health food 

10 ways with a tin of sardines

The nutrients packed into each tin would make a sardine proud – and at less than £1, you can’t afford not to put them on your weekly shopping list…

1. Spicy spaghetti
Fry chopped tomatoes in a little spray oil with crushed garlic and dried or finely chopped fresh chilli. Mash a 120g tin sardines in tomato sauce, then stir into the tomato mixture. Toss with cooked wholewheat spaghetti and chopped fresh parsley.

2. Autumn salad
Mix runny honey with wholegrain mustard. Cut cooked beetroot into wedges, then put them on a baking sheet with a 120g drained tin sardines in oil. Brush with the honey glaze, then grill until starting to caramelise. Serve with salad leaves tossed in balsamic vinegar, scattered with reduced-fat feta.

3. Smoky fish pâté
Blend a 120g drained tin sardines in oil with 100g low-fat garlic and herb soft cheese, ½tsp smoked paprika and a squeeze of lemon juice. Season with ground black pepper, then spread over wholegrain toast and scatter with watercress.

4. Indian-spiced sandwich
Heat 1tbsp sunflower oil in a frying pan with 1tsp turmeric, 2tsp garam masala and 1tsp cumin seeds. Add 2 x 120g drained tins sardines in oil and fry for 3–4 min, turning once (keep whole). Serve on warmed naan bread, drizzled with low-fat natural yogurt mixed with chopped fresh mint.

5. Mediterranean couscous
Cook 100g couscous according to the pack instructions. Fluff up with a fork, then stir in a large pinch each of ground cumin, cinnamon and coriander. Add a 400g drained tin chickpeas in water with finely chopped red onion, toasted pine nuts, chopped fresh coriander and cucumber. Season with ground black pepper, then stir in 120g tin sardines in tomato sauce.

6. Herby sardines on toast
Toast wholegrain bread slices on one side under the grill. Spread the untoasted sides with a little pesto, then top with sliced tomato and a 120g drained tin sardines in oil. Return to the grill to heat, then serve scattered with fresh basil leaves.

7. Coconut curry
Fry 1 sliced onion in 1tbsp sunflower oil until softened. Add 1 crushed garlic clove, 1–2tbsp medium curry powder and ½tsp chilli powder. Add enough reduced-fat coconut milk to make a smooth sauce, then simmer for 5 min. Add a 120g tin sardines in tomato sauce and simmer to heat through. Serve with brown rice.

8. Fishcakes
Mix a 120g drained tin sardines in oil with 400g mashed potatoes. Stir in some sweetcorn and finely chopped spring onions, then shape the mixture into 8 fishcakes. Lightly coat in polenta, then put them on a baking tray and spray with a little oil. Bake at 200°C/fan 180°C/gas 6 for 20 min. Serve with steamed veg and low-fat mayo mixed with lemon zest.

9. Italian-style supper
Quickly stir-fry 1 coarsely grated courgette in a little spray oil. Add ½ drained small jar artichoke antipasto and heat through. Toss with 200g cooked rigatoni, then stir through 120g drained tin sardines in oil. Serve scattered with grated parmesan and chopped fresh parsley.

10. Hearty stew
Heat 1tbsp sunflower oil in a large frying pan, then fry chopped onion, red pepper, green pepper and a sliced celery stick for 5 min to soften. Add 225g brown rice, 2tsp paprika, 400g tin chopped tomatoes and 500ml reduced-salt chicken stock. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 10–15 min until the rice is cooked. Stir in 2 x 120g drained tins sardines in oil with 100g baby spinach. Season with ground black pepper, then serve.

What’s so good about sardines?
Nutritionist Amanda Ursell says: ‘At around 99p a tin, sardines provide great nutritional value for money. They’re a good source of protein, needed for growth and repair, and are bursting with omega-3s, which aid brain function and circulation. Sardines in tomato sauce have fewer calories than those tinned in oil (160kcal v 220kcal per 100g) and provide a dose of lycopene, believed to aid heart and prostate health. Plus, a 120g tin sardines in tomato sauce (with bones) contains more than 500mg of the 800mg RDA for calcium and 9.6mcg vitamin D, needed for the body to absorb calcium. Be aware, though, that most tinned sardines have added salt – around 1g per 120g, but check the label as some contain up to 2g.’

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