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Delicious Sardine Recipes: 2 Foolproof Ways to Enjoy Eating Sardines

So you're giving pro-metabolic principles a try. You're eating the Ray Pete raw carrot salad, you're drinking bone broth, you're limiting PUFAS, you're chowing down on pastured meats guilt-free, and you're feeling better than ever. The only thing is, you're scared to try liver, sardines, oysters, organ meats, caviar, or any of the weird nutritional powerhouse foods that you think might take your health to the next level and know that supplementing just wouldn't be the same.


Hello, it's me, your first-generation Ukrainian Jewish-American Foodie friend, and I'm here to show you the light. I grew up eating weird stuff and enjoying it. In my 20s, I did the low-fat, low-carb, and even vegan thing (very briefly). I was never really a fad dieter and always maintained a pretty healthy relationship with food, but with my hormones a wreck, my nervous system totally dysregulated, and my personality a shell of what it once was, I knew I needed to eat to support my body, not fight it. It all clicked when I found the pro-metabolic space, which aligned closely with how my ancestors ate intuitively. I'm just not made for low-fat, raw-veg eating. I'm of the biblical baby-wearing through the desert, cooking lamb on an open fire, wasting no part of the animal kind of stock. It's in my DNA to eat primally, and wow, I feel so much better returning to it. 


Now I know that I'm fortunate. There's very little that I haven't or won't try. I've lived abroad, traveled all over, lived in NYC, and had access to such a variety of food that the only food that really scares me still is meatloaf (I cannot be convinced, so don't try.) Since diving into the pro metabolic space, I've realized that the food preferences and habits I grew up with are far from ordinary. I've seen post after post online asking for tips on how to stomach Raw Carrot Salad or bone broth, which, to me, are on the very neutral end of the food spectrum. Endless recipes claim to successfully "hide" superfoods in other, more palatable dishes. I do not think hiding nutrient-dense foods in more conventionally appetizing foods like burgers, relying on supplements, or taking raw shots like it's bad tequila is the best way to form sustainable nutritional habits. Whenever I see a post like this, I think, "Whoa, maybe this is not the right path for some people." I definitively do not believe that people should force-feed themselves anything that does not bring them joy. Food and emotions are deeply tied, and considerable evidence proves how we feel about food directly correlates to how our body absorbs nutrients. I see no difference between shamefully eating McDonald's in the parking lot or binging on your favorite cookies in the middle of the night because "carbs and fat are evil" and force-feeding yourself raw liver with a plugged nose barefoot in the sunshine. If your food doesn't make you feel good or doesn't feel right to eat it, it's not nourishing you, and I'll stand by that. On the other hand, I know that many people didn't grow up eating the way I did, and there's a real lack of information on how to prepare and actually enjoy ancestral foods. 


In this post, I will focus on sardines because that's the little kick I'm on now, but I hope to get into all the aforementioned superfoods that you might still consider super 'yucks.' Sardines are amazing for you, but they can taste amazing, too, and I'll prove it. I will share my favorite ways to prepare them and a shortlist of other creative ways to introduce them into your diet that I sourced from some online friends in the pro-metabolic space. 



Why Eat Sardines? 

If you're reading this, you've heard it all a million times, but fish is very good for you. It contains collagen, fatty acids, and tons of vitamins and minerals. Besides fresh wild-caught fish being expensive and not readily accessible, many fish are high in mercury, which we want to avoid specifically in our hormone-healing journeys and during pregnancy. Sardines are at the bottom of the food chain, eating only plankton, so they don't contain high levels of mercury. They are, however, rich in choline, omega-3 fatty acids, omega-6 fatty acids, iron, vitamin B12, vitamin D, selenium, and iodine, on top of being a solid protein source. 


When trying to conceive, during pregnancy, and postpartum, these nutrients are critical and difficult to consume in high enough proportions through a typical diet alone. If you look at the nutrients of sardines, they basically contain everything a pre-natal supplement does, but in a highly bio-available form. 


Sourcing Sardines 

There are three primary considerations when sourcing sardines. The most important thing is to buy wild-caught sardines. Almost every brand I've seen at our local grocery stores is wild-caught, but they're not all harvested using sustainable fishing practices. Check for certification or a promise of some sort (it's not standardized, as far as I can tell.) The second consideration is to check what oil they're packed in. I typically opt for sardines packed in water and either unsalted or lightly salted. They have a milder flavor, and I don't need to think about whether they're in genuine olive oil. That's not to say you shouldn't splurge on Spanish or Portuguese sardines in a delicious sauce or premium oil. They're such a treat. The final consideration is your comfort level with textures. If you are new to sardines, start with the skinless, boneless ones. Trader Joe's stocks a Crown Prince dupe now, and they are inexpensive, mild, and palatable. 


