Sardines – Why You Should Include Them in Your Diet

SardinesToday I’m trying out a new post format. My recipes usually focus on simple, high quality ingredients. So I thought it would be nice to provide a little more in-depth information on specific ingredients.

I’m planning on sharing some of my favorite foods, but also seasonal and/or exotic vegetables and fruits I may have picked up at the market. My first article covers one of my favorite ingredients, sardines. I love cooking with them – fresh or canned. A staple of the Mediterranean diet, it has also become a staple in my kitchen.

Why I love cooking with sardines

  • They are healthy: Sardines contain lots of healthy omega-3 fatty acids and are a good source of vitamin D, B12 and calcium.
  • Not bad for you: Sardines are low on the food chain and therefore don’t absorb as much Mercury, PCB and other environmental pollutants.
  • Sustainable: Sardines are currently not in danger of being over-fished and are available in abundance today.
  • They’re tasty! Most importantly, they are super delicious. Sardines may have gotten a little bit of a bad rep in previous years but their unique, bold flavor works so well in many dishes or on its own. Sardines don’t need a lot of flavoring.

Canned Sardines

What to do with sardines

  • Canned sardines: I love making a simple sardine pasta or use them as an ingredient in salad dressings (I just mix them together with vinegar and olive oil). Growing up, my parents would buy the sardines canned in tomato sauce and we would eat them alongside some bread or rice.
  • Fresh sardines: Grilled or pan fried with only some olive oil, salt, pepper and fresh parsley with a squirt of lemon juice at the end. For a fancier dish, check out this video of Gordon Ramsay cooking harissa sardines.

Sardine pasta

Where to buy sardines

  • For canned sardines I love the low-sodium sardines in olive oil from VitalChoice. I have yet to find a better tasting product. They’re pricey but you get what you pay for. If you know of any great tasting alternatives, please leave a comment below.
  • For Fresh sardines try your local fish monger; most Whole Foods stores should also carry them in the seafood section.

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6 Responses to “Sardines – Why You Should Include Them in Your Diet”

  1. Mao Mao Kitty February 9, 2012 at 3:00 pm #

    They’ve been having fresh sardines at the store lately. They look really wonderful but I’m still a little intimidated. Do you eat the bones? What would I serve with the panfried version you mention? How many sardines per person?

    Another thought: Is it possible to make fish stock with them or would that be gross?

  2. Barb February 9, 2012 at 5:53 pm #

    Get them! 🙂 Fresh sardines are awesome. We don’t eat the bones and when they’re cooked the meat comes off easily. When I pan-fry them I squeeze some lemon juice and olive oil at the end, then usually just have a slice of bread with them. Otherwise a nice salad or some grilled veggies would be delicious too.

    If you want to make this a main dish I would say about 3-5 per person since there isn’t too much meat.

    I’m not sure about fish stock, I think they may be too oily for that.

    Let me know if you end up cooking sardines.

  3. Simply Tia February 22, 2012 at 4:04 pm #

    I remember as a child my family used to eat sardines at least twice a week (for breakfast at that) but when I migrated to America, far away from my mother I stopped. I think I’m going to take your advice and start eating them again. Thanks for sharing.

    • Barb February 23, 2012 at 9:26 am #

      Sounds great, Tia. I used to eat sardines when I was younger as well, now I eat them every week. Thanks for the comment!

  4. Ally March 27, 2014 at 12:26 am #

    I like all kinds, grew up with the sardines in mustard. My dad and I would share a can, we also ate the bones, yum. We would also eat the bones from canned salmon, they are soft and also are nutritious. I seen people put them on crackers. I haven’t ever cooked with them, the go too fast, just out of the can. Now I like the sardines in olive oil, or with lemon, better. The mustard ones have changed since I was a child, they are bigger and not as good as the ones in the 50’s and 60’s.

    • Barb March 27, 2014 at 9:31 am #

      Thanks for your comment, Ally! I love sardines as well. They’re so healthy and flavorful and super delicious with olive oil or lemon, yum… I’ll have to try eating them with mustard too!

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