Tuesday, January 19, 2010

What's wrong with sardines?

At the beginning of the year, it seemed that all anyone in the blogosphere could talk about was Alton Brown and how much weight he has lost. On a recent episode of Good Eats, he addressed the issue and spoke about how he accomplished losing fifty pounds. Whether or not you believe that he was overweight before or that he is too skinny now is a matter of opinion. I, for one, applaud him for taking his health into his own hands. Eating healthy is difficult, especially in a world of quick, cheap, sugary, and addictive foods. When I first came to this country seven years ago, food was my playground. Nothing was off limits. Everything that was advertised on cable television back then but was unavailable in that part of the world was now all I could eat. Or all that I wanted to eat. Taking control of what we eat is a herculean task in this country, and instead of being critical I think we should admire AB's discipline and resolve to become healthier.

AB highlighted three foods he incorporated into his diet in order to lose weight. Smoothies, sardine-avocado sandwiches , and almonds. Of the three, the idea of eating sardine sandwiches was most repugnant as evidenced by hundreds of comments on food websites and blogs.

Sardines are a greats source of omega-3 fatty acids which some studies have shown improve cardiovascular health. They are also high in vitamins D and B12, calcium, and protein. And since they are a small fish, they are low in mercury. (Remember, while most fish contain some level of methyl-mercury- the dangerous by-product of mercury in the environment- large fish such as tuna, swordfish and shark, contain higher levels of this toxin.)

In spite of all these benefits, some people just can't get past the overwhelming fishy taste and smell. Me, I enjoy the stuff but it's probably because I grew up eating it. And even before AB combined it with avocado on his show, such sandwiches were common in my kitchen; the smooth, subtle avocado flavor perfectly counters that distinctive sardine taste. I like to add some other vegetables to the mix though, like fresh tomatoes or bell peppers in the summer.

AB's recipe for Sherried Sardine Toast is here, and the photo above is my simple combination of sardines in olive oil, sliced avocados and red pepper flakes on sliced whole wheat baguette. But if the benefits of eating sardines still aren't enough to get you to try the stuff, that's easy to understand. I feel the same way about sauerkraut and jello.


Tristan said...

I was anti-sardine but in the spirit of refining my diet for cardiovascular health, this looks like it would make a great breakfast or snack. Wish me luck on keeping the discipline. The avocado is a really thoughtful (and flavour-saving) addition too.

Chennette said...

Having grown up with sardines. In anything - hops bread, bake, crix etc I loved seeing that he used it on that ep. I like the strong taste and it means you can add all kinds of things to it. Sardines and cucumbers also make a great sandwich. I keep it around for my emergency meals :-) so I don't choose something bad.

Sophie said...

Until recently, I didn't like sardines,...no way!

But now, I am trying to change that earlier vision on them. I like to eat them freshly grilled with lots of parsley, lemon zest & lemon with & good olive oil & some linguini.

I think I like to use them a lot now, but only the fresh ones!
But I don't like the tinned ones, no way!

Shannon said...

I never have thought about all the health benefits of sardines before but I think that reading about all of them I might be open to trying them. As I've grown older many foods that I would never eat i actually enjoy now and I never thought I would love Tofu but I can't get enough of it! So I think I'll give this a try and of course Avacado's are great too!



Natasha said...

Kudos to you for deciding to refine your health! You will find that your quality of life will soar. Good luck!

I ate almost anything in hops bread. When I was growing up, we used to get fresh, hot hops at our neighborhood bakery every weekend. Sometimes, it didn't need any filling; so delicious even on its own.

I have to try your version; sounds amazingly fresh and delicious!

Glad I got you thinking of making a healthy change. I find the same as well: as I got older, some of my tastes have changed. For example, I used to dislike pumpkin; now I make something with it practically every week in the fall.

Jeannie Reeves Photography said...

Man I LOVE avacado.. just not sure I can do the sardines.. I have eaten them many times as a kid right out of can and pop on a saltine.. Maybe I should try again!

Natasha said...

Isn't it interesting how our tastes change as we get older? I must say, you must have been an adventurous kid, eating sardines at an early age. :o)