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©2010 Shanna Lea (formerly Shanna Ohmes)
So, you decided to eat healthier and add more fish to your diet. You saw a package of canned sardines in the grocery aisle and picked it up. Then it sat on the pantry shelf, mocking you for weeks, maybe months, before you finally decided to try it. Everything you know about fish, especially tinned fish, comes from what other people have told you: they are smelly and only good for cats.
That was my situation. Remember, I was raised on the Texas Plains where a sardine (or any fish for that matter) was about as scarce as hen’s teeth. For the last few years I have eaten canned salmon or tuna occasionally, although they are not my favorite foods.
And, now, if I’m going to strive to add fish to my diet, I want to stay away from as much mercury as possible. Enter: the can of sardines.
Sardines are on the low end of the scale when it comes to mercury and other toxins. Because these little silvery fish mature quickly and stay small, they do not have time to accumulate mercury, dioxane and PCB like larger fish such as some tuna, shark or swordfish. So, now that I have selected my fish, it’s time to open it up. And …..
I’m looking at several tightly packed little headless fish. They aren’t kidding when they say “packed in there like a can of sardines”. And, the smell? Well, actually, it is very mild. I’ve had tuna and salmon odor linger in the house for hours. So far, when other family members come home, they don’t even notice a fishy smell in the air when I’ve been snacking on sardines.
How Do You Eat Them?
The first time I opened a can of sardines, I just stuck my fork in there and dangled a fish on the end of it and stared at it before dropping it down the hatch. And I surprised myself by actually liking it! So, I tried various ways of eating them: on crackers, with Tabasco sauce, with mustard and horseradish. I liked the mustard the best as well as the olive oil. I ran out of fish before I ran out of condiments, so I looked for more ways on the internet to eat sardines for another day. Here is a list of favorite ways that people like to eat sardines:
- Smear with cream cheese on bread or bagels with onion, black pepper and a dash of Tabasco sauce
- On crackers with hot sauce
- Splash with lemon juice
- On a salad with a vinaigrette
- Mash with Dijon mustard, minced onion, and spread on crackers or bread
- With red onion and mustard
- Mix cottage cheese, minced onions, and Tabasco. Spread on bread and top with sardines
- Top a toasted bagel with sardines packed in olive oil and top with capers.
- Sautee sardines and add them to spaghetti, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese
- On linguine vongole
- Mix sardines with a red sauce and sprinkle with fresh bread crumbs
- With olives
- With tomatoes
- With paprika, sea salt and lemon wedge
- Sautee onion and garlic in olive oil, add chopped tomato. Cook to a paste and add sardines. Sautee until heated through and season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper.
- With garlic and fried rice
- Plain with a fried egg
- With a hard-boiled egg on toast
- With scrambled eggs
- With avocado halves and squeeze of lemon
- Blend in pasta sauce
- With sour cream and sea salt on crackers
- On buttered rye or pumpernickel bread
- With salsa
- Put the sardines on a plate, with the olive oil or tomato sauce it is packed in. Smother in chopped onions. Use bread as a utensil for sopping it up.
- On rice drizzled with soy sauce
- With cilantro, lemon, tomato sauce to fill a warm tortilla
- On buttered rye bread, topped with stewed prunes and heavy cream
- Plain, scooping up with fingers, while sitting in a kayak
Sardines Are Healthy
Sardines are nutrient-dense in omega-3 fatty acids which are so lacking in our Standard American Diet (SAD). They are a traditional food from cultures around the world that have enjoyed them for as long as man has fished for them. I’m glad I decided to try them. I’ve ended up eating them every day, and my skin is soft, my joints feel lubricated and I no longer have that mid-afternoon brain fog. Check out my other article, Health Benefits of Sardines, for more information on how they can benefit your health.
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