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White Bean, Tuna and Avocado Salad

Lunch should be delicious.

Lunch should be substantial enough to fuel your body for the next few hours, but light and fresh enough to leave you feeling energised and focused.

That’s what I aim for anyway.

I just hate that heavy, ‘dead weight’ feeling you get after a big starchy lunch. You know the feeling that makes you just want to crawl into the nearest bed and take a nice long afternoon nap? There was a time when I wondered why every company office didn’t have a stack of those bee-hive-like bed cubbies that you see in futuristic movies (think 5 th element) for the expected company-wide post-lunch dips that no one seemed to escape (although I’ve heard there are hotels in Japan that have them now).

But there quickly came a time in my life where these afternoon energy slumps, or little naps for that matter, wouldn’t cut it. The afternoons were just too important for me to waste on the reduced productivity that these sorts of lunches brought. I was working on high level stuff, doing what I was passionate about. So I had to make some changes.

The first thing I did was cut out the typical sleep–inducing lunches. The kind of lunches am I talking about is anything that’s high in refined carbs and fat, or in other words, anything that includes junk.  Why? Because of 1 very important reason, and it’s a reason that you really really need to know about if you ever want any control over your daily energy levels. Here it is:


A meal high in refined carbs and fat lead to sedative shifts in our neurochemistry.


That means that when you eat any of the typical lunches like sandwiches, wraps and rolls, greasy take-away, meat pies and pastries or something with French fries, all washed down with a can of fizzy drink, and perhaps a muffin, cake or cookie- you’re essentially telling your brain to produce the kind of chemicals that put you to sleep. I’m feeling tired just thinking about it.

So despite the extra 5-10 minutes of effort I’d need to put in the night before, I decided that the only way I was going to be able to sidestep all the sleep inducing and stodgy lunch options available to me at canteens, restaurants and salad bars, was to commit to making my own lunch every day.

And so I did.

I’ll share more with you about how I craft my lunches soon, but here is the basic criteria I follow:

  • They need to sustain my energy through the afternoon
  • They need to keep me full (a very important one for me!)
  • They MUST be delicious
  • They can’t take longer than 10 minutes to prepare.


And this salad recipe meets all these criteria perfectly.

White bean, tuna and avocado salad

Feeds 2


2 large hand-fulls of cherry tomatoes

1 medium cucumber

2 85g tins tuna (water or extra virgin olive oil packed)

1 tin of white beans

¼ red onion

1 large hand-full fresh herbs (coriander, mint, basil or parsley)

1 avocado

High quality balsamic vinegar (ideally from Modena- Italy)

Wash, halve, cut, peel, slice, toss, wash, shake, slice, add, rinse, drain, toss, drain, flake, add, mix, halve, remove, peel, slice, pile and eat!  All in under 10 minutes. Or see below for a little more detail...

Wash the tomato and cucumber. Halve or quarter the cherry tomatoes, cut the cucumber into similar sized pieces, peel and finely slice the onion and toss them into a large bowl. Wash the herbs, shake dry, and slice the leaves (slice the stalks too if your using coriander) and add this to the chopped veg.  Rinse and drain the white beans in a colander and toss them into the bowl. Drain the tuna and flake it over the top. Add a good drizzle of balsamic vinegar and season with a little sea salt. Mix everything well.

Halve the avocado, remove the stone, peel it and slice it roughly.

Pile the salad onto two plates and top with the avocado. Eat immediately.

If you’re making this lunch for the next day, prepare all the ingredients, put them into a leak-proof lunch box, but don’t add the vinegar. Dressing the salad the day before will leave you with a sloppy limp mess that you really won’t want to eat.  Instead, pour some vinegar into a clean empty spice jar, or some other tiny bottle that won’t leak, and put it in the top of the box along with the salad. This way you can dress the salad right before you eat so everything is fresh and lovely. Pop the lid on, slide the box in the fridge and remember to take it with you the next day along with a fork.



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  • Monique

    This is definitely on the menu this weekend! Thanks!

  • Vivi

    I’m making this one tomorrow 100% – Thanks Melanie, this one looks yummy and most important very healthy :)

    • Melanie

      Excellent! Let me know how it turns out!

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Melanie Stephens, Optimum Nutrition in Paris

I’m Melanie Stephens a qualified nutritionist, chef and workout enthusiast who’s wildly passionate about helping people get healthy, lean and energised so they can lead truly exceptional lives of their own design.

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