Raw Vegan “Tuna” Salad; Snapping Out of a Funk

I was thinking about ways to begin this post, and the expression “it’s just one of those days” sprung to mind. It’s Monday, and in spite of what was a rather quiet weekend for me, I feel tired. I’m sure that living in a sauna (and by that I mean New York City in mid-July) isn’t helping. I’m over spending my Sundays as a refugee at Barnes & Noble to avoid running up my ConEd bill as I work, but I know the heat’s not likely to break for another two months. I missed seeing my friends early this summer, yet now that my schedule is (finally) easing up, I feel harried trying to make time for everything I couldn’t do in June. (If there is anything sillier or more self-indulgent than being stressed over making time for summer activities with good friends, please let me know.) On top of these things, today wasn’t my most delightful day at the office.

In the midst of my self-pity, fortunately, I read Sophia’s latest post. It too began with irritation, but it ended with the conclusion that her problems are, in the grand scheme of things, easily surpassed, along with a remembrance of her blessings. I’d do well to remember the same. A funk is no fun, but it’s only a funk. And in my experience, there are numerous things we can do to slip out of our funks, just as easily as we slipped in. For me, those things will include, but not be limited to:

1) Finishing the latest Tana French novel. I don’t get to read for pleasure often. When I do, I seek out either the heavily cerebral, or the intensely entertaining. Tana French’s novels qualify more as the latter, but she’s no slouch; the writing is tight and brilliantly plotted, and it’s a joy to read.
2) Cooking the yellow beets I found at the farmer’s market yesterday when I get home. I love yellow beets! Good taste, without scarlet colored palms.
3) Thanking my lucky starts for my air conditioning. My ConEd bill might be high, but my apartment is cool.
4) Reminding myself that having friends to see and things to do is what makes my life so blessed. I may fantasize about escaping to a log cabin in Maine when the weather gets like this, but I’d be very lonely. And I’d miss Lincoln Center a lot.
5) Planning my Labor Day trip to San Francisco! Hooray for Chloe, who slyly persuaded me to meet her and her husband there! (OK, she wasn’t very sly. She didn’t have to be. She basically told me she was going, and I caved.)

These are all very good things. In fact, just thinking about them has made the funk lift a bit. A few hours from now, I expect it to be long gone.

Something else than makes me feel less funky? Coming up with tasty raw vegan renditions of popular non-vegan dishes. For example, tuna salad.

I cannot believe it’s taken me so long to share a tuna salad recipe with you! What’s wrong with me? It’s a perenially popular dish, and one that clients of mine frequently beg me to recreate. I’m not the first raw foods lover to come up with a replica–there are tons of them out there, and they all resemble each other–but I do think I’ve perfected my home version, which is made with sunflower seeds. It’s tasty, tart, and reminiscent of the original, but not fishy enough to send my fellow vegans away in a fit of squeamishness. It’s great for lunching or snacking, and like all nut pates, it goes nicely in collard wraps as well as salads. Enjoy!

Raw, Vegan Tuna Salad (serves 4-6)

1 cup sunflower seeds, soaked at least 2 hours)
2 pickles, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1/2 cup shredded carrot
1 tbsp pickle juice
1 tbsp lemon juice
7 g dulse, shredded (or 2 tsps dulse flakes/granules)
1 tsp mellow white miso

Place sunflower seeds in a food processor fitted with the S blade and pulse till they’re well combined but not totally smooth. Add remaining ingredients and pulse again, till everything is broken down and uniform. Serve!

I like to eat my mock tuna salad in collard or romaine wraps, but I especially enjoy it as a dip:

It’s also lovely served up next to a salad. Note that the carrots are optional: in this photo I’d made the dish without them because I didn’t have any on hand, and it was still divine:

This is a perfect treat for non-vegan friends who are joining you for lunch. It recalls a known dish, but it also shows what a little vegan creativity can do! For the many of you who I know will ask, it should keep for about 2-3 days. But I recommend using your kitchen intuition about it.

Before I go, I was also recently asked to review my new salad spinner, the Zyliss Easy Spin. My verdict? It’s OK. I think my old spinner, which had a knob you pressed up and down on, rather than a cord you pulled, was actually much more powerful. But this was cheap(er than others), and it’s getting the job done:

As long as my kale is dry, I’m pleased.

