People often ask me what my favourite recipe is from my new book Eat Yourself Beautiful and although I love them all my special favourite is Smashed Sardines with Avocado on Chia and Flaxseed Loaf. It’s probably because I eat it a few times and week and always feel so happy afterwards. Clap along if you agree.
Sardines may not immediately strike you as a happy food, but these little guys are sky high in mood boosting omega-3 fatty acids and Vitamin B12 and loaded with minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium and zinc. They can also make your wallet happy because they’re an inexpensive meal to bring the table. A can of sardines in extra virgin oil will set you back about $1.80 AUD.
A 2012 study reveals that fish oil increases transmission of serotonin in the brain which controls emotion. Because of their ability to increase serotonin levels this makes fish oils a good mood food to include in your diet.
Hair, skin and nails benefit too; sardines are one of the most powerful beauty boosters because their omega-3 content benefits the circulatory system, hydrating the skin, and helping you to avoid incoming wrinkles.
Omega-3s are brilliant at oxygenating your skin tissue, revitalising and improving your skin tone and giving you a healthy glow. They’re an integral component of the cell membrane and without them the cell membrane becomes stiff and dehydrated, resulting in dry, flakey skin.
The most intriguing benefit of sardines is that they help to slow the aging process. They’re rich in the vital enzyme CoQ10 which promotes a healthy immune system, restores vitality and is a potent antioxidant. If you’re working towards glowing skin and maintaining skins elasticity, preventing sagging and a more youthful appearance, sardines are a better choice than any toxic skin product that you can buy. Another good reason to step away from the cosmetics counter.
Although fresh is best, canned sardines in extra virgin olive oil are a convenient option, as they require minimum preparation. The good news about sardines is that they’re not mercury heavy like tuna. You can add them to salads, or combine with lemon juice, olive oil, Celtic sea salt and cracked pepper on a gluten free cracker for a tasty, nutrient dense snack.
But I’m not a sardine fan! Swap out your oil for flaxseed, chia, or extra virgin olive which are also high in Omega 3 and will give you similar benefits.
For a match made in heaven, pair sardines with avocados, a beautifying tool which has been used for centuries. The high levels of vitamin E found in avocados mean that they work as a skin-soothing, moisturizing agent and the vitamin A helps to remove dead skin cells from the body. It’s often used as a remedy for dry skin or by those who experience eczema.
Because it’s easily absorbed into the deepest layers of the skin, creating the smoothest skin by restoring nutrients, stimulating new cell growth and improving blood circulation avocado is a wonder-food to add to your diet. The healthy oils found in avocados are also used to increase shine and inject moisture into the hair, and work as a great remedy for dry and brittle hair.
To boost your beauty naturally serve up this dish immediately.
Smashed Sardines with Avocado on Chia and Flaxseed Loaf
- 1/2 avocado, peeled and pitted
- 1 tablespoon freshly-squeezed lime juice
- 1 teaspoon chopped red chilli (optional)
- pinch Celtic sea salt
- freshly cracked black pepper
- 2 slices gluten-free bread
- small handful of rocket (arugula) leaves
- 120 g (41/4 oz) tinned sardines, smashed
- extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
- Place the avocado, lime, chilli, salt and pepper in a bowl and mash together with a fork.
- Toast one or two slices of your favourite gluten-free bread (I use chia and flaxseed loaf the recipe is below).
- Spread the avocado mixture over the bread and top with rocket and smashed sardines.
- Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and serve.
Chia and Flaxseed Loaf
Makes one loaf
This is my daily bread and what a diva of a loaf it is. Use it for blissful open-top sandwiches or a mouthwatering and satisfying toasted sandwich. The perfect skin food.
- 350 g (12 oz/21/3 cups) gluten-free self-raising flour
- 30 g (1 oz/1/4 cup) ground flaxseeds
- 20 g (3/4 oz/1/4 cup) chia seeds
- 115 g (4 oz/3/4 cup) mixed sunflower seeds and pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 4 organic eggs
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- 4 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
- 80 ml(21/2 fl oz/1/3 cup) tablespoons additive-free coconut milk
- 6 drops stevia liquid
- 125 ml (4 fl oz/1/2 cup) filtered water
- Preheat the oven to 175°C (345°F/Gas 3–4) and grease and flour a 20 x 9 cm (8 x 31/2 inch) loaf (bar) tin.
- Combine the flour, flaxseed, chia, sunflower and pumpkin seeds and salt in a bowl and mix until combined.
- In a separate large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the eggs for about 2 minutes – they should be pale and fluffy.
- Stir in the apple cider vinegar, butter, coconut milk, stevia and water. Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl with the flour mixture and stir well to combine.
- Spoon the mixture into the prepared loaf tin and bake in the oven for 40 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the centre of the loaf comes out clean.
- Turn out onto a wire rack to cool.
This loaf will keep for one week in the fridge or two months in the freezer.
You can find my recipe books here.