Fish are an amazing source of nutrients, and it is essential we incorporate seafood into a healthy diet. The omega-3 fatty acids in fish make it an excellent brain food, loaded with healthy DHA. Omega-3 fats also help reduce* inflammation. Remember, the right kind of fat is good for you and doesn’t make you fat! In fact, eating lots of fat from pastured animals and eggs, wild fish, and fats like lard and ghee, help reduce* cravings for refined carbohydrates and sugar and help you stay slim. Fat in our diet keeps us feeling full and also helps protect against depression and anxiety, as well as keep our skin healthy and glowing.
Eating wild fish is optimal, not only because wild fish are nutritionally superior to farmed fish but because fishing as nature intended, not “fish tank fishing”, is better for the environment, especially with regards to carnivorous fish like tuna and salmon, as the farming practices for these types of fish have the most detrimental environmental impact. By buying wild fish, we are supporting sustainable practices and voting with our wallets. By buying wild seafood, we are helping ensure that wild fish be available for generations to come. As Wild Planet Foods says on their website, “…human survival is dependent upon the well-being of the earth’s ecosystem and, therefore, we all have a moral obligation to preserve and protect our wild planet by putting its health before economic gain.”
Fish farms are not putting Mother Earth above profit. Having so many fish contained in one area goes against their natural behaviors and means that unhealthy fish, those that would normally die in the wild, end up on our dinner table. These fish are not eating their natural diet (fish shouldn’t be eating genetically modified grain!) and are given things like antibiotics to prevent disease.
We should also be concerned about non-native fish escaping from the farms and affecting the health of local fish. Fish farms are like the feedlots of the sea (think of all those fish swimming around in their own waste- yuck!) and although there are some small-scale farms that are more sustainable, from a nutritional and environmental perspective, I would absolutely seek out wild fish and aim to avoid farmed fish. Again, be the change you wish to see in the world and demand wild fish! That being said, farmed shellfish, like scallops, don’t have as much detrimental environmental impact, so I personally will eat farmed shellfish if I can’t find wild.
Some people shy away from eating fish due to their concern over mercury intake, but despite some risk, fish is so beneficial that you are better off eating fish than not eating fish. And small fish like anchovies, sardines and mackerel are lower on the food chain and therefore don’t come with the same mercury risks as larger carnivorous fish, like salmon, swordfish and tuna.
Sardines and mackerel are an excellent way to eat fish on a budget. Not only are they low in mercury, affordable and convenient (I love that pull-top can!), they are also loaded with DHA and heart healthy omega-3 fats.
A lot of people hold back from sardines and mackerel, but if prepared properly they make a delicious, quick lunch. Sardines and mackerel can be used interchangeably in the following recipes, but I find mackerel to have a milder flavor so that might be a good one to try first. Still not so sure? You can also use canned wild salmon. For canned sardines, mackerel and salmon just make sure to choose the skin on, bone-in varieties as these are more nutrient dense, with those edible bones being a great source of calcium.
If you want to pack some extra nutritional punch, add a dollop of wild fish roe to these recipes. These tiny fish eggs are rich in DHA while being low in mercury- you can’t get any smaller “fish” than that!
Both of these recipes incorporate sea vegetables (nori and arame seaweed) which are a great source of iodine. Just be sure to purchase organic varieties to avoid exposure to heavy metals. Sauerkraut and other cultured vegetables are great for gut health and help with digestion. Just make sure to buy raw, non-pasteurized brands so that the healthy bacteria aren’t destroyed.
Most commercial mayonnaise is full of unhealthy vegetable oils. Primal Mayo is made with avocado oil and has no canola or soybean oil. I keep this brand on hand but make my own whenever possible. Directions on making your own mayo are at the bottom of each recipe.
Choose wild fish and aim for organic ingredients (especially for the corn tortillas as non-organic corn is almost always genetically modified). I love buying seafood from Vital Choice as they get all of their fish from sustainable practices and are a trusted source. My other favorite brand is Wild Planet.
Here are my two favorite sardine and mackerel recipes. Enjoy!
Nori Wrap Hand Roll
- 1 can sardines or mackerel (drained)
- 1 sheet raw nori paper
- 1-2 tbsp chopped red onion
- 1-2 tbsp sauerkraut, cultured vegetables and/or capers, optional
- 2-3 tbsp Primal Mayo (or homemade mayonnaise*)
- salt, pepper and chili flakes to taste
- coconut amino or organic soy sauce for dipping
Mash the fish with a fork and mix in other ingredients. Spoon onto the center of the nori paper, folding the corners like you would a burrito.
* Homemade mayo is quick and easy! Combine 1 cup light extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil, 1 pastured egg yolk, 1/2 tsp sea salt, 1/2 tsp dry mustard, 2 tbsp lemon juice and 1 tbsp vinegar. Whisk ingredients together until mixture thickens
- 1 can sardines or mackerel (drained)
- 1 or 2 organic corn tortillas
- 2 tbsp Primal Mayo (or homemade mayonnaise*)
- 2-4 chopped cherry tomatoes
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
- 1-2 tbsp sauerkraut or cultured vegetables, optional
- 1-2 tbsp arame, soaked in water 5 minutes then drained
- 1 tbsp salsa
- 1 tbsp full-fat sour cream
Warm the tortilla(s). Mash the fish, mix in the mayo, tomatoes and cilantro. Top with cultured vegetables, salsa and sour cream.
* Homemade mayo is quick and easy! Combine 1 cup light extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil, 1 pastured egg yolk, 1/2 tsp sea salt, 1/2 tsp dry mustard, 2 tbsp lemon juice and 1 tbsp vinegar. Whisk ingredients together until mixture thickens.
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