As I stood in line at a supermarket checkout recently, I overheard a young couple in front of me querying the cost of their weekly shop. The checkout lady confirmed her till was working properly and she hadn’t put any items through twice. Then the young woman’s face crumpled. “We were just trying to be healthy for once,” she wailed, as her partner, stony-faced, handed over his credit card.
Research just out from Cambridge University shows how eating healthily can triple your shopping bill. Apparently healthy eating now averages £7.49 per one thousand calories, compared to £2.50 for one thousand unhealthy calories. That’s a big difference.
This probably comes as no surprise. We all know that chia seeds, wild salmon and coconut oil don’t come cheap. But, here at Kale & Cocoa, we loath the idea that healthy food is only for the well-heeled. With diet-related illness now costing the Health Service £5.8 billion (yes, billion), we all have a vested interest in seeking out and sharing our secret thrifty superfoods. So here are some of mine: oats (try our porridge pancakes), frozen berries (try our immune-enhancing smoothie), hedgerow blackberries (try our blackberry muffins), onions and leeks (try our leek and black bean soup), lentils and other pulses, tinned tomatoes, carrots, frozen peas (try our pea and bean salad), cabbage, broccoli and other greens, mushrooms, (check out our faro, mushroom and watercress salad) and eggs (here’s our frittata).
But my all-time price-busting superfood? Tinned sardines! My larder contains stacks of them. Not the fancy ones in beautiful tins (although sometimes I splash out on those too) but the cheap and cheerful own-brand sardines in brine or olive oil. Average price? 40p per tin! These nutritional powerhouses are nothing less than “health food in a can.” They’re high in omega-3’s, contain virtually no mercury and are loaded with calcium. They also contain iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper, selenium and manganese as well as a full complement of B vitamins. Don’t buy the filleted sardines – you need the bones!
In spite of their impressive vitamin and mineral content, tinned sardines are rather dull – not to mention strong-smelling and visually unattractive. But smash them with some good butter, a few capers, a little mustard and a squirt of lemon, spread it on some wholemeal toast –and, hey presto, you have an easy, hugely-nutritious, quick lunch.
To ensure I get my full complement of vitamins and minerals, I sometimes add a bunch of watercress (the world’s healthiest vegetable) as in the recipe below. And even better, two of my four children like this pâté! I’m working on the other two (sign up so you don’t miss my upcoming post on dealing with picky-eating kids.)
SARDINE AND WATERCRESS PÂTÉ /DIP (Serves 4 as a starter)
This works just as well without the watercress and you can add more anchovies or capers if you prefer (I love anchovies so I sometimes double the quantity). And if you want it to be less fishy, add more butter. In other words, play around until you find your ideal flavour.
- 2 tins sardines in extra virgin olive oil (or use sardines in brine but add 4 tbsp olive oil)
- 4 tinned anchovies
- 80 g butter
- 1 tbsp capers
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled (optional but adds prebiotics)
- Zest and juice of half a lemon
- 40 g watercress, stalks and all
- 1 tsp mustard
Put all the ingredients into the food processor and blend until smooth. Decorate with lemon zest and chopped watercress. Serve with warm wholemeal toast. Cheap, cheerful – and delicious!
I haven’t had a sardine for years, well not out of a can, but this recipe sounds awesome so I think I might be tempted back! Thank you for entering #creditcrunchmunch.
Annabel Abbs says
Thanks Camilla – let us know how you get on. I’m obsessed with tinned sardines and tinned wild salmon – they’re cheap, readily available, sustainable and generally under-rated!
Sorry sweets, not cheap in US, Fl. We try to keep a stock of 10 cans of sardines & the same w/Anchovies. I don’t count Anchovies, when it’s open, in it goes. Say nothing and no one will question.
PS. never heard of a Sardine filet.
Annabel Abbs says
That’s very interesting! They are almost the cheapest fish you can buy in Europe…I’m sorry to say! Sardine fillets are more expensive and have no bones. But it’s the bones you need… I often do the same with the anchovies too. Thanks for stopping by and for your comment.
Thank you for a wonderfully simple yet delicious way to eat sardines! I didn’t have any watercress so substituted with fresh basil and it tasted really lovely! I ate mine with celery sticks and oatcakes.
Annabel Streets says
So glad you enjoyed and I look forward to trying the basil version!
My store cupboard always has a tower of sardines in it, and I am still buying them for 31p! Sardines in tomato sauce are great just open the tin and pop on top of a lovely bowl of salad with a little lemon juice and pumpkin seeds, also good with pasta. Thanks for your recipe will try the pate with basil or spinach, or maybe even kale as we have lots of those in the garden.
Annabel Streets says
Sounds delicious! Thanks for sharing and enjoy the pate!
Hi Annabel. I made this today, it was absolutely delicious, the only problem is that it’s only me who is eating it. I’m just wondering how long it can be kept in the fridge or if it can be frozen.
Thank you for all the tasty recipes. Toni x
Annabel Streets says
Hi Toni – it should last 5 days in the fridge and i’ve not frozen it but see no reason why freezing wouldn’t work. Let me know if it works… Annabel
Love tinned sardines just on toast with a squeeze of lemon, also some of those with added chillies or tomato, but this pate sounds great, off to raid the cupboard, I bought some watercress this morning!
Susan Saunders says
Hope you like it. Let us know!