This word has been the driving force in my life these past few months. I have been intentionally and unintentionally working on simplifying my life and it has been a very positive experience. Intentionally simplifying your life can extend to so many aspects. Be it simplifying your home (for me decluttering has been a big topic since before we moved houses), but also simplifying the daily routine. It has allowed me to create more space and to be able to prioritize better. I suppose I have also been simplifying other parts in my life, though more unconsciously. This extents from relationships to food choices.
Simple and quick recipes have become a staple at home.
Nothing too fancy, nothing that takes too long of a preparation, but that still tastes good and we all enjoy. I don’t always have a meal plan for the week ahead and sometimes that frustrates me but most of the time it allows me to be more creative and work with what I have available. I don’t shop ingredients for particular recipes, I create recipes with the ingredients I have at hand. This is how this dip recipe came about.
One evening, I had to make a quick dinner, but I only had some veggies on hand, and an avocado that absolutely had to be used that night. I was looking in my pantry trying to find something more substantial and richer in protein for my toddler and then I saw a can of sardines. My eyes sparkled! I have been including sardines in our menu more often now for several reasons.
Why eat sardines?
These small fish are packed with nutrients, all of which are especially important for growing children. They are a good source of healthy omega-3 fats, especially the DHA and EPA. They actually contain more omega-3s than salmon! Omega-3s are really important especially for young children, as they are vital for brain health, better communication and social skills.
Sardines also contain vitamins A and D, and are a great source of B-12, important for our metabolism. When you consume sardines with their bones, which is possible as they are small and soft, you are also getting a healthy dose of calcium. The synergy of these nutrients in sardines (vitamin D and calcium) is needed to promote bone health.
What about toxicity?
There is a valid concern when it comes to toxicity in fish. Not only many fish contain high levels of mercury but farmed fish can additionally contain antibiotics and other preservatives that you don’t want to consume. Sardines are small and at the bottom of the aquatic food chain. They feed solely on plankton. As a result, they don’t concentrate as much heavy metals like mercury and other contaminants found in most fish. If you are concerned about BPA that can be found in some cans you can look for sardines in jars or fresh sardines. Also educate yourself about the origin of the fish to be sure you’re making the best choice. Another tip when shopping for sardines. Make sure you buy sardines packed in olive oil. Avoid the ones with canola or other pro-inflammatory oils.
An acquired taste
If you are new to sardines it might take some time for you to learn to like them. Not everyone is a fan of their taste, but we at home like them. My daughter will eat a sardine filet straight up, but a dip can be a good start for your little one if you are offering it for the first time. Also, I like to make this dip, because I can use the entire fish including the bones, which contain most of the calcium without posing a risk of choking. Don’t throw away the skin either, as it is where selenium is hiding. And this mineral, together with iodine (which by the way sardines contain as well) is so important to make thyroid hormones!
We like this dip on sourdough bread or with some crackers, served alongside steamed broccoli and raw peppers. It works very well as an appetizer too.
Sardine and avocado dip
- 1 can high quality whole sardines in olive oil (240g)
- 1 ripe avocado
- 2 tsp mild mustard
- 2 tbsp capers
- juice of half lemon
- sea salt to taste (about 1/2 tsp)
- Place the whole sardines with the olive oil in a small food processor. If you don’t have a food processor you can also mash them well with a fork in a bowl.
- Add the avocado, mustard, capers, lemon juice and sea salt.
- Blend until you get a smooth texture.
- Season the dip to your liking.
- Serve with some veggies or fresh bread.