and when using in cooking, the plain variety is a blank canvas to dress with other ingredients.  However, if you are restricting your kilojoule intake, the springwater variety works equally as well.

Nutritionally canned tuna stacks up too!  Omega 3, tick...... high protein, tick........... low fat (springwater varieties), tick....... sounds good to me!

Probably the best thing about canned tuna (and salmon too) is its convenience.  Being canned it has a long use by date and comes in small single serve cans perfect for single person households, snacks and lunches on the go, as well as larger cans for family meals.  Throw a small tin in your handbag or briefcase for bulking out a salad or sandwich, or spreading on crackers.

Of relevance to this topic also, is the issue of sustainability.  We should all be doing what we can for the environment, and sustainable farming of tuna is something that we should be aware about, and support those brands that practice sustainable fishing practices.  Check out this link to see how your favourite brand stacks up

So, lets get to my 101 ways with canned tuna.  I might not get to 101 myself, but hopefully you can add your ideas and I reckon we would come mighty close!   

  1. multigrain crackers with a spread of ricotta cheese, sundried tomatoes, celery slices or olives and tuna.
  2. a small tin of corn, 4 bean mix and tuna mashed together with a small amount of good quality mayonnaise and used as a spread on sandwiches or as a filling in baked sweet potatoes
  3. tuna stirred through cooked pasta with a spoonful of pesto, a handful of spinach leaves or rocket, a handful of walnuts and finely sliced red capsicum.
  4. tuna mashed and added to some finely sliced red onion, sumac, salt and pepper and finely grated rind of a lemon.  Spread on warm crusty bread and serve
  5. use instead of chicken and bacon in this pie.
  6. fill this flatbread with tuna, fresh slices of tomato, spinach leaves and avocado.
  7. stir through your favourite risotto 
  8. blend with a tin of drained cannellini beans, a spring onion, garlic, extra virgin olive oil, finely grated lemon rind, fresh thyme leaves and salt and pepper for a tasty dip
  9. add to a pan with cooked potato slices, mushroom, red capsicum slices, spinach leaves, and cover with an egg and cream mix, topped with cheese for a delicious fritatta.
  10. add as a pizza topping with garlic, sliced cherry tomatoes, capers and basil leaves
  11. mash with avocado, hard boiled egg, salt and pepper and finely chopped celery for a tasty sandwich filling
  12. mash with avocado, salt and pepper and a dash of chilli powder and use as a filling with a stick of cucumber in nori rolls
  13. as an appetiser - cut sheets of puff pastry into 3 (3x3), place of lined baking tray and top with some tuna, halved cherry tomato, rosemary or thyme, an olive and a slice of mozzerella cheese to cover the mix and bake in oven until pastry is crisp and brown.  Make sure tuna is well drained.
  14. use in the classic nicoise salad - tuna, steamed potatoes, hard boiled egg, tomato, green beans and a vinaigrette dressing.  Or for an alternative dressing idea, blend together cashews, dijon mustard and a drizzle of olive oil until smooth.  Season with salt and pepper.
  15. Make a shepards style pie by mixing tuna, cottage or ricotta cheese, defrosted and drained chopped spinach, sauteed onion and garlic and placing in an oven proof dish.  Top with sliced steamed potatoes and cover with grated cheese and small knobs of butter.  Bake until heated through.  You could add some cooked red lentils for added fibre and protein.
  16. Add tuna to this pattie recipe 
  17. Cook up a cup of quinoa and drain.  Add a handful of roasted cashew nuts, flaked tuna, sliced lightly steamed snow peas and brocollini, and season with soy sauce, finely grated ginger and a squeeze of lime juice.  Serve this warm or if serving cold, you could use the pickled ginger instead.
  18. The good ol' tuna casserole was a staple in our house!  Mum used a tin of cream of celery soup in hers, but whenever I make it now I just stir together cooked pasta, a tin of tuna, peas, corn, and a cheese sauce.  Or for a healthier option, ditch the cheese sauce and use a tomato pasta sauce instead.
  19. Spanish baked eggs for brekkie is a bit of an indulgence but substitute the chorizo for tuna and suddenly it looks a lot healthier!
  20. Stuff eggplant, mushrooms, potatoes or red capsicums with a mix of cooked brown and wild rice, tuna, garlic, onion, olives and a bit of tomato paste diluted.  Top with grated cheese if desired and cook until vegies soften.
  So there are 20 suggestions to get you going!  As you can see the possibilities are endless - catering to all tastes and times of the day!

I'd love to hear your favourite way to eat tuna out of a can.



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