Thanks for bearing with my slightly cranky monologue,. Your turn to vent: how did your Mondays go, and what little things tend to snap you out of a funk quickly?


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Categories: Vegan Basics
Dietary Preferences: Raw

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  12. thanks for a tuna recipe that does’t require a juicer or veganaise. I have an aversion to mayonaise or any kind of naise, vegan or not.

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  14. DELICIOUS!!! i love tuna, but am moving in the direction of no animal products, so this dish is awesome. Adding the pickle juice was genius…i love pickle juice. I layed my ‘tuna’ mix on mashed avocado wrapped up in collards…completely satisfying.

    Your blog has inspired so many positive changes in my eating. You are definitely my go-to site for veggie recipes of all kinds…they are simple and delicious. Thank you!!! I give my clients your recipes all the time 🙂

  15. I’m sorry to hear about your funk! It always helps to remind ourselves of the good we are blessed with and I’m glad you have all of those to bring you out of your funk.

    I love raw tuna salad and your recipe looks amazing!! Pickles are definitely a must. 🙂

    Have so much fun in SF!!!! You are going to love it, what an awesome city!

  16. This is my first time posting, but I’ve been a fan for a long time. Tuna looks fab….cannot wait to make it (umm…tomorrow!). 🙂 Must be something in the air b/c I was just talking with my mom on the phone about how I’ve just felt “out of sorts” for the past couple of WEEKS. Miz. Going to the beach and smelling the salty air is a must if I’m feeling down. Nothing says “it’s going to be okay” like the sounds of crashing waves!!

    Have fun in CA!

  17. I can relate on the funk-age, the summer heat is getting to me a bit and I don’t have near enough vacation time to do the summer traveling I’d like. Plus I turn a year older this week and that’s never fun! For me focusing on my blessings helps as well as planning something fun to look forward too. Also maybe reaching a new goal in fitness, money, etc.

    Thanks for the recipe, it looks wonderful!

  18. Thank you for the shout-out, Gena. I’m glad that you’re slowly easing out of your funk. I liked how you called these problems “innocent problems” because you’re right: they are problems that everyone faces, things that bring us down but also things on which we can’t entirely blame for our “funky” mood…it takes a bit of work to get out of the funk, but in the grand scheme of life, it is but a little blotch. Hopefully that blotch will be removed from both our days soon! 🙂

    ((hugs)) Feel better, gorgeous!

  19. Your mock tuna salad looks delicious. I am wondering where you get your pickles. Or do you make them yourself?

  20. Mondays do tend to be funk-inducing, eh? At least you know and recognize your “coping blocks,” though. 😉 I think a good meal is probably my foremost cure-all for a bad mood. Even better if I’m cooking said meal, since I’m more likely to zone out that way. Other than that, good books and good tunes are quite reliable. 🙂 Hope the week improves for you, and if not, perhaps a lil St. John’s Wort? I can’t vouch for it but I hear good things…

  21. Raw Spread looks & sounds Devine! Need to try this one…
    When I’m in a funk I usually force myself on an outdoor run – always lifts my mood. Then I like to prepare some good food, and relax with my kitties & a good movie 🙂

    No Golden Beets in Hong Kong! Never had them before…x

  22. Great recipe! I have been in a funk too lately, but here is something that helped: making your zucchini wraps (the ones you posted about in february) and eating one rolled around some delicious sliced avocado with lime and salt for breakfast. It totally made my morning. So thank you 🙂

  23. I’m sorry to hear you have been in a funk lately! Sounds like you’ve got a good plan for cheering yourself up though. And YUM, that ‘tuna’ salad looks DELICIOUS! I love the combination of flavors you’ve got going on, so fresh and bright. Lovely.

  24. love raw tuna salad.

    hate funks. had one all last week. i felt like i was just failing at life!

    san fancisco?! i’m so jealous.

  25. first of all, congrats on surviving the insanity that started your summer – that’s a huge accomplishment. and i know all too well that “god, i’m so self-indulgent, i’m stressed about fitting in all my social outings” mindset. 🙂 though speaking of, we should fit each other in soon!

    things that help me shake the blues? well, i will shamelessly say that sipping a glass of wine is one. also, enjoying a really thoughtful and well-prepared meal, taking a long city walk (urban air does wonders for me), or making future plans – looking forward to doing things with wonderful people is an easy way to make yourself smile.

    hope your morning today is brighter than the last!

