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Healthier Dairy-Free Tuna Melt

in Sandwiches

A lightened-up, dairy-free version of the classic tuna melt.  This lunch or dinner sandwich comes together in 15 minutes flat.

healthy tuna melt 5My boyfriend and parents blessed me with two of my new favorite things this past Christmas: a 50mm lense for my DSLR and a tripod.  I have been actively working to improve my food photography over the last year, and have hopes to step it up a notch in 2015.  Getting a “big girl” lense outside of what comes with the camera kit was the first step.  The second step… well, that would be to figure out how to work the darn thing!

healthy tuna melt 2Two weeks ago, I set out on a mission to tackle photography head on.  What I mean by that is that it is a bucket list goal of mine to finally take my camera off of “auto” mode and use it in manual mode.  That is kind of the point of investing in a DSLR anyways, isn’t it?  I spent several hours on a Saturday and Sunday reading about aperture, shutter speed, ISO, focal point, and depth of field.  I think that I now have a decent grasp on what these concepts are, and how to manipulate them on my camera.  Unfortunately, it isn’t as simple as that.  Knowing how to set your aperture, shutter speed, and ISO appropriately to create a bright, clear, and focused image is certainly easier said than done.  But I am not giving up!

This is my first post featuring food photography using my camera in manual mode.  I am pretty happy with the lighting and my food presentation of these photos, but I can definitely see some of the areas that I need to work on.  A big thing is working on creating images that are more focused and clear, and I am hoping that I can improve upon this with time.  Until then, bear with me!  I am certainly not a quitter, so I am going to keep truckin’ along…

healthy tuna melt 3Speaking of truckin’ along… let’s get to the recipe!

A couple weeks back I broke the news that I am starting to incorporate fish back into my diet.  I mentioned in that particular post that I did not expect to be sharing any seafood recipes until I got the hang of things.  Well, it turns out you cannot mess up canned tuna too easily.  All of you fish eaters can rejoice because I am sharing a recipe for something that I always thought sounded delicious, but had never tried: a tuna melt sandwich.  I put my own spin on the traditional tuna melt by healthifying it and making it dairy-free.  Not too shabby for my first seafood post, eh?

healthy tuna melt 6Healthier Dairy-Free Tuna Melt

Serves 2


5 oz can chunk white albacore tuna (in water with no added salt), drained
1/2 ripe avocado, mashed
1/2 tsp lemon juice
1 TB finely diced shallot
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp fine sea salt
2 slices sprouted wheat bread (I used Ezekiel)
2 thin slices of tomato
1 to 2 slices dairy-free “cheese” (I love this brand)
Vegan butter, coconut oil, or olive oil cooking spray, optional


1. In a medium bowl, stir together tuna, avocado, lemon juice, shallots, black pepper, and sea salt until well combined.

2. Heat a large skillet over medium heat.  If desired, spread one side of each slice of bread with either vegan butter or coconut oil, or spray with cooking spray.  Place this side down into the heated skillet.  Grill for approximately 3 minutes.

3. Lower the heat to medium-low.  Scoop tuna mixture onto each slice of bread.  Top the tuna with one tomato slice and the vegan “cheese.”  I used one slice of “cheese” split between the two.

4. Cover the skillet with a lid (this helps the “cheese” to melt).  Continue cooking for approximately 5 more minutes, or until the slices of bread are golden brown.

5. If desired, you can place the tuna melts into the oven under the broiler to melt the “cheese” more.  I did this for about 2 minutes on low.

healthy tuna meltThis recipe makes two servings when plated alongside fruit or vegetables.  Or, if you are an extra hungry person like me, you can just dig right into both slices!  I would, however, recommend adding in the pickles on the side.  It’s not a sandwich without some pickles.

healthy tuna melt 7There you have it.  My first seafood post here on Clean Eating Veggie Girl!  I cannot imagine that these will happen weekly by any means, but do not be surprised if you find some popping up once or twice per month.  Back to the veggie-filled posts tomorrow!  You can also expect more photography experimentation in my posts from here on out.  Now that I have started using manual mode, I need to tough it out and LEARN it.

Are you ready to try this healthier dairy-free tuna melt recipe?  Please pin it and share it on Facebook and Twitter using the buttons below.

