Not your Mama’s Tuna Salad

I’ve mentioned before that I was not the best cook in my early years. Prior to my marriage, Graves Disease, and Celiac Diagnosis, it was looking like all hope was lost. One thing I was always good at, thanks to my mother, was Tuna Salad. Some of my favorite memories were in the kitchen together, making Tuna Salad. It was always one of our favorites, and frequented our table often. I remember my mother saying, “If you know how to boil water, you can cook.” But for me, that was debatable! Luckily, I have had time to adapt and overcome.

Now I know Tuna Salad doesn’t require much “cooking,” but it is delicious and nutritious! Did you know it offers amazing levels of antioxidants, proteins, phosphorus, iron, magnesium, and potassium? It also offers B12, niacin, B6, and riboflavin. Not only is it high in vitamins and minerals, but it also aids in lowering cholesterol, blood pressure, helps in weight loss, boosts the immune system, increases energy, maintains skin health, increases red blood cell count (which helps with Anemia,) and reduces inflammation. Below you can find the Nutritional Facts of 1 cup of Tuna Salad (found on http://www.fitbit.com/foods/tuna+salad/23419.)

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size

1 cup
Amount Per Serving

Calories from Fat

% Daily Value*
Total Fat

Saturated Fat

Trans Fat




Total Carbohydrate

Dietary Fiber



Vitamin A  4% Vitamin C  8%
Calcium  3% Iron  11%
Thiamin  4% Riboflavin  8%
Vitamin B6  8% Vitamin B12  41%
Niacin  69% Magnesium  10%
Phosphorus  36% Zinc  8%
Copper  15% Pantothenic Acid  5%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Now, over the years my Tuna Salad recipe has evolved…It began back in that Independence, Missouri kitchen with my mother, including just Tuna, Relish, Mayo, Yellow Mustard, Celery, and Eggs. Then in college, I began to season my Tuna Salad (it still had the Relish and Mustard,) but once I met my husband, who DESPISES said Relish and Mustard, my recipe had to develop into something completely different. As always…I negotiated. I ditched the Pickles, but the Mustard I couldn’t live without…so I decided to start using “Ground Mustard” instead of liquid Mustard. Not only was it more flavorful, but it wasn’t as tart, didn’t stain the dish yellow, I could sneak it in without him knowing, so therefore it was a compromise we could both “agree” on.

I’ve found, other than pleasing my husband, the hardest part of Tuna Salad is the Hard-Boiled Egg…I think I’ve tried every “hack,” recipe, etc. on how to cook the perfect Hard-Boiled Egg. Sadly, I cannot remember where I have heard, read, adapted this “recipe”/idea from (this one isn’t mine!) to give them credit, but if you follow these directions, you will have the PERFECT, Easy-to-Peel, Hard Boiled Egg!

I hope you enjoy my Tuna Salad Recipe. If you have any interesting, delicious Tuna add-ins, please comment below!


4 cans Albacore Tuna in WATER drained (Bumblebee or Starkist are GF) for Pres. Free Recipe, use Organic
4 Eggs Hard-boiled
1/2 cup chopped Celery
1 1/4-1 3/4 cup Mayonaise (depending on your taste-I’m not a Mayo fan) If Sulfite Int, Kraft Light has NO Lemon Juice Concentrate, for Preservative free, use Organic
1 tbsp Lemon Juice (from a Lemon or Organic Concentrate)
1/8 tsp White or Black Pepper
1 tsp Ground Mustard (You may use a liquid flavor Mustard of Choice, as well- 2 tbsp)
1 tsp Paprika
1/4 cup chopped Flat Leaf (or Curly if only available) Parsley
3 Large Cloves Garlic
1 Large Basil Leaf
1/4 cup Freshly Grated Parmesan/Asiago/or Cheese-Soy-Nut “Cheese” of Choice
Optional-I like to add 2 tbsp of a vinegar-based dressing (if Sulfite-Intolerant, no Red Wine/Balsamic Vinegar!) My favorite is an Organic GF Ginger Vinaigrette.
Optional- Chives, Shallots, Scallions, or Onions
1. Place 4 eggs in water, covering one inch above eggs, into medium sauce pot. Bring to a boil.
2. Once Boiling, continue to boil for 5 MINUTES.
3. Remove from heat, COVER, and set timer for 20 MINUTES.
4. Pour out water (carefully,) and fill pot with ice, and cold water. Let cool for 8 minutes.
5. Peel and chop eggs.
For the Tuna Salad
1. Drain Tuna. Mix chopped Eggs, Tuna, Celery, Parm (or “Cheese of choice,) and Onions (if using them.)
2. In blender/food processor, place Mayo, Dressing (if using,) Mustard, Pepper, Lemon Juice, Paprika, Basil, Parsley, and Garlic.
3. Blend all together.
4. Fold into Tuna mixture. If it is still a little dry, you may add more Mayonnaise, or Dressing to balance it out.
5. Best served with my two favorites: Chebe Foccacia, or O’Dough’s Flatbreads!
Pictured above with O’Dough’s Flatbread (seasoned with Oregano, Rosemary, Olive Oil, and cut into triangle pieces.)

