Thursday, May 27, 2010


That's right, sardines.You played the game as a kid, but have you ever eaten the small and oily fish? I hadn't until today when I had my dad pick up a can at the grocery store after reading all about its benefits.

4 Reasons Why Sardines Are a Great Choice When Trying to Eat Healthy on a Budget:
#1. Sardines are a cheap source of protein. This is what all college students like to hear. One 190-calorie can of the fish boasts 20 grams of protein, and you can find cans for as cheap as 99 cents. A Big Mac, on the other hand, has only slighty more protein (24 grams) for a lot more money (average of $3.57 in the U.S.) and calories (590 kcals).
#2. Sardines are extremely rich in omega-3 fatty acids. If you don't know why these are so important, hop to this link to find out. Basically, though, omega-3's are important for reducing inflammation which helps prevent heart disease, some cancers, and depression/anxiety. The great news is that sardines are one of the top three richest sources of omega-3's in the world. The other two are salmon and herring, which are far pricier.
#3. You don't have to worry about limiting your sardine intake due to mercury. You may have heard about how tuna is a great source of omega-3s as well, but that you need to limit your intake due to heavy metals like mercury that accumulate in tuna in contaminated waters. This is not an issue with sardines because they are a fraction of the size of tuna fish and therefore aren't high enough on the food chain to accumulate all these metals. So you can eat to your heart's content without having to worry about mercury poisoning.
#4. Sardines are loaded with iron and calcium. The can I made has 30% the Daily Value of calcium and 10% the DV of iron in one 190-calorie serving. Nice.

Okay, I'm convinced that they're healthy and affordable, you say. But, Alyssa, as much as I care about my health I also care about my taste buds. Aren't sardines, well, not all that tasty?

Well, obviously it depends on your individual taste preferences, but yes, sardines are known for their strong smell and taste. But if you haven't given them a chance yet, why not try? For people that naturally like sardines, favorites ways to eat them include on crackers, toast, or on a sandwich. If you're not sure you're ready for such full-on sardine-flavor, here are a few more creative ways to eat sardines:
1. Toss a few on your salad
2. Place some on your pizza.
3. Top crackers with sardines, Dijon mustard, and Tabasco sauce.
4. Cook up your favorite pasta and mix in sardines, tomatoes (canned or fresh), olive oil, and your favorite herb, such as parsley or cilantro.
5. Add them to your bruschetta (here's a good recipe).
6. Make them into a spread. I found this easy recipe in Food and Our Bones by Annemarie Colbin.

Sardine Spread

1 can (about 4 3/8 ounces) sardines, with skin and bones
1 T. fresh lemon juice
1 T. grated onion
1/4 t. sea salt
1 T. tahini (unsalted sesame paste, optional)
1 1/2 T. chopped fresh parsley
4 rye crackers
Freshly ground pepper

Open the can of sardines partway, and drain out the oil or water. Place the sardines, lemon juice, onion, salt, tahini, and parsley in a bowl, and mash with a fork until well blended. Spread on whole rye crackers, and grind some pepper on top.

I didn't have all the ingredients for this recipe, so I improvised. I mashed together the sardines, lemon juice, a pinch of salt and pepper, and some dried basil. My mom and I tested it; we learned that, indeed, sardines are very "fishy" fish. And it was pretty salty, too, so the added salt is probably not necessary. So we decided to add a few teaspoons of mayo to make it creamier. I like to add shredded carrots to my tuna, so I did that for the sardine spread as well. Those two little things made it much better. We didn't have any crackers around, so I substituted in tortilla chips. Next time, though, I think I'll try adding it to a grilled cheese sandwich!


  1. eeeew sardines smell bad! haha but i guess if they're good for you it's worth it :D

  2. This is a great idea! I have been thinking a lot about the kinds of foods I keep around my dorm room and how I might be able to do more with fresher, healthier foods.

    It is tough because I am required to be on a meal plan at school, but I have been finding that besides chips there are a lot of food things I can get from the caf that aren't set up as groceries but that I can buy with meal plan money if I ask for them. (loaves of bread, sandwich meat, cheese slices, fresh spinach, carrots, celery, apples, bananas, even craisins and soy milk.)

    Then I just need to supplement what I get there with a few things from the store -- like sardines, I guess! Can't wait to try them; I love fun, quirky foods:)

    Thanks, Alyssa!


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