Healthy Tuna Snacks

Every weekend we meet up with our friends. We used to get dinner out but since COVID we’ve had to be more creative. We’ve eaten our share of takeout but also do a good deal of cooking. Sometimes at our place, sometimes at theirs. A few weeks ago we decided to all make appetizers and make that our regular Friday dinner.

I wish I’d taken pictures along the way but instead I’ll list out steps and show the final product. Since that night I’ve made tuna with this method a few times and eaten it with mustard and raw spinach on a low carb wrap.

In early March my doctor warned me in no uncertain terms that I needed to lose weight and lower my cholesterol by June or she was putting me on medication. The main problem is the triglycerides for me. Up until my recent visit, I thought triglycerides were caused only from sugar, not healthy high grain carbs or excess fat on me. All my other numbers went down to almost normal levels, but my triglycerides were really high. It was partially do to the Valentine’s Day Candy, the case of Ice Cubes of which I ate about a dozen before I removed them from my home. But, I learned, that all the carbs I was eating, healthy or not, were adding up. Being a vegetarian it’s hard to find protein that’s not a carb. I was eating a lot of hummus, chick peas, all sorts of beans. And yes I ate sugar too but not a ton of it.

I was scared straight at the doctor’s office and will note I’ve lost 10 pounds since the visit. I’m looking forward to my June redo of the blood work and being able to show here that I can lose weight once I’m threatened with meds.

One compromise I had to make was eating tuna. I’m not a vegan but rarely eat eggs because of the cholesterol. I eat cheese only rarely because I feel bad for the cows and some dairy makes me sneeze. I almost exclusively use non-dairy milks and ice cream. And I don’t eat any fish. So pretty much a vegan but I’m not picky about it. If there’s chicken broth in healthy veggie soup I don’t lose sleep over it.

But reading up on it, it seems that tuna will help my lipid levels and fill me up. So in the short term I’ve added it to my diet so I have some non-carb protein. I eat a lot of tofu too but there’s only so much tofu and Impossible Burgers I can eat in a week. I’ve also given up pizza until I get down to a reasonable weight which is one of the only times I have real cheese. Admittedly I’m cheese fiend when I’m not careful, with a particular weakness for Cracker Barrell Aged Cheddar. Since cheese is high in calories and fat and cholesterol, it’s something I’m avoiding as much as possible for now.

Here’s the easy recipe for my tuna spread.

-1 large can of solid white tuna in water

-1 small avocado

-1 stone ground mustard (use enough to make the tuna creamy. I didn’t measure but maybe 3 tbs. I squirted it into the food processor)

Add tuna and a soft avocado to food processor and blend, adding mustard until you get the creamy texture.

Meanwhile, peel two cucumbers and run a fork down the sides to make grooves. Cut in thick 3/4″ slices. If you have a pastry bag, use that. I prefer to use a plastic sandwich bag with the end cut off. this way I don’t have to clean it. I cut a corner off a sandwich bag and added a frosting tip inside followed by all the tuna. If you don’t have a frosting tip, you can still squeeze the tuna through the bag and it’ll look like little tuna poops, but you know, in a cute way. I added some tomatoes as a garnish.

I’ve been making the tuna, avocado, mustard mash every week, without the fancy piping part, and it’s really been keeping me full. My arteries will thank me I’m sure.

Happy Cooking!


Babycakes Cake Pop Maker

I admit it, I can’t resist a new kitchen gadget.  Last week I had the happy fortune of discovering The Babycakes brand Cake Pop Maker. I was in Kohl’s (one my favorite places) and in the Housewares section they had unveiled a display of all new fun cooking machines. I was carrying with me a coveted 30% off coupon so was quite excited. In addition to this machine they  had also displayed other Babycakes items:  a mini Donut maker, a Whoopie Pie Maker, and a Cupcake maker. On the other side of the display they also had a retro Cotton Candy maker and a Snow Cone machine, from a different manufacturer.

I picked up the Cake Pop Maker and knew this was the one for me. Think of it like a Foreman Grill but with half circle indentations on the top and bottom that cook doughnut holes, or what they like to call Cake Pops, in 4-6 minutes. As if that wasn’t draw enough, it also comes with a special fork to remove the treats, a bag of lollipop sticks and a holder to cool the pops. An injector for jelly or filling was also in the book as well as a book of recipes.

I held the Maker for awhile then realized if I just waited one more day I could also use my Kohl’s Cash ($10) so I could get this regularly marked item of $29.99 for about $4.00 (after 30% and my $10 coupon). I put it back.

Sadly, the next day I went back to Kohl’s and they had none left. Nor did the other four locations I tried. I looked online and Kohl’s only offers the other machines. Undaunted, I went back two days later and figured I’d settle for the mini Donut machine. But as luck would have it, that particular Kohl’s had a floor model which they agreed to sell me after I begged.

Friday night, I decided to make the chocolate Cake Pops. I followed the recipe which had all the standard ingredients people would have in a home: oil, eggs, sugar, flour, baking soda and powder, plus buttermilk. The recipe indicated that if I didn’t have buttermilk I could have just used real milk and vinegar but I opted for the real buttermilk, albeit fat free. I had hoped there would be an option to use a box cake mix but there wasn’t.

I mixed up the ingredients, sprayed the inside of the machine with cooking spray and plugged it in. In a few minutes the green light came on. I poured in a little less than a tablespoon of batter into each hole then closed the lid. Sure enough, 6 minutes later, the pops were done (they look like Munchkins) and were easy to retrieve from the Maker.

I cooled them in the holder that resembled a plastic egg carton. About a half hour later I put a half bag of chocolate chips in the microwave for 30 seconds with a little butter. I then added some milk since it was too thick.

I stuck a lollipop stick in one and then dipped it into the chocolate mix until it was coated. I then dried it on the same plastic egg container tray, which has holes for just that purpose.

I immediately sprinkled them with jimmies.

Once they cooled in the fridge, I tried one (okay I ate one hot and melty too) and they were delicious, and FUN.

I saved some that I didn’t coat in chocolate and tried the injector which was like a big gauge syringe. I filled it with caramel and …FAIL. It oozed all over the cake pop. I next dug a whole with a skewer but it was still a sticky mess.

So while the injector really didn’t work, the machine is an awful lot of fun and if you can get your hands on one of these machines I highly recommend it. I discovered since I bought the machine that Starbucks now offers these treats individually for sale. All the more reason to get one of these machines, I say.

I picked up some candy melts to coat the next batch and plan to make the Vanilla next time.

Tracy L. Carbone is a New England fiction writer. Please visit her WEBSITE to learn move about her cooking tips and writing life.