Maybe you think they are gross. But sardines are the greatest snack in the world, and it’s time to give them another shot. Here’s why:
For starters, sardines are a very tiny fish, so they carry a lower toxic load than a larger, older fish (I’m talking mercury and PCBs, people). They are lower down in the food chain, so it is considered more ethical to consume these wild fish as they are more available and replenish quickly.
One can of sardines is about 90g by weight. That can is going to supply you with 135% of your Vitamin B12 for the day, 78% of your tryptophan, 68% of your selenium, 56% of your omega-3s, 44% of your protein, 44% of your phosphoros, 43% of your Vitamin D, 34% of your calcium (if you eat the bones, which you are going to obviously), 23% of your Vitamin B3 and 16% of your choline, and 8% of your iron.
Let’s go macronutrients. We’re talking 23g of protein, about 11g of fat if packed in oil (say no to canola/soy/industrial oils and yes to olive oil), and obviously no carbohydrates, sugars or fiber.
So let’s be fancy and transfer the sardines to a plate first. I eat everything – the tails, the crunchy bones, the skin. It’s even more lovely to squeeze a little lemon or drizzle some balsamic vinegar on them. Why not try harissa or hot sauce? You just can’t go wrong.
If you are new to sardines, you might require a cracker. In this case, load some sardine onto a cracker like it’s paté. I prefer to use a wheat-free cracker like Mary’s Gone Crackers, or a low-carbohydrate version like Flackers.
The Bellevue restaurant in Toronto once served a sardine sandwich with peanut butter, sprouts and cucumber on rye. If you’re not in the area, it might be time to try it out at home – but go to the next level: skip the bread and make a nut butter and sardine lettuce roll-up.
I started feeding sardines to my daughter when she was about 18 months, so now she is used to the flavor and actually likes the idea of “sardine snacks”.
Fresh sardines are obviously delicious, and shockingly inexpensive. You can buy them at any good fish counter. They are a little larger usually, and you will have to ask to have them gutted for you. You can toss these in olive oil and lemon, and then grill them under the broiler until the skin bubbles. Again, try to eat as many of the crunchy bones as you can for the calcium content.
WARNING: fresh sardines grilled on the barbecue are incredible! But if you live near wildlife, they will freak out over the delicious aroma. We once woke up to a bear humping our barbecue. So that happened.