Gluten Free Plantain Nachos

Have you ever found that ONE restaurant? That “Hole in the Wall,” “Hidden Gem,” “Mom and Pop,” “Secret Spot,” that you just fell in love with instantly? That’s Patacon Con Todo. Where my husband and I lived in Orlando, there was this small business center a block away from our apartment complex. It had everything I could ever want. There was a 7-11, Nail Salon (amazing, by the way! It is called Debonair Nails Spa-everything from Massage, Waxing, Nails, Pedicures, etc,) Hair Salon, Sub Shop, Thai Restaurant, Sports Bar, Hookah Bar, and my 3rd love…Patacon. I feel an explanation is in order: #1. My husband, #2. Starbucks, and #3. Patacon.

Side note, this is how much I loved Patacon. It is August in Georgia, 10am, and our AC is busted. We live on the top floor, but I loved them so much, I am sitting here with my laptop burning on my lap, STILL writing about them! (I forgot to mention with Kidney Disease, I am unable to sweat, and therefore, at this time have an internal body temperature of 101 degrees, just to put the intensity of this love into perspective #refractoryceliaclife.) Now, back to the best Colombian, Fast-ish, Food Truck, in a Store-Front experience you’d ever get! My husband and I would seriously look at each other and say, “What’s for dinner?” It would always come back to Patacon, and off we’d walk (or drive,) to the pick up the most interesting dish I’ve ever had. It was simple when you think about it. Fried Plantain pieces. Like the step before you smash them into Tostones (for those of you who know Spanish/Puerto Rican/Dominican Cuisine.) Then they would add Onions, Peppers, and Meat. Your protein choices were Pork (that was the only part I didn’t like-it was always chewy, and fatty, not my thing,) Churrasco (Steak,) and Chicken. We of course picked all three! Since the meat and plantains were their only fried foods, they were 100% Gluten Free. Have I mentioned I LOVED this place!? Then one fine day, my husband and I decided to take a walk…and we became hungry…so we decided to stop at our favorite place…where our bellies feel at home…but that home was no more! Our bellies were so upset (in more ways than one, by now we were STARVING!) So I decided to get even, and kicked it up not just a notch, but about 20!

My recipe below, inspired by Patacon is seriously KILLER. Meet my Plantain Nachos. My belly will never be sad again, and neither will yours! If you modify the Cheese and Garlic and Herb Crema, this recipe can be Dairy Free, as well as abide by the Paleo Diet. It truly is and will be, the best and only way you will ever want to eat Nachos (and I’m not just saying that because it’s my recipe!) I would love for you give it a try, and comment below for an unbiased view!

So, in honor, and loving memory of Patacon Con Todo, I give you my Gluten Free/Sulfite Free/MSG Free: Plantain Nachos:



3 LG Green Plantains (per 2 large servings)
Garlic and Herb Crema:
8 oz Sour Cream
2 cloves Garlic (minced)
1/2 cup Cilantro (pre-chopped)
1/4 cup Parsley (pre-chopped)
Black Beans:
1 can Black Beans (I use low sodium)
1/2 can Water
2 cloves Garlic (minced)
1/2 cup Cilantro (pre-chopped)
1/4 cup Parsley (pre-chopped)
1 packet msg/gluten-free Sazon
1/4 tsp White Pepper
1/4 tsp ground Thyme
1 tsp Adobo
1/4 c diced Yellow Onion
1 lb Ground Beef 80/20
3 tbsp Sofrito
1/2 cup Caramelized Onions
1 Roma Tomato
1-2 Green Onion/Scallion
1 pkg Cotija Cheese

2 Hass Avocados
2 Large Cloves Garlic (minced)
1/2 cup Cilantro (pre-chopped)
1/16 tsp White Pepper
1/8 tsp Salt
1/8 tsp Paprika
3 tbsp diced Red Onion
1 tsp Lime Juice

