June 22, 2017

Sardines = Tasty Little Fish?

Sardines … the word alone usually conjures up either a blank stare, facial contortions, or, as is the case with me NOW, a smile and thoughts of a great tasting, protein-rich comfort food.

Below I have outlined one of my favorite ways to enjoy these tasty little fish that are chocked full of “good” fats (primarily Omega-3s).  However, be forewarned, you MUST select the SKINLESS AND BONELESS  variety of these fish, otherwise you will be faced with (at least IMHO) a frightening and “fear factor” type of culinary “treat.”

Ingredients: 1 can sardines (skinless and boneless packed in olive oil), Jarlsberg Lite swiss cheese (havarti also works great), frisée or escarole (both a type of endive)—I prefer to use frisée (about 1 to ½ cup(s) finely chopped, 1 tbsp. (T) tahini (sesame seed butter), 1-2 tsp(s) lemon juice, ¼ to ½ coarsely chopped sweet onion, brown rice tortilla (any tortilla will do), and salt/pepper to taste.

Step 1 Collect the necessary ingredients (pepper grinder not shown)

 

Step 2 Chop the onion and frisée.

 

Step 3 Transfer to mixing bowl, then add 1 tbsp. tahini and 1-2 tsp(s) lemon juice (add salt and pepper)

 

Step 4 Combine using fingers, distributing tahini, lemon juice, etc.– covering the frisée and onions (makes a paste)

 

Step 5 Spread the mixture evenly over half of the tortilla

 

Step 6 Add the sardines (reserving the olive oil to discard, alternatively, use the oil ... if you use the olive, add it in Step 3 above), prepare the cheese by slicing it thinly

 

Step 7 Distribute the cheese evenly

 

Step 8 Fold, cut in half (if you choose), and serve … enjoy!

 

Nutritional Information:  Assuming that you include the olive oil and use Jarlsberg Lite swiss cheese, this tasty dish provides 414 total calories, with the following macronutrient breakdown: Carbohydrates, 13g; Protein, 38g; Fat, 24g; and Fiber, 4g.

Some of my fellow athletes concerned about the fat content of this dish may cringe, but the fact of the matter is that this dish (even with the cheese) is chocked full of predominately “good” fats.  Remember, some fats are good for you while others tend to sabotage your health and contribute to weight gain.  I don’t have time to tease out the distinctions here; however, look for that discussion in a subsequent post.  I will distinguish between the two groups: “good fats”: omega 3s, monounsaturated fats, and some forms of saturated fats (e.g., coconut products high in laurie acid) and the “bad fats”: polyunsaturated or refined vegetable oils, most saturated fats, and the worst of the worst, hydrogenated oils/trans fats.  Bottom line: if you are concerned about the minimal amount of saturated fat contained in the cheese, simply omit it and enjoy the remaining concoction with a clear conscience (or substitute some chopped organic walnuts, as the nuts add to the savory quality of this dish).

Omega 3s: Sardines are rich in EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) both are omega 3s that have been shown to help control insulin sensitivity, improve fatty acid oxidation (i.e., fat burning), and dampen systemic inflammation.  Note that these “good” fats are found in wild fish (especially concentrated in the smaller varieties), flaxseeds and flax oil, and a variety of nuts and seeds.

Bon appétit!

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