One challenge of being a single parent is having the time, money and energy to create healthy meals. After a tiresome day at wotk, the thought of standing on my feet for another half-hour or so just simply isn’t appealing at all.
Until I think about my health.
When my children were young, most of the meals I cooked had a bean and potato/rice base with cooked or raw vegetable side dishes. Simple, inexpensive and nutritious.
I still mostly adhere to the bean and potato/rice base when cooking because the results of doing so for twenty years can’t be disputed. Despite the family tendency for high blood pressure, I’ve managed to maintain good blood pressure levels, be energetic and have good health all the way around.
But, as I said, it can be challenging; though necessary. As single parents, I believe it is just as important we take good care of ourselves as it is for anyone else. We owe it to ourselves to put into our bodies the nutrients that will give us the energy we need to power through each day. And do we need it! Single parenting saps one’s energies very quickly!
One mealtime that is the hardest for me is packing a lunch for work. There is a cafeteria at work, but high prices and lack of healthy options drives me to my own fridge and pantry, and leads me to brainstorming lunch ideas.
And that’s how my daughter stumbled upon the idea of chickpeas as a spread. Like me, she wants to eat healthy and she will often take ingredients we have and create a meal from them.
On one particular evening, I arrived home from work and had just set my stuff down when she popped out of her room and said, “Mom, you just absolutely have to try this!” I’m used to her creating with food so I agreed I would. She pulled a bowl out of the fridge, spooned out a dollop of some kind of tan goop onto a lettuce leaf and rolled it up. I took a bite, a bit wary of what I was succumbing to, but as I chewed, I became more and more pleasantly surprised.
“What is this?” I asked.
“It’s smashed chickpeas with mayo and sirachi sauce. Isn’t it good?” she asked, her face lit up. That it most certainly was.
The flavor was not lost while also being packed with protein, loaded with fiber and quick to fix.
For one 14.5 oz of canned garbanzo beans, smashed, there is about five tablespoons of Vegenaise or mayonnaise, Sirachi sauce to desired heat/flavor and salt to taste. You can then spread on whole-grain toast, spread on a lettuce leaf for a gluten-free alternative, or eat in a sandwich with lettuce and tomatoes.
When I ate what she handed me, it reminded me of something else. Tuna salad. Twenty years ago I had made the decision to become vegetarian, but one thing I really missed was tuna salad.
Early on in my vegetarian journey, I had tried a vegetarian tuna alternative only to be disappointed that it looked and smelled more like canned cat food rather than tuna.
But when I tasted the chickpea spread my daughter had made, I immediately wondered…could I add mayo, sweet relish and boiled eggs to smashed chickpeas and it taste like tuna salad?
I experimented and discovered that it worked! The texture is different; a food processor might make a better texture, but the flavor was very reminiscent to tuna salad. Made this girl happy! Again, it’s good spread on lettuce leaf, in a sandwich or on toasted bread. My daughter will often eat the mayo and sirachi sauce chickpea spread with rice.
Here is how I prpeared the Chickpea Tuna Salad.
1 14.5 oz. can of garbanzos , rinsed, drained and smashed
4-5 Tbs of Vegenaise or Mayonaisse
2 Tbs of sweet or dill pickle relish
1-2 boiled eggs, diced
Salt to taste
Stir and enjoy!
Not everyone will choose to be vegetarian; for me, it was a personal choice that has worked very well. The point here is simply to eat in balance.
I will leave you with this thought-we are given only one body and our children have only one dad/mom. Healthy eating is not just a fad, but a gift we give to our loved ones, an act of self-love, and a stewardship of the gift of life God has given each one of us.