1. Marinate meat in Sofrito, Seasoning, and Garlic for 2 hours in Refrigerator, covered. Then remove and brown on stove-top on medium heat. Drain grease.
2. While meat is browning, slice Plantain rind/peel vertically and run under running water, then remove peel.
1. Pour Black beans and its juice into medium sauce pan. Fill can half-full with water, and pour into pan as well.
2. Next add all ingredients, except onions, those will be completed in next step. You may also add peppers/jalapenos/chili sauce/Tabasco/etc to add spice. Cook on medium heat until sauce begins to boil, stirring occasionally. Then bring down to simmer, continuing to stir.
1. Slice Peeled Plantain in 1/4 inch thick medallions, while heating oil in skillet, begin caramelizing the 1/2 cup of onions (for meat,) as well as the 1/4 cup of onions for the beans (3/4 cup total) until opaque and slightly browned. Once finished, add to cooked meat, and stir into beans.
2. Begin to fry plantains in oil 6-8 mins, stirring occasionally until brown freckles appear.
3. Remove from oil, then drain on paper towels.
1. Spoon sour cream into bowl, chop cilantro, parsley, and mince remaining garlic cloves. Stir into sour cream. (I also add roughly 1/2 tsp Paprika for added flavor and a touch of color. The featured photo has 1 tsp Thai Chili Sauce (GF) mixed in, as well as 1/2 tsp Chipotle Sauce (GF) for a little kick.
1. Cut Avocados and remove pit. Put into bowl and mash with fork. Finely dice Red Onion, mince garlic, wash and chop cilantro, and mash and stir into the avocado mixture. Stir in the dry seasonings.
2. Taste Guacamole, add additional seasonings if necessary (may add chopped jalapeno or chili powder if you prefer some heat.)
1. Slice, Dice, and Chop your remaining toppings (Tomatoes, Scallions, and Cheese.) I remove the seeds from the tomatoes, so the sogginess is limited.
**Build your Nachos to your liking…Just put your plantains on the bottom, and stack away. I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we have!


Beneficial Breakfast Banana

Celiac Disease does much of its damage in the proximal portion of the small intestine. The small intestine is made up of three portions: The Duodenum, the Jejunum, and the Ileum. Proximal, is the closest, or “top” portion of the intestines, which would be the Duodenum and beginning of the Jejunum. I, personally, had my first complication and presentation of Celiac Disease at around 14 years of age. I began having a lot of stomach complications, and my parents took me to a pediatric gastroenterologist. After an endoscopy, he found that I had inflammation of my Duodenum, and diagnosed me with a food allergy (20 years ago, and still today, Celiac Disease is not a diagnosis that first comes to mind.) Because of the damage caused to the small intestines, malabsorption (inability for the intestines to absorb nutrients properly) of vitamins and nutrients occurs. The most common deficiencies in Celiac patients are: Iron (ferritin,) Calcium, Vitamin A, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, and Vitamin K. A further breakdown of these vitamins can be seen below:

Iron (ferritin:) Stored in the liver and bone marrow, helps in the carrying of oxygen in the blood and aids in energy production, cellular respiration, and immune function. Decrease in Iron in the blood is the cause of anemia. This is why we are always so tired! It is so very important we eat a well-balanced protein diet. At times, our anemia can be related to an Iron, B12, or folic acid deficiency, so have your Dietician or Primary Care Physician check your levels regularly (mine are checked every 6-12 weeks.)

Calcium/Vitamin D: Osteoporosis and Osteopenia (reduced bone mass less severe than osteoporosis) are common complications of Celiac Disease due to Calcium malabsorption. With lactose-intolerance a common complication, it is important to replace calcium in other ways (I drink Calcium enriched Orange Juice, and Lactaid Milk, etc.) Vitamin D is a very important factor in intestinal absorption of calcium and bone growth. A deficiency can cause deformed and brittle bones. It is hard to eat enough foods rich in Vitamin D, so your physician may prescribe a supplement. These levels will have to be watched closely too!

Vitamin A is important in vision and renal function, as well as bone development, immune health, and normal growth. A deficiency can contribute to anemia, cause night blindness, loss of taste, and inhibit growth.

Vitamin E: This is a vitamin that protects cells from damage. A deficiency has been associated with neurological problems such as numbness or weakness in extremities, loss of full control of body movements, and anemia.

Vitamin K: Helps blood clot. A deficiency results in impaired clotting factors occurring in the liver, causing bruising and bleeding easily.

Now, why have I given you this lecture in Vitamin importance, and the effect Celiac Disease has on the absorption of these Vitamins? Because not only is it important to pay attention to what you put into your body, but know what good it will do for you as well! We have to eat more Vitamins and Nutrients since we have a harder time absorbing them. For example: this AMAZING breakfast, along with one glass of Orange Juice has:

Protein: 15g

Calcium: 44%

Iron: 25%

Vitamin C: 180%

Potassium: 12%

Magnesium: 20%

Fiber: 11.6g

Sugar: 25.6g

Not only is it EXTREMELY tasty, but it is good for you too! You can eat it as a snack, breakfast, or a dessert (add some Hershey’s All Natural Chocolate Syrup over the top to sweeten it up!) This is a breakfast you can take to school or the office. Pack up a jar of peanut butter, box of organic raisins, bag of GF granola, and a bunch of bananas, and you’re good to go for the whole week!

1 Banana
2 Tbsp Peanut Butter
3 Tbsp Granola (make sure it’s GF Oats!)
3 Tbsp Raisins (Organic if sulfite-intolerant)
1. Simple: Banana, Spoon PB onto Banana, Sprinkle Granola and Raisins. Drizzle Honey, Agave, or Syrup if necessary.
*May drizzle with Honey or Syrup to sweeten it up.