It can be difficult to find a food that's both nutrient-packed and visually pleasing. Avocados are cool, but they mainly serve as a healthy fat source. Red meat and legumes provide many vitamins and minerals, but they don't really give us aesthetically pleasing results. To optimize nutritional value and photo worthy results, try sardines.

American sardine canning began in 1875, when people realized that the delicacy they were shipping over from France could be caught and canned on both Atlantic and Pacific coasts. The sardine market boomed during the World War I and II eras because a single can provided an affordable and healthy meal. The industry slowly declined when canners had to close due to a decrease in workers after the Japanese Internment. Today, sardines are viewed as unpopular, but are a potential gold mine for nutrient-deprived college students.

Bridget Silver

Sardines are not for everyone. Many people don't even know what they taste like because they're too afraid to try them. What most people don't know is canned sardines are inexpensive, convenient, and packed with innumerable vitamins and minerals. Sardines reduce the risk of heart disease, strengthen bones, and prevent blood clots. They are also insanely affordable; a 3.5 ounce tin of wild caught, de-boned, and de-skinned sardines is just $1.99 at Trader Joe's. It also has an easily openable top, so this power house can be cracked open anywhere.

Sardines are usually less expensive than the typical $1.99 to $2.99 avocado, and these fish have incomparable nutritional benefits. But they can also be just as, or even more aesthetic than your overrated mashed green creation.

If you aren't a fan of fishiness, your sardine toast does not have to taste like sardines. Check out some ideas below that run the gamut from simple and fishy, to more complex and trendy.


Bridget Silver

To capture the full flavor profile of canned sardines, pan sear them in olive oil. Lay them over toast, lightly brushed with garlic. Finish the dish by sprinkling the toast with sea salt, cracked pepper, and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. This simple type of toast brings out the natural flavor of the sardines, and exudes a very Mediterranean vibe. The dish can be accented with sliced fresh tomatoes.

Mashy but Classy

Bridget Silver

For a more popular rendition, mash your canned sardines with olive oil, apple cider vinegar, pepper, cumin, and salt. Add some chopped cucumbers into the mix before spreading it all on the toast. The resulting texture resembles a sort of chicken salad, and the apple cider vinegar does a great job at masking some of the fishiness. I like to top this rendition with sprouts and pumpkin seeds for a photo worthy garnish.

#SpoonTip: If you're not a fan of apple cider vinegar, a palatable replacement is horseradish mustard with chopped parsley sprigs.

The Lit Sardine

Bridget Silver

When I need to be efficient and balance my fun time with my healthy time, this creative concoction is my go-to. Mix mashed sardines with olive oil, tomato paste, siracha, fresh lemon extract, salt, pepper, and most importantly, a splash of vodka. This toast is the perfect party pregame, and keeps you full and nutritionally balanced.

Bridget Silver

Whether you like fishiness or not, the sardines can be made into virtually anything. Why choose expensive avocado toast when sardines are just as aesthetic, wallet-friendly, and all the more nutrient packed?