When I was little my mom always had to work late on Thursday nights, so my dad was in charge of dinner. He always said we could have anything under the sun. Sometimes we took advantage of his declaration and went to our favorite restaurant Sam’s Joint, a small chain of restaurants in West Michigan that apparently doesn’t have a website. But a lot of the time we just wanted Tuna Helper.
I did a little googling and they have like 12 different verities of Tuna Helper now! Different cheeses and seasoning flavors. I’m pretty sure we had one choice in the early ’90s, and that was Fatty Mc’Fat.
(A 12 pack of Fatty Mc’Fat on Amazon!)
So last March I got a weird craving for Tuna Helper and made some without the box, which has pretty much everything you need to make Tuna Helper but some milk, butter, and a can of tuna. Since then I’ve made it for PT and even dinner guests. And now you, too, can make Tuna Helper without the RIDICULOUS sodium, saturated fat, and cholesterol content. Yay!
Ingredients (for 2)
4 oz Whole Wheat Pasta, any shape
2 oz shredded cheese, cheddar or pepper jack are great
1/4 – 1/2 cup milk
1 tbsp margarine or butter substitute
About 2 cups of broccoli
1 can of tuna, drained
Sprinkle of cheesy popcorn seasoning
Fresh cracked pepper to taste
1. Get your pasta cooking as directed but set timer to go off three minutes before pasta will be done.
2. Chop your broccoli, grate your cheese, open and drain your tuna into the cat’s bowl while the pasta is cooking.
Pudge Rodriguez likes the tuna water and Velma likes the tuna, so while Pudge is chowing down I slip Velma a few tuna flakes.
3. Add the chopped broccoli to the boiling pasta when there is three minutes left of cooking time.
4. When the pasta is cooked turn off the heat, drain the pasta and broccoli, and return to pan. Add 1/4 cup milk, butter substitute or margarine, grated cheese, tuna, and, that is right, a sprinkle of cheesy popcorn seasoning.
You still need a tiny fake cheese taste! When I first started making it I stole fake cheese packages out of packaged cheesy potatoes or something, but when I stumbled upon this popcorn shaker I knew it would be perfect! You obviously don’t use a lot, this stuff is a heart attack in a bottle, but a 1/2 tablespoon goes a long way.
The heat from the pan, pasta, and broccoli melts the cheese as you stir. Add more milk if you want it a little creamier.
Dish it out, crack some pepper over it, and you are done!
I can’t help it. I love this stuff. This version is a ton healthier than using real Tuna Helper, with the whole wheat pasta and the broccoli and the (mostly) real cheese. It is quick and simple and you can do the dishes while you are cooking it! Which is something I always look for in a recipe: small amounts of down time that forces me to clean my kitchen.