Lately, I've become a sucker for sardines.
As a matter of fact, as I sit in the airport, I just gulped down for breakfast a giant can of sardines in extra virgin olive oil, neatly folded into a rye wrap with spinach, tomatoes, and mozzarella cheese (note: all of these food items can easily be thrown into a backpack and accessed while traveling – just make sure you have a plastic knife and breath-freshening mints or gum).
So why do I like sardines so much?
-Sardines have a big dose of omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA – more than salmon, tuna, or just about any other food. For a primer on why these fatty acids are crucial in your diet, listen to my interview with Dr. Rick Cohen about
-When it comes to energy, heart health and metabolism, B12 is a big player. Calf's liver is the most concentrated source of vitamin B12 that you can find in real food. What's the runner-up to calf's liver that is far easier to transport in a canned, portable form? You guessed it: sardines.
-Sardines are incredibly concentrated in vitamin D, a hormonal precursor that is one of the most beneficial compounds you can put into your body. Nearly everyone is deficient in vitamin D, and it's tough to find in many foods, unless you want to live on fortified dairy products.
-Sardines are packed with selenium, a powerful natural antioxidant that can also reduce risk of cancer.
-Last, but not least, sardines give a big wallop of protein and fat, which not only provide the body with the essential compounds necessary for muscle repair, protein creation and hormone formation, but also provide the appetite with extremely satiating nutrition that leaves your satisfied for hours.
Because they are small fish at the bottom of the food chain, when compared to many other seafood choice, sardines are not as likely to contain concentrated amounts of contaminants such as mercury and PCBs.
One last thing about sardines, before I give you 5 mind-blowing, low-carb ways to enjoy them – as you shop for sardines be sure to choose those that are packed in relatively healthy olive oil, and not soybean oil.
Sardine Recipe #5: A Sardine Wrap. Make the wrap pictured above. If you're going gluten-free or low-carb, substitute the wrap with a big butter lettuce leaf, swiss chard, kale, or bok choy. Fill the wrap with spinach, tomatoes, mozzarella or feta cheese, and then dump the can of sardines on top so that the olive oil saturates the vegetables. For added calories, include a sliced avocado in the wrap.
Sardine Recipe #4: Cold Sardine Salad. Chop up some red onion, a couple large handful of olives, and if you have some around, a bit of fennel. Add seasalt. Toss with sardines, and enjoy.
Sardine Recipe #3: Sardine-Tomato Sandwich. Slice a large garden tomato so you can use it like a cracker, sprinkle it with a bit of sea salt, and top it with a chunk of sardine, some mozzarella cheese, a sprig of fresh basil or sprinkling of basil spice (you could also use arugula, oregano or rosemary). For more carbs, you can add a rice or flax seed cracker under the tomato.
Sardine Recipe #2: Sauced Sardines. This works well if all you have is sardines canned in water. Drain the sardines, put them into a small bowl, then in a separate bowl, stir together a sauce of extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, minced garlic, Dijon mustard, salt and pepper, and pour it over the sardines.
Sardine Recipe #1: Sardines. Ahem. Just eat the sardines straight out of the can. Need pep? Add cayenne pepper? Need bite? Add balsamic vinegar? Need added flavor? Add a bit of lemon juice and salt. All you need is a fork and a can. Beautiful.
You could have any of the recipes above as standalone snacks or meals, or enjoy them as a side to a salad or a bit of fruit. Not only are these mind-blowing ways to enjoy sardines certified low-carb, but they're protein and healthy-fat packed, satiating, and give you a big boost of some vitamins and nutrients that are tough to find elsewhere.
Do you have questions or feedback about sardines? Your own tasty recipes? Just comment below!