  26. Thanks for your honesty, Gena 🙂 Yeah, I’m having one of those weeks! I’m on “holiday” but have got loads of studying to do as well as fun activities and it’s totally stressing me out. Silly.

    To chill-ax I like to read some of my fave blogs, watch some great films, and do some yoga… Oh, and look forward to our holiday in NYC and DC at end of August, woo woo!

    Lots of love x

  27. Ok so much to say…the pate looks great and even though Ive moved away from lots of pates, the raw seeds and nuts just arent for me, Ive figured out but the pickle juice!! nice! I Would love that!

    You in CA! Omg it just may be worth me taking a SW flight to fly up to the Bay Area. Ok and I love SF. If I could handle cold weather/winters, I would live in the Bay Area. I know you say you are this die hard lifelong NY’er, but Gena, knowing you, knowing the Bay Area, you totally!!! strike me as someone who is going to fall in love with it. The city, the people, the mentality, the scenery, the mindset, everything screams YOU! Anyway, I used to spend tons of time there before Skylar and miss it so much.

    The Funk. Ok well we all get them and I commend you for blogging about it. And for your gratitude list. I dont even know who Tana F is. That’s how LITTLE i pleasure read (Except for your blog of course :))


  28. I was just about to send you an email for a vitals check! it’s been too too long, my dear!

  29. I find that doing something stimulating or comforting is a good way to get myself out of a funk. So I read about an interesting historical or science topic, study a language, or watch an episode of Gilmore Girls or something. 🙂

    I blogged yesterday about the panel discussion I went to called Coming Out in Hollywood, where they talked about the perils of coming out on actors’ careers. But one guy had a great point similar to what you said – he said that in the big scheme of things, we’re so lucky. Gay people in Hollywood are worried about losing out on jobs but gay people in Uganda are getting stoned to death. Sorry to get gory and depressing but it is true that we are SO lucky to live where and when we do, and sometimes that knowledge motivates me to take full advantage of the freedom and opportunities I have and I feel happier with my lot in life.

  30. I think we all have those moments where we just want to rant 😉 Tuna salad looks awesome. We love any type of beets! Glad you like the yellow beets!

  31. Gena – I was in a SERIOUS Monday funk this morning. Feeling your pain! I think the heat and humidity is definitely putting a damper (so to speak) on NYC life. Thank god for AC, indeed.

    Due to said funk, by the end of the day I had decided to treat myself to a dinner “out”… had an old Groupon for this veg/vegan place on 23rd called Terri – have you been? Anyway, got a vegan (I believe) Tuna Melt made with a great chickpea spread. Reviewed it here: http://tinyurl.com/27zyzum. I found I didn’t miss the fishy element at all (after growing up eating the traditional melts) 🙂

    Have you ever made a chickpea “tuna”?

  32. I totally know what you are talking about. I was in a major funk this morning. To get out of it I made myself some Tazo organic chai tea that I had in my drawer and had a “fake it until you make it” kind of attitude. I said good morning to everyone I saw and smiled and acted like I was in a good mood, even though I was super crabby, tired, etc on the inside. It worked pretty well.

    I can’t wait to try that raw tuna salad! I think that would be great on some romaine leaves and great for work lunches. Thanks!

  33. good books are great ways to get out of funks…i wish i were as profound as you and sophia to recognize (mid-funk) that my problems are small potatoes in the grand scheme of things. anyways, the recipe looks great, but what i REALLY wanted to commenton was the fact that you are choosing labor day to visit SF. noooo!!!! how can you pick the one weekend i am not on the west coast to finally lose your CA virginity. 🙁 ill be on my honeymoon and thats just plain wrong. guess youll have to visit so cal on a separate trip. deal?

  34. I had a pretty awful weekend- family dog died, and I made a costly (metaphorically speaking) blunder at work. Walking on the beach Saturday night and going to the farmers market Sunday were partial mood lifters.
    Exercise, talking/venting, and getting away from home/work are my best strategies. Food is a nice distractor or source of pleasure but I don’t think it heals me the way these other things do.