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{ 47 comments… add one }
  • Joanna @Makingmine January 20, 2015, 6:56 am
    Oh yum! Whyyyyyyyy are you posting about tuna melts? You are only fueling my craving haha! I love your healthier version - definitely going to try to upgrade my tuna melt game! You might need to give me a crash course in our camera - I really need to get off auto mode! Joanna @Makingmine recently posted...3 things i wish i would have done before getting pregnantMy Profile
    • ClnEatingVegGrl January 20, 2015, 9:18 am
      Haha... I swear I don't do it to tease you! ;) And yes... the more I start figuring out about the camera, the better. We can have a practice session once I get it figured out.
  • Kelly @ Hidden Fruits and Veggies January 20, 2015, 6:59 am
    Wow! What a huge improvement switching into manual makes! Not that your photos before were anything embarrassing, but these are something to be proud of. Hard work paying off :) Kelly @ Hidden Fruits and Veggies recently posted...#FitTeaDetox ReviewMy Profile
    • ClnEatingVegGrl January 20, 2015, 9:18 am
      Thanks, Kelly! I sure am REALLY trying now. Hopefully they continue to improve! Do you have any pointers for me?
      • Kelly @ Hidden Fruits and Veggies January 20, 2015, 9:37 am
        Any photos on my blog that look pretty were prooobbbabbbbly taken by Josh! I normally do the styling (or lack there of) and then hold a big white piece of foam board while he takes photos. And work to keep the kitties away from the food ;-) Kelly @ Hidden Fruits and Veggies recently posted...#FitTeaDetox ReviewMy Profile
        • ClnEatingVegGrl January 20, 2015, 9:44 am
          Haha!! Hey, those are important jobs! Sometimes I wish my boyfriend lived with me so that I could make him do those things for me (except I don't have kitties because I'm allergic) ;)
  • Katie @ Fit Life by Katie January 20, 2015, 7:39 am
    YUM! I love tuna, I take it a lot for my lunches in a wrap. This sounds really good. I love to use it in different variations. :)
    • ClnEatingVegGrl January 20, 2015, 9:19 am
      That is a great idea, Katie! I'll have to try it in a wrap soon!
  • Rebecca @ Strength and Sunshine January 20, 2015, 8:18 am
    No matter how much I read and "study" I can't ever remember how to figure out manual and all the shutter, ISO, aperture stuff...it just DOES NOT stick :P (This looks super awesome too! Yay for fish!)
    • ClnEatingVegGrl January 20, 2015, 9:30 am
      You can do it!!! I think I might do a post in a little while compiling some of the resources that I have been using. I think it might help other bloggers who are new to manual mode photography.
  • Pamela January 20, 2015, 9:01 am
    This looks great! I am not a seafood person, but I do love tuna! May need to give this a try. Great job on the photographs they professional to me!
    • ClnEatingVegGrl January 20, 2015, 9:34 am
      Thanks, Pamela! That means a lot! And yes... if you like tuna then you should absolutely give this one a try!
  • Laurie January 20, 2015, 9:14 am
    I bet this is delicious. I love avocado & tuna. Laurie recently posted...Jalapeno Maple Bacon Meatloaf Mini’sMy Profile
    • ClnEatingVegGrl January 20, 2015, 9:35 am
      I love both, too, so I figured it would be a great combo! I hope you give it a try.
  • jess meddows January 20, 2015, 9:57 am
    Hannah, if you hadn't mentioned this was your first post using your DSLR in manual mode, I wouldn't have known. These are really fantastic, and the light and focus is perfect. (Also, nice recipe! hehe:))
    • ClnEatingVegGrl January 20, 2015, 12:24 pm
      Thanks, Jess!! I so appreciate your kind words. I am definitely my biggest critic, without a doubt!
  • Gina January 20, 2015, 10:22 am
    These photos turned out great! I don't think I've ever had a tuna melt before–believe it or not! But I did eat more tuna than usual when I studied abroad. I've been missing some of the tuna dishes I had. This looks like a really good and healthy lunch idea! :) Gina recently posted...My Spring Semester College GoalsMy Profile
    • ClnEatingVegGrl January 20, 2015, 12:24 pm
      It makes for the perfect lunch because it is healthy, FILLING, and so super easy to make... all winners in my book!
  • Ariana January 20, 2015, 10:56 am
    I think your food photography skills are already pretty rockin'! I can't wait to see how they evolve! And that sandwich looks delish :) I recently tried Daiya "cheese" and it was actually pretty good! Ariana recently posted...Your Guide to Dine Out Vancouver 2015My Profile
    • ClnEatingVegGrl January 20, 2015, 12:26 pm
      Thanks Ariana! I definitely really like the Daiya slices, but I think the new Field Roast slices are even BETTER! You definitely need to try them if you can find some (I'd recommend looking at Whole Foods and then go from there).
  • karen January 20, 2015, 12:20 pm
    Your pictures look fantastic! You're lucky to be stepping up into the big world of a new lense! I definitely need to improve on my photography but first would come a good camera, lol! Loving this tuna sandwich, tuna is amazing!
