Sardine Salad~My Daughter’s Favorite!

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This is my four year old daughter’s favorite salad! She asked for this last night as I was making dinner and slicing red bell pepper strips, and I thought, if she’s asking for sardines and a salad with raw veggies–who am I to deny her?! So I whipped it up and she oohed and awed the entire time she was eating it. This made me very happy, as my foods lately have been meeting up with picky children who don’t like what I’ve made–especially when I’ve spent lots of time and energy on making it!

This salad is so easy to make, and so open to variation, it’s like a breath of fresh air after all those kitchen semi-failures (semi- because I end up eating it all!). Add any veggies you have on hand, chopped small, and even your favorite dressing (I will include my daughter’s favorite vinaigrette). This is great as a lunch or light dinner, to take on a picnic–just make the salad and bring along a can of sardines to keep it super fresh, or even as a healthy snack to get a boost of veggies and healthy protein. Heck, you can even have it for breakfast if you’re like me and like something a little more savory in the morning (though I do prefer warm things first-thing).

Sardine Salad

1 can of wild-caught sardines in olive oil (my favorite is Matiz Gallego from Spain), broken up into pieces with a fork (I just break it up in the bowl with veggies)

1/2 to 1 red bell pepper, chopped small

1 or 2 celery sticks, chopped

A handful of chopped carrots

1 small cucumber, chopped

Several leaves of crunchy romaine lettuce, chopped up small
and/or
A handful of baby mixed greens

A small handful each of cilantro and Italian parsley, chopped small (if you have it)

Any other veggies you’d like, chopped small!

Put everything in a large bowl and toss with your favorite dressing or the vinaigrette that follows. (Don’t forget to use the olive oil from the sardines as well–just pour it over!)

Optional toppings to sprinkle on: some crispy pepitas=pumpkin seeds, some goat cheese or feta or chunked cheese of choice, half an avocado diced, a small handful of dried cranberries (try to find fruit juice sweetened instead of sugar) or raisins, sesame seeds, torn up nori (seaweed) pieces, chopped olives, raw sauerkraut or lacto-fermented veggies, a sprinkling of nutritional yeast, etc.

Sophie’s Vinaigrette

1 part raw apple cider vinegar

2 parts olive oil

A bit of sweetener, such as 1 teaspoon raw honey or 10 drops of liquid stevia (this is what I use), to taste.

Herb/spice combination–this can be virtually any spices you like or as simple as salt and pepper. I just sort of shake in a bunch of spices, including coriander, turmeric (gives it a yellow color), dulse (seaweed) flakes, thyme, basil, oregano, dill, etc.

Also, feel free to squeeze the juice from half a lemon over the whole thing for added benefit.

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Real Fish Crackers (Gluten-free, Dairy-free)

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These aptly-named crackers are the real deal. Not only are they tasty and highly nutritious, they are packed to the gills with a secret–or not so secret– ingredient: real fish! But not any old fish–this is the good stuff. These are the little fish that fish oil supplements are made from for all of those heart-healthy and inflammation-reducing essential fatty acids and much-touted omega-3. Namely sardines, but also anchovies and mackerel. These are like the golden geese of fish–golden fish, I suppose.

Which brings us to another wonderful benefit and addition to these already-good-for-you crackers (and where they get their color from): they really are both figuratively AND literally golden, just like those store-bought, little fish-shaped, bright orange “goldfish crackers” that kids love. Or they’re similar. (Unfortunately, they don’t stay bright gold once they have been cooked–but the dough is golden, and that’s fun!).

And the brilliantly-hued, magical ingredient that not only turns the cracker dough bright yellow but is an absolute power-house of a nutrient/herb/spice (whatever you’d like to call it): Turmeric. I found the color effect of this by accident. And when I realized that the dough reminded me of those “goldfish crackers” you see kids eating everywhere, well, you might see how it highly amused me. And delighted me! I love when things happen that way, the synchronicity of situations and events. (I could actually find deep meaning in almost anything, so beware if you meet me!) I added in the turmeric for the nutrition boost along with a bunch of other spices, just shaking in this and that. What turned out was a true alchemical creation: a conglomeration of beneficial ingredients that, on their own, may not be readily ingested by the kiddos (or the grown-ups for that matter), but that somehow mixed up all together made a new, tasty, golden creation.

Turmeric root is known for its liver and blood cleansing properties, and is powerful medicine for everything from inflammation, skin disorders, the common cold to Alzheimer’s disease and cancer. It is one of the most healing and potent natural substances that we know of–and it is easy to find! (I buy all of my herbs here.)

For more on the benefits of sardines, see this article.

Real Fish Crackers

2 cans wild sardines with olive oil
1/3 cup melted coconut oil
4 tablespoons nutritional yeast
Salt to taste (about 1/2 teaspoon)
1 cup ground sprouted buckwheat flour*
1 1/4 cup quinoa flour*
Coriander
Turmeric
Garlic powder or granules, 1/2 tsp
Onion powder, 1 tsp
Dash tamari
Parsley, fresh chopped or dried (optional)

*Can use 2 1/4 cups of any flour or flour combination. For a grain-free version, use ground sunflower or pumpkin seeds, or any nut or seed flour.

Put sardines into a food processor and process until smooth. Or use a stand mixer with the paddle attachment and mix until sardines are well blended and smooth (this is what I used). Then add the rest of the ingredients and process until a thick dough is formed that comes into a ball and does not stick to the sides of the bowl. You may keep adding turmeric until desired color is created. I’m sorry but I did not measure my spices! If you need an exact measurement, I would say 3 tablespoons of turmeric, and 1 teaspoon ground coriander seed.

Divide into smaller balls and roll out on a large piece of parchment paper or silicone mat to a cracker thickness, about 1/8 inch. (Put another piece of parchment paper or a sheet of wax paper over the dough and roll out over this.) Use a pizza cutter to make square crackers by creating a grid pattern in the dough, or a biscuit cutter for circles. I have a ceramic fish stamp that I use to make a fish design on the crackers. Wish I knew how to make these truly fish-shaped!

Bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes or until desired crispness is reached, then allow to cool on a bakers rack. These may also be dehydrated in a dehydrator or in an over set on the lowest temperature.

P.S. If you can get a helper, all the better!

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