  35. I have a mock tuna I’ve made but this looks even more delish!

    I’ve been having many “funk” days in a row. I just can’t seem to get out, it’s one thing after another.

    I’m going to look over your list above to get some inspiration. Plus I’m going to the mountains overnight this week, here in southern Cali, so that should be fun. But then I feel guilt. Geez. Time to lighten up, lol.

  36. Gena, I totally understand, I went back home last month (I’m from Argentina) after a year of not seeing my mom, the rest of my family and my friends and I got sooo stressed out trying to make it up that my best friend had to calm me down and talk me out of my craziness!!
    All of your recipes are great!! but you know, I’ve never tried dulse and I’m not sure what it is or how to use it in recipes? Can you help me? I’m going to research it on my own but I’d love your input on this!!
    I absolutely love your blog!!! After taking the OmWellness program last fall where you came and talked to us, I haven’t miss a post and I always comment about it with some of my former classmates!!!
    Thank you!!!
    I hope you have a great week!!!
    Deby =)

  37. Thanks for the tip on golden beets. You’re so right–all the flavor, minus the stains! I’ll be on the look-out for them now.

  38. I think the heat is getting to everyone! Luckily LA has cooled down substantially but I seriously have been in the worst mood the last few days. My husband can attest to that.

    I definitely have a lot to be grateful for though and you are so smart to make a list of things. I need to do that as well.

    My OXO salad spinner has stood the test of time and was fairly inexpensive. I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a good one.

  39. I have yet to turn on my air conditioning at home this summer … Barnes and Noble and I are good friends. I adore this recipe, not necessarily because I want tuna but because it precisely showcases the accessibility and creativity of vegan food.

    I definitely needed this post — my refrigerator broke LAST WEEK and I’ve been jumping through hoops with my warranty company to get someone in my house to fix it. I’m now eight days refrigerator-less, and have had three “cancelled” service appointments, and it’s just so stressful it’s dragging down my life so much! Doesn’t help that I have no FOOD. I think this won’t go away until my fridge is fixed but hey I’ll just deal with it.

  40. I get the Monday feeling! Baking always helps me feel more at peace. I can’t. Wait to try out this dish 🙂

  41. I know what you mean. It’s unbearable in the city–even rain doesn’t ease the heat and humidity! Crazy, right?

    Speaking of salad spinners, I’m wondering why I haven’t bought one yet… I always air-dry or use paper towels lol.

  42. I’m just excited for you that you’re visiting the Bay Area! You will love our farmer’s markets. Not to mention Cafe Gratitude!

  43. Hi Gena,
    I was so happy to hear you recommend Tana French. I just picked up “The Likeness” at the library and could not decide between that or “Kings of the Earth” by Jon Clinch. Guess I’m going with the former!
    It’s really hot where I am too – popsicles help!

  44. I’ve had it with this heat too! Ack! I totally want to venture into the city, but I can’t take it!!

    That recipe looks delicious! Thanks! Stay cool!! XOXO

  45. A song (listened to, played, or sung – no matter) will ALWAYS lift my spirits. When I leave the office on a particularly grueling day, all I need to do is crank up one of my favorites, and before I know it I’m smiling again.

    When I can’t belt out a tune, a quick stretch plus a comforting or soothing scent is usually enough for me to pause and take a moment to relax. I keep a small container of mixed coconut butter and vanilla (my favorite scents) at my desk, and if I’m feeling stressed I give myself a 2-minute hand massage with the aromatic oil. It helps me to re-center my thoughts, and also eases some of the tension I get from typing and writing all day.

    Thank you for the recipe, Gena! I hope you find some time to wind down from today 🙂

  46. Oh, love this recipe! I’m making it ASAP.

    Whether there are bigger problems in the world or not, a funk is a funk and you can own it and not feel bad about it. I wish all of us allowed ourselves to feel down a bit more instead of putting on the perky “I’m fine” when we’re not. It will pass, but it’s a valid feeling that you deserve to have!

  47. That tuna salad sounds delicious! Can’t wait to make it.

    I too get stressed over trying to make fun plans. It’s lame, but just how I am. Trying to always squeeze everything in!

  48. girl, i’m having one of those MONTHS. but making something delicious always puts me in a much better mood 🙂 OK, fine, ice cream does the trick too 🙂