    • ClnEatingVegGrl January 20, 2015, 12:27 pm
      Thank you, Karen! I have to say that investing in a DSLR was SUCH a good decision for me. I highly recommend putting a little money away each month to save towards one. And then... you can go from there with fancier lenses ;)
  • Sarah @ Making Thyme for Health January 20, 2015, 4:02 pm
    These pictures are gorgeous, Hannah! I honestly don't know what you're talking about with the clarity- they look crisp and clear to me. Nice work, girly! Now I'm craving a tuna melt. :) Oh and I have to confess, I shoot in aperture mode which is much easier than manual. It allows you to adjust the aperture, the focus, and exposure compensation without having to think about shutter speed. The main drawback is that images store in JPEGs rather than RAW so you're limited to post processing editing. But for my busy schedule and the small amount of space for pictures on my computer, it's what works for me! Sarah @ Making Thyme for Health recently posted...Chocolate Chip Cookie Chia Seed Pudding ParfaitMy Profile
    • ClnEatingVegGrl January 20, 2015, 4:58 pm
      Haha, thanks Sarah! I swear, I am my own worst critic! ;) I have heard good things about aperture mode, but am trying my best to make a good attempt with manual. To be 100% honest, I take my photos as JPEGs anyways for storage purposes and because I do not have any editing software (other than PicMonkey!). Do you know if it is difficult to edit RAW images and which certain editing software programs I would need?
      • Sarah @ Making Thyme for Health January 21, 2015, 1:12 pm
        I use Lightroom and I love it. It can be used for JPEGs or RAW images. I'm not sure what it's like to edit RAW images because I always use JPEG.
        • ClnEatingVegGrl January 25, 2015, 11:11 am
          Thanks, Sarah! I'll have to look into that :)
  • Samantha Bender January 20, 2015, 4:55 pm
    I absolutely love making tuna sandwiches, so I'm definitely going to have to try this recipe. I love that there's avocado in it. YUM! Samantha Bender recently posted...Beginner Workouts That WorkMy Profile
    • ClnEatingVegGrl January 20, 2015, 4:59 pm
      You cannot go wrong with avocado, right?? I hope you enjoy it!
  • Ashley January 20, 2015, 6:03 pm
    Well I think these pictures look great lady! The more you shoot in manual the easier and easier it gets! And that's a promise :) haha I love that you have avocado in here! Ashley recently posted...Mediterranean Chicken Sausage and Veggie BakeMy Profile
    • ClnEatingVegGrl January 20, 2015, 9:51 pm
      Thanks Ashley!! That is great to hear, especially from you, because your pictures are wonderful!
  • Farrah January 20, 2015, 8:18 pm
    This sounds delicious! :D I love anything with avocado in it, and a tuna melt sounds perfect right now. <3 Farrah recently posted...Best Health & Fitness DecisionsMy Profile
    • ClnEatingVegGrl January 20, 2015, 9:52 pm
      Thanks, Farrah! I put avocado in just about everything that I can! :)
  • Linz @ Itz Linz January 20, 2015, 8:40 pm
    photos look great! tuna melt looks delish! Linz @ Itz Linz recently posted...My Fitness Goal for 2015My Profile
    • ClnEatingVegGrl January 20, 2015, 9:57 pm
      Thanks for the positive thoughts, Lindsay!
  • Jessie January 21, 2015, 5:07 am
    I think we can all agree that your recipes are awesome. But what I haven't mentioned is how much your photography has improved. Loving the food props used for this shoot.
    • ClnEatingVegGrl January 21, 2015, 7:27 am
      Thanks Jessie!! You are so sweet :)
  • Sarah January 21, 2015, 8:05 am
    I don't know if I would like the avocado part, but just the simplest thing like only eating it with one price of bread makes a difference.
    • ClnEatingVegGrl January 21, 2015, 1:36 pm
      Open-faced sandwiches are my absolute favorite! They are so much easier to eat ;)
  • Ashlee April 3, 2015, 7:28 pm
    Thanks for this recipe!! I used to love tuna and would make it with mayo (which I hate) and have been looking for an alternative since Tuna is supposed to be healthy for you! I will definitely look into trying this!! Thanks for all the great recipes you share:)
    • Ashlee April 3, 2015, 7:32 pm
      Also, do you reccommend eating seafood vs just being a strict vegetarian?
      • ClnEatingVegGrl April 4, 2015, 10:17 am
        Great question! I don't have a nutrition degree, so I can't really "recommend" one more than the other. I think what is most important is that you do what is best for you and your body... aka whatever truly makes your body feel good/healthy :)
    • ClnEatingVegGrl April 4, 2015, 10:16 am
      Thanks Ashlee! I'm so glad you are enjoying the recipe :)
  • Charlotte July 7, 2015, 4:41 pm
    Wow this looks so tasty! I have been looking for healthy lunch ideas that will still taste great for a while. I am going to try this out :) Charlotte recently posted...Spiritual Challenge: Be PresentMy Profile
    • ClnEatingVegGrl July 7, 2015, 5:12 pm
      This is perfect for a healthier lunch. I hope you love it!

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