  1. source wild-caught, sustainably harvested 

  2. avoid seed oils or iffy olive oil blends 

  3. start with skinless, boneless sardines 

Sardine Recommendations

Simple, affordable and sustainably sourced: Wild Planet Sardines

Splurge-worthy Spanish sardines: Matiz Wild-Caught Variety Pack

Sardines that are nearly impossible to dislike: Fishwife Sardine Quad


2 Foolproof Sardine Recipes


The Sardine Tartine of Your Dreams

plate with tartine with veggies, fruit, and sardines

My husband recently made me the tartine of my dreams, directing me away from my Captain Crunch craving. I've been replicating and modifying my toppings all week with whatever we had in the fridge, and wow, is it a satisfying meal! This isn't an exact recipe but more of a blueprint, so go with what sounds good to you! The point is to layer flavors, add in season, ripe fresh veg and fruit (trust me), lots of acid, and a little heat. Take your time to slice everything very thinly and season in between layers. The result is pure magic. The sardines are not just a layer of flavor; they are the star of the show. 


The anatomy of the perfect sardine tartine:


  • Sourdough bread, thinly sliced and toasted (level up by toasting in butter or olive oil on a pan) 

  • Avocado, thinly sliced and topped with a squeeze of lime

  • Cucumber, thinly sliced lengthwise

  • Strawberry or Peach, thinly sliced (both have blown my mind) 

  • Tomato, sliced, and heirloom, if available 

  • Greens or Microgreens (spicy and bitter are ideal) 

  • Sardines, wild-caught in water (I prefer them with skin in this recipe) 


Toppings:


  • Mint, shredded

  • Feta crumbled 

  • Finishing Olive Oil 

  • Balsamic 

  • Lime

  • Flakey Sea Salt 

  • Ground Black Pepper 

  • Red Chili Flakes (the fresher the better. it makes a difference) 


Sardine Snack Bowl

bowl of rice with cucumbers, eggs, sardines, and greens

I've seen a lot of sardine cracker combos on TikTok, and I have to get on that bandwagon, but this fridge dump sardine bowl recipe is just as satisfying and so easy to make with what you have on hand! No fancy crackers or dips are required! We tend to approach these bento-style, but the same basic anatomy of the tartine applies: salt, fat, acid, heat, and something sweet. 


Assembling the perfect Sardine Snack Bowl:

  • Sushi rice, chilled, seasoned, and sprinkled with rice vinegar 

  • Cucumbers, quick pickled in vinegar, salt, sugar, and chili flakes

  • Eggs, soft-boiled

  • Greens, micro 

  • Kimchi or Saurkraut 


Toppings: 

  • Red Pepper Flakes

  • Ground Black Pepper 

  • Flakey Sea Salt


Recipe Extras

I posted in a super active pro-metabolic facebook group I'm a part of to gather creative ideas and feedback for this post. A few more sardine preparations came up that I'm excited to try out!


Sardine Avocado Spread

This preparation is basically guacamole mixed with some mashed sardines. I haven't tried it yet, but that salt, fat, acid, heat component is a winner, so I think it'll be fantastic. My mom went through a phase of making a white fish salad similar to this and it was pretty great. I plan to spread this recipe on Craize Sweet Corn Crackers for the perfect balance.


Sardine Cakes

Now the original recipe suggestion didn't contain any details, but I imagine these to be a much more accessible take on traditional crab cakes. Mix shredded sardines, some mayo, an egg, cajun seasoning, celery, and sourdough breadcrumbs and form into small patties, :Fry on a lightly buttered pan and serve as you would a crab cake, lemon, tartar sauce, and all.


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Welcome to Starting Sunday, my corner of the internet where I channel that Sunday morning feeling of intentionality, optimism, and possibility—without waiting for a Monday start. Join me as I share my personal journey and insights on nutrition, motherhood, and minimalism, all while navigating the beautiful chaos of life with my spirited two-year-old. From the intricacies of hormone healing to the joys and challenges of home birth and the essentials of life with a little one, I'm excited to pour my heart into this space. Your support means so much, and I can't wait to connect with you. 

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